Seven Rila Lakes

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Seven Rila Lakes: 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 get dropped off at the meeting point.

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The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

2. The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

Enjoy a full-day trek into the Rila Mountains to explore the most picturesque area near Sofia and one of Bulgaria's most beautiful natural sites, the Seven Rila Lakes. This group of glacial lakes lies between 6,900 and 8,200 feet (2,100 and 2,500 meters) above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. Leaving from Sofia, you will drive for 90 minutes to reach the Panichishte resort area, where you board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut. From here you will continue on foot to explore the landscape and its majestic blue pearls – the Eye, the Tear, the Kidney, the Twins, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake and the Lower Lake. The route is not difficult and can be altered on the spot depending on fitness levels or strength, following either more gentle routes or steeper gradients. Take your chance to explore the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains, the Seven Rila Lakes.

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From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

3. From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

Use a shared shuttle bus service which offers direct transportation from Sofia to the 7 Rila Lakes. The transfer starts with an early morning pick-up from centrally located meeting place in Sofia behind the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Meet your driver for a comfortable direct journey to the Rila National Park. Arrive at the parking of the chair lift around 09:00 AM. Enjoy some free time for a self-guided tour of the 7 Rila Lakes area. You have more than 7 hours to explore this beautiful part of Rila mountain. Leave the parking of the chair lift in the afternoon and arrive back in Sofia city around 7:00 PM at the original central departure location.

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

4. 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 route can be adjusted on the spot, following more gentle or steeper paths, depending on your fitness levels. Having visited all of the lakes, continue by car for approximately 90 minutes to Rila Monastery, the biggest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Behind the 65-foot (20-meter) walls lie impressive monastery buildings, including a church and a chapel with valuable murals. The monastery's most treasured historic and artistic monuments include the 14th-Century Hrelyo Tower, the 5-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original monastery kitchen from the 19th-Century. You will also explore the monastery’s rich museum, containing a valuable collection of old manuscripts and documents, charters and icons, an ethnographic exhibition of fabrics, jewelry, carpets and wrought iron objects and a library containing more than 16,000 books.

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Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

5. Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

Your day trip will start early in the morning with a pick-up from your hotel. Your professional guide will take you to the the highest mountain on the peninsula, Rila, just 1.5-hours away from the capital Sofia. Then, with the Panichishte resort cable car, you will head to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. The hike will take around 3-hours.  If you wish to make your walk harder or easier, your guide will be able to adjust the group program accordingly. All seven of the lakes have their own name which reflects its typical shape or characteristics. They are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 meters above sea level. The day trip will continue with a visit to the capital of the thermal spa on the peninsula called Sapareva Banya. There, you will have the unique opportunity to dive into the hot thermal waters and enjoy the magnificent panorama at the outskirts of the mountain. You'll also find the hottest geyser in Europe there. Mineral water is highly regarded and used as a cure by Thracians and Romans. Saparevian mineral water is clear and colorless with a smell of hydrogen sulfide, hyper thermal (temperature 103 °C), hydro carbonate, sulphate sodium, fluorine, silicon and sulfate. Hydrogen sulfide is 15.5 milligrams/ liter. It is claimed that the water treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system and upper respiratory tract. After the spa, your guide will take you back to your hotel.  

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Seven Rila Lakes Hiking Day-Tour from Sofia

6. Seven Rila Lakes Hiking Day-Tour from Sofia

The Seven Rila Lakes have a glacial origin and they are located on different terraces from 2,100 meters to about 2,500 meters above sea level. The Seven Rila Lakes are one of Bulgaria’s 100 national tourist sites. Expect breathtaking views of Lower lake (Dolno ezero), The Eye (the deepest high-altitude lake), The Tear (Salzata), The Kidney (Bubreka) on this tour.  The Seven Rila Lakes is the most popular and easy-access option for the ultimate scenic hike. They are located in Rila Mountain, about 90km south of the capital Sofia. After a 1.5-hour drive, an open-chair lift takes you directly up for about 30 minutes from the parking lot to the hike's starting point – Seven Rila lakes hut. The place is fairly modern, it offers a good variety of food and rooms to stay, although a reservation is required well ahead of time. The loop hike from there takes about five hours and it is not very difficult, except for some uphill parts to the top two lakes. If you take this hike, your reward will be an unforgettable feast for the eyes and senses. Please note that getting to the view points takes at least two hours of walking each way.

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Sofia: Private Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Day-Trip

7. Sofia: Private Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Day-Trip

Your tour will begin at 8:00AM in the morning, at which point your guide will pick you up from your accommodation in Sofia before you embark on your 1.5-hour journey to the Seven Rila Lakes. From the mountain village of Panichishte, you will take a cable car to the area of the lakes. All seven of them are individually titled, with names that reflect their typical shape or characteristics. The lakes are situated between 2,100 and 2,500-meters-above-sea-level. In winter, they are frozen over and covered in snow; in summer, once melted, they are a clear emerald green and are great for picnicking around. The hiking path around the lake is of moderate difficulty, and takes between 3.5-5 hours to complete. If you have forgotten to take a packed lunch or a sandwich with you, you will be able to take advantage of the meals on offer in the two huts on the way. In the afternoon you will also travel to the famous Rila Monastery, a UNESCO heritage sight, where you can admire its amazing frescoes and architecture. Your expected return to Sofia will be at approximately 8:00PM.

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From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Group Day Trip

8. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Group Day Trip

The Seven Rila Lakes are just 1 hour 30 minutes away from the capital Sofia, which makes them a great day trip in the nature. Discover all seven of the lakes  and how they have their own name which reflects its typical shape or characteristics. Gaze at the stunning emerald green of the water as you relax in the peaceful countryside. Relax en route as a comfortable minivan takes you to the Panichishte Resort Cable Car which goes us to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. See a different side to Bulgaria as you enjoy the hike around the lakes. 

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The 7 Rila Lakes: Full-Day Guided Hike from Plovdiv

9. The 7 Rila Lakes: Full-Day Guided Hike from Plovdiv

Spend an extraordinary day hiking in Rila National Park, as you admire the incredible landscape of glacial lakes and mountain peaks. The Rila Mountains, located within the park, are the highest in Bulgaria and on the Balkan Peninsula. On this full-day outing, you’ll see why the 7 Rila Lakes area is the most popular trekking destination in the Rila Mountains. Drive to the Pionerska hut and take the chair lift to the Rila Lakes hut. From this point you’ll do a loop hike of the 7 Rila Lakes and discover the spectacular beauty of the lakes and the towering peaks. The first lake you’ll come to is The Kidney, followed by The Eye, the deepest lake in Bulgaria. Next is the highest lake, The Tear. At this point you’ll have incredible views of all the lakes, and the Balkan range in the distant background. After a break at the top you’ll continue exploring the rest of these lakes on the way down. Next is the largest lake, The Twins, followed by The Trefoil, The Fish Lake, and then The Lower Lake, which collects water from the other 6 lakes. Your trek ends at the Rila Lakes hut, where you’ll take the chair lift back to the Pionerska hut before heading back to Plovdiv.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Seven Rila Lakes

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What people are saying about Seven Rila Lakes

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 392 reviews

The lakes are absolutely beautiful. There are some tricky spots, especially when the ground is wet, but if you're of relatively good health, 5 hours to tour the place is enough. I enjoyed that it was a go at your own pace event because I am rather slow at hiking and I often feel pressure to move at other people's pace. But this was great because you could decide where you wanted to go and how long to get there as long as you met back at the meeting point at the correct time. If you like nature and hiking, this is a must do.

I really enjoyed the whole trip to 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Montasery. The Lakes are breathtaking and you can just walk on easy routes but also you can climb the highest top and see the amazing view of all 7 lakes. Montasery is also very beautiful but unfortunately we arrived when the museum of montasery was closed (after 4:30 pm). All in all i definitely recommend this activity!

Mega cool experience - the lakes were really amazing, the monastery was not so cool. And very long drive from the lakes to the monastery where one was tired. But the lakes alone were worth it all.

Kind tourguide, well-organized trip, time schedule was hold perfectly. The 7 lakes are amazing, Rila monostery is nice, we had a good day and good experience with nice memories.

The tips are really useful. The staff including the driver are lovely. I recommand it !