dramatic scenery with a rich history, this
Balkan city is rapidly becoming a travel hotspot for those in
search of an enlightening
city break. Proudly flaunting its status as the oldest city in
Europe, Plovdiv’s convoluted history – stretching back over
6,000 years – can be seen in disparate imperial buildings, from
ancient Roman and Persian ruins to the decadent Balkan and Ottoman
architecture that lines the city’s streets.
Explore the remnants of past empires as you wander through
Plovdiv’s Old Town. Visit the iconic Roman amphitheatre, built
around 90 CE and only discovered after a landslide in the 70s, and
the 600-year-old Dzhumaya Mosque next door, or climb the ruined
fortress of Nebet Tepe for views across the city.
Plovdiv was built on seven hills, and is nestled between the
towering Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope
Mountains. Escape the city for long countryside walks on which
you’ll spot ornate relics dotted around the surrounding hills. Peep
into the frescoed Bachkovo Monastery or make your way to the
crumbling medieval Asen’s Fortress for views across the forest-clad
The European Capital of Culture for 2019, Plovdiv has much more
to offer than just its historic buildings. Stroll around the
cobbled streets of Old Town – featuring with the longest pedestrian
street in Europe – to find cute cafés and quaint boutiques selling
handmade art and artisan jewellery.
Once you’ve had your shopping fix, sample Bulgarian cuisine,
traditional food made with Turkish, Greek and Slavic influences.
Don’t forget to try a bottle of local Mavrud, a famous Bulgarian
wine, or Boza, a wheat-based malt drink.
Who to take with you
Someone in need of some serious “aylyak”, a Bulgarian word used
on a daily basis, roughly translating as feeling extremely relaxed
and content, and often used in the context of drinking copious
amounts of Mavrud.
When to go
Just west of Plovdiv’s Old Town is Kapana, the city’s bohemian
quarter known as “The Trap” because of its narrow lanes. Many young
artists and artisans have set up studios and stores here. Visit
Plovdiv in September
for the Kapana Fest, during which the streets of Plovdiv’s
trendiest neighbourhood come alive with celebrations and cultural
Where to stay
Built directly into a cliffside, hotel Boris Palace offers a
boutique stay, complete with a rooftop terrace offering panoramic
views across the Old Town. Nearby, Hotel Evmolpia offers
traditional interiors adorned with dark wood and Bulgarian
Most likely to bump into…
Trendy tourists visiting the hipster cafés, vibrant flower shops
and the buzzing jazz bars of Kapana.
Essentials to bring with you
How to get there
Flights from London Stansted to Plovdiv take just
over three hours.