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Seven Rila Lakes

Seven Rila Lakes: Our most recommended tours and activities

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

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

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

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

Please note that there is a shorter version of this tour (10 hours), which does not include a visit to the monastery. On some days when the full tour is fully booked, only the shorter version is offered. Kindly select the option that suits you best. 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

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: Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Day Trip

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: The Seven Rila Lakes Full-Day Self-Guided Tour

From Sofia: The Seven Rila Lakes Full-Day Self-Guided Tour

After a transfer of 1.5 hours, you reach the Panichishte resort area, where you will board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut.  You will reach the foot of the Seven Rila Lakes cirque, housing the famous blue pearls: Babreka (The Kidney), Salzata (The Tear), Okoto (The Eye), Trilistnika (The Trefoil), Bliznaka (The Twin), Ribnoto (The Fish) and Dolnoto (The Lower). You will be able to complete a full trek around all lakes, or you can skip the 2 highest ones and only walk among the remaining 5 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: 7 Rila Lakes Hiking & Thermal Spa Day Tour

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

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.

7 Rila lakes and Rila monastery day tour from Sofia

7 Rila lakes and Rila monastery day tour from Sofia

The Eye, The Kidney, The Tear, The Trefoil, The Twin, The Fish, The Lower - these are the 7 Rila lakes. You will never forget the beautiful nature, the glacial lakes with crystal clear water and all unbelievable landscapes. After the hike the beautiful frescoes at Rila monastery are gonna wait for us to tell you the story about this holy place. !!!The starting point for the hike is reachable by chair lift at 2100 meters above the sea level and the upper view point to the lakes is at around 2550 meters. Hiking time is around 2 hours in direction. Wearing a hiking shoes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, jacket are highly recommendable!!!

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Waterfall Day Tour

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Waterfall Day Tour

Starting by pick up from the accommodation that you are in Sofia at 8 a.m with a air-conditioned, spacious vehicle! From there it will take about one hour to reach Panichishte and have a ride on the cable car. For the real hikers that can be done by a hike up to the lakes without the cable car. The Seven Rila Lakes is the longest and most visited group of lakes in Bulgaria. They are located stepwise between 2100 and 2500 meters above sea level. Their names from the highest to the lowest are Tear, Eye, Kidney, Twins, Triple, Fish, and Bottom. Their waters flow into each other and give rise to the Djerman River. Explore even more with this tour, being combined with a short hike to one of the waterfalls, located at the northern foot of the Rila mountain, near by a village. The water drops 39 meters. The name of the waterfall derives from a story that took place during the Ottoman period. The waterfall is watered all year round, without the weather affecting the water flow.A All this and many more you will be able to learn, see and experience with this tour. Enjoy a day at Rila mountain, the beautiful nature, legends and history of it. Admire the great views and spots of eagles view. Experience a day that you will always remember! If you wish to explore the maximum of this amazing place and nature be ready for a real hike at around 3h. This is a private tour so that can be always adjusted for being with a mountain guide.

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What people are saying about Seven Rila Lakes

Overall rating

4.7
(735 reviews)

Hiking the Rila Mountains is a highlight of my life. I've never done anything quite like this before and it was VERY challenging but well worth it! Bring or rent hiking poles - trust me!! Marin is a great guide, we really enjoyed spending the day with him and the other hikers in our small group. The hike took a lot longer than expected (it really was very challenging!). We stopped at a waterfall on the way which was not in the description. It was nice to see, but took time away from the planned activities. Two participants had a flight to catch, so we unfortunately only got an hour at the Spa. It was really nice, but much too short! This activity booking would be better value if all of the associated costs were taken care of in the one booking fee. No good reason for the chairlift to be a separate cost - especially when there are car processing and language barriers to consider that make transactions a challenge.

The route is challenging and requires experience; significant slopes. The landscape is truly suggestive. Special credit goes to our guide Rudy, capable, helpful, kind and sociable, which is unique and rare in Bulgaria. It allowed us to see all 7 lakes and for those with the stamina and ability, the final gem, the summit with snow and a breathtaking view.

The tour of the Rila lakes and monastery with Radi was great - thank you very much. Although the walking pace was quite quick, we understood the reason due to time constraints to fit everything in. The view of the 6 lakes and nearby scenery was wonderful. The monastery was the largest one we have visited (and we have seen many).

Amazing trip for great value! Still need to get my refund on those trekking sticks that weren’t provided due to some malfunction on their system , would like it if that could be figured out soon. Our Tour Guide was very very very lovely! And the driver was amazing too. Thank you guys!

Amazing. Not to be missed if you don't mind the hike. Really worth it. Health did not permit me to get to last two lakes but views of first five incredible. Ski lift was also an experience. Our guide Radi was great.