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plovdiv-bulgaria's second largest city on a budget
Bulgaria is cheap, but Plovdiv is cheaper than a lot of places in Bulgaria. That’s just one of the reasons it has become a popular European destination. But it doesn’t stop there. The culture, architecture, food, and people all have made the second largest city in the country the 2019 European Capital of Culture. It is not hard to figure out why. It is not only extremely affordable, but it is also very enjoyable.
Plovdiv, for one, is a Roman city. It still has Roman architecture and an ancient atmosphere. The touristic and historic Old Town is small, making it easy for tourists to navigate and enjoy. There are many things to do and experience. It is, after all, Europe’s oldest inhabited city. Historic events and eras have happened here, and now it is fully Bulgarian. The creaky mansions are full of color and wear. Plovdiv, like the Roman legend, is situated upon seven hills. Plovdiv doesn’t disappoint and on top of all that, it is cheap. Getting to know this great city is easy, but before you go you should know how to do it in style.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Plovdiv is either in the spring or in the autumn. Between March and May, it’s sunny and warm and September through November it’s cool and romantic. If you go during the summer, it can be very hot. Winters sometimes get quite cold. The summer is when most tourists go to Bulgaria, and you will likely have more in the Old Town of Plovdiv than other times. However, the odds that you will have clear days goes up in the summertime. Still, visiting in the off season allows you to take the city in. But don’t make choices by weather alone, it is likely not the only place you will want to see in Bulgaria.
Planes, Trains, & Buses
It depends on where you are coming from but getting to Plovdiv isn’t difficult. It is affordable and since it is Bulgaria’s second largest city, it is fairly accessible. Coming from London, for example, you can reach the city in under four hours by plane for only $40. If you are planning on seeing a lot of the country, you can get to Plovdiv from Sofia in around two hours on the train and the bus. Locals prefer the bus routes, which is faster and cheaper. A one way ticket will only cost you $10 and you truly get a more unique and authentic experience on a bus full of both Bulgarians and tourists. The bus to Plovdiv is cheap but so are the activities in the city.
There are many affordable things to do in Plovdiv. You can start by taking the free city tour to learn about the history and culture of this great place. Get a feel for it with a local guide. If you’re not into tours, one thing you will definitely not want to miss is the ancient Roman Theater. This 7,000-person amphitheater still hosts performances, but many prefer to see it at sunset when there is no performance planned. You will catch the site when there are less people, and the way the sun falls below the mountains that surround it is particularly magical.
The cheap activities don’t end there. Take a walk in the Kapana neighborhood, which is also known as the Trap. Don’t be alarmed by the name, you want to get lost in this creatively vibrant part of the city. Walk around, enjoy some food, and lazily fall into the neighborhood’s nightlife.
You will likely spend a lot of time in Old Town, and for good reason. Walking around and taking in the 19th century architecture is quite pleasurable. Walk the main pedestrian drag and stop when you please. This is the way to see Plovdiv, without pressure and full of wonder. Finally, make a stop in the Tsar Simeon Gardens while enjoying the shade and taking a break from tourists. Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine and you will be entranced.
Where You Should Stay
According to the site MoneyPug, which is used to find cheap holiday deals, the vast majority of tourists stay in the Old Town. It is obvious why they do as you have much of the city’s sites and activities within walking distance. If you stay outside the Old Town, however, prices are cheap although accommodations are fewer. The best of both worlds is to stay in a guesthouse inside Old Town. When you do this, you will get a chance to experience real Bulgarian hospitality. It sure beats the usual sanitized hotel that you will pay too much for. Get a room at a guesthouse for as little as $20 per night.
Eating & Drinking
Of course, you are on vacation. You will want to eat and drink. While you will be doing a lot of both inside the Old Town, do yourself a favor and go out of your way to leave it for a meal or a beverage. Not only will it be cheaper, the food will be better, and you will feel Bulgarian culture in a way you can’t in the tourist areas. Kapana is a good choice. It is a hip neighborhood where the locals spill out onto the streets and sit outside at cafes. Find a place that locals seem to like, and you won’t be disappointed.
Plovdiv is a great choice for a vacation. It has it all. History, culture, food and drink, friendly people, and pleasant atmosphere. It is pretty and its affordability only makes it better. Take the initiative to learn about the city before you go, and you will have the time of your life. Seeing the architecture, experiencing the culture and history, and meeting the locals doesn’t have to break the bank to steal your heart and to leave you feeling like you want to come back. It is one of the characteristics of a truly great place.
Ryan Beitler is a journalist, writer, and blogger. He has written for many publications, including Paste Magazine, The Slovenia Times, OC Weekly, Deadline News, New Noise Magazine, and many travel sites. His website is https://ourlittlebluerock.org/.