Plovdiv is being hailed as one of the up and coming destinations for digital nomads which means you’ll find a few essential things here – restaurants, nightlife, craft beer and all at an affordable price. Here we are going to help out both aspiring nomads and those just wanting to explore Plovdiv Bulgaria with our list of the Best Plovdiv Restaurants, Plovdiv Nightlife & Plovdiv Wine Tours Bulgaria – because no trip to Bulgaria is complete without exploring their amazing wine!
So let’s start there – with the wine!
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Plovdiv Wine Tours Bulgaria
As we mentioned before, Bulgarian wine is relatively unknown but it absolutely a must try for any wine lover visiting the country. If you look at a map of the wine regions of Bulgaria you will see that it’s just a map of Bulgaria – they are making wine EVERYWHERE!!! So we went out with Vasil from Bulgaria Wine Tours on a half day trip from Plovdiv to learn a little more about the wine from the region surrounding Plovdiv, some of its local food traditions, and of course to try it all as well!
The half day trip includes a trip to a winery with a tour and tasting and also a stop at a cultural heritage site as well so you can see some of the truly old history of the region. Fist stop is Villa Yustina Winery which is not like any winery we have ever visited before. This winery is actually owned by a local man who’s main business is stainless steel tanks. He started the winery as an experiment to see if wine could be made in stainless steel tanks. And guess what – you can! He also makes tanks for beer, dairy products and pharmacy use. But back to the wine….
The tour takes you out to see part of their 200 hectares of land where they are growing a variety of grapes. One thing the guide at the winery really wanted to point out is that even though there is a lot of land – it’s not jam packed full of grapes, “We are not greedy and we want our vines to have space to thrive”. This also means they have an amazing amount of open space for weddings, proposals, parties and events all surrounded by the stunning vineyards. They even host yoga sessions and traditional Bulgarian dances…
After seeing the vineyard it’s off to the Yustina animal farm where you can see goats, chickens, even local deer that were native to the land but have remained even after the farm was built. The thing we really noticed in Bulgaria and especially at Yustina is that fact that there has been a real shift to achieve sustainable farming practices. Practices that were used many years ago but were lost by industrialisation. Many places like Yustina are focusing more on doing things by hand, using only organic products and having a real focus on giving back to the land. It’s really great to see.
After the farm, it’s a tour of the winery where you can see all of the owners fascinating stainless steel vats in action. But we all know what you really want to hear about…..the wine!!!
Yes, the end of the tour is a tasting of the products that you’ve just seen in the process of being made.
Nazdrave! Nazdrave means cheers in Bulgarian and is a good word to know as you might find yourself doing this quite often…cheers to good health, to safe travel, to new friends and to great wine.
⇒ You can spend the night or even weekend at Villa Yustina Winery – CLICK HERE for more info
We have to admit that the wines we tasted at Yustina we some of the best, you’ll especially love them if you are a white wine drinker as the microclimate in the region is best for white grape varieties. We have never been fans of white wine, but after sampling the wines at Yustina I think we could easily be converted. They were crisp, low in acidity and very, very drinkable on a warm summers day in Bulgaria. They also do have some sensational reds as well…in all, we were very impressed with the quality.
The sample plate that came with the wines was sensational as well. There is one style of meat you need to try in Bulgaria and it’s called the Elena Fillet. It’s a local dried pork coated in spices…..and it’s a great snack to have with a glass of wine or my new favourite cocktail Menta which was also introduced to me on the tour, but not at the winery, at lunch which is the next stop on the tour!
A sample plate of meat and cheese is not nearly enough to satisfy these to ravenous foodies so it was off to lunch at a local restaurant in the nearby village. We like to eat as much traditional Bulgarian food as possible so Vasil our guide gave us some truly local and tasty suggestions.
Keremida – Chicken In Clay
Tongue in butter
And everyone’s favourite of the day Chuska Burek – stuffed Bulgarian peppers
Of course, we ordered some wine to wash it all down but Vasil asked if we had ever tried Menta (мента), a bright green kind of liquor that is made from spearmint oils. Often served with sprite this refreshing drink is popular with the locals in the summer months – and it is delicious! I honestly switched mostly to Menta for the rest of the trip I loved it so much!
After the lunch, there is a stop off at the Red Church (because not everything can be about eating and drinking) which dates back to the late 5th–early 6th century. What remains of the church today shows the skill of Bulgarian construction all those years ago, and the most fascinating feature is that you can still see glimpses of the frescos that have adorned the walls for all of these years. Just imagining what this church looked like in it’s prime with its frescos and mosaics is simply astounding and makes you really appreciate the fact that sites like this have survived the test of time.
Our day out with Vasil was really a highlight of our time in Bulgaria. His knowledge of the food, wine, and history of the area really helped us to have a better understanding of the country we were visiting and it’s fascinating culture. We captured some of our conversations on audio so keep an eye out for our What to Eat In Bulgaria Podcast….coming soon!
Bulgaria Wine tours offer a selection of tours from both Plovdiv and Sofia.
Still hungry for more? I bet you are!
Best Plovdiv Restaurants and Plovdiv Nightlife
There are so many great restaurants to explore in Plovdiv, we were honestly bombarded with recommendations from our friends who had been there before us…it really is a popular destination for travellers! When it comes to Plovdiv restaurants you can find a selection of cuisines from all over the world, but we were really interested in Plovdiv restaurants that featured traditional Bulgarian cuisine. So that’s what we sought out!
Best Plovdiv Restaurants
This is one of the best Plovdiv restaurants to visit if you are looking for an affordable local lunch away from the tourist centre. The Dandelion Plovdiv offers fresh and healthy home cooking with the menu based on what is fresh and in season. If you go at lunchtime they have a tasty and affordable menu of the day where you can go and try some local classics like the Tarato soup (pictured) and some modern interpretations as well. The menu is all in Bulgarian so have Google translate ready or research a few local dishes before you turn up so you know what to order.
Supa bar is one of the most popular lunch spots for locals to visit – we went there twice and both times it was full of locals lining up to get tasty homemade soup. The menu is a little different every day depending on what ingredients they get in but you can often find local soup classics like Supa Topcheta (meatball soup), Spinach with rice (Спанак с ориз), or if you are bold and really want to try something super local Shkembe (Tripe soup). They also have the local Bulgarian version of moussaka which is very different to the Greek version as it’s made with potato but it’s delish 100% worth a try.
This lovely little restaurant in Plovdiv has a great outside area where you sit under the branches of a huge grapevine, order a traditional meal, some homemade bread and enjoy a glass of wine (or three). Here we recommend either coming in and trying the really affordable lunch menu or in the evening drop by and try their cooked trout. We get it – fish with the head still on never makes a pretty picture but this fish was super tasty! If fish isn’t your thing then you simply have to try their meatballs with homemade lutenitsa sauce, which is like Bulgarian ketchup but made with peppers and is oh so tasty!
We could have eaten at this restaurant every day, making our way through the menu and left Plovdiv happy. There was just something about the service and the amazing food that made this restaurant so memorable for us. In some Eastern European countries, you can get served food as it’s ready so you’ll have your meat before your soup, and your bread that goes with your dips comes out right at the very end…that sort of thing. At Restaurant Old Plovdiv they served every course as they should come out and made sure that we had finished the course before bringing out the next dish. The flow of the meal was just perfect – and the food was incredible.
We fell in love with the Guveche Thracian style which is Bulgarian white cheese, butter, tomato, pepper, egg, Bulgarian sausage and mushrooms cooked in a clay pot. I’m drooling at the memory of this plovdiv food, seriously!
When we mention this restaurant to locals they would always shrug and say “meh, it’s good, not great” but we actually thought it was deserving of more than a meh so that’s why we’ve added Dayan 3 (yes it’s a chain restaurant) to our list of best Plovdiv restaurants.
This restaurant has a really cool and very traditional looking outdoor area where you can sit outside in the fresh air and not be choked by the locals’ chain smoking around you – yes sadly smoking indoors is still a thing in Bulgaria 😔.
You can also find a great selection of traditional Bulgarian dishes on their menu including their famous duck hearts and one of my favourite dishes from the region sarmi which is minced meat wrapped in cabbage leaves. We always left satisfied, super full and it is a crazy affordable night out! So no complaints here…
Another place to check out if you are looking for a Plovdiv restaurant that offers a more traditional vibe is Ресторант “Мегдана” – Megdana. Even though this place looks like it would be super touristy it is actually really popular with locals having big family gatherings and parties so it might be a good idea to make a reservation before turning up. Here you can sit in an old Bulgarian style looking room and watch traditional singers and dancers do their thing while locals sing along at the top of their voices. It really is a fun night out and a great look into Bulgarian culture.
I don’t think we can put together a best Plovdiv restaurants article without mentioning Pavaj. Pretty much everyone we knew told us that we had to go to this Plovdiv Restaurant and make sure we made a reservation because they regularly book out! We are glad they did. Even Vasil from Bulgarian Wine Tours told us we couldn’t leave Plovdiv without trying the Katak. The official definition of Katak is a “traditional fermented curd/yogurt-like product mixed with red peppers and garlic” which doesn’t sound that amazing at all – but trust us it is!!! Order this with their homemade garlic bread and you’ll be sending yourself on a trip to tasty town!
Meals are done. Tummy is full. Now, lets hit the town and check out some of the best Plovdiv nightlife on offer!
If you didn’t know this already it’s about time you realised that Bulgarian wine is ah-maz-ing and should be consumed as often as possible. Of course, if you have just arrived in Bulgaria you might have no idea of what to try or what’s any good. This is why you should hit up Vino Culture Wine Bar for a tasting session with the guys. This small underground bar is really funky and small but if you can grab yourself a seat at the bar and chat to the guys about local wines and they will try and find you a few to taste that suit your preferences. They do tasting boards here so you can have a lovely little wine tasting with some local produce as a snack.
It might feel like walking into a time warp but Download Rock Bar is certainly one of the most fun Plovdiv nightlife places to visit. This rock bar offers an air conditioned no smoking venue to hang out in (hallelujah) and also has some cool events like beer pong comps and a foosball table as well. Lots of the music being blasted out is from the 90’s so it was certainly interesting to see the crowd go nuts for Limp Bizket’s ‘Nookie” or “Rollin” but it’s always a great night out! Certainly our number one choice for Plovdiv nightlife.
Another great place to visit if you are looking for Plovdiv nightlife is BASQUAIT wine & art bar located in the super hip neighbourhood of Kapana Plovdiv. There are actually quite a few bars and restaurants in this region but we didn’t have enough time to check them all out. We did however make it to BASQUAIT which is a really cute bar to hang out and enjoy a wine or two in. The space also features Jazz and acoustic nights, theater, exhibitions, screenings and themed evenings…but sadly nothing was on when we were in town. Check out their facebook page to see what’s going on while you’re in town
Bulgaria might have been fermenting grapes for thousands of years, but Cat and Mouse – a quirky cool bar in the cobbled backstreets of Kapana Plovdiv – has put craft beer squarely in the Plovdiv booze scene. The first craft beer bar in town, Cat and Mouse serves up more than 100 international craft brews, along with three of their own hoppy styles.
The bar’s relaxed indoor areas (one side is a creative coworking space by day), and smattering of chairs and tables outside, make this a great little spot for an afternoon pause as you explore ‘the Trap’, or a cheeky pre-dinner drink. Top noshery Pavaj is around the corner.
As we found though, with the vibe ramping up throughout the night at Cat and Mouse, it’s almost impossible not to drop in after dinner for ‘just one more’. Especially if you’re staying at MouseHouse, the bar’s charming guesthouse nearby.
We now see why everyone raves about Plovdiv. There is the combination of food, culture and the great Plovdiv nightlife that we’ve just mentioned but also there are incredible historical sites to visit, a beautiful old town to stroll around and feel like you’ve stepped into a time warp, stunning viewpoints to hike up to and enjoy the panoramic view of Plovdiv. As our friend Sarah from Live Dream Discover told us – hike up there before sunset with a bottle of wine and sit back and enjoy the beauty of Plovdiv. There is really so much to do and see you are sure to enjoy your time in this beautiful part of Bulgaria.
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Disclaimer: We received our tour with Bulgaria wine tours complimentary. All opinions remain our own