When I heard that Plovdiv recently won the title of European Capital of Culture for 2019 I really wanted to visit and see what this Bulgarian city had to offer. Lots of people told me that I would love Plovdiv and they were right, the moment I arrived I fell in love. I live in Sofia and it’s an amazing city that I call home now, however I can’t deny that I love Plovdiv almost as much after just one visit!
Plovdiv and Sofia are very different cities though. Sofia, is the capital of Bulgaria, therefore it’s busier with commuters and cars and trams everywhere, whereas Plovdiv feels much more relaxed, more like a city full of tourists.
What did surprise me was the number of people walking in the centre of Plovdiv, it was absolutely packed! I wasn’t expecting it but there’s a fantastic shopping street in the new town which is about 2kms long and full of great shops, cafes and restaurants. What makes it more special is that underneath the street you will find a real hidden gem, The Stadium of Philippopolis, dating back to 117-138AD. This is a 240 metre long Roman stadium, which, in it’s time, was able to hold up to 30,000 people who would have watched the chariot races there! The Stadium has been partly restored so you can visit it and enjoy a coffee in the cafe built inside.
Plovdiv has a beautiful old town, with cobbled stone streets and traditional style Bulgarian houses. In fact, Plovdiv is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world! Perhaps most impressively, it is also home to the ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis, construction of which dates back 98-117AD. This wonderful theatre has been restored and is used today to host open air concerts and plays.
Being built originally on seven hills, Plovdiv also has some amazing view points. If you climb to the top of the hill in the old town you will find lots of people all enjoying the spectacular view over the city.
There’s also the International Fair in Plovdiv which hosts a calendar of events for various industries and is one of the largest venues in SouthEast Europe.
And, you’ll find a lovely big park right next to the busy city centre which is full of fountains and benches where you can sit back and watch the world go by.
Shops, cafes, restaurants, parks, stunning views and extraordinary history, what more could you want from a city?!
Before moving to Bulgaria I hadn’t even heard of Plovdiv (even though it’s the second largest city in the country) but now I’ve been there I’m wondering why this isn’t a destination that everyone is talking about! There are so many famous European cities that people visit for weekend breaks and I think that soon Plovdiv will be one of them.
What do you think?
You can also read about my experience of taking the Free Plovdiv Tour here!