It is the second biggest city in Bulgaria – Plovdiv – is a pretty good option for a day trip outside of Sofia. Usually the first option for people who have a day to spare outside the capital is the Rila Monastery. However, Plovdiv should not be underestimated because it offers a lot of variety and it could cater for all kinds of interests. It has a lot to offer when it comes to sightseeing and culture. It also boasts a lot of lovely restaurants and shopping streets. Plovdiv is also 2019’s European Capital of Culture. That means that there’s plenty to explore in this beautiful ancient city! How to get from Sofia to Plovdiv and respectively from Plovdiv to Sofia? – We are here to help!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s start with a beautiful shot of Plovdiv’s Old Town:
There are two main companies serving the Sofia to Plovdiv and back route – Vitosha Express and Karats. The cheaper option is Karats as one-way ticket would cost you 9.50BGN (a little less than 5 euro). If you decide to take a Vitosha Express bus it would cost you 14 BGN (7 euro) one-way. Both companies offer similar quality service. There are buses leaving from the Sofia Central Bus Station every hour (even every 30 minutes in the middle of the day). The journey takes around two hours. Check out the timetable on the webpage of the bus station. The website is avaliable in German, English and Bulgarian. Buses leave from Sofia’s central bus station and arrive at Plovdiv’s Yug (South) bus station.
In general trains in Bulgaria are not to be recommended. Unlike some other countries, trains here are slower, older and not so convenient as the buses. However, most of the times they are cheaper, especially if you use some kind of discount. Of course, there are also some advantages to taking a train. For example, they give you more flexibility (at least to stretch your legs). A train journey to Plovdiv takes a bit longer (usually around 2:30h) than the bus but it’s also a good option. Check out the timetable on the website of the Bulgarian State Railways.
If you prefer the hassle-free way of travelling we can also recommend you book one of the daily trips of Traventuria. If you have limited time in Bulgaria they also offer day trips that combine combine Plovdiv with other cities.
As usual, the best way to travel in Bulgaria. Get out of Sofia from Tsarigradsko shose and follow the E80 road (part of Trakiya highway). A car would also give you the flexibility to see some of the gorgeous places around Plovdiv.
The central bus/train station is not too far away from the center of the city and you have a few options:
Walking from the central train/bus station to Plovdiv’s main pedestrian street would take you roughly 15 minutes. If your hostel is located somewhere in the heart of the city or the old town and if you are not too tired from your bus/train journey then this is a great option for you.
If you have a large suitacase and prefer the comfort of getting directly to your hotel/hostel/airbnb, then you might consider taking a taxi. Taxis in Plovdiv are very affordable. A journey from the central station to your centrally-located accomodation shouldn’t cost more than 5 BGN (2.5 euro). There will be plenty of taxis waiting for you at Plovdiv’s train and bus stations. However, be aware of scammers. We recommend you call one at 6155, 6665, 6160. They would typically arrive within 5-minutes.
There are also plenty of other options to get around Plovdiv. Of course, it all depends on where you wanna go. Here’s an extensive list of all transport options in Plovdiv.
A lot of people visit Plovdiv for just one day. However, if you are not in a hurry we recommend you spend at least two full days to get a more comprehensive feel for this unique city. Here are our favorite things to do in Plovdiv:
Once you arrive in the city, the best way to explore the city is by a tour organized by the Free Plovdiv Tour. The tour runs every day at 11am and 6pm (from May to September) and at 2pm (from October to April) in front of the Municipality building on the main street. It will give a general overview of the historical center and it is a great option to get your bearings. After the tour you would have seen Plovdiv’s most famous sights. This is a great option, especially if you don’t have too much time.
As we’ve already mentioned, Plovdiv is the city of 7 hills. Right in the heart of the Old Town you will find Nebet Tebe. Make sure to get to the top of the hill to witness this classic Plovdiv view:
Plovdiv offers plenty of great museums and art galleries, housed in some of Plovdiv’s unique Old Town Houses. By far, the most famous one is the Ethnographic museum – make sure to check it out once in Plovdiv
Up until a few years ago Kapana district in Plovdiv used to be one of the city’s most rundown central areas. That is no longer the case as Kapana is now fully pedestrian, full with quircky art shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.
Plovdiv is probably Bulgaria’s richest city when it comes to street art and graffiti. The local scene is so strong that there is now even a graffiti tour that takes you around of the city’s most significant examples of street art. Here’s an extensive list of street art in Plovdiv and where to find it.
We saved the best for last – Plovdiv’s rich bar & clubs culture. Basically the entire city center (including the Old Town, Kapana and the main pedestrian street) is full with bars, clubs and restaurants for any taste. Don’t leave Plovdiv without a night out.
Here are some ideas:
Also check out:
Last updated: January 2020