The Best Day Trips from Plovdiv

Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, has a lot to offer. It’s only an hour’s drive from Sofia, has beautiful mountains both inside and outside the city limits, and is rich in history dating back to the Romans.  If have a few days to spend in Plovdiv and then want to get out of the city, there is plenty to see and do in the surrounding area.  Here are the best day trips from Plovdiv, Bulgaria

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Where to Stay in Plovdiv, Bulgaria

There are a host of places to stay in Plovdiv, Bulgaria – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, mid-range places to stay in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and budget accommodation in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Gallery 37, BW Premier Collection, Plovdiv:The Gallery 37 in Plovdiv is ideally located at the heart of Plovdiv, conveniently located just 15 meters away from the stunning Ancient Roman Amphitheatre. This five-star hotel in Plovdiv has rooms with pieces designed by renowned Bulgarian artists; these rooms include a flat-screen TV, mini-bar, a safe, and a private bathroom with bathrobes, a bidet, and slippers. This world-class Plovdiv hotel also offers breakfast, coffee in the in-hotel café, and a free parking space. Plovdiv’s Gallery 37 also boasts a terrace for guests to enjoy the views of the city and free WiFi. The Gallery 37 is a magnificent Plovdiv hotel where art and history blend, a perfect place to indulge when visiting Plovdiv. See room rates and availability here.

Boutique Guest House 7th Sense, Plovdiv: The Boutique Guest House 7th Sense is located right at the center of Plovdiv. Each room at Plovdiv’s Guest House 7th Sense is equipped with a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom with a shower, hairdryer, free toiletries air-conditioning, a seating area, sound-proofing, and iron/iron board while selected rooms have a balcony. This boutique guest house in Plovdiv has a shared lounge area, an airport shuttle (for a fee), daily housekeeping, and free WiFi throughout the accommodation. Plovdiv’s Boutique Guest House 7th Sense is an ideally located accommodation for easily exploring Plovdiv. Read more reviews and check room rates and availability here.

Plovdiv City Center Hotel, Plovdiv: The Plovdiv City Center Hotel is perfectly located at the heart of Plovdiv. This budget Plovdiv hotel has rooms that feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a kettle shower, a private bathroom with a shower and a hairdryer, a wardrobe, a desk, fridge, air-conditioning, and blackout curtains, and there is a balcony in selected rooms. This Plovdiv hotel also has a spacious terrace and a lobby bar that serves hot, alcoholic, soft drinks, fresh cocktails, and fresh juices. The Plovdiv City Center Hotel is a fantastic budget hotel in Plovdiv. Check availability here.

Apart from being Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv is Europe’s oldest living city, having been inhabited since 6000 B.C. The Roman stadium, the Ancient Theatre, the lovely old town with many National Revival period houses, and the Djumala mosque are just a few of the famous historical monuments. Once you’ve explored the city there are some great places to visit nearby, so let’s get started on the best places to visit on a day trip from Plovdiv.

The Best Places to Visit near Plovdiv as a Day Trip

Plovdiv’s location makes for a great opportunity to get out and see more of Bulgaria.  There are some great hikes within easy reach of Bulgaria’s second city.  Also, you’ll find several UNESCO world heritage sites, some great ancient monasteries, and even a spa town.  Here are my recommendations for places to visit on a day trip from Plovdiv.

Visit Bachkovo Monastery on a day trip from Plovdiv

Bachkovo Monastery, less than 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Plovdiv, is Bulgaria’s second-largest monastery, after Rila with intricate murals and several small chapels in the forest above the monastery.    Learn more about Bachkovo on this guided tour in English.

day trips from plovdiv bachkovo monastery

The busiest day for the monastery is August 15, when a special Mass is held in honor of its patron, the Holy Mother of God. The cloister is the most visited tourist attraction in Bulgaria, as well as the second largest. It was founded in 1083 and is considered one of Bulgaria’s most sacred sites. The main church of the Virgin Mary was built in 1604 and houses a valuable icon of Saint Mary from the 11th-12th centuries AD.  According to legend and the apparently large number of people who have been healed, this remarkable icon is a miracle worker. The Archangels’ Church, which dates from the 12th century, is attached to the Virgin Mary church. The monastery refectory is another gem in the complex, with colorful murals dating back to 1643.

It’s worth also taking a short, easy walk in the Red Wall nature reserve near Bachkovo Monastery, where there is a beautiful waterfall, green meadows, and lush forests. There is also a chapel built around a holy well and a few century-old plane trees here

To visit Bachkovo Monastery from Plovdiv

  • Go by bus, it takes about 40 minutes on the bus from Plovdiv to Bachkovo (there are regular buses and you’ll find the schedule here)
  • Take a taxi – it’s about 30 minutes to go from Plovdiv to Bachkovo by road
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 30 minutes to Bachkovo from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Bachkovo from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, and also get to see Asen’s Fortress. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Visit the Starosel Thracian Temples from Plovdiv

Discover the largest Thracian temple-tomb from the 4th century B.C. near Starosel Village, once an ancient Thracian ruler’s property.  While you’re there, stop by Hissaria, a tranquil spa town known for its hot mineral springs, historic Roman ruins, green parks, and swimming pools.

In the year 2000, the Thracian Temple Complex in the Chetinyovata Mogila, located 4 kilometers from the village of Starosel, was established. This is the oldest royal Thracian complex with a mausoleum ever discovered. It was built between the end of the fifth and the beginning of the fourth centuries BC.  There are six underhill temples, four of which are unique, as well as a few royal burials, make up the Thracian Temple Complex at Starosel.  There’s more on the complex at Starosel here.

day trips from plovdiv Starosel thracian temples

In Hissaria, it appears that time has slowed down indefinitely. At 346 meters, it is situated on the outskirts of the Sredna Gora mountain range. It has a pleasant climate and more than 20 mineral springs, making it a popular spa destination for both Bulgarian and foreign visitors. Hissaria is one of Bulgaria’s three international spa resorts, and this small resort town is also known for its significant Roman ruins.

To visit Starosel Thracian Temples from Plovdiv

  • Go by bus, it takes about 90 minutes on the bus from Plovdiv to Starosel (there are 5 buses a day and you’ll find the schedule here)
  • Take a taxi – it’s about one hour to go from Plovdiv to Starosel by road
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 60 minutes to Starosel from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Starosel from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, and also get to spend time in the spa town of Hissaria. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Visit Koprivshtitsa on a day trip from Plovdiv

Visit Koprivshtitsa to get a sense of traditional Bulgarian villages, you’ll see more Bulgarian visitors here than international ones.  Koprivshtitsa is a charming Bulgarian village with original Bulgarian National Revival architecture. This includes both house museums and traditional cuisine restaurants in the area. It’s easy to wander and (pleasantly) get lost amongst the cobblestone streets and simply enjoy the tranquillity.  You’ll want to make sure you see the “First Shot Bridge” – named after the first shot that was fired in the 1876 April Uprising, when Bulgarians freed themselves from their Ottoman oppressors.

Although you may have seen traditional Revival houses in Plovdiv’s Old Town, a visit to the historical town of Koprivshtitsa will broaden your perspective, particularly if you are a history or architecture buff who enjoys learning more about the country you are visiting.

day trips from plovdiv Koprivshtitsa

Another feature of Koprivshtitsa is the abundance of water fountains constructed over time. Their stone facades are lovely. Around the area, you’ll see Bogdan, the highest peak in the Sredna Gora mountain range rises above Koprivshtitsa and the Bogdan Preserve here is full of ancient beech trees. 

The picturesque town of Koprivshtitsa greets visitors with an old-world charm as if time has been stopped and transported back several centuries. It has one-of-a-kind homes and streets steeped in history.  It is a glorious day trip from Plovdiv.

To visit Koprivshtitsa from Plovdiv

  • You can take a train from Plovdiv to Strelcha, and then you’ll need to take a taxi from there (about 20 minutes), but there are only three trains a day.  It’s not recommended to take public transport for this day trip from Plovdiv.
  • Take a taxi – it’s about 90 minutes to go from Plovdiv to Koprivshtitsa by road
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 90 minutes to Koprivshtitsa from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Koprivshtitsa from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, you can have lunch at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant and visit up to 5 of the museums in Koprivshtitsa. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Visit Bulgaria’s Rose Valley and the Area of the Thracian Kings from Plovdiv

A day trip to the Valley of Roses is a must if you are visiting Plovdiv, especially if you’re there at the end of May or early June.  The rose is an important symbol for Bulgaria, and it has its own festival, the Rose Festival, which takes place every June. This is the time of year when Kazanlak, the Rose Valley’s capital, smells like roses and a festive atmosphere pervades the city. You can participate in the vibrant Rose Festival, get your hands dirty at the weekly rose-picking ritual, or visit the town’s Rose Museum.   If you’d like to take this with a group, there’s more information here.

day trips from plovdiv rose valley

Kazanlak is also the center of the Thracian Kings Valley, an area surrounding the town where dozens of ancient Thracian tombs have been discovered. Start by visiting the Iskra History Museum in Kazanlak for some background information, and then if you haven’t driven here, or taken a tour, you’ll need to rent a car or take a taxi to visit the tombs (they’re about 13km away).

I really recommend traveling through the famous Rose Valley, which produces the best rose oil in the world. Since 1664, when the first rose bushes were imported from Syria via Ottoman Turkey, the country has produced the best rose oil in the world. Bulgaria produces roughly 70% of all rose oil in the world! The Kazanlak rose (from the Damask rose family) is grown in Central Bulgaria’s famous Rose Valley, where the unique climate and soil conditions are ideal for this remarkable plant.

Visit the Golyama Kosmatka tomb and the UNESCO world cultural heritage site, Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak, both from the 4-5th century B.C., in the Thracian Kings Valley. The tomb is made up of a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber with a cupola that houses famous paintings. Kazanlak’s Thracian tomb is a one-of-a-kind aesthetic and artistic work, a masterpiece of Thracian creativity. This is the only monument of its kind in the entire world.  Don’t miss it if you’re in the area!

To visit Kazanlak from Plovdiv

  • Go by bus, it takes about 2 hours on the bus from Plovdiv to Kazanlak (there are regular buses and you’ll find the schedule here).  You can also take the train to Kazanlak from Plovdiv and the schedule for trains is here.
  • Take a taxi – it’s about 90 minutes to go from Plovdiv to Kazanlak by road
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 90 minutes to Kazanlak from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Kazanlak, the Rose Valley, and the Thracian Tombs from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, visit the tombs and have a stop for lunch too. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Visit Rila Monastery on a day trip from Plovdiv

The imposing Rila Mountains are home to the Rila Monastery. It is Bulgaria’s most well-known landmark and a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Rila is the most famous and largest monastery in Bulgaria, which was founded in the 10th century. According to legend, in the 9th century, hermit St Ivan of Rila lived in the caves nearby. The monastery was not built until his students arrived. If you plan to visit Rila, I recommend you read my guide to visiting Rila here, it is simply glorious.

The main church, Nativity of the Virgin (1835–1837), in Rila Monastery, is decorated with wonderful and well-preserved murals. More than 1200 scenes are depicted on the exterior and interior of the church. The holy relics of St. Ivan Rilski are kept in the church, as is the tomb of the last Bulgarian king, Boris III. Next to the main temple is the only remaining 14th-century structure, the Hrelio’s tower, which represents a strong fortification built by the local feudal lord Hrelio in 1334–1335. On the top floor of the building, the “Transfiguration” chapel houses valuable 14th-century mural paintings.  Like the sound of Rila?  You’ll love it.  Here are more details on the easiest way to visit Rila Monastery from Plovdiv.

day trips from plovdiv rila monastery

You can also see some ancient monastery guard weapons, church objects, documents, an ancient printing machine from Vienna, ornaments, ancient coins, and more in the monastery museum. The wooden cross carved by monk Rafail is the most impressive exhibit here. He worked on it for 12 years (from 1790 to 1802) before going blind. This one-of-a-kind work of art features 36 Bible scenes and over 600 figures the size of rice grains!

To visit Rila Monastery from Plovdiv

  • It takes nearly 5 hours (and one-stop in Yakoruda) to reach Rila from Plovdiv on the bus.  It’s not recommended or doable in a day trip by public transport.
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 3 hours to Rila from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Rila Monastery from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide and also get to visit the museums.  I highly recommend trying the grilled trout from one of the stream-side restaurants. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Visit Veliko Tarnovo on a day trip from Plovdiv

At 210 meters above sea level, the charming Veliko Tarnovo is amphitheatrically situated.  Bulgaria’s original capital city is located on the Yantra River, making it ideal for day trips from Plovdiv.  And it is a beautiful place to visit.  If you have longer, do come for more time (read my guide to Veliko Tarnovo here)

day trips from plovdiv veliko tarnovo

Saint Patriarch Euthymius, a Bulgarian patriarch whose statue can be seen rising near the University building on the Sveta Gora hill, is the town’s guardian. The university, named after the Saints Cyril and Methodius, is Bulgaria’s second-largest.  Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and is home to numerous historical sites, including the imposing medieval fortress Tsarevets and nearby Arbanassi, one of Bulgaria’s most remarkable historic villages.

Despite its small size, with a population of only about 69,000 people, Veliko Tarnovo attracts a large number of enthusiastic tourists due to its numerous and valuable sights, which give it a unique atmosphere.  Veliko Tarnovo may just become your favorite Bulgarian destination, after Plovdiv of course! It’s very pretty, with a massive fortress, charming old streets, a beautiful river, cute villages, and scenic views among the surrounding mountains.

To visit Veliko Tarnovo from Plovdiv

  • It takes about 3.5 hours on the bus from Plovdiv to Veliko Tarnovo so it’s not really doable as a day trip by public transport.  There’s also only one bus a day.  The train takes even longer (nearly 5 hours).
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 3 hours to Veliko Tarnovo from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this day trip to Veliko Tarnovo from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, get to see the highlights of Veliko Tarnovo, as well as the delightful village of Arbanassi, and get to see the Shipka Memorial Church. There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Go Wine Tasting from Plovdiv

Even though Bulgaria is one of the world’s oldest wine producers, wine tourism is still in its infancy here, and the wine producers are best visited on a day trip from Plovdiv, or Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia.    Making wine is an important tradition in Bulgaria that dates back to the Thracian culture. The wine was worshipped as a divine drink by the Thracian tribes who inhabited the lands as early as 4000 BC. Here are a few stops on your perfect wine tour around Plovdiv if you love wine as much as we do!

day trips from plovdiv wine tasting melnik

Villa Yustina, Villa Vinifera, Zagreus Winery, Brestovitsa Winery, and Dragomir Winery are among Bulgaria’s best wineries and vineyards. In Plovdiv, Bulgaria, there are several options for customizing wine tastings and tours, you will, of course, want someone else to do the driving if you go wine tasting in Plovdiv!  Discover the best tasting wines in Plovdiv, click here for more details!

Hike Musala Peak from Plovdiv

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Bulgaria’s beautiful countryside, there’s one adventure you should add to your bucket list: climbing the Musala Peak.  Musala Peak is well-known among serious hikers. It is the highest point on the Balkan Peninsula! This hike will take you to Bulgaria’s highest peak, Musala Peak. The elevation is 2925 meters and the peak’s name is of Thracian origin and means “Plenty of Water.”

It will take you about 5-6 hours to hike to Musala peak and back, including rest time. If you start early enough, you can easily climb it in a day.  You simply must be in reasonably good physical condition.  To hike Musala, you’ll be gaining 690 meters in elevation and the hike takes place between 2369 and 2925 meters (7772 and 9596 feet) above sea level.  It is a distance of 14.2 km (8.8 miles) and the hike starts at the Borovets ski hill gondola, which you take to start the trek.

day trips from plovdiv hike musala peak

There are magnificent views of the stunning other Rila Mountains, as well as other large Bulgarian mountains such as the alpine Pirin Mountains, Vitosha Mountain, Sredna Gora Mountains, Sredna Gora Mountains with the majestic Balkan Range behind them, and the green and more oval Rhodope Mountains, can all be seen from this hike.

To Hike Musala Peak from Plovdiv

  • We don’t recommend this by public transport, the day is long enough as it is!
  • Rent a car and drive – it’s about 90 minutes to Borovets from Plovdiv.    If you need to rent a car, we recommend Discover Cars. You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Plovdiv here.
  • Or take this guided hike of Musala Peak from Plovdiv – where you’ll get round trip air-conditioned transport, an English-speaking guide, and also get to sleep on your return journey! There’s also free cancellation up to 24 hours before your visit. Reserve your date now.

Hike the Rila 7 Lakes from Plovdiv

Because of the outstanding beauty of the glacial lakes and the entire area, the Seven Rila Lakes is the most popular trekking destination in the Rila Mountains.  The lakes are also one of Bulgaria’s top 100 national tourist attractions. The lakes – named the Tear (the highest at 2535 meters above sea level), the Eye, the Kidney, the Twins (the largest), the Trefoil, the Fish Lake, and the Lower Lake are the amphitheatrically situated mountain pearls (the lowest one at 2095 meters).  See the Seven Rila Lakes on a guided hike here.

day trips from plovdiv rila 7 lakes

Whatever time of year you visit, this is a glorious hike.   Purple crocus meadows bloom around the smooth surface of the Rila Lakes in the springtime. In the summer, the mountains and lakes provide a welcome respite from the heat, and in the autumn, the golden grass provides a striking contrast.

To visit the Rila 7 Lakes from Plovdiv

Where the Visit in Bulgaria

While you’re visiting Bulgaria be sure to make time to visit these other stunning locations.

Plan your Trip to Bulgaria

Final Words on the Best Day Trips from Plovdiv

Plovdiv is a glorious city to visit in Bulgaria, and it makes a great base for seeing more of Bulgaria.  Whether you prefer to see nature, some of the UNESCO world heritage sites here, or explore the historical and cultural connections there are some great things to see on day trips from Plovdiv. So, go on, extend your stay, keep that lovely hotel or apartment and get out and explore the area around Bulgaria’s second city.

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