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Seven Rila Lakes

Seven Rila Lakes

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.

From Sofia: The Seven Rila Lakes Full-Day Tour

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

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. The local tour operator, Traventuria, was awarded a “Business Which Supports Biodiversity” certification by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation for its “Tours with a Cause” initiative.

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

3. 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 5th-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. The tour is offered as well with an ONLINE, cloud-based audioguide in different languages - English, Spanish, Italian, German, French, and English. INTERNET required to download and use. The local tour operator, Traventuria, was awarded a “Business Which Supports Biodiversity” certification by the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation for its “Tours with a Cause” initiative.

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shared or Private Day Tour

4. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shared or Private Day Tour

If you have booked non- private option, please be at the meeting point 15 minutes before the departure time. 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. 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.  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. The hiking is with medium difficulty and it is about 2 hours walking in each direction. You will also have about 1 hour time for a lunch break next to the lakes. Please bring your own food. In the morning, the van will stop at a gas station where you will be able to buy snacks and sandwheches as well. The expected return in Sofia is between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.

Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

5. Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

Dramatic landscapes and breathtaking alpine sceneries, centuries old pine forests and rugged mountain peaks make the Seven Rila Lakes circuit one of the most beautiful areas in the Rila Mountains National Park. Enjoy a gentle snowshoe walk in the picturesque Seven Rila Lakes area followed by relaxation in the thermal water pools of Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, fed by one of the hottest springs in Europe. All this within a day tour from Sofia. Your guide will pick you up early in the morning from your hotel in Sofia for a wonderful journey to the Rila Mountains. You will arrive within 1.5-hours to Pionerska Mountain Hut from where you will take a chairlift to Rila Lakes Hut, situated high above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level. The walk will begin from the hut in the direction of the Kidney, the third of the Seven Rila Lakes. Along the way, admire breathtaking alpine sceneries of jagged peaks and frozen mountain lakes. After a short break and a cup of warm tea at the lake, you will head toward Rila Lakes Hut and descend via the chairlift to the van and have a short transfer (20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, where you will be able to relax deeply in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters.

Sofia: Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Day Trip

6. Sofia: Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Day Trip

The tour departs at 7:30 in the morning- the meeting point is behind Alexander Nevsky Catheral, next to café La Cathedrale. Please be there at 7:15 and ask for travel agency City Tour. The Seven Rila Lakes are just 1,5 hours’ drive away from the capital, which makes them a great day trip in the nature. From the mountain village of Panichishte you will take a cable car to the area of the lakes. The driver will give you directions about the hiking route and the timing, which you should keep in mind. The ride with the chair lift is about 20-minutes. When on arrive, on the left you will see the hut – this is the only place in the area where you can have a toilet brake and buy food and drinks! On the right side of the hut, you will see the beginning of the main walking path – please stick only to it, including on the way back! There is another, downward path, which goes to the lower lakes, but is it much longer, and not in a very good condition! From the main path, you will be able to see all of the lakes. Please have in mind that entering into the lakes in completely forbidden! To reach the highest lake, usually about 2 hours of relaxed walking, combined with some short brakes, is enough. For the whole hike, you have a total of 4.5 hours, so if you have not reached the highest lake after 2 hours, please turn back, so that you can return on time. You should take the chair lift for the way back between 14:00 and 14:30 the latest. Food: it is strongly recommended to bring your own food; but even if you have not, you can buy from a gas station during our break on the way in the morning. In the afternoon you will also travel to the famous Rila Monastery, UNESCO heritage sight, where you can admire its amazing frescoes and architecture, take some photos and check the shops. The visit of the monastery is between 45 and 60 minutes. The expected return at Sofia is at 7:30 pm.

From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes Hiking & Thermal Spa Day Tour

7. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes Hiking & Thermal Spa Day Tour

Explore the Seven Rila Lakes, the jewel of the Rila Mountains National Park and admire breathtaking alpine scenery. Escape the summer heat in Sofia and enjoy the refreshing mountain climate of the highest mountain of the Balkans. Join a pleasant, easy to moderate walk and relax deeply at the end of the day in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters. All this within a day tour from Sofia. You will be picked up early in the morning from your hotel or address in Sofia for a wonderful journey in the Rila Mountains. Within 1.5-hours, you will arrive at Pionerska Hut (1520 meters), from where the group will take a chairlift to the Rila Lakes Hut situated above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level in the Rila Mountains National Park. Here, the circular walk will begin passing by Ribnoto (The Fish), Trilistnika (The Trefoil) and Bliznaka (The Twin) Lakes. When the group reaches Bubreka (The Kidney) Lake, situated at 2282 meters above sea level there will be 2 options: the group can choose to take the long route or the short route. For the long rout, continue uphill passing by Okoto (The Eye) Lake, you will reach the Lakes Peak (2550 meters), offering you a great panoramic view of all the Seven Rila Lakes. Then, you will walk back the same way you came to Kidney Lake. For the short route, you will head towards the top station of the chairlift along a scenic route offering a great panoramic view of the Seven Lakes area. At the end of the hike, you will reach the Rila Lakes Hut and via the chairlift, you will descend to Pionerska Hut. The minivan will take you for a short transfer (approximately 20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, famous for one of hottest thermal springs in Europe (~103°C). Enjoy and take the time to relax deeply after the walk in some the numerous thermal pools with temperatures of varying degrees from 15 to 45 °C. In the late afternoon, the group will head back to Sofia, where you will be dropped back off at your preferred locations.

Seven Rila Lakes Hiking Day-Tour from Sofia

8. 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.

Sofia: Private Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Day-Trip

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

Your tour will begin at 7:30AM 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 3-3.5 hours to complete. Please have in mind that since the tour combines two destinations, you will see 5 of the 7 lakes, so that you have time for the Rila Monastery as well. 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 7:30PM.

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

10. 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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What people are saying about Seven Rila Lakes

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 735 reviews

We went late November and didn’t get to see the lakes due to poor visibility and snow restricting us from doing the hike. Our driver told us this when we started the trip and gave us some options. We opted to go to the chair lift parking lot and see the situation. At this point, we decided to go up in the chair lift, spend some time in the lodge and show up there, then come back down. He then took us to Rila Monastery. We had a great time despite the weather making it so we couldn’t see the actual lakes, but our driver was very helpful in giving us alternatives so that we still had a great day out

Unfortunately we couldn’t do the seven lakes tour because of the weather conditions but our guide took us to the monastery and a small hike through the mountains instead. It was still a really nice experience with a competent guide, I really recommend it.

We spent a wonderful day in the mountains and snowshoeed until we saw the first two lakes! Then lunch at the refuge and spa, too bad they were full of people because it was the Christmas holidays.

Loved the activity. Sadly weather conditions meant we couldn’t go to the second lake but it was still so fun regardless !

Very good! Everything was wonderful and the snowshoe hike was really fun. 100% recommended to visit the Rila Lakes.