Day Trip from Sofia to Plovdiv: Everything You Need to Know

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Wondering how to plan the perfect day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv?

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In this article, I’ll show you how you can do a day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv, and discover the landmarks of both cities on your next visit to Bulgaria.

You’ll find everything you need to know to travel between the two biggest Bulgarian cities. You’ll learn which attractions in Plovdiv are worth visiting in a day. And you’ll discover my best tips and tricks to have the greatest adventure possible.

Ready to explore Plovdiv, Bulgaria?

Let’s go!

Short on time? Here’s my top recommendation:

🚐 Day Trip from Sofia to Plovdiv and Bachkovo Monastery 🚐

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How to Get from Sofia to Plovdiv

You can travel to Plovdiv from Sofia in a few ways. Let’s take a look at each:

Mode of TransportDurationBook via
TourApproximately 10 hoursGet Your Guide
CarFrom 1 hour 30 minutesDiscover Cars
BusFrom 1 hour 45 minutesOmio
TrainFrom 2 hours 34 minutesBDZ

Visiting Plovdiv on a Day Trip from Sofia on an Organized Tour

Alexander Nevski Cathedral
Start your day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv with a hotel pickup

Joining an organized tour is the most convenient way to visit Plovdiv from Sofia.

The coolest part?

The tour I highly recommend not only shows you the best landmarks of Plovdiv. It also includes a visit to the drop-dead gorgeous, 11th-century Bachkovo Monastery.

Here are all the details about this awesome day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv:

  • Hotel pick-up is included. The driver will pick you up and return you to your hotel in Sofia, so you don’t need to navigate to the bus or train station.
  • The travel time is around 2 hours.
  • You’ll visit Plovdiv’s Old Town, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. You’ll explore the Ancient Roman Theater, the Bulgarian Revival Houses, and the city walls.
  • Afterward, you’ll stop at the Roman Stadium and Plovdiv’s Main Street. You’ll have some free time to roam Europe’s longest pedestrian street and indulge in the culinary scene of Bulgaria’s second-largest city.
  • When you leave Plovdiv, you’ll head to Bachkovo Monastery. Located only 40 minutes away, it’s the second-biggest monastery in Bulgaria. The 11th-century architectural masterpiece is in the heart of the magical Rhodope Mountains.
  • You’ll arrive back in Sofia in the evening.

If all this sounds good, grab this full-day tour from Sofia to Plovdiv by clicking here.

Going from Sofia to Plovdiv by Car

Traveling by car between Sofia and Plovdiv is fast and uncomplicated.

The driving distance between the Bulgarian capital and Europe’s oldest city is approximately 132 km / 82 mi. It will take you around 1:30 h to get from Sofia to Plovdiv by car.

This makes driving the fastest means of transportation.

To find the best rates on car rentals, I recommend using Discover Cars.

Traveling by Bus from Sofia to Plovdiv

Plovdiv Panorama
Plovdiv is easily reachable by bus from Sofia

Buses are the easiest mode of transport for getting from Sofia to Plovdiv.

Here’s everything you should know before booking your ticket:

  • Direct buses from Sofia to Plovdiv take between 1:45 hours and 2:30 hours.
  • Over 10 buses per day travel in both directions, all days of the week.
  • The first bus from Sofia to Plovdiv leaves at 6:15 AM. The last one is at 11:30 PM.
  • The first bus from Plovdiv to Sofia departs at 5:30 AM. The last one departs at 9:10 PM.
  • Buses from Sofia leave from the Central Bus Station and arrive at Plovdiv’s South Station (Юг).
  • To grab the best prices, reserve your bus tickets beforehand.

✔️ Tip: Arrive at least 10 minutes before departure, so you have enough time to find your platform and bus.

Getting from Sofia to Plovdiv by Train

Train travel in Bulgaria is generally slower than bus travel.

The train between Bulgaria’s two biggest cities departs from Sofia Central Railway Station and arrives at Plovdiv Central Railway Station.

Find everything you should know about this transportation type below:

  • Direct trains from Sofia to Plovdiv take between 2:34 hours and 3:45 hours.
  • More than 15 trains per day travel in both directions, all days of the week.
  • The first train from Sofia to Plovdiv departs at 6:35 AM. The last one departs at 10:30 PM.
  • The first train from Plovdiv to Sofia leaves at 03:08 AM. The last one leaves at 7:43 PM.
  • To get the best price deals, buy your tickets in advance.

✔️ Tip: Go to the train station about 15 minutes before departure, so you have enough time to find your platform and board the train hassle-free.

Things to Do on a Day Trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

Facts About Plovdiv Bulgaria Header
A day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv won’t be enough to cover all attractions but will at least give you a taste

Plovdiv offers a ton of cool things to do on a day trip from Sofia.

So with the practicalities out of the way, let’s dive into the interesting stuff!

One of the most surprising facts about Plovdiv is that the city is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe. You can safely bet you’ll find a plethora of amazing activities in the city.

In this section, I’ll share with you my absolute favorite things to do on a day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv.

1. The Old Town: Roman Ruins and Vibrant Historic Houses

Ancient Theater Plovdiv Bulgaria
The Ancient Roman Theater is Plovdiv’s top landmark

If you have time to visit just one place in Plovdiv, you should go to the Old Town.

Plovdiv’s Old Town seduces with its vibrant houses, Roman ruins, and cobblestoned alleys. The district is an open-air museum and is on the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list

In its labyrinth of cobblestoned streets, you’ll stumble upon well-preserved houses in the National Revival Style from the 18th and 19th centuries. Most of them host peculiar museums and art galleries.

You’ll also find a ton of quant cafés and beer gardens, as well as cute little gift shops. Several viewpoints reveal spectacular panoramas of the city.

The highlight, however, is the ancient Roman Theater. It was founded in the 1st century AD and continues to host performances.

Plovdiv’s ancient Roman Theater can seat between 5,000 and 7,000 spectators and reveals magnificent views of Plovdiv and the Rhodope Mountains in the distance.

2. Plovdiv’s Main Street: The Longest Pedestrian Street in Europe

Plovdiv's Main Street
Plovdiv’s Main Street is the longest pedestrian street in Europe

Roman ruins, elegant townhouses, funky sculptures, vibrant shops, and trendy eateries line the longest pedestrian street in Europe, Plovdiv’s Main Street.

The lively promenade stretches from the majestic Trimontium Hotel to the fabulous Dzumaya Square and covers 1.8 km / 1.1 mi.

In Plovdiv’s Main Street, you can explore charming shops, cafés, and restaurants. You can soak in the eclectic sights and sounds of Plovdiv’s bustling city life. And you can admire the funky urban art, represented by the Statue of Milyo the Crazy. According to an urban myth, if you touch the statue, luck will follow you everywhere.

Finish your stroll with a visit to the incredible Djumaya Mosque and the ancient Roman Stadium of Philippopolis.

Plovdiv’s Roman Stadium boasts 30,000 seats and lies under the level of the Main Street. The impressive arena dates back to the 2nd century AD. It measures 250 m x 50 m / 820 ft. x 160 ft. and can accommodate a whopping 30,000 spectators.

3. Kapana District: The Funky Urban Art Neighborhood

Kapana District Plovdiv
Kapana District is the funkiest neighborhood of Plovdiv

The first creative district in Bulgaria is located in Plovdiv.

The funky Kapana District is the cultural heart of Bulgaria’s second-biggest city. In its cobblestoned streets, you can explore unusual crafts shops, art galleries, and elegant historic buildings.

The main event in the neighborhood is the popular Kapana Fest. Every year, it entertains visitors with musical and street performers. The area’s iconic decorations are worth seeing, too.

Kapana District is also one of the best areas to explore Plovdiv’s culinary scene. Check out the trendy gastropubs, bakeries, and eateries. On their menus, you’ll find everything from local specialties to international cuisine.

4. Small Basilica of Philippopolis: Roman Mosaics and Marble Columns

Small Basilica of Philippopolis
The Small Basilica of Philippopolis is an astonishing Roman temple

One of the most iconic attractions of Plovdiv is the Small Basilica of Philippopolis.

The early-Christian church dates back to the 5th century AD, when the city was under Roman rule and was called Philippopolis. The basilica remained hidden until 1988.

The incredible temple boasts rich decoration, such as marble columns between the church’s naves. Colorful Roman mosaics with geometrical shapes cover the floors. In the south part of the church, you’ll find a small chapel, and in the opposite – a baptistery.

It took 26 years of restoration work, but the basilica finally opened its doors to visitors in 2014.

5. Bachkovo Monastery: The Second-Largest Monastery in Bulgaria

Bachkovo Monastery
You can add a stop to Bachkovo Monastery on your day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

You can easily add Bachkovo Monastery to your Plovdiv day trip itinerary.

Located just 40 minutes away from Plovdiv in the magical Rhodope Mountains, the gorgeous Bachkovo Monastery is an important historical and architectural gem. Dating back to 1083, Bulgaria’s second-biggest monastery after the Rila Monastery keeps priceless works of art and important historical documents.

The Church of the Virgin Mary in the monastery’s yard dates to 1604. It guards the icon of the Virgin Mary Eleusa from the 14th century. It’s believed to have miraculous properties and attracts countless pilgrims. The only part of the monastery that has survived from the original structure is the ossuary.

If you’d like to include the medieval monastery in your itinerary, I recommend booking this tour.

Travel Tips for Your Day Trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

The Regional Ethnographic Museum Old Town Plovdiv
Don’t skip visiting at least one museum on your day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

Here are several travel tips to consider on your day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv:

  • Wear sturdy shoes. Plovdiv’s cobblestoned streets and steep hills can be conquered only by wearing comfortable and robust footwear.
  • Be respectful when visiting temples. Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, and remove your headwear when entering churches and monasteries. Take off your shoes if you walk into a mosque.
  • Indulge in delectable Bulgarian dishes. You can’t go wrong with any of the salads on the menu, the mixed grill plates, and the soups. For dessert, try baklava and lokum, influenced by the Ottoman period.
  • Try the wines. Plovdiv is in the center of a major wine-producing region, the Thracian Valley. Don’t miss trying the delectable reds from the indigenous sorts Pamid and Mavrud.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Sofia to Plovdiv Day Trip

Plovdiv City of the Seven Hills
Plovdiv was built on seven hills which offer staggering views

Is one day enough for Plovdiv?

One day will provide enough time for a taste of Plovdiv’s charm. It’ll allow you to explore the main attractions, such as the Old Town and the most famous Roman ruins. However, to fully immerse yourself in the city’s culture and history, consider spending two or three days in Plovdiv.

How do I get from Sofia to Plovdiv?

Traveling from Sofia to Plovdiv is convenient and straightforward. There are regular buses and trains. Buses depart from Sofia Central Bus Station, and are comfortable and fast. Trains start from Sofia Central Railway Station but take longer than buses.

Is it worth visiting Plovdiv?

Roman Stadium Plovdiv
The Roman Stadium of Philippopolis is one of the places worth visiting in Plovdiv

Absolutely! Plovdiv is a charming and historically rich city with a vibrant atmosphere. As the 2019 European Capital of Culture, it offers a ton of attractions, including its well-preserved Roman ruins, the picturesque Old Town, vibrant art scenes, and delightful culinary experiences. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply soaking in the ambiance of a beautiful city, Plovdiv has something to offer.

Which is better, Sofia or Plovdiv?

Both Sofia and Plovdiv have their own unique charms and attractions. Sofia, as the capital city, boasts a bustling urban atmosphere, rich history, and diverse cultural offerings. Plovdiv, on the other hand, is known for its well-preserved Old Town, Roman ruins, and laid-back vibe.

The choice between the two depends on your preferences and interests. Some travelers may prefer the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Sofia, while others may be attracted to the smaller, laid-back feel of Plovdiv.

My advice is to spend time in both and decide for yourself.

Now You Know How to Plan the Perfect Day Trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

Plovdiv Bulgarian Revival Houses
Now you know how to plan the perfect day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv

I grew up in the Bulgarian capital, and visiting Plovdiv was one of my favorite day trips from Sofia.

And now you know how to organize the perfect day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv yourself!

From the ancient Roman ruins to the vibrant Bulgarian Revival Houses, Plovdiv will enchant you with its historical significance and architectural grandeur.

No matter whether you decide to join an organized tour or plan a day trip from Sofia to Plovdiv alone, I bet you’ll have a blast.

Now, tell me:

What will you visit first in Plovdiv, Bulgaria?

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