Plovidv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, the former capital city of Bulgaria and more recently, the European Capital of Culture for 2019. It’s an extremely child-friendly city so read on for the top things to do in Plovdiv with kids.
As a former capital city, Plovdiv has its’ share of culture and history. With the Roman amphitheatre, coliseum ruins, numerous art galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants, many people consider it the cultural capital of Bulgaria. And as it’s named the European Capital of Culture for 2019, there are many additional exhibits and events going on throughout the year.
Plovdiv is also Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, and one of the oldest cities in the world, making it a history-lovers’ dream. Mixing old and new, with remains of Roman ruins in the middle of Old Town – even under some stores like H&M, art galleries, cobblestone streets and loads of cafes, there’s definitely something for everyone to explore.
But if you have young kids, they’re not always too keen to visit museums and art galleries, or follow along on adult sightseeing tours all day. That said, my guys do enjoy going on the free walking tours, and Plovdiv has a great one! Just make sure not to bring a stroller, as the tour spends a bit of time in the Old Town, where there are a few stairs and the streets are rough cobblestone.
If you want to explore on your own, here’s our top suggestions of what to do in Plovdiv with kids.
Explore Nebet Tepe
Plovdiv is founded on seven hills. One of these hills, Nebet Tepe, is a short walk from the Old Town Tourist Center. It’s a great place to walk among the remains of the roman ruins, watch the sunset and just let the kids explore!
Visit the Tsar Simeon Gardens
Located just south of the Municipality Building, on Plovdiv’s main pedestrian street in the Old Town, you can find the Tsar Simeon Gardens.
During the summer on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, there is a show featuring the ‘singing fountains’.
We were visiting in the fall but the lake and fountains still made a nice stop for a quick picnic lunch.
And within the park, there are a few play areas. We spent a bit of time at the larger one, with had different areas for the kids – including a pretty tall slide!
Explore the Roman Amphitheatre
There are two main areas in Plovdiv where you can explore the Roman ruins.
The large Roman Amphitheater was built in the 2nd century and was discovered in 1972.
Now restored, it hosts special events and concerts, mostly during the summer, but it’s open to explore any time of the year.
You can view it from the street above, or pay to explore inside. Just a warning that the stairs are pretty steep so be mindful with young children, but you know your kids best!
Visit the Roman Stadium
Located in the middle of the city and mostly hidden under the current day street, you can see parts of the ancient stadium.
In the middle of the street by the Dzhumaya Mosque, there is a replica of what the stadium would have looked like in ancient times and a few set of stairs that lead down to the actual stadium.
You are free to climb and walk around the seats, but be mindful the stairs are steep and slippery in spots and there are no railings. Again, you know your kids best!
Walk along Kynaz Aleksander I
After a busy day of exploring and playing, make sure to walk along the main pedestrian street, Knyaz Aleksander I. It’s a wide, flat street and perfect for strollers, scooters or just walking.
There are numerous cafes, although not as quaint as the ones off the main street, and many serve gelato! It’s a perfect treat after a busy day!
Ride the Children’s Railway
If you’re visiting during the summer, make sure to check out the Children’s Railway, located on Youth Hill. Unfortunately we visited Plovdiv in November, and the train was closed for the season.
Visit a Museum
As you might expect from a European Capital of Culture, Plovdiv has plenty of museums to explore. Two of the best ones to visit with kids are the Regional Ethnographic Museum and the Natural History Museum of Plovdiv.
The Regional Ethnographic Museum is located in a beautiful 19th century building in the Old Town. Kids will enjoy wandering through the museum and learning about the way people lived in the past.
Another good museum is the Natural History Museum of Plovdiv. Whether your kids are interested in fossils, reptiles, minerals or just enjoy looking at fish and sea creatures in the aquariums, there’s sure to be something of interest. There’s also a tropical room with butterflies that kids will love.
Restaurants to Try
Bulgarians love kids. Most restaurants are very kid friendly, although not all offer a ‘kids menu’. There are a few restaurants that have a kid space, where they can play while the adults eat. But to be honest, we always eat as a family, so these didn’t appeal to us.
We loved Rabat Tepe, known for it’s beer garden and generous portions of satch (meat and vegetables served on a hot plate), they also have crispy chicken fingers and fries and were very child friendly. Located just steps from the bottom of Nebet Tepe, it makes a great dinner spot after exploring the ruins and watching the sunset.
Although it’s a chain, we also like the Happy Bar and Grill – great meals, kid friendly and lots of choice on the menu.
Another favourite was Sofra Turkish Restaurant, found in the Kampana district. Again, very kid friendly and friendly staff, serving basic menu of turkish grill, soups and appetizers that even kids will love.
Parks for Young Kids
At the end of the main street, just past the large fountain on the southwest side, there’s a small playground with swings, a small slide and enough to keep kids amused for a short while.
Further south, the path leads to Tsar Simeon Gardens, where there are a few different play areas. Closer to the lake, there is a smaller play area geared for toddlers. Closer to the middle of the park is a larger play area, geared for slightly older kids, although toddlers would still love the smaller slide and swings.
We were staying just north of Nebet Tepe in an apartment a block or two from the river. There’s also a great play area along the river path, a few blocks east of the main street.
Things to Do Around Plovdiv
While we found so many fun things to do in Plovdiv with kids, there are also plenty of things to do around the area. Day trips are possible to the Valley of the Thracian Kings and the Rose Valley, or you can visit nearby wineries – which I wish we had done!
A visit to Assen’s Fortress and the Bachkovo Monastery in the nearby Rhodope Mountains is also a good day trip, although we didn’t make it there while we were in Plovdiv – next time!
Enjoy your time in Plovdiv! If you have any other things to do in Plovdiv with kids, please let us know in the comments below!
Check out our Destinations section for ideas and kid-friendly places to travel to.