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.

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.

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

3. 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.

From Sofia: Rila Lakes Trek with Transfers

4. From Sofia: Rila Lakes Trek with Transfers

Choose from a guided or self-guided tour option. 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/guide 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 or follow your friendly mountain guide for the best routes around the lakes. You have more than 6 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 5:30 PM at the original central departure location.

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

5. 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.

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Group Day Trip

6. 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. 

Sofia: Panoramic Flight Around the Seven Rila Lakes

7. Sofia: Panoramic Flight Around the Seven Rila Lakes

Delight in an unforgettable experience flying over the natural wonders of the Seven Lakes in Rila. Soar for 1 hour in a Cessna 182 and admire the brilliant blue lakes wrapped in jaw-dropping mountain ranges. Make your way to Lesnovo airport for take-off and sit back and relax during your flight. Marvel at close-up views of some of the most stunning summits on the highest mountain range in the Balkans, Rila. As well as the Seven Lakes and Rila mountain range, enjoy spectacular views of the biggest dam in Bulgaria, Iskar, as well as the scenery of the Bulgarian countryside outside Sofia.

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.

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Day Transfer

9. 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 sing “Rila Lakes & City Tour” on the front. The departure is at 8am. You will travel on a scenic road about 1.5 hours to the mountain resort of Panichishte. The van will leave you there and the driver will escort you to the lift which you should take to the area of the lakes. The traveling time with the lift is 20 – 30 minutes. And after that, you will start on your own the hike around the lakes. Usually, it takes about 2 hours walking in each direction. You will be given a total of 5.5 hours to go around the lakes so at 15:30 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.

Sofia: Private Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Day-Trip

10. 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.

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 398 reviews

Absolutely unforgettable. Really comfortable minibus tour with a fantastic guide. Very knowledgeable, helpful, didn’t fail in any sort of advice or fact about any of the places we visited. If you consider this trip, don’t think twice. It’s worth the cost 100%, I couldn’t possibly fault the trip. Thank you Sofia and Rila for an amazing time!

Definitely a worthwhile trip. Part of the ride involves sitting in a charlift for about 20 minutes - I heard stories from past travelers who were afraid of heights and did not know this! You don't have to an athete to climb but it is demanding - be prepared to sweat it, it's not an easy one.

Incredible, despite being a slightly cloudy day at the end we cleared and we saw the lakes, it is a place that must be visited when going to Sofia, the very formal and professional guide.

Breathtaking scenery! Perfect weather, good workout. Highly recommended

be sure to bring sturdy shoes (hiking boots are best).