Plovdiv, Bulgaria: The Coolest City You’ve Never Heard Of

I left Sofia for Plovdiv, and it was pouring down rain! I was practically soaked by the time I made it on the train – with only a few minutes to spare. I’d waited to share a cab with some others from my hostel, and it makes me so anxious when people cut things so close! Note to self: do not share cabs if it means you’re going to risk missing your train.

So where in the world and what in the world is Plovdiv? I had never heard of it before researching Bulgaria (this is a theme of all of Bulgaria for me… it’s been a discovery!), but it’s actually the oldest inhabited town in Europe. It goes all the way back to the sixth century BC, I believe, and they’ve maintained the old-world charm.

I decided to go and see it because it looked so quaint and lovely, and just felt like a good stop! It’s funny how this trip is evolving to “hmmm where seems good next?”

Plovdiv’s Old Town is all done in cobblestones, and these are big cobblestones! Rather than small stones for the cobblestones (a la Rio de Janeiro), these were quite large rocks set into the road. My hostel warned me to wear tennis shoes, and I’m glad I listened!

The city also has an area of the Old Town referred to as “The Trap” because the streets are so windy and likely to dead-end that the locals know tourists get lost and trapped in there! (But it’s safe… don’t worry… they’re not at the end of the road doing nefarious things.) The Trap has all sorts of restaurants and bars. One thing Plovdiv prides itself on, going back generations, is how multicultural it is. So you’ve got your pick of all sorts of cuisine, and the restaurants are tasty!

Walking through it all was quite an adventure – the architecture retains the dark windows and light houses, and it feels so perfectly 1800s!

The main street in town is also a totally pedestrian street and it’s lined with shops. There’s an old Roman stadium that was on the site, and there’s an area where you can even see the stadium ruins! (Or what remains of them…) According to my hostel, it’s the longest continuous pedestrian street in Europe. I love how much of Europe has pedestrian streets and areas! It makes it so nice to be out wandering.

There are also a ton of parks and statues here. I can’t believe how much Bulgaria does statues! They’re well-done and always fun to play with.

I spent the whole day walking around and oy! The whole city is built on hills, so there are a ton of ups and downs and stairs! Apparently, it’s known as the city of seven hills but there are only currently six hills. This is a bit of a touchy subject, as the lady at the front desk of the hostel was very much like “I don’t want to talk about it” like it had some sort of odd past. So who knows?! One day I might have to look that up…

I walked up to the top of the tallest hill for sunset. After a day of walking around town and still being sore from Rila Lakes, it was a workout! My quads were burning. At the top, there’s a Soviet statue and a view of the whole city, even into the surrounding mountains.

It was an absolutely incredible sunset – except for one thing. While taking some pictures of myself at the top, a gust of wind came up and knocked over my GoPro. And my selfie stick broke. I’m so sad!!! (Besides it being an expensive selfie stick to begin with…). I’m also somewhat annoyed at GoPro – one would think for an “adventure” product it would be more durable!

So now I’m headed off to Varna on the Black Sea, and my first mission there is “Where to buy GoPro accessories” and “Where to buy super glue.” Tougher questions than they seem at first!

Overall, I’m glad I stopped in Plovdiv. It was a nice break, and fun to see, but there wasn’t a whole lot there. It was definitely just worth a day and then onwards if you’re in a rush, or it’s the perfect place to stay a while and enjoy long lazy days in the parks and cafes!

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