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Travel Guide Europe Bulgaria Plovdiv

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Introduction

Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, and second oldest (if not the oldest) city in Europe. It is located in the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains on the south and the Balkan Range (Stara Planina - "Old Mountain") that runs through the centre of Bulgaria to the north. Both ranges are visible on clear days. The Maritsa River flows through the city on its way southeast before forming the Greek/Turkey border to the Aegean Sea.

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Sights and Activities

Old Plovdiv is compact and walkable, with the main downtown road blocked to car traffic. There is a good collection of Bulgarian revival buildings in use as museums, hotels, and restaurants etc. and is worth a visit if you have chance.

The Roman Amphitheatre, discovered in the 1970s during a construction project, is part of the pedestrian zone, and typically has merchants selling art and other items nearby.

Wander the cobblestone streets near the downtown to find, a mosque from the Ottoman Empire, and on the nearby hill the old town centre. The old town centre was walled, and has a famous gateway entrance. Nearby Puldin Restaurant has subterranean rooms where the old wall and historic artefacts can be seen. Continuing up the hill several older houses are now museums and the Roman amphitheatre with an overlook of the town below is partially restored and still used for concerts and other occasions.

In the new centre of the city, right before you go up into the old city, you will see the "Roman stadium", which dates back to the late 1st/early 2nd century. It had a capacity of 30,000 people; and as the Roman laws dictate that the city stadium should have seating for at least half the population, it summarily shows the town had 60,000 inhabitants during Roman times. In addition, the ancient theatre is capable of seating 6,000 people at once, and yes, as you already guessed, Roman laws were dictating that the theatres should accommodate one-tenth of the population at a time.

When you go to the other end of the pedestrian street, next to the Tourist Information Centre and the post office, you will see the Roman Odeon and Forum. The forum was to Romans what the city centres are to modern human. This one had three sides of 13 shops on each side, and a fourth one for the bank, library, and other institutions of this sort. There's also a nice park with kid playgrounds and colour+music fountains.
Bachkovo Monastery.

To the south of the city there is the Bachkovo Monastery, still in use.

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Weather

Plovdiv has a humid subtropical climate with considerable humid continental influences. There are four distinct seasons, with large temperature jumps between seasons being common.

Summer (mid May to late September) is hot, moderately dry, and sunny with a July and August maximum average of 31 °C. Plovdiv sometimes experiences very hot days which are typical in the interior of the country. Summer nights are mild.

Autumn starts in late September; days are long and relatively warm in early autumn. The nights become chilly by September. The first frost occurs on average by November.

Winter is normally cold and snow is common. The average number of days with snow cover in Plovdiv is 33. The average depth of snow cover is 2 to 4 cm and the maximum is normally 6 to 13 cm, but in some winters it can reach 70 cm or more. Average January temperature is -0.4 °C.

Spring arrives in March but that season is cooler than autumn. The frost season ends in March or in April at the latest. The days are mild and relatively warm in mid spring.

The average relative humidity is 73%, being highest in December, with 86%, and lowest in August, with 62%. The total precipitation is 540 mm and is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest months of the year are May and June, with an average precipitation of 66.2 mm, while the driest month is August, with an average precipitation of 31 mm.

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Getting There

By Plane

Plovdiv has a small airport originally called Krumovo, now Plovdiv International Airport. There are flights from/to London-Stansted and Frankfurt-Hahn via Ryanair, and Moscow-Domodedovo via S7 Airlines.

There is a bus, that goes from the airport to the central bus station "Yug". There are buses after every flight. On the way back to the airport you can choose from one-way or return tickets.

You can also go there by a taxi and it will cost you about 15 leva (about €7.50) from the city centre.

By Train

There are many national and international trains from and to Plovdiv.

There are many daily trains to and from Sofia. Duration is from about two and a half hours for the express ones to four hours for the slow ones. There is also one daily train to/from Istanbul in Turkey which takes about 11 hours.

You can check the timetable at bdz.bg.

The railway station is located near the city centre, it takes around 10-15 min walk to the centre.

By Car

The A1 expressway/motorway connects Plovdiv westward to Sofia, and eastward all the way to Burgas on the Black Sea. Other destinations require two-lane roads, such as the most direct route to Pleven, which is the somewhat adventurous Troyan pass road.

By Bus

Plovdiv has 3 bus stations - "Yug", "Sever", and "Rhodopi". There are many buses for cities all around Bulgaria and to some that are outside the country. Buses to destinations near Plovdiv run from "Rhodopi" station. Both "Yug" and "Rhodopi" stations are within five minutes walking distance from the main train station of Plovdiv.

Yug station has an ATM located just outside so you can easily get local currency there if you're arriving by bus from abroad. Buses for Sofia leave from this station.

Buses run hourly from Sofia, and are slightly faster than the trains.

Metro Turizm is a Turkish bus company that runs daily bus service to and from Istanbul in Turkey. Buses going from Plovdiv to Istanbul depart from Yug Station daily at 11:00, 14:00, 19:00, 22:30, and 01:00. The trip costs TRY40 (as of the summer of 2011) and takes roughly 7 hours, depending upon the vagaries of traffic and the border crossing. Metro buses also depart daily for Bursa, Turkey at 19:00. A second bus line (Alpar) also has a daily bus from Yug Station to Istanbul that departs at 22:30.

Eurolines run a bus to Thessaloniki via Sofia that leaves at 08:00 from the Yug station, tickets can be bought on board. Metro Turizm run a similar service at 08:30, tickets can be bought from the office at the station.

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Getting Around

Taxis and buses are prevalent. Downtown has a large pedestrian zone. Taxis are (Summer 2010) as cheap if not cheaper than bus rides when split between 3-4 people in general. A 5-7km of traveled distance was charged at around 5lv (charge for km is 0.75 leva daily and 0.95 leva nightly); an average ride within the city costs around 3 leva. The taxi arrives in about 3-5min. Remember to order the Taxi from the companies that offer the best deals and wait for it. Generally taking the taxi that is already waiting will cost you more (sometimes up to 5-times more) avoid them or ask for flat price that fits you! Learn who offers best prices from the locals who often use taxis. Most of the taxicars has 4-digit numbers on them, remember some and use it if you need a car, for example: 6155, 6142, 9199 and so on.

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Eat

Generally speaking eating in Plovdiv should be cheap for the westerner's pocket. Fast food is available and of high quality (in general).
There are McDonalds, KFC, Kastello, Verde and other popular restaurants.

The cheapest fast food could cost as little 0.50-1.00lv to 2-3lv and can be found along the main street. There are plenty of such places offering pizza, traditional food, and kebabs.

There are some low-end restaurants that will be fairly affordable pay attention to the menu and think about 10-15lv for a full meal (salad, main course, dessert, drinks).

Paying more will probably get you a slightly better food than the options above but most of the cost will definitely go towards the overall experience. The priciest places are located in the old town, on top of the hill. Expect to pay a bit more say 20-30lv and above. There are also a few restaurants outside the centre.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Bright House21 Georgi Benkovski Strhotel-
Erendgikova HouseSt.Lozengrad N4a St.Otez Paisii N2Guesthouse-
Hikers Hostel Plovdiv53 Saborna str.Hostel87
Hotel Dafi23, G. BenkovskiHotel-
Hotel Nord Plovdiv33 A Ibar Str.hotel-
Hotel RenaissanceVazrajdane 1SquareHotel-
Hotel Rodopi12 Kouklensko shousse blvd.hotel-
Philipopolis house29 Slaveikov str.Guesthouse-
Plovdiv Guesthouse20 Saborna Str. Old Town, PlovdivHostel86
Raisky Kat Hostel6 P.R. SlaveikovHostel-
Hostel Mostel13 Petar ParchevichHostel100
Rooms Center PLovdivKnyaz Alexander 31Guesthouse-
My Guest Rooms Plovdiv29 Ivan Vazov str.HOSTEL88
Belle Ville24-26 P.R. SlaveykovGuesthouse-
Star Hotel Plovdiv13,Patriarh Evtimii strHotel-
Bike Hostel PlovdivPlovdiv, 17 Ekzarh Josiff StrHOSTEL-
Hotel BrestnikNezavisimost 123HOTEL-
Antique Apartment KOKOBKapitan Rajtcho Str.44HOSTEL-
Melanya Mountain Retreat9 c.Lyubino, Ardino KardjhaliAPARTMENT-
Park Hotel PlovdivSankt Peterburg 38Hotel-
The Crib HostelPetar Parchevich 5HOSTEL-
The Plovdiv HouseVodoley 6 AGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Avion15 Khan Persian StreetHOTEL-
Hotel Real PlovdivGeorgi Voiteh 2HOTEL-
Hostel Old Plovdiv3 Chetvarti yanuari StrHOSTEL-
Plaza Hotel PlovdivBul. Bulgaria 125 AHOTEL-
Ulpia House17 Tsar Kaloyqn SquareGUESTHOUSE-
Guest Rooms " The old house "2 Krastyo Pastuhov StreetGUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet access is widely available in Bulgaria, although about 60% of the population has regular access. Broadband internet is available through cable, ADSL, fiber optics, WiMax and LAN connections. You can also access internet with your mobile phone, via GPRS or 3G. Speeds are pretty fast in the capital. Outside Sofia, speeds are significantly lower. Internet cafes are available in most towns and cities, and in some villages. Computers are usually not available in libraries, or in public places such as train stations, but free wireless access is often available in such public places and in gas stations. Many pubs and hotels will also have WiFi that is free of charge to use. In recent years, wireless access has been growing, especially in biggest cities, but is still rather limited. Paid wireless access is also available. Speeds in Bulgaria are surprisingly good! In fact Bulgaria is in top 10 of the countries with fastest wireless Internet speeds worldwide.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Bulgaria is: 359. To make an international call from Bulgaria, the code is: 00
There are three mobile operators in Bulgaria: Globul, MobilTel & Vivacom. You can buy phone cards from post offices, kiosks and other street vendors.

The pan-European standard number 112 for all emergency calls is working everywhere in Bulgaria since September 2008. If, for some reason, you can not connect to 112, dial 166 for police, 150 for ambulance and 160 for the fire department.

Post

Bulgarian Posts is the national postal service of Bulgaria. Services are fairly reliable and have been getting better and faster of the years. Still, it takes anywhere from days (domestic) to weeks (intercontinental) to send postcards, letters and/or parcels. They also have a very handy price calculator for all items, both priority as well as non-priority. Bulgarian post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though some are also open on Saturday (mornings) or keep longer evening hours (mostly the central post offices in big cities or in tourist areas along the coastline). You can buy stamps and postcards at the post offices or at newspaper kiosks. Single stamps for domestic services start at 0.45 leva, for international destinations prices vary by region. For sending packages, you can also use more expensive but faster courier services offered by for example UPS or DHL. TNT and local ones like City Express or Econt are also options.

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Accommodation in Plovdiv

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Plovdiv searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Plovdiv and areas nearby.

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This is version 7. Last edited at 14:44 on May 23, 17 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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