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Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, and one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is located in the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains in the south of Bulgaria and the Balkan Range, or Old Mountains (Stara Planina) that runs through the center of Bulgaria. 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.
International Plovdiv Airport is located next to the village of Krumovo, 15 km away from the city center (about 20 min by car). The airport is served by the low-cost flight company Ryanair, providing direct flights to London Stansted Airport and Frankfurt Haan. At the moment there are seasonal flights to Moskow Domodedovo Airport three times per week – on Monday, Friday and Sunday until March 29th 2016.
Plovdiv International Airport is easily accessible by the following means of transport:
By car – The trip is about 20-minutes-long. At the airport there is a paid parking area.
By taxi – The price of going to the airport by taxi will be around 15 – 20 BGN
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. As of March 2013, the Istanbul train leaves from the Halkali station outside of Istanbul. The train leaves around 22:30 and there is not much easily accessible around Halkali station, so come prepared! Halkali can be reached by buses BN1 and BN2.
The A1 expressway/motorway connects Plovdiv westward to Sofia and eastward to Stara Zagora and Yambol. It is expected to be fully finished in 2013 and to connect Plovdiv to Burgas.
Other destinations require two-lane roads, such as the most direct route to Pleven, which is the somewhat adventurous Troyan pass road.
Plovdiv has 3 bus stations - "Jug", "Sever", and "Rhodopi". There are many buses for cities all around Bulgaria and to some that are outside the country.
Jug station has an ATM located just outside so you can easily get local currency there if you're arriving by bus from abroad.
Buses run approximately hourly between Sofia and Jug station, and are slightly faster than the trains. Some may have free wifi. Price is 14 leva. The final stop for this bus is the Yug (south) station. Departure from Jug station to Sofia is exactly on the hour. Use the 'See' section for a map of the town.
What to see
The 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 nearby Roman Theatre, discovered in the 1970's 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 the centuries old St. Marina church with a unique wooden tower, a mosque from the Ottoman Empire, and on the nearby hill the old town center. The old town center was walled, and has a famous gateway entrance. Nearby Puldin Restaurant has subterranean rooms where the old wall and historic artifacts can be seen. Continuing up the hill several older houses are now museums and the Roman amphitheater with an overlook of the town below is partially restored and still used for concerts and other occasions.
In the new center of the city (at the street heading up into the old town) you will find 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--again, Roman laws dictated that the theatres should accommodate one-tenth of the population at a time.
When you go to the other end of the predestrian street, next to the Tourist Information Center and the post office, you will see the Roman Odeon and Forum. The forum was to Romans the downtown of today. 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.
Plovdiv offers many things to do, and most are easily walkable.
Walk The Hills - For starters enjoying the sunset from all the different hills is a must. Walk all the way to the top in the late afternoon, pick something to drink and stay there for the sunset. Go down to enjoy the nightlife once it's dark.
On the Mladeshki there is a miniature train that can be ridden up and down. It costs 1 lev. On the Bunardjik Hill you can see the monument of the unknown russian soldier - it's dedecated to all the russian soldiers who died in the russian-turkish war.
Old Town - Another must is the old town of Plovdiv which is full of art, free of cars and very enjoyable. Go take a walk try it at day, try it at night it's amazing. Try some of the bars there are life performances sometimes there. You might be even lucky enough to catch an opera performance in the old roman theater.
Center - Enjoying the central park during the day, especially if it's a very, very hot day, and the night - the gorgeous singing fountains. Once the weather settles hit the main street and the bars/discos.
Symphony. Check for concert showings in the symphony hall across from the main post office. Tickets are 3-5 euros, and the quality is good.
Free Plovdiv Tour. started walking as of July 2012. The free English-language tour is every day at 11am and 6pm (May-September) or 2PM (October-April) despite any bad weather, even on holidays). Starting point - Municipality Building (Plovdiv City Hall). Ending point - Nebet Hill. Organized by guides from "Free Sofia Tour" non-profit organization.
Plovdiv Jazz Nights International Festival. The International Festival Plovdiv Jazz Nights is a low key but high quality 3 day event featuring some of the nation's best musicians along with some regional talents. Be there to witness a riot of colourful improvisations from great musicians. A variety of genres, styles, instruments are used although the music revolves around the central theme of Jazz and Blues. In 2011, It was held from 6th to 8th Oct.