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The Sun about Plovdiv: Timeless European city that doubles for Rome – but with fewer crowds and £44 flights

2024-01-09   |  Ryan Gray, www.thesun.co.uk


EUROPE has some of the most iconic city break destinations on the planet - meaning they attract visitors in huge numbers.

However, there are some lesser-known places throughout the continent that offer similar experiences, without the hordes of tourists blocking the streets and attractions.

One such place is Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which some believe to be the oldest inhabited city in Europe.

Additionally, others have likened it to Italian capital Rome, due to its ancient architecture and atmosphere that will "give you the romantic vibes that Italy's capital would, sans the massive crowds".

That's according to Explore, who said: "Rome is not an easy place to do on a budget, but if you head just a little further east to Bulgaria, Europe's oldest country, you'll be in for quite a treat."

"Plovdiv claims to be the oldest inhabited city in Europe, and the architecture around town gives it that untouched, timeless feeling."

The most obvious point of comparison comes from the ancient theatre of Philippopolis, which sits right in the centre of the city.

The well-preserved ruins of the are one of Plovdiv's most visited landmarks, with performances still held at the attraction.

The site won a TripAdvisor traveller's choice award this year due to the number of positive reviews it received from members of the public.

Explore wrote that it was a great alternative place to see some Roman architecture away from the Colosseum in Italy.

They added: "As for being a Rome "dupe," Plovdiv has a Roman Theatre known as the Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, standing in as a perfect Colosseum dupe."

It's not the only place in the city centre where its Roman past can be explored either, with parts of the former stadium also remaining.

Cafes overlook the ruins, while underground access can be gained via a branch of H&M.

One TripAdvisor reviewer wrote: "You can view it from the ground floor of the store while shopping without having to pay the entrance fee."


Other highlights of Plovdiv include its old town, which Lost in Plovdiv claim "time is stopped" with plenty of different periods encompassed in the cobbled streets.

Bars and restaurants can be found among historic town walls, ancient monuments and architecture from various different moments in Bulgarian history.

Lost in Plovdiv added: "If you love the feeling, which historical places can bring to you, then this is the right place for you.

"The Old Town is filled with the energy of the past, where everyone is immersed and loses track of time.

"You can feel the romance and magic along the cobblestone streets, winding among the museum houses and inns."

Newer parts of the city also receive very favourable write-ups too, including Kapana Suberb - described as "one of the most remarkable districts of Plovdiv" by Madame Bulgaria.

They said it was a "popular landmark of contemporary creators and entrepreneurs" built among the "the architectural and craft memories of the past".

The city's old buildings have been given a new lease of life with modern restaurants and independent shops.

Getting to Plovdiv is relatively easy, with direct flights from the UK available from £44 return with Ryanair.

A night for two in the city can be booked from around £25.



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