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Plovdiv, Bulgaria: A Hidden Gem of Eastern Europe

  • Post last modified:May 13, 2024
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When most people visit Bulgaria they tend to go to Sofia, or maybe to the coast to visit the beaches, However, one of our favorite cities in the Balkans is right in the heart of the country, and it is called Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


Full of charming streets, beautiful architecture, and colorful art, this city stole our hearts with the little time we spent there, and highly recommend it to anyone exploring Bulgaria!


In this article we are going to cover everything you need to know for visiting Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from how to get there, the best things to do, and some options for places to eat, and more. Let's dive right in to our complete guide of Plovdiv, Bulgaria!

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Where is Plovdiv in Bulgaria?

Plovdiv is located in the south-central region of Bulgaria. The county of Bulgaria is situated in south eastern Europe, and borders Macedonia to its South East, Serbia to its North East, and Romania to its North. In addition Bulgaria shares borders with Greece to its South, as well as Turkey to its South East.

where is Plovdiv Bulgaria

Plovdiv is located in the south central part of Bulgaria.


How to Get to Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Being centrally located, there are a few different ways that you can visit Plovdiv, from cities throughout Bulgaria, as well as surrounding countries.


What is the Closest Airport to Plovdiv, Bulgaria?

Plovdiv has a small airport that is 15 km south east of the city center. Cities that fly direct to Plovdiv include Istanbul, London, Memmingen, and Tel Aviv. You can also look up flights to Sofia (there are many more), and then take a quick 2 hour bus from Sofia to Plovdiv for under 10 euros.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates to fly to Plovdiv, or explore nearby airports using the "everywhere" option.

Search for a flight to or near Plovdiv:

Buses to Plovdiv

If you plan on coming from another city in Bulgaria, or from a neighboring country, it may be cheaper and easier to take a bus to Plovdiv instead of flying. Tickets within Bulgaria are from 10-15 euros, and international bus tickets are from 20-30 euros.


Here are some of the most popular routes that go to Plovdiv:

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Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

Now that you know how to get to Plovdiv, let's check out the requirements for entering the country of Bulgaria.

 

Visa Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

Bulgaria allows tourists to visit the country for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Bulgaria is not part of the Schengen Zone yet, so you will not have to worry about expiring your time within Europe while visiting Bulgaria.


Covid Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

All requirements to visit Bulgaria when it comes to Covid-19 are no longer in effect. Additionally, masks aren't required for entering any establishments or on public transportation anymore.


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Local Adjustments for Plovdiv, Bulgaria

When traveling there are things that may be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling to Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


What Language is Spoken in Plovdiv?

The official language in Plovidvi, Bulgaria is Bulgarian, which is a Slavic language. The language of Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic, which is the same alphabet which is used by other nearby countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Macedonia.


Currency Used in Plovdiv

The currency used in Plovdiv, Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev. Currently (Aril 2023) 1 USD or Euro is equal to 1.83 Bulgarian Lev, and 1 British Pound is equivalent to 2.21 Lev.


Is Bulgaria Cheap for Tourists?

Bulgaria is a very cheap country for tourists, and is overall on the cheaper side compared to other countries throughout Europe. Many things can be paid with credit card, but we also suggest carrying some cash on you for local vendors and tipping.


Electrical Outlets in Bulgaria

Bulgaria uses the same outlets as the rest of the European countries, which require plug types C & F. The standard voltage in Bulgaria is 230 V and has a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


If you are coming from North or South America, you will need to get a travel converter (not just an adapter) so that your electronics will not blow out when you plug them in.


Is Tap Water Drinkable in Plovdiv Bulgaria?

The water is perfectly safe to drink in Plovdiv. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you so that you can fill it up at the fountains throughout the city. We use vacuum-sealed water bottles so that they can hold the temperature.


Bulgarian Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in Bulgaria is pretty similar to most other European countries. While tips aren't ever required, it is customary to leave 10% of the bill as a tip when dining out, and to tip in cash (you cannot add tips onto your credit card). If you feel you have received excellent service, you could then leave a bit extra.

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The Best Things to Do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about the basics of Bulgaria, here are the best things to do in Plovdiv.

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Plovdiv Bulgaria pin
Plovdiv Bulgaria pin
Plovdiv Bulgaria pin

Take a Free Walking Tour

The Balkans are full of history, so one of our favorite thing to do throughout the different cities in the Balkan countries was to get free walking tours. There are two tours daily in the summer (11 am or 6 pm) and one daily tour in the winter. This is a great introduction to the city, allowing you to learn all about the highlights of the city. All you have to do is tip at the end, making it affordable, and great for supporting locals, as well as finding some hidden gems you probably wouldn't get by exploring on your own.

free walking tour, Plovdiv Bulgaria
free walking tour, Plovdiv Bulgaria
free walking tour, Plovdiv Bulgaria
free walking tour, Plovdiv Bulgaria

A free walking tour is a great way to experience the hidden gems of the city.


Explore the City Center

If you can't make a walking tour, don't worry! The center is small, and is pretty easy to navigate. Here are some of the spots you'll want to check out:


Old Town of Plovdiv- Architectural Reserve

This is the heart of the city center, where the old architecture has been preserved. This is where you'll find all of the historically significant buildings, as well as some of the most beautiful architecture in Plovdiv.

old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
old town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is full of beautiful architecture.


Ancient Theater of Philippopolis

The Stadium of Philippopolis was the ancient Roman that was built in the 2nd century AD, during the Roman imperial period. It is now one of the largest and most well preserved buildings from the Roman Empire in all of the Balkans. It also has great views from around it, and there are even concerts and special events held inside to this day.

theater of Philippopolis, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
theater of Philippopolis, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
theater of Philippopolis, Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Ancient Stadium of Phillippopolis

Right in the middle of the main pedestrian street in Plovdiv lies the remains of what used to be a stadium a couple of thousand years ago. Rather than being blocked off as an attraction, they stand as a part of the city that is seen and passed everyday by locals.

Roman stadium Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The stadium is right in the middle of the pedestrian street.

Roman Forum of Philippopolis

The Roman Forum of Philippopolis was the commercial, administrative and religious center at the time. Now the ruins remain on the corner of Tsar Simeon Garden Park as a point of interest in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria.


Anastas Gallery

Anastas Gallery is an art museum is the heart of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and was founded on the ideas of Anastas Konstantinov.

Anastas Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Anastas Gallery, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Danov Hill Clock Tower

Danov Hill is one of the 6 remaining hills of Plovdiv, and on top lies one of the oldest clock towers in Eastern Europe.


House-Museum Hindliyan

This is one of the few houses in Plovdiv which represents the original renaissance style of architecture in the city, and can now be visited on the inside. It is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm Tuesday to Sunday, and it closes for a half hour at 12:30 pm for lunch.


Balabanov's House

Balabanov's House is another example of existing buildings in Plovdiv just like House-Museum Hindliyan. It also has the same hours to visit.

Balabanov's House, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Regional Ethnographic Museum

Plovdiv has the second largest ethnographic museum in Bulgaria, with 6 different expositions. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 6 pm.

Regional Ethnographic Museum, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

St Constantine and Helena Church

Located right in the heart of the city, this is known to be one of the oldest churches in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Church in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Sveta Bogoroditsa Church

Also known as the Holy Mother of God Church, you can find this beautiful spot just down the hill from the ancient theater.


Sveta Bogoroditsa Church, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Sveta Bogoroditsa Church in Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Walk Around Knyaz Aleksandar I

Knyaz Aleksandar I is the main pedestrian street in the center of Plovdiv. This area is great to stroll around and soak up the great atmosphere of the city. It has plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to browse, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.


pedestrian street, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
pedestrian street, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
pedestrian street, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The main pedestrian street in Plovdiv has plenty to see and do.


Admire the Street Art

One thing that we loved about Plovdiv is that it is full of color! Not only are there plenty of colorfully painted buildings, but we found a bunch of fun art installations and murals scattered around the center. We suggest roaming the streets of Kapana to explore the bursts of color popping from around each corner you turn.


mural in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
mural in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
mural in Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Stop at the Friends Cafe

Right in the heart of the city center is a cafe that all Friends fans will truly adore! We just happened to walk by and saw "Central Perk". We popped inside and the decor was similar to the set of Friends! If you're a fan of the TV series like we are, then you will definitely want to stop in for a cup of coffee and enjoy the fun atmosphere both inside and out of this cafe.


Central Perk, friends cafe in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Central Perk, friends cafe in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Right in the heart of Plovdiv Bulgaria is a Friends-themed cafe called Central Perk.


Watch the Singing Fountains

Want to enjoy the beautiful nature that Plovdiv has to offer and also see it come to life? Well, located in Tsar Simeon Garden Park is an impressive array of fountains that light up with different colors and shapes at night. The shows are every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday starting at 9:30, and are free of charge to see.


Singing fountain in Plovdiv, Bulgaria