Plovdiv, the city of 7 hills.
Summary of contents of this page:
Some time ago we published in this blog an article about the benefits of Plovdiv as a tourist destination (Plovdiv, the city of 7 hills). There we explain why it is a city that you should not miss if you travel to Bulgaria, but now we are going to specify and we are going to advise you what to see in Plovdiv in one day. We know that trips to Bulgaria are sometimes short and unfortunately they do not allow you to spend more than one day in Plovdiv. Being a medium-sized city, 400.000 population, and having many tourist attractions makes it difficult to choose. You have to have priorities because in one day it is difficult to visit and know everything that Plovdiv can offer to tourists.
To find out what to see in Plovdiv in one day we are going to divide the day between cultural visits, shopping and gastronomy, then each traveler can lengthen or shorten the time they dedicate to each of them depending on their tastes… However since Plovdiv was European City of Culture 2019 and has a great architectural and museum heritage, it's worth spending most of your time on cultural visits.
We would start the morning with cultural visits since in the afternoons the places to visit in Plovdiv close early, towards 16:00-17:00 hours, while the stores are open until 19:00 oh 19:30 hours.
Plovdiv has had a long history, in fact it is the oldest inhabited city in Europe, predates Rome, Athens and Istanbul. It was founded by the tribes Thracians (ancestors of present-day Bulgarians) make 6.000-8.000 years and very later it was an important city for the Romans. Proof of this is that the Romans built an imposing Stadium in Plovdiv to celebrate celebrations and chariot races, also a theater, a Forum and Odeon, mosaics, ramparts, sewerage, etc…
What to see in Plovdiv in one day among the set of Roman buildings:
- Roman theatre, It has one of the best preserved amphitheater in Europe and it is also located within the old city of Plovdiv to be able to go on foot.
- Roman stadium. Only a small part is left in sight, most of it is underground, below the main pedestrian walkway, therefore you can quickly see the part that is outdoors because it is passing through and continue with the visit to the rest of the city.
- Odeón, Mosaics and Forum, They are to the South of the city next to the Central Plaza but they have less aesthetic interest than the two previous buildings, unless you are a big fan of Roman Culture…
Next to the Roman Stadium in the same square is the Dzhumaya Mosque, reminding us of the Ottoman occupation of the country, do not miss it, although smaller than those in Istanbul it is beautiful inside and out, including a nice minaret, richly decorated unlike most which are usually more austere minarets, which gives an idea of the importance of this mosque in Plovdiv. Walk around the building and climb the stairs to its entrance, the door will be open and you will see your main room, If you wish, you can enter that room but you will have to take off your shoes and if you are a woman, wear one “toga” that covers the body and that they provide right there. Outside on the ground floor there is a curious cafe with a wooden facade, managed by the Mosque itself that offers the typical Turkish tea as if you were in Istanbul itself…
To the right of the city's main pedestrian promenade is the Old Town of Plovdiv, a neighborhood in the center of Plovdiv that is an architectural gem for its many picturesque buildings and old streets. The best places on our list of what to see in Plovdiv in one day are concentrated in the Old Quarter of Plovdiv. It barely has vehicle circulation, so you can walk quietly on the cobbled roads, yes, wearing comfortable shoes and watching your steps because some cobblestones are huge stones they are not always well supported due to the passage of time… A walk through the Old City is a trip back in time, an experience not to be missed, with old houses decorated in different colors and an architecture different from the rest of Europe. Inside the Old City of Plovdiv is the Roman Theater that we already said before is a must-see. In addition there are several museum houses that show the way of life and customs of the period of the Bulgarian Cultural Renaissance of the 18th century.
What to see in Plovdiv in one day among the ensemble of buildings and museums of the Old City:
- Regional Ethnographic Museum. The Museum building itself and its courtyard are worth a visit by itself, and also inside the building the original rooms of the house are now museum-rooms that show the customs and handicrafts of the eighteenth century. Don't forget to look at the ceiling, each room has a differently designed hand-carved wooden ceiling. In our humble opinion it is the most complete and best ethnographic museum in the country.
- Exposition “Bulgarian National Revival”. It occupies an old and huge old house with a facade painted in red and inside there is a museum about the history of the occupation of the country by the Ottomans (for almost 500 years) and his subsequent liberation led by several Bulgarian revolutionaries, there are paintings, weapons, flags used by the Bulgarian rebels. In addition, the visit to this house allows us to pass under the “Hissar Gate”, old gate in the wall from medieval times, pre-Ottoman occupation, and take some nice photos.
- Church of St. Constantin and Elena. It is next to the Hissar Gate and apart from allowing us to know the aesthetics and liturgy of the Orthodox churches, it has a beautiful patio.
Casa Balabanov. It is a house museum that recreates a house of the 18th century aristocrats of Plovdiv, with its period furniture, luxury lamps, rugs, wooden ceilings and decorations treasured by wealthy merchants in old Plovdiv. There are other house-museums in the Old City, but if you have to choose to enter one, we opted for this one and the others to see them from the outside because they are all very beautiful.
- Casa Lamartine. It is closed to the public because it is a private house but it is worth taking a photo in front of it because it is very picturesque, it is also close to the Roman Theater.
With these 5 old town buildings, plus the Roman Theater, the Dzhumaya Mosque and the walk through the Old City of Plovdiv the morning is complete and is the priority to see in Plovdiv. There are other buildings and museums in the city but they are further from the center and if we only have 1 days are not encompassed, but we mention them to you: Regional Museum of Archeology, Museum of Natural History, Orthodox Icon Gallery, Catholic Cathedral and Basilica, clock tower, remains of the Thracian Fortress on the hill “Nebet Tepe”, Cathedral of the Assumption, other museum houses in the Old City, etc.
Where to eat in Plovdiv.
For food we can go to some of the many restaurants and taverns that are on the main pedestrian street or go to the neighborhood of “Kapana”, which is just North of the Dzhumaya Mosque. Kapana is a neighborhood of small streets, many pedestrian, there are many taverns and also night life. South of the center of Plovdiv, a bit far, to some 20 minutes walk, There is a traditional style restaurant where Bulgarian folk songs and dances are offered daily while having dinner tasting the rich cuisine of the country. This typical restaurant is open for lunch and dinner but the show is only in the evenings. We always recommend your visit to travelers who travel with our services and spend a fun night. The prices are similar to other restaurants but it has the added value of the live folk show.
In the afternoon you can continue to see museum-houses or stroll through the Old City if you did not have time in the morning but you can also take advantage of it to do some shopping, the main pedestrian street is the ideal area to shop comfortably, everything is close by and vehicles are not disturbed.
We do not give you the exact addresses of each place to visit and what to see in Plovdiv because they appear on any map that can be delivered to the hotel where you stay when you travel to Plovdiv. On the other hand, we warn you that most museums have information only in Bulgarian so it is difficult to take advantage of the visit if we do not understand it.. Bulgaria has little tourist tradition towards foreigners, most of it is national tourism, and therefore they have not yet translated the texts into English or other languages, It's a shame, but on the other hand, the low presence of tourists allows you to walk and visit the entire city without the hassles suffered in other European cities..
Guided tour of Plovdiv in Spanish.
If you wish, we can offer you a Spanish-speaking guide to guide you through the center of Plovdiv, show you what to see in Plovdiv, explain its history and help you with the language, contact us and tell us your travel dates so we can make a proposal please (hiring a minimum tourist circuit 5 days in Bulgaria).