Despite being the second most populous city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv is famous for its laid-back atmosphere, lush greenery (nearly all year round) and a unique blend of modernism and antiquity. It’s also grown as a popular tourist destination due to the fact that it was named the European Capital of Culture for 2019. Here are the top things to do in Plovdiv that should be on every visitor’s to-do list.
Take a stroll down the longest pedestrian street in Europe
With an approximate length of 1.8 kilometers the city’s Main Street is the longest pedestrian zone in all of Europe. Depending on the day and the hour you’re visiting it can become quite overcrowded, but it’s worth visiting nonetheless. Glossy window displays, antique buildings, ancient excavations (the most notable of which is a stadium), a pedestrian bridge over the Maritsa river, tons of cafes, a former drag queen bar, street artists (musicians and painters) and numerous other sights await local and foreign tourists alike.
Get lost in the timeless Kapana section
Kapana (meaning “the Trap” in Bulgarian) is a small section near the Main Street, which once used to be a craftsmen’s neighborhood. The tiny, narrow and maze-like streets have contributed to the name and even locals tend to get lost in the Trap. It’s a jeweled gathering spot for artists and despite often being dubbed as a snobbish den, getting lost in it while taking in the old architecture, miniature shops and uneven pavements is a fun way to explore the city’s center.
Escape the hustle of the modern world in the Old Town
Speaking of old things, a trip to Plovdiv wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Old Town. Nestled among the city’s famous hills, the Old Town sits atop the actual city. It’s been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage tentative list and if you can bear walking up and down on the extremely uneven, sometimes slippery cobblestones, the Old Town will leave you with memories for a lifetime. Restaurants and shops left aside, the medieval architecture and the breathtaking views from above are something you’ll never forget.
Visit the Ancient Roman amphitheater
One of the few well-preserved Roman amphitheaters on the planet is located in Plovdiv and has a capacity of up to 7,000 people. Various concerts, theatrical plays, dance spectacles and other shows are constantly held there thanks to its good acoustics and the architectural splendor serving as a backdrop. It dates back to the 1st century AD and offers ancient marble magnificence to anyone willing to visit. The amphitheater is a sight on its own, but it also provides gorgeous panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.
Climb the city’s famous hills
Plovdiv is often dubbed the city of the 7 hills. Said hills are formed out of natural syenite stone, which is why one of them was destroyed during the 20th century in order to provide material for some of Plovdiv’s street pavements. All hills are easily climbable and they hold a cultural, archeological and historical importance for the city and its residents. They’re surrounded just as much by legends as they are by historical facts. Urban landscapes, lush nature and stunning views of the Rhodope mountains await anyone who wants to climb the hills.
Relax at the “singing” fountains
Last, but not least, the “singing” fountains in the city’s center offer a great way to end a day spent in climbing, exploring and getting lost. The classical music, light shows, modern concerts, cozy cafes and soothing water jets are the focal points of the fountains, which are located in the city’s central park – the Tsar Simeon garden. Lovely wooden benches, a chick gazebo and lots of garden lanes surround the fountains. The park itself was designed in the late 19th century by a Swiss architect, but was renovated a few years ago along with its fountains.