Plovdiv certainly has more strings to its bow than Sofia. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe – there are Roman and pre-Roman ruins scattered across the city. The old town is one of the highlights and gives Plovdiv a unique charm with its laid back, stuck in time character. Being close to the Rhodope mountains means there are ample things to do. The region is dotted with old monasteries and plenty of hiking opportunities. Plovdiv is a place that is full of life and deserves its reputation as the best big city to visit in Bulgaria.
If your looking for a quick snack, pastries from shops and bakeries generally cost less than half a Euro. Eating in a cafe or restaurant is great value too – a pizza and a beer can be bought for €4. Plovdiv is a good place to splash out on nice food at nice prices.
City bus tickets for a single ride are half a Euro. Trains leave for Sofia and Istanbul. Depending on your destination, buses leave from different stations in Plovdiv. International buses depart from Yug station, while buses to villages in the Rhodope mountains leave from Rhodope bus station.
• Visit Assenova Fortress – This old Fortress and church are in the middle of some fantastic scenery, with surrounding mountains and the river flowing below. Get a bus to Asenovgrad, 30 minutes away from Plovdiv and walk to the Fortress above.
• Go to the Roman Amphitheatre – well preserved and often hosting concerts and plays, this ancient site is a must see. You can get a good view and feel for the place from outside, so it’s not really necessary to pay the entrance fee if your low on cash.
• Walk the Old town – wander along cobbled stone roads, and immerse yourself in times gone by. Explore the cultural buildings and grab a coffee in one of the many cafes. Check out Phillippopolis, the underground Roman stadium where gladiators battled.
• Spend a day at Bachkovo Monastery – This ancient church dates back hundreds of years and is situated in the Rhodope mountains. It’s a bit touristy now but you can lose the crowds by taking a stroll in the nearby forests. It can be combined with a visit to Assenova Fortress.
• Go on a Free walking tour– details of the tours are available at most hostels, and are one of the best ways to see the city and learn at the same time. The walks take in all the must see sights including the oldest ruins in Plovdiv on Never Tepe hill.
• Experience the nightlife – There is something for everybody in Plovdiv. Students tend to visit the Kapana district for lively nights in the bar cafes.
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