While of course our number one thing to do in Plovdiv this August would be paying a visit to the DroneUp International Film Festival screenings and the day-time programme, we would still like to give you some tips for other exciting things to do, in order to make the most out of your visit to the city.
As the weather is usually pretty hot and sunny our suggestions are mainly outdoor activities.
Number 1: Take a scroll along the charming main street
“Knqz Alexander I” Str. and its continuation “Raiko Daskalov” Str. form the longest pedestrian street in Europe, so you could even spend half a day to a whole day strolling and enjoying it. It tops the list of most foreigners who have visited Plovdiv, they describe it as “cozy” and “chill” with a good atmosphere. You can find a variety of affordable shops as well as a multitude of cafes, restaurants and bars.
Start from the square near the Post office, where you can enjoy a daily art market, and take a little detour to visit the Tzar Simenon Garden. It is the perfect place to find a shady and cool spot in the heat. It is usually very lively – you can sometimes see people dancing folk dances, hear music or witness a graffiti exhibition. Many people go there for a walk, to read a book or to meet with friends. The park is popular among families with kids as well. The highlight of your walk would be the lake with the Singing Fountains. During the day you can enjoy a glass of Frappe (a cold coffee drink, very popular during the summer months) at one of the cafes overlooking the lake and you can often see kids playing with the water near the lake. If you come by night, you can witness the amazing show – lights, music and fountains “dancing” along the tunes.
After you have enjoyed the Tzar Simeon Garden you can go back to the beginning of the main street and take a stroll all the way down to the Ancient Roman Stadium and the Mosque. On your way, do not forget to take a photo with the statue of Milyo – Plovdiv’s lucky charm. Whether you decide to go shopping, take an ice cream (we recommend the one at Gelateria Afreddo), or sit on the “buttons” – the seats in front of the Municipality, there is no doubt that you will get a feel of the “ailyak” atmosphere (Plovdiv’s famous slow paced, carefree approach to life). The Roman Stadium is exactly where DroneUp IFF’s screenings will take place on the evenings of the 25th and 26th of August. Continue down the main street until you reach the Covered bridge – crossing the river Maritza, it houses a variety of small shops. On your way, you will probably be amazed by the number of kebab places. One of the most popular ones is called Alladin. What impresses most foreigners is the pace with which the huge meat on the spit disappears. Talk about DEMAND… If you have middle of the night, post party, greasy food cravings, then this is the place for you.
If you are, however, more into healthy eating and vegan cuisine – try Country Life. A hidden gem off the beaten track, which offers a daily menu of home cooked dishes and desserts. Prices are very budget friendly for this type of food, so it is definitely not to miss.
Number 2: Explore the Old Town
Actually we should have called this one “Get lost in the Old Town”, which wouldn’t be that difficult to do. This is one of Plovdiv’s absolute gems. If you want to delve into years of history and see a mixture of Renaissance houses and Antique ruins – then you are in the right place. The Old Town enchants with its typical architecture, its cobbled streets and its artistic and romantic atmosphere.
It is a good place to find souvenirs and meet Plovdiv’s street cats – an inseparable part of the real city experience. Apart from the list below, we would highly recommend you to explore freely and uncover your own “treasures”.
Some places worth the visit:
- The Ancient Theater
- Klianti House
- Balabanov House
- Hindliyan’s House
- The Ethnographic Museum
- The Church of Saints Konstantin and Elena
Inspired by our recent Facebook post, we can add to the list – “Take a romantic photoshoot”. Unlike other European countries, it is not as expensive to hire a photographer in Bulgaria, so it is a great opportunity to capture your feelings with the Old Town in the background. We guarantee you your friends will definitely be asking you where you took the pictures.
Number 3: Visit a “Tepe”
Plovdiv is commonly known as the city under the “tepes” – this literally means “the city under the hills”. Originally there were 7 hills surrounding Plovdiv, but only six of them are left today.
By climbing on top of one of the hills you can have a great view of the city by day, while in the evening they are a popular spot for having drinks and hanging out with friends in a serene place overlooking the city lights. If you go there by day – remember to put on sunscreen, while if you visit by night – insect repellent is your best buddy. The mosquitoes there are vicious, but it is well worth… the bite.
- Nebet Tepe – this hill can be reached from the Old Town. It is an archaeological complex containing remnants of a Thracian city complex. Therefore, you can explore some culture and climb atop ancient ruins, while having a great view of most of Plovdiv.
- Sahat Tepe – this hill houses a 16th century Clock tower. It can be reached from the central part of the city by climbing the stairs of Kamenitza located on the main street (you can’t miss them, there is an artificial waterfall/ fountain along them) and continuing further up.
- Bunardzhik – commonly known as “The hill of the springs”
Dzhendem Tepe – this hill is also known as “The hill of the youth”, it is the tallest one and some call it “The hill of ghosts” due to its history.
Number 4: Visit Kapana Creative district
Located very close to the main pedestrian street, Kapana neighborhood is the first designated creative district in Bulgaria. Formally the streets in Kapana were housing traditional craftsmen and most of them still bare the names of the crafts they were famous for, such as Zlatarska street or the street of the goldsmiths. Nowadays, the place has a very artsy and hipster feel. Many arts and crafts shops, cafes, restaurants can be found there, as well as the offices of some of the country’s major arts and cultural organizations. It is a pedestrian district, where you can get the feeling that time can actually stop.
There are so many great places in Kapana that we don’t want to miss anyone/ anything, but here is some initial inspiration:
- Beat the heat with a cold latte from Monkey House
- Simo from Plovediv makes great lemonade and desserts, he also often hosts events and exhibitions
- Dance the night away at club Void
- Have lunch at Паваж/ Pavaj – popular, edgy and yummy. Don’t forget to book in advance!
- If you are more of a beer person – Kotka i mishka/Cat and Mouse is your place
- If you visit Milen’s shop, you can buy some contemporary souvenirs
Visit the Ceramic House for handmade ceramics.
Number 5: Visit the Rowing Canal
Last, but not least we suggest that you visit one of Plovdiv’s signature spots. The Rowing Canal is the perfect place to cool off in the summer heat. There is something for everyone- you don’t necessarily have to be a rowing enthusiast.
You can take a walk, cycle, roller blade and relax in one of the cafes or restaurants in the complex. If you don’t have your bike with you, you can rent one cheaply.
Continuing on our romance theme, you can lock your love on the bridge. If you don’t have a sweetheart, then you could lock your love for DroneUP IFF, we wouldn’t mind that.
Here’s a list of our top 5 things to try while in Plovdiv:
- Start your morning with banitza and ayran. Banitza can be found in every bakery in the city. It is made out of thin leaves of dough and usually filled with white cheese. Ayran is a popular yoghurt drink in the Balkan region. Add a pinch of salt and your thirst will be quenched.
- If you are feeling more adventurous you can pair your banitza with boza – one of the most typical Bulgarian non-alcoholic drinks, it is made out of low fermented rye, wheat or millet. It has a very particular dense consistency and brownish color. If you become the first foreigner to like this drink, you will definitely win the hearts of all the locals around.
- Shopska salad – the most classic salad, a favourite for both lunch and dinner. It has simple ingredients such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and parsley and it is best when topped with a mountain of white Bulgarian cheese.
- Shkembe chorba or tripe soup – this is the classical hangover cure for any Bulgarian. Top it with a spoon full of chili flakes and consume with several slices of handmade white bread.
Rakia (similar to the Italian Grappa and to Brandy) and wine – although it might be a bit too warm for alcoholic drinks during the day, you should definitely consider trying those Bulgarian classics with your dinner. Bulgaria is one of the largest producers of wine and GREAT wine that is.