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Things to do in Kyustendil Province

Our most recommended things to do in Kyustendil Province

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.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

2. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

Experience the religious history of Bulgaria on a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rila Monastery and Boyana Church from Sofia. Follow your guide around the monastery to learn about this epic site or choose to explore it on your own before viewing Boyana Church's ancient frescoes. Meet your friendly group for the day near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Settle down in your seat and set off out of the city as you drive along scenic roads with picturesque views of rural Bulgaria. Arrive at Rila Monastery, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country. If you've booked the tour, follow your guide around the historic site and learn about the main frescoes. If you're an explorer you can visit the museum, take photos, and check out the church at your own pace. Then start your journey back to Sofia with one more important stop along the way. Enter the medieval Boyana Church and stroll within the ancient walls, studying the artistic frescoes which make this place so special.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Boyana Church & History Museum

3. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Boyana Church & History Museum

Enjoy the sights of Bulgaria with the convenience of a day-long transfer service to popular attractions, taking you to some of the country's most significant highlights. Discover the Bells Monument, Boyana Church, the National Museum of History, and the Rila Monastery. Meet your driver at a centrally located meeting point in Sofia and head to The Bells Monument. This is one of the hidden sights of the city that very few visitors see due to its remote location. Learn about the country's intriguing communist past. After that, continue with a short transfer to the UNESCO-listed Boyana church. See the medieval pre-Renaissance frescoes inside the church. Then, continue with a short transfer to the National Museum of History, where you will have ample time for a tour of your own. Learn about the intriguing history of Bulgarian lands, and then meet your driver again for an onward journey toward the Rila Monastery. Pass through beautiful countryside on the way to the Rila mountains. Go higher up the mountains through the scenic route, and reach the Rila Monastery. Visit at your own pace, then, in the afternoon, be driven back to Sofia city.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

4. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

In the morning - meet your local English-speaking host at the centrally located meeting point. A 2-hour minibus transfer through the Bulgarian countryside takes you to the Rhodope mountains, where you climb aboard the narrow gauge train for a scenic ride through the mountains. Meet local Bulgarian people on the train and learn about the history of the area. Get off the train at Avramovo station for a short transfer to Bansko town at the footsteps of Pirin National Park. Your driver will drop you off at the convenient location, close to the Old Town. Explore at your own speed the ancient streets, visit the main church or take the opportunity to taste traditional local food at one of the traditional restaurants called mehana (lunch is optional and not included). In the afternoon, meet again your host and driver for a minibus transfer to the Rila National Park. You will arrive at the UNESCO listed Rila monastery after the crowds have gone, for a truly intimate experience. Explore on your own the ancient monastic complex. Later in the afternoon, get on the minibus for the final transfer back to Sofia city.

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

5. 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.

From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

6. 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. After your monastery tour, enjoy about 2.5 hours of free time for food and shopping.

The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

7. 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 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, 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, and the Seven Rila Lakes.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

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

Explore Bulgaria's most famous sites in 1 day from Sofia: the UNESCO Rila Monastery and the city of Plovdiv on a small group, self-guided trip. Walk the sites at your own comfortable pace without the need of following others. Get expert local advice from your friendly English-speaking driver/host and benefit from reliable comfortable transfers. Depart from Sofia city center at 7:00 AM and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver/host. 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 museum and medieval tower independently. Continue with a 3.5-hour transfer through scenic mountain roads to the city of Plovdiv (a short break half-way is included) and get more than 4 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 tourist city map and local tips. Board the shuttle bus at 5:30 PM (for the period May to September, departure is 6:00 PM) at the agreed meeting point and return to Sofia in the evening to be dropped off at the meeting point around 7:30 PM at knyaz Alexander I square. For the period May to September, departure from Sofia is at 07:30 AM and the bus goes to first to Plovdiv and then to Rila monastery. Return to Sofia is around 8:30 PM.

From Sofia: Afternoon Half-day Trip to Rila Monastery

9. From Sofia: Afternoon Half-day Trip to Rila Monastery

Discover Rila Monastery at your own pace on a self-guided, afternoon tour from Sofia. Begin by boarding the shuttle service at noon (12:00h) at the centrally located meeting point (Aleksander I square) and head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Get almost 2 hours of leisure 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 centuries. 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 with high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the central pick-up point on arrival. Make full use of your day by combining the trip to the Rila monastery with a visit in the morning to the Bells Park monument Boyana church and the National History Museum, located in a former Bulgarian communist leader's residence, on the way to the Rila monastery (depending on the tour option selected).

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Day Transfer

10. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Day Transfer

The meeting point for the minivan is behind Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, near café La Cathedrale – you should be there at 7:45. The van will have a sign “Rila Lakes & City Tour” on the front. The departure is at 8 am. You will travel on a scenic road for about 1.5 hours to the mountain resort of Panichishte. There you will continue with the lift. The traveling time with the lift is 20 – 30 minutes. And after that, if you have booked the self-guided option, you will start on your own the hike around the lakes, or if you have booked the guide option, the guide will escort you during the hike. Usually, it takes about 2 hours to walk in each direction. You will be given a total of 5.5 hours to go around the lakes so at 15:30 at the latest you should board back the lift and at 16:00 you should be back at the parking where the driver will expect you for the trip back to Sofia. The estimated return in Sofia is at 18:00.

Frequently asked questions about Kyustendil Province

What top attractions are a must-see in Kyustendil Province?

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyustendil Province

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What people are saying about Kyustendil Province

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,742 reviews

A must do while in Sofia. We had only a couple days in Sofia and this was really a great way to spend our time. The church and monestary were really beautiful and the drive out into the country was nice. Our favorite thing was our guide Martin who gave us a great commentary on the history of the places and Bulgaria, with some jokes thrown in.

This tour is an unique and interesting way to see more of Bulgaria. We loved all the activities and the transport is comfortable. Our host, Bobby, is a wealth of knowledge and brings a fun element to the group. I would highly recommend this tour!

This tour was brilliantly organised with a very friendly tour guide. It’s a very good price for what you get!

Smoothly run day trip with enough time alloted for a hike to the highest peak of the Rila Lakes.

Great tour! Beautiful places, definitely worth seeing!