Is Plovdiv Worth Visiting?

by | Dec 20, 2023 | Bulgaria, Plovdiv

Should I Go to Plovdiv, Bulgaria?

If you’re looking for a remarkable travel experience, Plovdiv, Bulgaria might just be the answer. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture, this city has plenty to offer visitors from all walks of life. And let’s not forget about the Kapana District with trendy food and wine options.

When we tell others we are full-time travelers, one of the most popular questions people ask is: “Where should I go?” The honest answer is: “It depends.” The best destination depends on what you want to do on your trip.

Every city is different and has its pros and cons. We can’t say which city is best or our favorite because we like them all (or, at least, most of them) for very different reasons.

When we start thinking about where we will go next, we consider several factors. Some are given more weight than others, but we want to ensure the destination has what we’re looking for and that there are no disqualifying issues (like weather or crowds).

To help you decide if Plovdiv is a good choice, we’ve analyzed a list of factors we consider when choosing a destination and answered the frequently asked questions.

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Factors to Consider Before Visiting Plovdiv

We spent the entire month of July in Plovdiv and feel like we know the city well. Based on our experience, we assigned each factor a score from 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. If the attribute is unavailable or does not apply, we give it a 0.

If you’re asking yourself, “Is Plovdiv worth visiting?” hopefully, this information will help you make a more informed decision.

Weather

Hot in the Summer1
Cold in the Winter1

Crowds

Few Tourists in Large Groups4
Few Cruise Ship Passengers5
Few Tourists in Couples or Small Families3
Pedestrian Only Areas5
Lines at Attractions5

Water Activities

Beaches with Calm Water (Kid-Friendly)0
Beaches with Rough Water0
Boating Activities/Kayaking0
Rocky Swim Spots0
Sunbathing0

Food and Beverage

Wine4
Beer2
Specialty Liquor4
Specialty Food2
Seafood1
Meat4
Street Food4
Large Food Market with Restaurants2

Interests

History4
Architecture4
Art4
Museums4
Castles0
Walled-City1
Palaces1
Hiking1
Running3
High-Fashion Stores/Shopping2
Nightlife5
Dog-Friendly3
Kid-Friendly2

Conveniences

Great Grocery Stores3
English Widely Spoken4
Outwardly Friendly Locals4
American Tourists2
Accessible by Train2
Day Trips by Train1
Clean Streets4
Noise1

Costs

Food Cost5
Accommodation Cost5
Activities Cost5
Transportation Cost1

A Closer Look at Each Factor

Some factors may sway you in one direction or another, depending on your circumstances and interests—for example, the weather. If you like to go to the beach, you may be looking for hot weather in the summer. If you like winter sports, you may be looking for cold weather in the winter. On the other hand, if you want to explore the old town (like us), you may be looking for milder weather in the summer and winter. For this reason, you may need to take your situation into account.

Weather

While there are some exceptions, we assume the weather will be good in the Spring and Fall everywhere we consider visiting. So, we focus primarily on the Summer and Winter weather.

Hot in the Summer – 1

Plovdiv is very hot and sunny during the summer. We spent the month of July in Plovdiv, and it was very hot. We often had days in the high 90s. Though we didn’t enjoy the heat, the city did not let it stop them from having fun. The exciting Kapana district has misters and fans on the outside seating areas, and it’s open late at night for maximum enjoyment during the cooler nights.

Cold in the Winter – 1

Plovdiv is a four-season destination and is cold during the winter. We did not spend winter in Plovdiv, but the average temperatures are 44, 42, and 46 degrees for December, January, and February, respectively.

Plovdiv Bulgaria Weather Graph

Crowds

Few Tourists in Large Groups – 4

The busiest season for tourists in Plovdiv is Summer, specifically July and August. We spent the month of July in Plovdiv, and there were groups of tourists, but few were in very large tour groups. They were mostly in small family groups.

Few Cruise Ship Passengers – 5

Plovdiv is landlocked in Bulgaria. Many riverboat cruises on the Danube shuttle tourists around Bulgaria, but they don’t go as far south as Plovdiv.

Few Tourists in Couples or Small Families – 3

Most of the tourists in Plovdiv were couples or small families. Even though they were there, their numbers were much less than in the crazy crowded towns in Europe, and they did not impact our enjoyment.

Pedestrian Only Areas – 5

Plovdiv Old Town and Kapana are mostly pedestrian-only. A pedestrian overpass and underpass allow you to walk between the two areas. This allows for slow wandering around and enjoyment without concern for cars.

Lines at Attractions – 5

The main attractions in Plovdiv are wandering the Old Town, enjoying its beautiful churches and houses, and visiting the Ancient Theater and other Roman Ruins. None of these activities required standing in line.

Water Activities

Beaches with Calm Water (Kid-Friendly) – 0

Plovdiv is in the south of Bulgaria and does not have beaches for swimming or water activities. It has a large river but is not used for water activities.

Beaches with Rough Water – 0

Again, there are no beaches in Plovdiv.

Boating Activities/Kayaking – 0

Plovdiv does have a river running through it, but it is not used for boating or kayaking.

Rocky Swim Spots – 0

Plovdiv is not a destination for swimming.

Sunbathing – 0

You can leave your bathing suit at home for your trip to Plovdiv as it doesn’t offer many, if any, sunbathing opportunities.

Rose Wine at Barrel Wine Corner in Plovdiv Bulgaria
Meat and Cheese Plate at Barrel Wine Corner in Plovdiv Bulgaria

Food and Beverage

Wine – 4

Bulgaria is a large producer of wine and offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy local wine during your visit. Plovdiv has many wine bars and restaurants offering Bulgarian wines to enjoy with your meal. The local grocery stores have an impressive selection of affordable Bulgarian wines, and small wine shops in Kapana sell Bulgarian wine. For more information on Plovdiv wine, check out our Plovdiv wine page.

Beer – 2

Bulgaria produces beer, and you can enjoy a local brew while visiting this fun city. That said, I wouldn’t classify it as a beer destination.

Specialty Liquor – 4

Like the rest of the Balkans, Bulgaria is an avid producer of specialty liquors made from plums, grapes, and other fruits. These can all be purchased at the grocery stores and liquor stores.

Specialty Food – 2

Bulgaria has unique and exciting food, but I wouldn’t say it produces specialty foods.

Seafood – 1

Plovdiv is not a destination for seafood, and this is seen on its menus. Its local dishes focus on meat.

Meat – 4

Plovdiv is a destination for meat eaters. Many traditional dishes showcase meat, and many local restaurants offer barbequed meat.

Street Food – 4

Plovdiv has lots of street food options, the most popular being gyros.

Food Market – 2

Plovdiv has a few small-sized green markets. They are nice to purchase a few things here and there but not large enough to be your main shopping destination. They are also not exciting enough to visit for a local food experience.

Ancient Theater in Plovdiv Bulgaria

Interests

History – 4

Plovdiv has a unique history that can be enjoyed by visiting its many small museums, revival houses, and Roman ruins.

Architecture – 4

The architecture of Plovdiv Old Town is very unique and exciting. I often wished my home-builder friends in the United States could have been with us to see the enchanting revival houses.

Art – 4

Plovdiv doesn’t have art museums like the Louvre or the Uffizi Gallery, but it still has lots to offer art lovers. Small city galleries are located around the city, and many revival houses have filled their walls with unique art. We especially enjoyed the Zlatyu Boyadzhiev Gallery in the Chomakov House.

Museums – 4

Plovdiv has put a lot of effort into its many museums, and it shows. We spent a month in Plovdiv and went to all the museums that were open. They have something to offer a broad audience, including the small and large Basilicas with their mosaic floors, the Roman Stadium, the Ancient Theater, the Roman Forum, and the many regional and cultural museums.

Castles – 0

While Plovdiv is packed with different sites, a castle is not one of them.

Walled-City – 1

The Plovdiv Old Town was a walled city, but most of its walls are gone. To see what remains of the walls, check out the Hissar Gate.

Palaces – 1

Plovdiv does have palace-like buildings that are currently used for museums, but it is not a destination for exploring palaces. Instead, it is a destination to explore revival houses.

Hiking – 1

Plovdiv is not a hiking destination and does not have great hiking trails that can be accessed from the city for a day hike.

Running – 3

Plovdiv does have a good route for running. A bike route runs along this river and offers enjoyable running on an excellent surface.

For more information on Plovdiv’s running routes, check out Map My Run.

High – Fashion Stores/Shopping – 2

Plovdiv has many small boutique clothing stores in Kapana and a large mall east of the city center. If you want to shop on your trip, Plovdiv will provide some fun shops, but it is not a destination for high-end fashion stores.

Nightlife – 5

Plovdiv has an energetic and fun nightlife scene. Kapana has many bars and restaurants that have collectively done a beautiful job of creating an enchanting environment to eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.

Dog Friendly – 3

Plovdiv has many people with their dogs; dogs are allowed outside eating areas, and our dog was welcome on the train to Valeko Tarnovo. But we had difficulty finding a place to stay with our dog.

Kid Friendly – 2

We don’t have kids, but Plovdiv didn’t appear to have lots to offer children. Roman ruins, art museums, history museums, and architecturally beautiful revival houses don’t seem like they would appeal to children. But, if your kids are into those things, they will have a wonderful time in Plovdiv. If your kids have had their fill of that, there is a Natural History Museum that they might enjoy.

Conveniences

Great Grocery Stores – 3

Plovdiv has great grocery stores, including Kaufland, but they are not located near the Old Town and require a long walk or bus trip.

English Widely Spoken – 4

English is very widely spoken in Plovdiv, and we had no problem spending a month there knowing only a handful of Bulgarian words.

Outwardly Friendly Locals – 4

The people of Plovdiv are outwardly friendly and make visiting the city enjoyable.

American Tourists – 2

Plovdiv has many tourists, but they are not often from the United States. People from Turkey make up most of the tourists enjoying this city.

Accessible by Train – 2

Plovdiv has a train station with trains to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, and seaside towns, but the slow trains and limited schedules make it an unpopular mode of transportation. We used a private transfer from Bucharest to Plovdiv and took the train to Veliko Tarnovo to leave.

Day Trips by Train – 1

The trains from Plovdiv are slow-moving and take a long time, which provides few opportunities for day trips by train. We took day trips to Asen’s Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery but hired a private car.

Clean Streets – 4

Plovdiv keeps their street pretty clean, and city workers throughout the Old Town maintain its cleanliness.

Noise – 1

We recommend staying in the Kapana District when visiting Plovdiv, but it is very noisy. Unfortunately, the trade-off of being in the exciting nightlife scene comes with lots of noise. If noise is a significant concern for you, check with your hotel or apartment in Kapana before booking, or select a hotel in the Old Town, which is much quieter.

Costs

Food Cost – 5

Plovdiv is a very budget-friendly destination for eating at restaurants and grocery shopping.

Accommodation Cost – 5

Plovdiv is also a very budget-friendly destination for accommodation. It is a great place to get the most for your money and have an extremely memorable time.

Activities Cost – 5

Most of the activities in Plovdiv are very budget-friendly.

Transportation Cost – 1

Plovdiv is connected to other Bulgarian cities by train, and if the train schedule and route options work for your trip, then your transportation cost will be very budget-friendly. But, if the train doesn’t work for you, you will need to spend some money on a taxi or private transfer, increasing your cost.

If taking the train is not your thing, you can use a taxi, private transfer, or rent a car and drive. For taxis and private transfers, we recommend GetTransfer. For rental cars and price comparisons of national and local brands, we recommend Discover Cars.

FAQs About Visiting Plovdiv

Where to Stay in Plovdiv?

If you are planning a trip to Plovdiv, there are plenty of excellent places to stay. However, for the best experience, we strongly recommend staying in Kapana. It’s the trendy neighborhood between the Old Town and the City Center. The charm and ambiance of the Old Town are nice, but there are far more food and drink options in Kapana – and a pedestrian tunnel connects the two together! The castle marker on the map below is the heart of the Kapana District, with the best restaurants nearby. We suggest staying as close to it as possible, depending on your budget and preferences.

The below interactive map provides hotel and apartment options that can be filtered to meet your needs. Select your travel dates to get specific availability and prices.

Book your stay now!

Which is better Sofia or Plovdiv?

Sofia and Plovdiv both have their own unique charm and attractions. Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, offers a bustling urban atmosphere with historical landmarks such as Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Boyana Church, as well as vibrant nightlife and cultural events. Plovdiv, on the other hand, is known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, picturesque Old Town, and artistic scene. Both cities have their own distinct character and offer a range of experiences. It would be best to visit both cities or do some research to determine which one aligns more with your interests and preferences.

Is it worth going to Plovdiv?

Plovdiv is worth a visit! As the second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv offers a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. The city is known for its well-preserved Roman amphitheater, ancient ruins, and charming Old Town with its cobblestone streets and colorful houses. Plovdiv was also named the European Capital of Culture in 2019, highlighting its cultural significance. In addition to its historical attractions, Plovdiv boasts a thriving arts scene, trendy cafes and restaurants, and a lively nightlife. Whether you’re interested in history and culture or simply exploring a beautiful city, Plovdiv has something to offer everyone. So go ahead and plan your trip to Plovdiv – you won’t be disappointed!

How many days should I spend in Plovdiv?

The number of days you should spend in Plovdiv depends on your interests and what you want to see and do while you’re there. Plovdiv is a vibrant city with a rich history, and there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy. If you want to explore the city’s historical sites, such as the Ancient Theatre or the Roman Stadium, and visit museums like the Ethnographic Museum or the Archaeological Museum, you may want to plan for at least 2-3 days.

Additionally, Plovdiv has a lively arts and culture scene, so if you’re interested in attending performances or exploring the city’s art galleries and creative spaces, you may want to add an extra day or two to your itinerary. Ultimately, how long you should stay in Plovdiv is up to you and what you want to experience during your visit.

Why should I visit Plovdiv?

Plovdiv is a vibrant city with a rich history and plenty to offer visitors. Here are some reasons why you should consider visiting Plovdiv:

1. Historical and Architectural Beauty: Plovdiv is one of Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, dating back thousands of years. The city’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, charming cobblestone streets, and colorful Renaissance-era houses.

2. Cultural Hub: Plovdiv has been designated as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, meaning a wide range of cultural events and activities will occur throughout the year. From art exhibitions and theater performances to music festivals and street art installations, there is something everyone can enjoy.

3. Vibrant Arts Scene: Plovdiv has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, studios, and museums showcasing contemporary and traditional Bulgarian art. The city also hosts an annual international fair for contemporary visual arts called “Night/Plovdiv,” which attracts artists and visitors from around the world.

4. Culinary Delights: Food lovers will not be disappointed in Plovdiv. The city offers a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bakeries serving traditional Bulgarian cuisine and international dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties like banitsa (a savory pastry) or kavarma (a slow-cooked meat dish).

5. Friendly Atmosphere: Plovdiv is known for its warm and welcoming atmosphere. The locals are friendly and hospitable, making visitors feel right at home. Whether you need directions or recommendations or simply want to strike up a conversation, you’ll find that the people of Plovdiv are more than happy to help.

6. Festivals and Events: Plovdiv hosts various festivals and events throughout the year that showcase the city’s vibrant culture and traditions. The annual International Fair in September is a major highlight, attracting exhibitors from all over the world. Other notable events include the Kapana Fest – a celebration of art and creativity in Plovdiv’s vibrant creative district, and the Sounds of the Old Town Festival, where the ancient streets come alive with music from different genres.

Street Art in Plovdiv Bulgaria
Kapana at Night in Plovdiv Bulgaria

Best Cellular for a Plovdiv visit?

Do you need cellular data during your trip and don’t want to pay for roaming? We use eSIMs from Airalo during our travel and highly recommend them. They are cheap, easy to set up, and allow you to leave your primary sim card in your phone (so you don’t lose it). Click below for more info.

Jen

Jen

Author

I graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004 with a degree in accounting. I earned my CPA certification and worked in taxation for two public accounting firms in San Francisco, CA. In 2009, I moved to Austin, TX, and took a position in the Large Business and International Division at the Internal Revenue Service. There I worked as a Revenue Agent and audited large companies and their high-net-worth owners. After overcoming my risk-averse nature through extensive budget analysis and financial projections, I quit my safe and secure career in tax accounting in January 2022 and embarked on a life of travel with my husband, Ryan, and French Bulldog, Gus.