With an easy grace, Plovdiv mingles invigorating nightlife among millennia-old ruins. Like Rome, Plovdiv straddles seven hills; but as Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, it’s far more ancient. It is best loved for its romantic old town, packed with colourful and creaky 19th-century mansions that are now house-museums, galleries and guesthouses.

But cobblestoned lanes and National Revival–era nostalgia are only part of the story. Bulgaria’s cosmopolitan second city has always been hot on the heels of Sofia, and a stint as European Capital of Culture 2019 seems sure to give Plovdiv the edge. Music and art festivals draw increasing crowds, while renovations in the Kapana creative quarter and Tsar Simeon Gardens have given the city new confidence. Once an amiable waystation between Bulgaria and Greece or Turkey, the city has flowered into a destination in its own right – and one that should be on any itinerary through central Bulgaria.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Plovdiv.


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