I remember travel youtuber Tom Hooker say that one thing he always googles before each trip are the best sunset spots. That was something I had never thought to do. How silly of me. But you know what? I still venture out to find them nonetheless. I guess I like it complicated. Or spontaneous. Either way, I was climbing up and down the hills to admire these epic Plovdiv sunsets in different places each day. And sunset locations in Plovdiv can be found in abundance. So if you can include at least one of them into your Bulgaria roadtrip, here’s where to go.
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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 the most affordable country in the EU and the wifi is spectacular. 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!
I stayed in a hostel right in the Old Town, which is located on a hill. 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, the Old Town 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, 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.
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.
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.
How to Get from Sofia to Plovdiv
Plovdiv isn’t far from Sofia. You can easily get a rental car and roadtrip over to Plovdiv. An affordable and likewise easy option is to travel by Bulgaria by bus. 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.
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.