Our 24 hours in Plovdiv were pretty chill. It’s our last weekend in the country, so I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy.
I had heard for all seven weeks leading up to our visit, from every Bulgarian that I met, that Plovdiv was better and more beautiful than Sofia. Safe to say, I was dying to see if the hype was true (spoiler alert: it was).
Want to spend 24 hours in Plovdiv without breaking a sweat? If so, you’ve come to the right place. For a quick, lazy, thoroughly enjoyable visit to Bulgaria’s capital of culture, use this guide below!
How to Get to Plovdiv From Sofia
Traveling to Plovdiv was the easiest of all three weekend trips that I took during my stay here. Busses run every hour at least (but actually more) so you can show up to the Central Bus Station and grab one pretty much whenever you decide to roll out of bed. The ride is only 2 hours, so there’s no need for an early morning in my opinion.
One-way tickets from Sofia to Plovdiv cost 14 lev / 8 usd per person and you can see the exact timetable here. Just a quick tip: the Plovdiv ticket booth isn’t with the rest of them. Instead, you have to buy your ticket from Sofia to Plovdiv at the counter next to the INFO booth by the doors.
What to Do for 24 Hours in Plovdiv
So, Daniel and I arrived in Plovdiv around 2 pm and it was HOT. We walked to our hostel in the center and dropped off our bags, and then got to exploring. Check out this list of everything we got up to during our 24 hours in Plovdiv.
Walk Through the Garden of Tsar Simeon and Sit by the Fountains
One thing I really love about Bulgaria is how green the cities are. Every one we’ve visited has had really nice parks, and Plovdiv is no different. Stretch your legs after being cramped on the bus with a walk through the Garden of Tsar Simeon.
The park is large and shaded, and you can sit and enjoy the Singing Fountains. I’m guessing they’re called this because there’s some type of show that happens here at night, but like I said, this is a lazy 24 hours in Plovdiv and I couldn’t be bothered to figure it out.
Visit the Kapana District & Try Some Street Food
I love street food, so when I spied fried dough (funnel cakes for you Americans out there) in a bakery case on the main pedestrian street, I wasn’t about to pass it up. After filling up, we walked around the adorable and totally insta-worthy Kapana District.
This artsy hipster area used to be completely trashed in 2011, but now it’s going through a revival for Plovdiv European Capital of Culture in 2019. There are tons of galleries, shops, cafes, bars, and more to peek your head inside and snap a few pics of. Here we stopped for smoothies and a raw, vegan, sugar-free snickers bar… that was actually delicious. I know, I was surprised too.
There were also bubble waffles, gelato, and so many other places that looked great, so wander through here and stop for a snack at whatever looks good to you!
Walk Up the Danov Hill
Ok, I only did this because it was like three steps from my hostel and you can definitely skip it. However, I did get a couple nice pictures from the top of this short climb, so check it out if you have time.
It takes only a couple minutes to get to the top and there are a lot of places to sit and chill with a view of the city. If you have some snacks (see above) this is also a great place for a picnic!
Take the Free Walking Tour
The free walking tour is great because you can pretty much cross everything off your Plovdiv to-do list at once. Daniel and I met up with Maria from the Bulgarian Mermaid blog and did the 6 pm summer tour. (Oct. to April the tour is at 2 pm). The 2 hour tour is ideal in the evening when the weather is cooler and we saw the Kapana District again, the Old Town, and even climbed to the Nebet Tepe viewpoint for photos over the city in the evening light.
Visit the Nebet Tepe View Point
If you DON’T do the tour, you should still climb up this hill at sunset. You can see the surrounding Rhodope Mountains, three hills, and the city of Plovdiv laid out below you. Everyone knows climbing to a viewpoint is a staple for any 24 hour trip in Europe, and when you’re in Plovdiv, Nebet Tepe is the place.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
I only spent 24 hours in Plovdiv so I didn’t try everything, but the food we did eat was consistently delicious.
If you like Turkish food, definitely get dinner at Sofra. The platters come with chicken, beef, lamb, or sausage, thin tortillas, veggies, and rice. I got the wings and it was seriously some of the best meat I’ve ever had. Plus the giant plate was only 10 lev / 6 usd so it was a great deal too. Sofra doesn’t serve alcohol but reviews say you can BYOB, so this is a perfect place to save money and enjoy a great dinner outside in the Kapana District.
Afterward, some of the cutest and coziest bars in Plovdiv are the the Cat and Mouse craft beer bar, the Barber & Cat Bar and the The Reading Room. However, you really can’t go wrong just wandering through the Kapana District and sitting down wherever strikes your fancy.
When in Bulgaria, do as the Bulgarians do. And the Bulgarians love to smoke shisha. When I don’t want a pounding hangover the next day but also don’t want to head back to a hostel early, I like to stop and smoke shisha for an hour or two.
We went to the Kaya Shisha Place on the main pedestrian road. Here they have a rooftop balcony with a great view of the city at night and pretty good shisha too. We paid 25 lev / 15 usd for a hookah and two 500 ml Stella beers.
Finish Your 24 Hours in Plovdiv with Breakfast
So, the night ends, go home, sleep in, and then it’s time for breakfast. I don’t know if you know, but Americans are in love with breakfast. Unfortunately, many cultures don’t share the same affinity with us, so when we’re traveling a great breakfast place is hard to come by. Luckily, in Plovdiv that isn’t the case.
If you want to end your lazy 24 hours in Plovdiv with a tasty breakfast, Eddy’s Cafe is the place. We had two giant crepes with cheddar, eggs, bacon, tomato, and chive, two coffees, and a fresh orange juice for 25 lev / 15 usd. The cafe also has shaded outdoor seating and a cozy and quiet ambiance. Perfect.
How to Get from Plovdiv to Sofia
Ready to head back home?
The walk from Eddy’s Cafe to the South Bus Station is 25 minutes, so we opted to skip the taxi and work off our breakfast crepes. Just like the way here, the busses from Plovdiv to Sofia run every hour and even on the half hour at busy times. We showed up at 12:26 and snagged the last two seats on the 12:30 bus home. Total score.
Just keep in mind when you’re looking for the ticket booth, walk in the front doors, straight through the station, and out the back. Then the ticket office will be on your right – it looks like they sell international trips to Istanbul, but they have ’em to Sofia too.
What Else Should You do in 24 Hours in Plovdiv?
If you’re looking for more to do in the city, here’s some extra stuff you can easily add to your trip to Plovdiv.
Stop in and take moment to walk around the Church of St. Constantine and Helena in the Old Town, and the Dzhumaya Mosque on the pedestrian street. This is right by the ruins of the Roman Stadium, so take a few minutes to walk down into this reconstructed piece of history as well. You can also see more that were discovered in the basement of the H&M on the main street, which they preserved to take a peek at while shopping!
If I had more time in Plovdiv, I definitely would have gone hiking in the Rhodope Mountains or even visited the Valley of the Thracian Kings. You can also see a show at the ancient Roman Theater, climb up to the Alyosha Monument, visit the Devil’s Bridge for nice pictures, or just walk through the Old Town more, enjoying the quiet streets, colorful homes, and history of the city!
Plovdiv is a perfect weekend trip from Sofia. It’s only 2 hours away by bus and such a different experience than the capital city. Plovdiv is more beautiful and more walkable. There are plenty of view points for picturesque shots of the city and lots of great food and drinks to try.
If you don’t have much time in Bulgaria, use this guide to spend a lazy 24 hours chilling in the city. It’s going to be the European Cultural Capital in 2019 and is undergoing some serious changes for the better. Because of that, I had an awesome time in Plovdiv and definitely recommend a quick trip to the city next time you pass through!