Things to do in
Boyana Church

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Boyana Church: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and relax on the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. Upon arrival, explore the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. Take some time to refuel with lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you can purchase local specialties such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep fried). Depart at 01:30 PM and travel to Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia. See the historically significant frescoes of the Byzantine building, and hear how they started the fashion for illustrating biblical figures with emotions and placing them alongside the local aristocracy. With an estimated arrival time at the church of approximately 03:40 PM, enjoy about 30 minutes to explore. Leave at around 04:10 PM for the drive to Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center by 04:30 PM to 05:00 PM.

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From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

2. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

Spend the day exploring 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located outside of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city. Begin by meeting at 9:00 behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your friendly, English-speaking drivers transport you to Rila. Upon arriving, spend 2 hours exploring the area and visiting the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant which features a specialty of grilled trout. Get back in the van for another 2-hour journey, eventually arriving at Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Sofia. Check out the elaborate frescoes that have made this site famous, before your tour returns you to your meeting point.

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From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

3. From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

The tour departs early in the morning in front of Alexander Nevski. Your first stop will be the great UNESCO Boyana Church located on the outskirts of Sofia consisting of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th-century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-story building to be erected next to it. After exploring it, head to Rila Monastery, where you will admire the impressive architecture, frescoes and learn about the history of the monastery from your guide. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, discover the most precious pieces that are kept from the past and all the facts and stories about the largest Bulgarian monastery complex.

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

4. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

After pickup from any accommodation in Sofia, your journey through over 1,000 years of Bulgarian cultural history begins. Make the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery via air-conditioned bus into the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain. Upon arriving, explore the monastery, which was founded in 927, at your own pace with 2 hours of free time. Amble the 21-acre complex, taking in the colorful and unique traditional Orthodox architecture. Gaze at the 5-domed church, with its numerous altars, side chapels, and gold-plated mosaics. Take in the beauty of the tranquil mountain environment surrounding the peaceful place of worship. Afterwards, you’ll have lunch, before heading on to your next destination. Only a couple of miles away from the monastery into the forest is St. Ivan Rilski Cave, where St. Ivan of Rila took up residency in the early 10th century. Experience a sacred site of tremendous importance to Bulgarian Orthodox Christians. On the way back to Sofia, you’ll pass through Boyana Church, famed for its elaborate frescoes dating back to the 11th, 13th, 15th-17th, and 19th century. Afterwards, you’ll be transported back back to your accommodation in Sofia.

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

5. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

Situated deep in the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain, Rila Monastery is the biggest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. It is an outstanding example of the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage, in which architecture and painting merge harmoniously. The site is part of UNESCO world heritage list. Rila Monastery was found in the 10th century by St. Ivan Rilski, a Hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy place and later on a monastic complex was formed. It played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. After the guided visit of the Monastery complex and lunch, we will head back to Sofia. On the way, we will stop at the second UNESCO site for the day, Boyana church. Small but unique with the most preserved frescoes in this part of Europe, dating back to 1259. The tour will end with drop-off at your hotel.

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Day Trip to Vitosha, Boyana Church and Dragalevtsi Monastery

6. Day Trip to Vitosha, Boyana Church and Dragalevtsi Monastery

You tour starts at 10:00 AM when your guide will collect you from your hotel. You will travel by car to the Boyana Church, UNESCO historical place, dating back to the 10th century, which has unique and very well preserved frescoes and pictures from the period of 11th-14th century. You will have the chance to learn their history. Next, your trip will continue with a visit to the Dragalevtsi Monastery, also situated in the Vitosha Mountain. This still active monastery is probably the oldest of its kind in Bulgaria. It was built around the year 1345, then abandoned only 40 years later during the time of the Ottoman invasion, just to be brought again to life in the middle of the 15th century. It contains colorful murals and it is revered as one of the hiding places of the great Bulgarian national hero, Vasil Levski. Finally, you will head to some of the high spots in Vitosha from where you can see amazing views of Sofia from above. There are also several hiking paths that start from the viewpoint, so you can also opt for some walking in the mountain if the weather is good. Finally, your guide will take you back to your hotel. The duration of the whole tour is about 4-5 hours.

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Sofia Half-Day Tour

7. Sofia Half-Day Tour

A guide will pick you up from your hotel and start off the tour by visiting the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the vicinity of Sofia - the Boyana Church. This delightful church is small in size yet has an enormous collection of historical art. You also have the option of going to the National Historical Museum nearby. Afterwards, it's on to Alexander Nevski Square for a visit of the largest Cathedral in the Balkans, followed by a stroll to the Russian Church. You'll also get to visit the National Theater and its garden, the rotunda (circular church) Church of St. George and the Roman remains. The tour will finish with a walk in front of the Balkan Hotel (St. Nedelya Church square).

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Half-Day Private Tour: Sofia, Boyana Church & History Museum

8. Half-Day Private Tour: Sofia, Boyana Church & History Museum

The tour starts at 9:00 AM when you will be picked up by a private guide from your accommodation in Sofia. By car you will head to the outskirts of Sofia and Vitosha Mountain. The first stop is the National History Museum, the biggest museum in Bulgaria and one of the biggest in the Balkans. It has rich collections from antiquity to nowadays. The next stop is the remarkable Boyana Church, recognized by UNESCO because of its amazingly well-preserved frescoes from the 13th century. After exploring Boyana Church, head to the center of Sofia for a two-hour sightseeing tour. You will go around the most interesting buildings and places and learn their history from your guide. See sights such as Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Saint Sofia Basilica, Saint George Rotunda, the Parliament, the Presidency, the Roman Remains and others. The tour will finish at around 14:00 PM near the beginning of Vitosha street – the main street in Sofia.

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Sofia: Vitosha Mountain, Boyana Church & History Museum

9. Sofia: Vitosha Mountain, Boyana Church & History Museum

Start with pickup from your hotel in Sofia and travel to Vitosha Mountain you will begin the hiking portion of the tour. Discover one of the many scenic hiking routes of the Vitosha Nature Park, with some of the most beautiful views of the city of Sofia. After the scenic hike, head back to Sofia and learn more about the ancient and historical locations of the city. First, visit Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox site situated on the outskirts of Sofia. In 1979, the building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Then, make a stop at the National History Museum, the largest museum in the country. Discover a variety of objects related to Bulgarian archaeology, fine arts, history, ethnography.

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Sofia Full-Day Sightseeing Tour with Transport

10. Sofia Full-Day Sightseeing Tour with Transport

Discover one of the oldest cities in Europe on a full-day guided tour of Sofia, and admire UNESCO-listed monuments, relics of the communist regime, and testaments to the city’s rich artistic heritage. Following a pick-up from your hotel, go to the medieval Orthodox Boyana Church on the outskirts of the city. Built in the 10th and 11th centuries, the church was inscribed by UNESCO in 1979 for its exceptional frescoes and contribution to understanding medieval Bulgarian culture. Continue to the National Historical Museum to gaze at artifacts of Balkan history. Then, go to Pancharevo Lake for lunch and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the artificial reservoir at the end of Pancharevo Gorge. Travel into the city center to see the modern National Palace of Culture, and walk to the ancient St. George Rotunda, considered the oldest building in Sofia. Pass the National Archeological Museum, housed in a former Ottoman mosque, and see the city’s only remaining functioning mosque at the 16th-century Banya Bashi Mosque. Another beautiful religious monument is St Nedelya Church, one of the landmarks of the city, while the ornate Ivan Vazov National Theatre showcases the city's more secular side. Wander past the former Royal Palace along Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard to the Russian Church. Admire the parliament building in National Assembly Square, dominated by the impressive monument to Tsar Osvoboditel (King Liberator), erected in 1907. End at the vast Neo-Byzantine Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the most spectacular building in Sofia, with towering domes of gold and green.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Boyana Church

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What people are saying about Boyana Church

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,274 reviews

This trip has exceeded my expectations. Beside the fact that the 2 sites are very important historically/ culturally & very beautiful , I engaged in long deep chats about Bulgaria with Martin -our guide- during the 2-hours bus drive each way. Martin was very organized & informative , yet funny & easy going. I was on a tight schedule in Sofia (only 3 days , including the trip to Rila), so Martin provided very useful insights about how to benefit of my short time there to the maximum. Highly recommeded trip & guide.

Our guide, Philip, was extremely knowledge about the monastery itself and about the history of his country. By the time we arrived we had an understanding of what we were visiting but were still unprepared for how stunning the place actually was. Pictures do not do it justice. We would encourage any visitor to take the opportunity to go.

really nice Guide, Philipp was verhelpful and told us many interesting things. the church was smaller than expected, but still very pretty. the monastery was lovely and ee had a great time there

Very enjoyable day. the Monadteto is an oasis of peace and the Boyana Church a small treasure. We thank our excellent guide, Georgi

Very nice travel destination, knowledgable tourguide and everything on time. Can recommend.