A veritable smorgasboard to cultural fun, the beautiful Bulgarian city of Plovdiv has everything that an energetic culture-vulture could want. Amongst the excellent variety of cultural finds, such as museums and ancient ruins, you will also find a thriving student population from the local university. The steady stream of local students ensures a welcome touch of energy to the ancient city and makes sure that the cities many night-clubs, cafes and restaurants are always at the cutting else of style and quality.
Plovdiv's ancient ruins and many museums make it a wonderful destination for cultural travellers. The grandest address in town is the Trimontium Princess Plovdiv Hotel (Capitan Raycho 2), where the rooms are infused with a stately grace and elegant ambience which befits such a historic city. The majority of Plovdiv's accommodation choices though are in the mid-range and budget categories. Both Hotel Romantica (General Gurko 17) and Hotel Boris Palace (Saborna 49) provide fantastic deals for mid-range stays, while atmospheric Guest House Old Plovdiv (Chetvarti January 3) is the cream of the budget finds.
Antiques galore, socialist memorabilia, quirky jewellery and fun fashion by local Bulgarian designers are just some of the finds shoppers in Plovdiv can be assured of. For antique-hunting, the Old Town is the best district with Saborna Street one of the best places to start looking. The Kapana district brims full of little boutiques stocking original art, jewellery and fashion so is a prime stop if you're intent on finding a quirky souvenir of your trip. The main shopping street in town is pedestrianised Knyaz Alexander I Boulevard. Stroll down here to suss out the latest Bulgarian fashion trends and experience the youthful, vibrant energy which percolates into the soul of this ancient city.
Eating out in Plovdiv is great value, so relish this opportunity and gorge on Bulgarian favourites such as tatarsko kufte (stuffed meatballs) and karnache (spiced sausages). Don't miss dining at Puldin Restaurant (Knyaz Tseretelev 8) as much a highlight for its eclectic interior merging Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman artefacts as for the food itself. Eating at Malak Bunardzhik (Volga 1) is great for both the relaxing garden setting and its menu of hearty grills, while Gusto Restaurant (Otets Paisii 26) is an affordable, central choice if you fancy Italian for a change.
Taking place in Plovdiv's Roman theatre, this three-day festival brings the ancient Roman world to life with gladiator battles, ancient dance rituals, Thracian games and storytelling.
Black Box International Festival
Theatre and dance companies from across the globe descend on Plovdiv for this cultural binge which aims to highlight the broad sweep of avant-garde and traditional theatre. A series of workshops and seminars is run at various venues across the city concurrently for anyone interested in the modern world of performance.
Staged in the atmospheric Roman theatre, this series of open-air concerts performed by the Plovdiv Opera and Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the highlights of summer for the city's culture lovers.
Sound of the Ages Festival
This newcomer on Plovdiv's festival scene is a celebration of hard rock and heavy metal. It's a great chance for hard-core music fans in the city at the time to experience Bulgaria's vibrant metal scene. The programme features plenty of local bands and singers rarely heard outside of the country.
Plovdiv Jazz Evenings
Focussing on the wide-ranging jazz music genre, this series of concerts brings local musicians and international big-name jazz performers to the city.