Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria and Europe’s oldest inhabited city. It’s one of the favorite places for Bulgarians to spend a perfect, relaxing day and is one of the best day trips you can take from Sofia.
If you are traveling to Sofia and want to escape the capital city for a day, Plovdiv is a great day trip destination.
Plovdiv is just an hour and a half (or even less) ride from Sofia.
This city has my heart and I love going there just for a day every once in a while. pLOVEdiv has some unique vibe and atmosphere and is the home place of ailyak. Ailyak is a special Plovdivians word, which describes a person who is relaxed, doesn’t do anything, and doesn’t worry about anything.
Plovdiv is often called ”the city under the hills” because the town was been built in the foothills of seven hills. The history of Plovdiv, which is the oldest European inhabited city, can be traced for 8 000 years. Many ancient monuments are well preserved today, such as The Amphitheatre, The Roman Forum, and The Roman Odeon.
You can spend a lot more time in Plovdiv but if your time is limited a day trip is a must.
So, how to spend the perfect day in Plovdiv as a day trip from Sofia:
But first, coffee
Start your day trip to Plovdiv earlier so you have the time to enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee before you start exploring the city. There are many places where to have coffee in Plovdiv but probably the best ones are in Kapana. Kapana is also a great place to start your walk around the city.
Stroll along the main street
If you go for a coffee in Kapana, it’s super easy to get from there to the main street, as it’s just a few steps away.
The main street, Knyaz Alexander I runs from the pedestrian bridge over the Maritsa river to Tsar Simeon Garden. The whole street is pedestrian and it’s lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. On the main street, you will also find the big sign with colorful letters that says ”Together”, very picturesque place.
The Main Street is divided into two parts by the small square ”Roman stadium”, and below it is the same name restored antique complex.
Relax in the Tsar Simeon Garden
At the end of the main street is the Tsar Simeon Garden, a quiet, green, and lovely park where you can relax all day long. In the park, you can also find one spot where local people are gathering to play Backgammon and Chess. Why not join them for a quick game, what better way to explore a new place then gathering with the locals and doing something together with them?
Wander around the Old Town
And now this is something that feels and looks completely different from what you have already seen in Plovdiv. When you wander around the well-preserved ancient houses and cobblestone streets in the Old Town, you can feel like walking through different historical ages.
The Old Town lies on a natural elevation, on the three hills Dzhambaz Hill, Nebet Hill, and Taksim Hill. From each of these hills, you can enjoy wonderful views of the city.
Most of the houses in the Old Town are now museums that are open to the public and you can visit them for around 5 leva (2.50 euros). Wandering around the Old Town, on the other hand, doesn’t cost anything and is one of the amazing things to do in Bulgaria for free.
Admire the impressive Ancient Roman Theatre
The Amphitheatre is no doubt the most impressive thing that you will see in Plovdiv. Is the greatest achievement in the field of restoration of monuments of antiquity in Bulgaria and is one of the best-preserved ancient theaters in the world. You can see the Plovdiv Amphitheater often listed as one of the ”best ancient places to visit in the world”.
The Amphitheatre is situated in the natural saddle between Dzhambaz Tepe and Taksim Tepe, in the heart of the Old Town and in the heart of the city.
It might be more than 8 000 years old but it’s still in use. Every year the Amphitheatre hosts the Plovdiv International Folklore Festival and other theatrical plays and music shows. It can host between 5 000 and 7 000 people.
The last time when I got inside, the ticket cost 5 leva (2.50 euro) but I don’t believe that the price has changed since then. However, you can admire it even from the outside.
At some point during your Plovdiv day trip, you will have to eat. It’s unnecessary to repeat myself that Bulgarian local cuisine is one of the best and the food itself can be enough reason to visit Bulgaria.
There are, of course, many restaurants in the city where you can enjoy a delicious lunch. One of my favorite places to eat in Plovdiv though is Pavaj. Pavaj is a lovely, small restaurant located in Kapana district. It offers traditional Bulgarian dishes and some not traditional ones. Aside from its great location and the tasty food, I like it because the menu is not 26425642 pages long, there are fewer things to choose from, but all of them are amazing.
Hike one of the city hills
Because Plovdiv is called the city under the hills and because as I already mentioned, you can enjoy wonderful views from each of the hills.
There are seven hills in Plovdiv, Dzhenem Tepe being the highest one. His attitude is 307 meters above sea level, which is twice the average altitude of the city.
The hills are not difficult to hike to, just make sure you don’t do it during the hottest hours of the day – in summer, Plovdiv is one of the hottest cities in the entire country.
Lost yourself in ”The Trap” (Kapana)
Kapana, which literally can be translated as ”the trap”, is the art district and the soul of Plovdiv. It consists of a maze of small streets uniform bearing the names of various crafts that are practiced in the shops on them. It’s full of coffee shops and bars with art design and a great atmosphere.
Kapana hosts different festivals, such as Kapana fest, One design week, One dance week, and One Architecture week.
Raspberry wine, please
If you have read my about me page, or you know me, you know that I am obsessed with raspberry wine ever since I tried it for the first time and not elsewhere but in Plovdiv.
The last time when I was in Plovdiv with my also raspberry obsessed friend, I remember where we can find one in Kapana – Basquiat, so of course, we went there and drank the last bottle they had left. I totally recommend everyone to try raspberry wine, although some men have told me it’s more like a girl’s drink.
Tip: If you visiting Plovdiv in the summer note that is VERY HOT, so you can do these things in a different order. If you decide to walk around the Old Town in the pick hours in the summer, I guarantee you it won’t be a very pleasant experience.
How to get from Sofia to Plovdiv
There are 5 ways to get from Sofia to Plovdiv and here’s a breakdown of all of them:
By car – One of the best ways to get around in Bulgaria is by car and getting to Plovdiv makes no exception. You can do so by renting one. If you do so, you just need to get on the ”Trakia” highway, after that you won’t even need GPS to get to Plovdiv.
By bus – The buses from Sofia to Plovdiv are leaving from the Sofia Central Bus Station daily, every hour, or less. Note that not for all them Plovdiv is the final destination and they are stopping in Plovdiv in different places. The bus ticket cost 14 leva (7 euro).
By train – The route from Sofia to Plovdiv is served daily by 20 trains departing from Sofia train station and arriving at Plovdiv train station. It is possible to buy a train ticket at an average price of 4 leva (2 euro), but the average duration of the trip is 3 hours, though.
Shared-ride – This is my favorite way to travel to Plovdiv since I have a driving license but I don’t use it. There is a Facebook group for people traveling between Sofia and Plovdiv and you can always find someone to take you there. The drivers are basically looking for someone to split the cost of the ride with and for the others is just the most convenient and fastest way to get to Plovdiv. This will cost you between 7 and 10 leva / 3.50 – 5 euros (one way).
Most of the drivers will take you from Inter Expo Center (there is a metro station exactly at this place) and leave you anywhere in the city center of Plovdiv.
Hitchhiking – Of course, you can also always hitchhike. But getting from Sofia to Plovdiv is cheap and it’s not worth it if you have to wait hours for someone to take, although I don’t believe it will ever take you that long.
Plovdiv is absolutely one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria and should be missed on any Bulgarian itinerary.
Would you like to visit Plovdiv on a day trip from Sofia? How would the perfect day look for you?
Thanks for reading,
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