Rila Monastery

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Rila Monastery: Our most recommended tours and activities

  • From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

    1. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

    Depart Sofia in the morning and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. Journey in air-conditioned comfort to Panichishte in the beautiful Rila National Park. Get briefed on arrival by your driver, who will tell you the different options and routes you can take up the mountain. Ride the chairlift to the 7 Rila Lakes, where you will get 5 hours of free time to go on some amazing nature walks independently to experience the glacial lakes from different perspectives. Board the shuttle bus at the agreed meeting point and relax on the 2-hour drive to Rila Monastery in a deep valley of the Rilska River. Founded in the 10th century, the monastery complex is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural and historical monuments. Get 1.5 hours to explore the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria at your own pace. Then, return to Sofia in the evening and ...

    It was amazing trip to rila mountain and rila monastry. We really enjoyed the trip.

  • From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

    2. 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 ...

    I was glad to find an option to book transport only to Boyana Church and Rila Monastery on the same day, without a guided tour. Driving is the easiest way to visit both places on the same day, but I prefer learning about cultural sites through reading and exploring on my own. I was impressed by how carefully everything was scheduled so that we could maximize our time at each place without waiting.

  • Rila Monastery Day Trip from Sofia

    3. Rila Monastery Day Trip from Sofia

    Board the shuttle service behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center. Then, head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Get over 2 hours of free time to explore the complex, founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful mosaics, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to 19th century. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. See the old bakery and other monuments, including the residential area of high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the pick-up point on arrival.

    It was approximately for 2 hours drive to the destination, kind instruction was given to the participants. Even though there was the trace of snow that had been still remained in Rila, it was not so much cold than I expected in the mid of February when I had the tour. The time in the Rila Monastery was approximately for 3 hours (12.00 arrival, 15.00 to get on the car for return, verily enough, everything was possible, including museum, restaurant, strolling around the monastery that has the water fountains, drinkable waters, famous for clean, non chemical.) The fascination of this destination is not only the renowned sanctity, but also the surrounding environment, rocks and mountain ranges, superb scenery of Bulgaria can be enjoyed on journey.

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

    4. 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.

    The guide told us everything about the Church of Bojana and Rila. He was very friendly and we had anough free time to take photos usw...

  • From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

    5. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

    This full-day tour is designed for active people wishing to combine a trek to natural wonders, with a tour of the most visited tourist attraction in Bulgaria, the magnificent Rila Monastery. Departing Sofia, you will head for the Rila Mountains, where you will enjoy a moderate hike through what is arguably the most distinguished area in the mountains, the 7 Rila Lakes. After a transfer of approximately 90 minutes, you will reach the region of Panichishte, where you will board a chair lift to the Rila Lakes hut. Consisting of a group of glacial lakes, the 7 Rila Lakes is located at an altitude of between 6,900 feet (2,100 meters) and 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. Surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys, you will see spectacular views as you walk through its pearls, such as The Eye, The Tear, The Kidney, The Twins, The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake. The rout...

    Our tour guide Petr was really friendly and helpful. Unfortunately the chairlift to the mountain was closed due to the hard wind. Therefore we didn't go to the lakes but visited a waterfall and natural piramides. That was also very beautiful. However we had to drive longer. The rila monastry was amazing!

  • Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

    6. 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 tremend...

    The best trip to Rila Monastery . Maria is wonderful guide. Really recommend to all who would like to have perfect weekend outside of Sofia

  • From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

    7. 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, there 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.

    It was a great experience to go to Rila Monastery and Boyana Church with City Tours Sofia. Booking was easy with GetYourGuide. The explanations of our guide and driver Dimitry were complete, comprehensive and enlightening on Bulgaria's history. It was surprising how easy and not tirefull at all the visit was, even snowing. The restaurant chosen was very good in food, within a nice scenary, really bulgarian and pleasant!

  • Sofia: Rila Monastery, St. Ivan Rilski Cave & Stob Pyramids

    8. Sofia: Rila Monastery, St. Ivan Rilski Cave & Stob Pyramids

    Spend the morning in the Rila Monastery, one of the country’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites, a must-see for anyone visiting Bulgaria. Discover the centuries old forests of the Rila Mountains on a scenic walk to the cave of St. Ivan Rilski (St. John of Rila), where the founder of the monastery lived as an anchorite and explore the amazing rock formations of the natural phenomenon of the Stob Pyramids. Escape the Sofia crowds for a memorable full-day trip led by an expert. You will be picked up in the morning from your hotel or address in Sofia for a wonderful journey through the scenic Rila Mountains. Arrive at the Rila Monastery within 2-hours and head towards the cave of St. Ivan Rilski by foot. A fairy trail will lead you through the centuries old woods of the Rila Monastery Nature Park to the cave where the founder of the monastery spent the last years of his life as a herm...

    Nicholas made the trip special. His enthusiasm and knowledge was much appreciated. The multiple sites we visited provided an excellent introduction to the history, culture, and nature of the Rila Mountain. Your company seems well organized and reliable. Thank you.

  • From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

    9. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

    Depart from Sofia city center at 7:00 AM (for the period May to September, departure is at 07:30 AM) and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. After your 2-hour transfer in an air-conditioned minibus, you will reach the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Once there, you have more than 1-hour to explore the monastic complex at your own pace -more than enough time to see all the major parts of the complex. The monastery was founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Continue with a 3.5-hour transfer to the city of Plovdiv (a short break half-way is included) and get more than 4.5 hours to explore Bulgaria's second largest city, famous for its Old Town, Roman remains and Kapana artistic district. Your driver will provide you with a free copy of a to...

    It was a very good trip and a great representation of what Bulgaria has to offer.

  • From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Plovdiv and Asen's Fortress

    10. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Plovdiv and Asen's Fortress

    After a 2-hour drive, begin this full-day tour in one of Europe's oldest towns, Plovdiv. Walk along cobblestone streets and visit a 19th-century house to learn about the local production of alcoholic drinks and rose oil products. Explore the Roman Theater, Roman Stadium and church with virtual reality glasses before enjoying 2 hours of free time to walk around and have lunch and coffee along the main pedestrian street. After exploring Plovdiv, meet your van and guide to make the 30-minute drive to Asen's Fortress. Admire this beautiful, medieval structure and learn about the history of the place before taking photos from the top. Start your journey back to Sofia with an expected arrival time of approximately 6:00 PM.

    Very nice tour of Provid. The driver and tour guide were very nice and explained to us the history. We learned so much this tour.

Other Sightseeing Options in Rila Monastery

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What people are saying about Rila Monastery

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,511 reviews

Rila and Boyana are a must see in Bulgaria. The tour was great, and Lubo, our guide, made it fantastic. He's very knowledgeable and passionate, and explains not only the history of the sites, but also the history and culture of the country itself. Would definitely do it again!

Our guide, Philippe, was very friendly and gave us lots of information and advice on places to visit. And the experience is definitely worth it. The lakes are superb!

Perfect service and a lot of in information was given by our driver! We really recommend :))

Loved the experience. George (our driver) was great and we had a wonderful time.

It was amazing experience. Rila Monastery is definetely worth to see