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Rila National Park

Rila National Park: Our most recommended tours and activities

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

1. 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

2. 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 Plovdiv: Musala Peak Full-Day Trekking Tour

3. From Plovdiv: Musala Peak Full-Day Trekking Tour

Enjoy a full-day hike of the Rila National Park and conquer the summit of Musala, the highest mountain on the Balkan peninsula Boasting more than 180 glacial lakes, the name of the mountain is of Thracian origin and means “Plenty of Water.” Coniferous trees grow up to 170-200 feet (50-60 meters) tall, concealing diverse wildlife that includes bears, wolves, wild goats, and imperial eagles. Following a pick-up in Plovdiv, head towards Borovets, Bulgaria's oldest ski resort. The 19th-century resort is surrounded by old pine forests, and boasts one of the healthiest climates in Bulgaria. Board the gondola lift to the peak of Yastrebet (7,936 feet/2,369 meters) for the start of your trek. Your guide will lead you along the trail to the Musala Mountain Hut, and on to a stunning lake, before hiking to Icy Lake (9,078 feet/2,710 meters), the coldest and highest lake in the Rila Mountains. A short but steep ascent follows all the way to Musala’s summit (9,799 feet/2,925 meters), with spectacular vistas along the way. Gaze across at the alpine Pirin Mountains, Vitosha Mountain, Sredna Gora Mountains, and the green carpets of the Rhodope Mountains. After a break at the summit, hike back down, retracing your steps to the gondola lift and on to Borovets for the transfer back to Plovdiv.

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

4. 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.

Other Sightseeing Options in Rila National Park

Want to discover all there is to do in Rila National Park? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Rila National Park

Overall rating

5.0 / 5

based on 1 reviews

Hi, I'm Simona and I did this excursion on October 30th 2022 with another girl. Beautiful place, it is absolutely not describable with photos and videos, but it must necessarily be experienced firsthand. It is difficult to climb to the top, but for the less trained, you can choose a shorter but always beautiful route !!! Perfect and very clear organization even for those who, like us, have a lot of difficulties with English.

An incredible experience with breathtaking views. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in Bulgaria - be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions at Rila Lakes, even if it's the summer. I thought we had a bit too much time at Rila Monastery, especially because most things were closed but other than that, the trip was fantastic. Bobby was an amazing tour guide and took great care of us

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!

Absolutely breathtaking views, great guide and small group. The hike at the 7 Rila Lakes was HARD but so worth it. I also really enjoyed the monastery! If you're going to do one excursion while in Bulgaria, do this one.

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