Sofia
National Parks

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Our most recommended Sofia National Parks

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.

Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

6. Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

Your tour starts with pickup from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia at 8:00AM. After an approximate 1.5-hour drive, you will reach Plovdiv. Once there you will visit the highlights, such as the 1st-century Roman Theatre, the 2nd-century Roman Stadium, the oldest mosque on the Balkans, and an old pharmacy. You will then have the chance to take a walk through the Old Town where you can observe the typical Revival Period houses, museums, and narrow cobblestone streets. Scheduled throughout your itinerary are visits to 5 sites, as well as the top of the main hill which provides great views over the whole city. After you finish your exploration of Plovdiv, you will drive south to the Rhodope Mountain. This road is very scenic, and you will soon reach Vucha Dam where you will be picked by a boat before being taken to a place where you can enjoy lunch. Whist at this scenic location, you can also enjoy a nice walk up to the cliffs, a boat trip on the reservoir, and take the opportunity to hire a waverunner. At the conclusion of this unforgettable experience, you will head safely back to Sofia.

Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

7. 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.

From Sofia: One-Day Tour of Vitosha Mountain

8. From Sofia: One-Day Tour of Vitosha Mountain

This tour starts with pick-up from your hotel. The transfer to the foot of the mountain takes approximately 20 minutes. You will see the great symbol of Sofia rise above you as you draw near. The hike begins with Boyana waterfall, which with a height of 15 metres and an elegant setting is the most beautiful on the mountain. After the waterfall you will see a typical hut, Momina skala. You will have time to relax before the groups continues to Kamendel from where you will see Sofia from above. On the way down to the city you will visit Boyana lake. Then its time to return to Sofia where the tour ends at your hotel. 

Musala Peak, Rila Mountains: Full-Day Hiking Tour from Sofia

9. Musala Peak, Rila Mountains: Full-Day Hiking Tour from Sofia

The majestic heights of the Balkans await you on this hiking day-tour to Musala Peak; the pinnacle of the Rila mountain range with its 2925-meter (9596 feet) summit, 6th highest in Europe. Wander a path leading above deep gorges, past 150 crystal-clear glacial lakes, in a panorama of crests extending before you like a stormy seascape. Starting the day early from Sofia, transfer to the famous Borovets Resort, and ride the gondola lift to neighboring Yastrabets summit. From here the hike begins as the path leads towards Musala Peak via stops at the Musala chalet, and Ledeno Ezero(icy lake) mountain shelter, and onto the last stage of the trek to Musala Peak. Rest and take in the surroundings before returning on the same route. Witness the breathtaking mountain panoramas, and pristine lakes on this moderate difficulty hike; for anyone in good physical condition with a passion for supurb vistas.

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Shuttle Group Day Trip

10. 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. 

Frequently asked questions about Sofia National Parks

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Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 161 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).