We woke up at our sketchy hostel in Sofia(maybe an understatement), and had some included breakfast before checking out and walking to the Sofia train station. Our plan for the day was to travel by train to Plovdiv and see as much as we could see.
It was incredibly easy to show up at the train station and purchase train tickets on the next train travelling to Plovdiv. Something to consider is that Bulgaria uses the cyrillic alphabet, so if you are unable to read cyrillic it is really necessary to know the name of your destination in cyrillic (Plodiv=Пловдив and Sofia=Со́фия). The one way journey cost us 9 lev approximately $6 CAD. We had no trouble finding the platform, but wanted to confirm that we had the right train. I was able to ask a local if it was indeed the train to “Plovdiv”. The train was really nice, and we shared a compartment with six other passengers, who left at various stops along the journey.
Before we came to Bulgaria, I had done some research about travelling from Sofia to Plovdiv, and every bit of advice I came across said “do not take the train, opt for the bus instead” “unsafe” or “boring journey”. We thoroughly enjoyed the train trip and would recommend this route to others. The entire journey took 2 hours.
Once we arrived in Plovdiv we had about a twenty minute walk to our hostel in the Old Town. The walk took us through a beautiful park, by a giant “dancing fountain” and then straight through the heart of downtown. When ever we have the option to take a bus, taxi or walk, we choose to walk. You see so much more when you explore a city on foot.
We checked into our incredible hostel called “Guest House Old Plovdiv“. This was our favourite accommodation of the entire trip, and it was incredibly affordable. I will include a few photos of the room. Breakfast was also included in the price, and was more than just your standard continental breakfast!
After checking in, we set out to see as much of Plovdiv as we could, because we really only had two partial days in the city. We walked from our hostel to the partially uncovered remains of the Roman Stadium, right in the centre of town.
As you can probably see from the pictures, the Roman Stadium is still mostly underground. The entire stadium was below what is now street level. Many shop owners were discovering seats from the stadium in their basements, so the city decided to dig and see what was underground. They found the incredibly intact remains of this ancient marvel, and decided to restore a section and keep it uncovered in the centre of a busy shopping street.
From the Roman Stadium we wandered on down the main pedestrian street to see a few more Roman remains (they seem to be everywhere!!). From there, we looped back up the hill towards the Old Town where we had started, in order to see the Roman Amphitheatre, arguably the most iconic sight in Plovdiv.
The theatre was built around 90AD and after Roman use it remained underground until the 1960’s when a landslide uncovered part of the ruins. The theatre is in use today, and hosts a wide variety of musical and theatre performances in the summer time. Entrance to the theatre was 5 lev for adults, and we would encourage you to pay the small fee to actually be able to explore the site.
After exploring the Amphitheatre, we made our way back down to the pedestrian street in search of dinner. After an uneventful dinner, we found a corner shop selling .87 cent beers, and purchased two. We sat down on a quiet pedestrian street and listened to incredible street music while we drank our beers.
We then made our way back to our hostel, stopping along the way to see a few of the sights lit up with incredible lights!