“It has over 200 archaeological sites,” Liliana tells me, and I can clearly hear the excitement in her voice. We are planning a trip to Plovdiv this summer.
We never travel without researching our destination, and Liliana is in charge of putting together a whole file with itineraries, must-see attractions, best hotels to stay, restaurants, and “like a local” spots. She’s studying the place “walking” down its streets with Google Street View, which is obviously outdated, as the latest captures are from 2012, but she is not worried: “The historical landmarks are still the same,” she tells me making a note in her travel plan.
I look over her plan, and I cannot help but wonder “how are we supposed to see all of these attractions in three days?”
“We need at least a week in Plovdiv!” I exclaim. Liliana looks up at me and smiles: “So?”
I guess we’ll have to plan for a week then, but Liliana has a clear strategy for three days. We are six: four adults and two children. But as I study her plan it hits me: she is incredibly well organized. This could be great for other families planning a trip to Plovdiv this summer, or any other time for that matter. So here are some tips to help you plan your trip like a travel journalist.
Choose the Best Place to Stay
While city-central hotels are ideal points to start exploring a city, you can always find more affordable stays in other neighborhoods with easy access to must-see tourist landmarks. Liliana “walks” around the areas with Google Street View to get a feel of the place: are the streets clean? Are there shops and restaurants that are not marked on the map view of Google Maps? Any unusual street art – like monuments and graffiti? Are the buildings interesting architecturally?
She chose Imperial Plovdiv Hotel & SPA, a 4-star business hotel in a residential neighborhood full of charm, within walking distance of Plovdiv’s Old Town. It has a private garden and super fast free WiFi, which is essential for travel writers, of course. They have a whiskey bar and a luxury spa, babysitting, and other excellent services for business and leisure travelers alike.
See Where You can Park Your Car
The Ancient Theater of Plovdiv is the closest attraction to the Imperial Plovdiv Hotel & SPA, but it’s about 30 minutes on foot, according to Google Maps, which will translate into more than an hour with two little children. This means we’ll have to drive to the center of the Old Town, find a parking place, and explore on foot from there. Liliana cannot find any parking lots on Google Street View. There’s a large parking lot between boulevards “Naycho Tsanov” and “St. Petersburg,” as she learns from this blog post, but that’s still too long on foot for children. Her note on the travel plan reads “parking iffy – follow the lead of the locals.” The locals, as one of her Google Street View shows, manage to find parking on the sides of the narrow streets of the Old Town.
Check Taxi Fares
I smile when I read Liliana’s next note: “leave the car at the hotel, get a cab.” She then made a note of a site and a phone number to call a taxi http://www.taxi1.bg/ and 6142, although as I know her, she will ask the concierge to call. She now also knows that taxis charge 0.65 Lev per kilometer in Plovdiv. The price should not change too much by the summer, but she will check the website again shortly before we go.
Plan Your Day-by-day Itinerary
Since we only have three days in Plovdiv, Liliana wants to see as many of the city’s archaeological sites and attractions as possible. Her morning itinerary is: Ancient Theatre – Church of the Holy Mother of God – House-museum Hristo G. Danov – Dzhumaya Mosque and Dzhumaya Park – Ancient Stadium of Philipopolis – lunch at Ristorante Vivaldi on their nice little, walled terrace.
After lunch, Liliana planned a hike in the Danov Halm park to see the neighborhood from one of the city’s Seven Hills, a stop at the City Artistict Gallery, followed by a walk down ul. Knyaz Alexander I to the Odeon of Philippopolis. Then back to the hotel – it’s enough for the first day. They kids will be tired after the walk.
The second day the plan includes, in this order, the Archaelogical Complex Nebet Tepe – the Ancient Plovdiv Architectural and Historical Reserve with stops at the Ethnographic Museum, the Balabanov House, the House-Museum Hindliyan, and the Historical Museum – the Small Basilica in the eastern outskirts of the Ancient city. “Find a place for lunch nearby,” she notes.
After lunch, Tsar Simeon’s Garden and the Singing Fountains to see the fountain of Goddess Demeter and to relax. There are playgrounds for kids here, so it will be a nice afternoon. As much as we like visiting museums and art galleries, the children need to enjoy the trip too. Whil Paul Jules would love to look at art, Alicia is too young to spend hours in museums. We’ll have dinner back at the hotel.
The third day is the highly anticipated day trip to Karlovo’s Suchurum Waterfall, also known as the Karlovo Waterfall. At 480 m above sea, the “flying water” is located right below the Karlovo water-power station, on the left tributary of Stryama River – Stara Reka.
After the waterfall, we’ll drive back to Karlovo to find a restaurant for lunch, then we’ll spend the afternoon exploring the town and we’ll return to Plovdiv in the evening. Main sights to see in Karlovo are the National Museum “Vasil Levski,” and the Architectural and Historical Reserve “The Old Town.”
This will be our three day trip to Plovdiv this summer. Do you have any other suggestions to help us make a better plan?