I took the last few weeks off from the blog – even though summer is usually a more carefree period for many of us, it seems that this year the summer months will be extremely busy for me, not only work-wise but also personal-wise. For this reason, I took some time off from the blog and tried to re-assess how my schedule would look like and how I could make things a bit more manageable. So, instead of posting two brand new posts every week, I will need to change my schedule to just one post per week, every Monday. This is a temporary solution and I really hope that I can go back to my regular posting schedule in the autumn when things will be settled a bit. I hope you will understand!
So, now that this is out of the way, today I wanted to share with you a quick one-day trip that we took with Kaloyan a few weekends ago – we went to Plovdiv and even though we had to take care of a particular task, we still made some time to explore the city and enjoy our time. It was a nice break from everything going on in our lives at the moment as Plovdiv is truly an amazing city break, just an hour-and-a-half away from Sofia. What amazes most of the visitors is that you can take a colorful journey through the ages in one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world – you can start your walk in the Old Town where you can see what Plovdiv looked like ages ago but just meters away from it you can enjoy the culturally diverse environment of Kapana Creative District, where you can enjoy not only a great cup of coffee but also some of the best meals that Plovdiv can offer. There is so much to see and experience in this city that you might feel tempted to stay another night… or two… or a week. But if you have just 24 hours, this post is for you!
WHERE TO STAY?
Plovdiv can offer a variety of accommodation options that range from boutique hotels to cheap hostels – the city has truly everything for every taste. Personally, there were a few important factors that we considered when choosing our accommodation: distance from the city center, parking options, and budget. We were happy to make some compromises with everything else.
So, we decided to stay in the Skyler Guest House – it is a family-owned business and the owners were kind enough to tell us the story behind the building in which the guest house is currently located. Apparently, it is a 100-year old building that used to be a bank and you can even see one of the bank’s vaults right beside the main entrance. As the building is so old, there is no elevator so if you are on the last floor (like we were), be prepared to climb a lot of stairs to get to your room. Speaking of the room, the one we stayed in was quite spacious with everything you might need for a comfortable one-night-stay. The view that opened up from the window was also quite spectacular.
But the best part was that the guest house was situated only 1-minute walk from the Old Town, the Roman Stadium, Kapana Creative District, and the main pedestrian street so it was really perfect for us as we wanted to explore the city by foot. This was our second time visiting Plovdiv but we didn’t have the opportunity to explore the city the last time so now we were extremely grateful that we managed to find the perfect starting point to discover the city.
WHAT TO VISIT?
Plovdiv and its iconic hills have been inhabited for 8,000 years, making it one of the oldest continuously settled cities in the world. So it is no wonder that many travel itineraries for the city feature a visit to the Old Town as number 1 thing to do and see. Just a few of the sites that you can visit in the older part of the city include: the Ancient Roman Theatre, one of the world’s most intact Ancient theatres as the building is still in use almost 2,000 years after it was constructed; the Regional Ethnographic Museum which is housed in a spectacular merchant’s house built in the mid-19th century; Hissar Kapia, one of the three entrances to the acropolis of ancient Plovdiv; Nebet Tepe which opens up to a breathtaking view over the biggest part of Plovdiv. But the biggest joy of Plovdiv’s Old Town are without any doubt the cobblestone streets where traditional homes blend with Plovdiv’s roman ruins. Take your time and just stroll around the streets to enjoy a true atmosphere of the Bulgarian revival period.
“Glavnata” or the main pedestrian street does not need any introduction – the 2km street, which stretches from the Trimontium Hotel and the Central Square through the ancient Roman stadium, is one of the busiest places in Plovdiv. It is full of shops, cafes, restaurants, fast food places, fresh points, and even a theatre. It is a lively place that can offer you both a great gelato in the hot summer day (try the one from the Afreddo Gelateria, it was great!) and some shade in the Tsar Simeon’s Garden, if you fancy a quick rest. One of the most wonderful places in the city is the lake with the Singing fountains in the Tsar Simeon’s Garden – even though the singing performances are currently stopped because of the pandemic, the whole place is quite beautiful so give it a go.
By this time, I am sure that you will be quite hungry so let’s go to the creative district of Kapana. This is the heart of art in Plovdiv – in the Ottoman Empire they used the word “kapan” for marketplaces because the word “kapan” also means a weighing machine and in the past such machines were easily found in marketplaces. The current district was formed between two markets, surrounded by workshops. They were known as Un Kapan (“un” means “flour” in Turkish) and Buyuk Kapan (Buyuk – big). So later the whole district became known as Kapana.
Today there are mostly cafes and bars in the streets of Kapana but some workshops and shops for hand-made stuff can also be found. It is a very dynamic place where young people love to go to enjoy some nice music, a great meal and some drinks.
WHERE TO EAT?
And while we are on the topic of eating and drinking, eating and spending time with your friends is a practiced as a sacred tradition in Plovdiv. It is truly a unique way of living, a state of mind that we Bulgarians call “aylyak”. The name comes from the Turkish ‘aylak’ meaning idle, absolutely free and relaxed and able enjoy the pleasures of life to the n-th degree. The best place to experience this way of living is, undoubtedly, the Kapana Creative District – the small district is packed with amazing bistros, restaurants, cafes and bars. We had dinner in one of the iconic restaurants in the area – Aylyakria. The menu offers a small selection of incredibly delicious meals – we had the beef meatballs and the horsemeat burger, both were extremely delicious
If you are with a car and can leave the city center, I would definitely recommend booking a reservation in Jägerhof, the first Bavarian brewery in Plovdiv. We first visited Jägerhof a few years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite places not only in Plovdiv, but also in Bulgaria as a whole. Apart from the great Bavarian beer that they make in-house, the restaurant offers one of the best meals that we have tasted in our lives. And I am a bit sorry that I always forget to take a picture of my meals – but it is so delicious that I cannot wait to devour it as soon as it arrives on my table. The menu offers a nice combination of typical Bulgarian salads, dishes and desserts, and traditional Bavarian one – bretzel, Bavarian sauerkraut, sausages, etc. We’ve tried the grilled chicken fillets, the grilled deer sausages, the Wiener Schnitzel, the fresh potato chips, and so many more – everything has always been extremely delicious and fulfilling!
Plovdiv is one of the liveliest cities in Bulgaria which can offer amazing dining experience and exciting sites to visit. Have you ever visited the city? Let me know in the comments below.