The Biggest Tourist Attractions In (And Near) Plovdiv
Plovdiv is one of those cities you can’t help but fall in love with. It’s history, culture, charm and friendly laid back atmosphere can certainly make anyone feel welcome. Since becoming the European Capital of Culture in 2019, Plovdiv has enjoyed an even wider audience. It’s cobblestone streets and many unique and amazing attractions have more than enough to keep you both busy and amazed. Here are some of the best tourist attractions in Plovdiv along with a few ones near the city – just as spectacular and worth visiting!
1/ The Old Town of Plovdiv – a historical place often referred to as a ‘’living museum’’
If you want to learn about the rich history of Plovdiv, the Old Town is a good place to start. The Architectural Reserve is one of the most prominent symbols of the city, loved by locals and tourists alike. Inside you can learn about some of the earliest settlements here who established the city more than 6000 years ago.
You can also take a look at the incredibly well preserved Roman ruins and the beautiful National Revival houses. Visit the museums and galleries inside the Old Town to get a sense of how the local population lived during the past several centuries. A walk along the cobblestone streets is a must if you’d like to take some incredible selfies home!
2/ Nebet Tepe – a hill with a jaw-dropping panorama (and the original birthplace of Plovdiv)
At the top of the Old Town, you’ll find one of the city’s seven hill – Nebet Tepe. This is the original birthplace of Plovdiv and its earliest settlements date back to more than 6000 years ago when Thracian tribes inhabited the lands. Nowadays the hill is a popular spot where locals come to relax with friends and family while enjoying the incredible panorama view of the entire city.
3/ The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis – a 2000-year-old Roman theatre, still in use today
Without a doubt one of the most iconic and impressive sights in all of Plovdiv as well as one of the best-preserved theatres in the world! This incredible structure was built more than 2000 years ago by the Romans and it has withstood all the tests of time. Once it held up to 6000 seats and one could only imagine for how many nights it entertained the citizens of ancient Philippolis. Nowadays the theatre is a very popular venue for operas, plays and rock concerts. The Opera Open Festival is held there, as well as other events.
4/ Balabanov House – a beautiful example of a classical 19th-century Renaissance House
The Balabanov House is a remarkable example of Bulgarian Renaissance architecture and one of the most frequented Plovdiv sightseeing locations. Built in the 19th century by one of the most famous local merchants, the house had three owners and today bears the name of its last owner, the tradesman Luka Balabanov.
Today the house hosts temporary expositions, conferences, meetings with writers, chamber concerts, theatre performances, meetings. Its lovely garden is full of flowers during the summer and is a great place to rest after a long walk.
5/ The Holy Assumption Cathedral – one of the most visited religious temples in Plovdiv
This is one of the most impressive religious structures in Plovdiv, which has been drastically restored on several occasions but is still regarded as one of the city’s top attractions. It’s located just around the corner from the amphitheatre in the Old Town and is accessible by some rather steep stairs that lead to its entrance. The cathedral’s interior is also nicely decorated and is free to enter.
6/ Ethnographic Museum – see how the region’s population lived during the 18th – 19th centuries
Inside the Ethnographic Museum, you can really get a sense of the region’s habits, traditions and customs during the 18th – 19th centuries. The interior of the museum resembles a classical National Revival house. Many types of traditional crafts can be seen here. These include the production of multicoloured woollen embroidery, fabrics, rugs, traditional folk clothing, pottery, and copper work.
7/ The Kapana District – the trendiest district in town
Kapana (meaning ‘’the trap’’) is the art district of the city where young artists, musicians and craftsmen like to gather. Locals go there to meet friends, enjoy a craft beer, try a unique local dish at one of the restaurants, buy something handmade from a craft shop or to just listen to some live jazz music.
The creative district is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or an evening with friends. There are quite a few bars, cafes and restaurants that you’ll simply love. Tasty local, dishes, craft beer, delicious homemade desserts and freshly brewed coffee are the way to go here! Monkey House, Pavaj and Cat & Mouse are a few places in Kapana worth visiting. For more, check out our article Discover Kapana Creative District: Plovdiv’s Art Hub.
8/ Garden of Tsar Simeon – the locals’ favourite place for recreation
Over the years the garden has become one of the most loved and visited places for the citizens of Plovdiv, who often go there to take a walk, relax and spend time with friends and family. There are many fountains located in the garden, children’s playgrounds and plenty of areas for recreation. During the summer season, you can enjoy a spectacular show with music and light which takes place at the famous Singing Fountains. And the greenery… Just wait to see it!
9/ Main Pedestrian Street – the longest pedestrian zone in Europe
The main pedestrian street in the centre of the city is no doubt the locals’ favourite place for a walk, some shopping, eating, drinking and sightseeing. On warm weekends and during the evening, the street is filled with people socializing and enjoying themselves with friends and family.
Along the street, you can find many shops with popular international brands, as well as shops that sell traditional, genuine souvenirs from Bulgaria.
10/ Roman Stadium – an impressive Roman structure in the centre of the city
The Roman Stadium is amongst the largest and best-preserved buildings from the time of Ancient Rome on the Balkan peninsula. You can find it along the main street, just next to the Mosque in the Dzhumaya square. There’s a nice cafe on the lower level and visitors can enjoy a panoramic visual replica of the original Stadium. The original construction had seating for over 30 000 spectators, and the major portion of this stunning archaeological find is still uncovered, buried beneath the main street.
11/ Roman Forum – the old administrative centre for ancient Philippopolis
The forum was a commercial, administrative and religious centre of the ancient city. You can find the ruins of the Ancient Forum located behind the post office on General Gurko Street in the centre. You can also enjoy the view from the Odeon Restaurant while having a delicious meal!
12/ Small Basilica – an early Christian church from the 5th century AD
Тhe Small Basilica is a great example of Roman Philippopolis’s past where you can take a look at the skills of ancient mosaic masters. There are many unique and well-preserved mosaics within the basilica, each with its rich architectural decorations representing various Christian symbols – deer, pigeons and others.
Some other popular venues, galleries and museums:
- Zlatyu Boyadzhiev Gallery – The building itself is a typical example of a late symmetrical Renaissance house. The gallery has a permanent exhibition for the paintings of one of the most famous Bulgarian artists – Zlatyu Boyadzhiev.
- Art Gallery – Museum Philippopolis – The museum in Art Centre Philippopolis is a great example of one of the largest museums and galleries in Europe and the world. It is a popular venue for presentations of books, seminars, cocktails, wedding receptions and corporate events. The first floor is an exhibition hall where famous Bulgarian artists present their works in individual exhibitions.
- Stepan Hindliyan House – built in 1834-35 by unknown master builders, House-museum Hindlyan is one of the few symmetrical houses in Plovdiv, preserved in their original condition.
- Regional Natural History Museum – The museum has an aquarium, geology, zoology and botany exhibits.
- State Opera Plovdiv – The State Opera of Plovdiv has quite a lot of performances nowadays, connected with the opera, the symphony, the musical-humoristic genre and the ballet.
- Summer Theatre – One of the most popular places among tourists and locals. It’s host to many concerts, plays and spectacles.
Exploring the region around Plovdiv:
The region around Plovdiv is nothing less than spectacular too. The magnificent Rhodope mountains offer some truly breathtaking views and a chance to escape the hectic city life.
- Asen’s Fortress – Asen’s Fortress is just a short 10-minute car ride from Bachkovo and a 40-minute ride (20 km) from Plovdiv. The Medieval structure is really impressive and certainly worth seeing for its amazing panorama.
- Bachkovo Monastery – This is one of the most important monasteries of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. It is the second biggest in the country after Rila monastery. Certainly, the most well known and visited one in the Plovdiv region!
- Hisarya – Longing for a spa day? If so, you can visit a town that was once an ancient Roman spa resort. Hisarya is a symbol of tranquillity due to its many healing mineral springs, historic ruins, and calm atmosphere.
- Starosel Wine and Spa Complex – The Starosel Complex is a really unique place, located 50 km from Plovdiv in the village of Starosel. The complex has a hotel with amazing handmade furniture and interior. As for the restaurant – it offers genuine, traditional Bulgarian cuisine made only with bioproducts. The winery and the distillery are the highlights of the complex.
- Todoroff Wine Residence – The Todoroff Wine Residence is located in the village of Brestovitsa. They have a very impressive complex which includes a hotel, restaurant, a wine cellar, and a Spa. You can taste delicious wines in a beautiful underground hall with unique decor and art.
- The “Damascena” Complex – An amazing place near Kazanlak where you can learn about the traditions surrounding rose oil production. You can buy rose oil products there or just spend the day in the spectacular gardens.
With so much to do and see in Plovdiv and the surrounding region, we doubt you’ll have much time to rest. The adventure is about to begin so let’s find out more about Plovdiv!