Plovdiv Travel Information

Travel Guide to Plovdiv

Surrounded by picturesque hills and situated on the banks of the Maritsa River, Plovdiv is Bulgaria'™s second largest city. Approximately 350,000 residents call Plovdiv their home.

The weather in Plovdiv guarantees that there is a change of seasons. In the winter, the area is cool and sometimes blanketed in snow. Come spring, blossoms begin popping out opening vivid colours against the dormant landscape. Summers are hot, yet surprisingly they do not tend to be humid. Sun shines on the Maritsa River creating a fabulous glow. In the fall, things begin cooling down. Fig trees display their abundance of ripened fruit ready for harvesting. Plovdiv is an amazing city to visit.

  • Province: Plovdiv
  • Population: 376,918 (Year 2005)
  • Altitude: 164 Metres
  • Postcode: 4003
  • Area Code: 021
  • Geographic Coordinates: 42° 9' North, 45° 0' East
History

Plovdiv is one of the oldest towns in the world. Older than Rome, Plovdiv is believed to have existed for well over 6,000 years, possibly as many as 8,000. No documented history of the town is found, however, until the 432 B.C. when Philip of Macedonia conquered the area. He had the ancient towers and walls rebuilt and named his new home Philippopolis. Romans conquered the area in the first century and constructed a grand fortress. Renamed Ulpia Thrimonzium, the town houses one of Roman's mints and coins were also produced in the town.

Ownership of the town passed through many hands; Huns, Slavs, Bulgarians, Turks, and Nazis, and Communists. Eventually, the area won its independence and is now redefining itself as a town.

Site Seeing

Built in the 19th century, Old Plovdiv offers some of the area's most impressive displays of architecture. In fact, Plovdiv holds an UNESCO award for architectural glory. While in the old town, be sure you visit the Baroque Museum of Ethnography. Many of the Renaissance homes are now restaurants, pubs, art galleries, and specialty stores. The narrow cobble streets are an amazing blend of textures set against brilliantly coloured gardens. More than 100 homes offer amazing architectural design, so spend plenty of time viewing them from both the inside and out.

While in the old town, you cannot miss the Roman Amphitheatre. Built in the 2nd century, it was not discovered until the 1980s so the area has become the town’s hottest tourist attraction. There is a minimal entrance fee.

Frequently during the year, the doors to the International Fair of Plovdiv open to guests. The fair is packed with vendors, food samples, wine tastings, and more. Every fair offers something different: art, business, food, wine, cars, or water sports as an example.

Plovdiv is home to a four-kilometre water park that holds many competitions. Water sports are encouraged in the park that neighbours the Plovdiv Zoo. There is an excellent facility to help you plan or even learn any water sports offered. Walking and biking paths are also available.

Every June, a Verdi Festival is held in the old town's amphitheater. For one month, orchestra concerts are held in the open-air theatre. Tickets for visitors are not expensive.

During September, many children's puppet shows are held at the 58 year old National Puppet Theatre in Plovdiv. Shows are available throughout the year, but September kicks off a month long variety that includes special shows that are meant for the celebration.

Accommodation

There are a handful of hotels in Plovdiv, Bulgaria that all offer reasonably priced accommodation. Some accept online bookings in advance; others must be contacted by telephone. Chances are that one of your top choices will have rooms available.

Novotel Plovdiv is part of the Novotel chain. The five-star hotel is close to the city centre offers an outdoor pool, and houses a restaurant, gift shop, and casino. Rooms are spacious and include telephones, televisions, minibars, and private bathrooms. This hotel books quickly, so you may want to reserve rooms well in advance.

The Sankt Peterburg consists of two in-house restaurants which offer traditional Bulgarian and international cuisine. Room service is available daily. Rooms come with a private bath, direct dial telephones, satellite television, and minibars.

All rooms at the Best Western Hotel Royal come with hair dryers in the private bathroom, direct dial telephones, satellite television, coffee makers, and internet hook-ups. A free newspaper is dropped at your hotel room every morning.

Located near the old town in Plovdiv, Park Imperial's underwent renovations recently and now includes a full-service health spa. An on-site restaurant offers traditional Bulgarian fare. Rooms come with direct dial telephones, minibars, satellite television, and private baths.

Maritsa is located in the city centre close to shopping and the old town. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. The hotel books quickly due to its prime location. An eclectic restaurant serves a wide array of food. Rooms come with hair dryers in the private bathrooms, direct dial telephones, satellite television, and minibars.

Industry

Plovdiv focuses much of its economy on tourism. Many sports competitions are held every year and annual award ceremonies are held at the International Fair of Plovdiv.

Agriculture is another means to the area's income. Fruits such as apples, cherries, and figs grow abundantly in the fertile orchards. Vegetables from courgettes to tomatoes are all common.

Gastronomy

Three ingredients are used regularly in cuisine from Plovdiv. A crumbly white cheese similar to Feta is commonly used in salads. The country's popular Shopska Salata is a mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and this Bulgarian cheese.

Kiselo Mylako is a Bulgarian yoghurt that is made from a strain of yeast that grows only in Bulgaria. The yoghurt is used in drinks, main dishes, appetizers, and desserts.

Savory (Chubritsa) grows well in Bulgarian soil. The herb is used in many dishes and breads..

Typically, you can expect pork, chicken, beef, veal, and fresh water fish to be served during lunch and dinner. Rice, lentils, and potatoes are also very common in Bulgaria. A wide array of fruits and vegetables thrive in the area, so vegetable side dishes will vary. Desserts tend to include fresh fruit of some form.

Bulgarians commonly use individual sized clay or earthenware pots for stewing or baking meats and vegetables. Many popular dishes are formed from creating stews or soups in the individual pots.

Area highlights include the Alafrangues, located in the old town. This restaurant sits in a historical building. Traditional Bulgarian fare is served. Diners rave over the baked lamb. Prices are more than reasonable with most meals..

Nightlife

Many bars and dance clubs are located in the city centre. If you are looking for something relatively quite, you are bound to find it. There are also some energetic nightclubs that offer dancing and peppy music.

Drinks are extremely inexpensive throughout the area. Do not miss your chance to try some of the local beers and wines. You will pay very little and leave happy!

Summary

As the second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv is an area not to be missed! There is so much to see and do, you need to plan to spend at least three days to even come close to seeing a portion of the city. If you can dedicate a week, definitely plan to spend your time enjoying all the sights, tastes, and sounds!