Plovdiv in Bulgaria is the second largest town of Bulgaria. As such there are plenty of attractions in Plovdiv – from various historical eras. But if you ask me the sunsets on the Plovdiv hills are the ones standing out the most. After all, Plovdiv is the ‘City of Seven Hills’. (There aren’t actually seven anymore but who’s counting?) So here’s how to find the best sunset spots in Plovdiv and how to get there when you stop by during your Bulgarian roadtrip.
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Sunset Location Plovdiv #1: Ancient Fortress
Who needs beaches anyway (even the Pink Lakes in Burgas) when you can simply see the best sunsets over Plovdiv from an ancient ruin? I had come to Plovdiv on unison recommendations. While Veliko Tanorvo is generally labelled the most beautiful city in Bulgaria, Sofia and Plovdiv have to take turns being seen as digital nomad havens.
After all, Bulgaria is one of the most affordable countries in the EU and has excellent wifi. But all this pales when seeing the sun set at the end of the day, after having worked hard and climbed hills. And when it comes to hills and sunsets, Plovdiv is number one!
Read next: How to get to Plovdiv from Sofia
I stayed in a hostel right in the Old Town of Plovdiv, located right on a hill. (Check out Guest House Old Plovdiv for availability. They are quite popular so book in advance.)
Plovdiv is known as the City of Seven Hills and though the hills themselves are not spectacular, their views are splendid. With its cobblestone streets, antique churches and half-timbered houses, Old Town Plovdiv is charming as can be. I actually didn’t want to leave.
Working all day at my laptop, only leaving the house for food. Plovdiv might be the second biggest city in Bulgaria, but it’s affordable. Especially for those coming from Western Europe. That is why I more than occasionally treated myself to Turkish desserts in the afternoon and filling meals in nearby traditional restaurants. But the evenings were reserved for worshipping the sun. I walked the short way towards the Ancient Fortress in Plovdiv, took a seat on a former wall and took in the view.
Sunset Location Plovdiv #2: Alyosha
Did you know Plovdiv is the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent and is among the top ten oldest existing cities worldwide? There seriously is so much to discover here.
Every history buff will be over the moon! Thracians, Macedon, Romans all conquered the city and left their traces. And with each hill you climb, you can see some signs of the past.
Read next: The Top Things to See in Plovdiv
With Alyosha on Bunarjik Hill, you get a more recent look into the past. It is a statue of a soldier and serves as a memorial to commemorate Soviet casualties in World War II. The soldier who modeled for the statue was called Alyosha and served in the war.
Fun fact: the official anthem for Plovdiv until 1989 was also called “Alyosha”. The name is a nickname for Aleksey. The statue even has a poem written about it by Robert Rozhdestvensky.
Getting up Bunarjik Hill is relatively straightforward although a bit more long winding and challenging than the other hills. It’s well worth it though since you get a 360° view over the whole city and its other hills. This is the tallest one, after all.
Sunset Location Plovdiv #3: Youth Hill
Right next to the city centre and main shopping streets and behind the graffiti covered theatre, you can find stone steps. These lead up to two connected hills that will present a fantastic view over both the ancient fortress and Bunarjik Hill as well.
But why are there so many hills and why are they so prominent? Plovdiv has a mysterious tale for an explanation. Once there was a boy who went to serve Alexander the Great in his Army. He was so brave and successful that he was appointed governor of Babylon. But when his hometown Plovdiv was attached by barbarians, he was too busy to help.
Read next: Awesome Day Trips from Plovdiv
His mother was furious and cursed him. Her anger let her to grab a sword and lead the attack herself, thus actually winning. When the cursed man sought retirement and came back to the city with seven camels decked in all his luxurious possessions, the curse came true.
Right before he entered the city gates, he and all he owned turned to stone. He would never set foot in the town he deserted ever again. I guess he never believed in the curse.
Sunset Location Plovdiv #4: Plovdiv Streets
You don’t neccessarily need to climb up the Plovdiv hills to catch the soft golden hour light. Even down in the streets, lined by cute cafes and eateries, you can bask in the yellow rays. Settle down in a chair and people watch.
For great Turkish treats, try the little cafe in the mosque with their original Turkish coffee and Turkish sweets. A sleek restaurant with a modern take on traditional Bulgarian cuisine is Hemingway Restaurant. Another local hotspot is Smokini with its industrial chic, hipster vibe.
What Else is There to See in Plovdiv?
You can easily spend two days in Plovdiv, discovering some of the top 20 Plovdiv sights, such as the Roman theatre, Plovdiv’s Roman Stadium and the Regional Ethnographic Museum.
In case you are looking for a day trip from Plovdiv, try the wonderfully authentic village Koprivshtitsa in Bulgarian Revival Style. (Here are 20 reasons why you should visit Koprivshtitsa). It’s a bit tricky to get there so if you don’t have a car at hand (like a rental from Sixt), I recommend booking a day tour. Check availability here.
The Thracian Valley with its historical ruins and fields of Bulgarian roses is also nearby. Again, there are tour taking you to the famous Starosel Thracian Temple and the Hissar Spa Resort. Book here. Hikers will delight in a day tou to Musala Peak.
How to Get from Sofia to Plovdiv
There are frequent buses between Plovdiv and Sofia. Check them online or visit the city bus terminal. (Plovdiv has two depending on which direction you are headed to.) Also, you could take the train but locals always recommend bus travel as it is somewhat faster.
What to Bring to the Plovdiv Sunsets
If you are into travel photography, you probably already have a great travel camera to document such wonderful moments. To really capture the wonderful golden sunlight, there are a few items that help you achieve just that. Try investing in a polarizing filter, which deepens the colours of the sky, especially the blues. If not, at least a UV filter so the lens isn’t damaged over time by being directed at the sun.
For long exposure shots to capture movements in the streets below, the passing clouds or maybe even city lights at night, a tripod is necessary. You can prop up your camera on stones and ledges but tilting it can be precarious. (Don’t drop your precious gear!)
Are Plovdiv Sunsets Worth the Climb?
Absolutely! I found the sunsets in Plovdiv just as beautiful as the sunsets in Croatia. One offers mountain views, the others ocean ones. Plus, if you can’t make it all the way to the Black Sea for July Morning, these sunset locations in Plovdiv also work amazing for sunrise.
Would you climb a hill for the best sunset locations in Plovdiv? Which one would you pick first?