Plovdiv is the second biggest city in Bulgaria and a favourite with visitors. Its rich cultural life, beautiful ancient setting, and laid back atmosphere attract many foreigners but it’s a popular weekend destination for Bulgarians as well. Check out some of the main attractions that Plovdiv has to offer.
The Ancient Theater is perched on top of a hill with a view over one of the busiest boulevards in the city. It still has its original Roman seats. Most of the time the theater wasn’t used as an entertainment spot by the Romans but was the venue for local governors’ meetings. It did host Gladiator fights though! Today, you can watch a live concert or an opera performance at the Amphitheater in summer.
The Roman Stadium
When it was under Roman control, Plovdiv was named Philipopolis and huge sports events took place at its stadium. Nowadays, it’s buried under the main pedestrian street and you can see only a bit of its ends. Go down the stairs and see a short 3D movie recreating the events at the stadium.
The Old Town
The Old Town of Plovdiv is situated on top of three of the city’s hills. Bring comfortable shoes as you will have to walk up cobblestoned streets. Many of the Revival-period houses in the Old Town are now museums. If you have to choose among them, Balabanov’s House, the Ethnographic Museum and the History Museum are among the most spectacular.
Kapana Art District
Kapana means “a trap” in Bulgarian and as the legend goes, its name is due to the unimaginable ways all its streets cross, change directions, or finish with a dead end. Once you get in, they say, it’s hard to get out. Nowadays, Kapana is a lively art district full of craft beer bars, art shops, ateliers, and festivals.
The Singing Fountains
Part of the central Tsar Simeon Garden, the Singing Fountains are a special reason to come to the park at night. On summer evenings, the fountain plays music and has a special light and water show after dark.
This mosque is located on the main pedestrian street of Plovdiv right next to the Roman Stadium. Its name means Friday Mosque as it used to be the main mosque where Muslims gathered for a prayer on Friday. There’s a Turkish cafe next to its entrance where you can try original Turkish sweets and Turkish coffee.
The Rowing Canal
This is a popular place with the locals when they want to run, ride a bike or just spend some time walking. The Rowing Canal (Grebna Baza) is sometimes used for championships or sports training but most of all it’s a leisure spot. The Plovdiv Zoo is close by, under renovation for the last few years.
The Natural History Museum and the Planetarium
The Natural History Museum in Plovdiv has been recently renovated and a Planetarium has been added. You can watch short documentaries about the Universe and our planet in the special domed hall.
The Archaeological Museum
Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, its history dating back to 4000 BC. Knowing this, you can’t skip a visit to its Archaeological Museum. Next door is the museum dedicated to the unification of Bulgaria and across from it you’ll see a big monument symbolizing unified Bulgaria.
Sunset at one of the hills
Climb any of the hills of Plovdiv for a beautiful sunset. The three hills on which the Old Town is located are the most usual choice because they are close to the center. Another good option is the hill with the Alyosha soldier monument on top.
The Children’s Railway
If you travel with children or you just keep the child in you alive, plan a visit to the Children’s Railway. The mini-train will take you to the top of one of the Plovdiv’s hills passing through a tunnel on its way. It’s suitable for children and adults. There are a few scheduled trains a day.
Aqualand Water Park
You don’t really need to go to the seaside in summer because Plovdiv has its own aqua park packed with fun activities. You can experience slides of various levels or just enjoy the sun.