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As the second biggest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv has such a relaxed atmosphere that you could easily spend a month here without noticing the time passing. However, if it’s a day trip that you have in mind, you can still get a flavour of the city’s unique atmosphere. Here’s our guide to how to make the most of your short time in this beautiful city.
Start the day with a coffee and a steaming banitsa (an egg and feta cheese pastry delicacy) from the nearest bakery, put your comfortable shoes on and head to the Old Town – one of the most fascinating historical quarters in Bulgaria. Stroll among the colorful Renaissance-period houses and visit those that have been turned into museums telling stories about the life, traditions, and crafts of the past. The Ethnographic Museum is housed in one of the most impressive buildings in Plovdiv, a 150-year old bright blue house with a shady garden. You don’t really need a guide to explore the Old Town, just follow the winding cobblestone streets and enjoy the new sights around the corner, including the impressive Ancient Theater. The Old Town is home to a number of restaurants with delicious food, where you can stop for lunch.
Plovdiv is notorious for its scorching summers, so in the afternoon it’s best to find a cool, shady place and relax until evening. Take a seat and people-watch by the big fountains in the City Garden (Tsar Simeon’s Garden), or beat the heat with an artisanal ice cream at Dolce Fellini.
The afternoon is a good time to indulge in some shopping – the main pedestrian street Knyaz Alexander I and the small streets crossing it are home to local and international clothings brands, as well as shoes, accessories, and souvenirs.
After 6pm, drop by Vino Culture wine bar, where you can find interesting wines from Bulgaria and around the world, served alongside delicious nibbles.
Dolce Fellini, 15 General Gurko Str., Plovdiv, Bulgaria, +359 894 54 07 09
Vino Culture, 5 Otets Paisii Str, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, +359 89 200 1926
Climb the hills of the Old Town to watch the sunset. The rocky top where both locals and visitors gather for the view every night is the place where, according to archaeologists, the first Plovdiv settlement was created 8,000 years ago.
In the summer months, go to the City Garden to watch the sound and light show of the recently renovated Singing Fountains – the water and colorful lights play to the sound of classical music and popular Bulgarian songs.
Head to the Kapana area for some of the best craft beer bars (Kotka i Mishka/Cat and Mouse Craft Beer Bar), wine bars (Malkata Biblioteka/The Small Library), or art bars (Basquiat Wine & Art). In this lively area, people enjoy their drinks and leisurely chat not only in the venues, but also in the streets between the bars, lending a happy and convivial atmosphere to proceedings.
Kotka i Mishka, 14 Hristo Dyukmedzhiev, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, +359 87 840 7578
Malkata Biblioteka, 12 Hristo Dyukmedzhiev, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, +359 88 893 8075
Basquiat Wine & Art, 4 Bratya Pulevi, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, +359 89 546 0493