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SofiaReligious & spiritual activities

Our most recommended Sofia Religious & spiritual 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: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Group Tour

2. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Group Tour

Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and travel to Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia. See the historically significant frescoes of the Byzantine building, and hear how they started the fashion of illustrating biblical figures with emotions and placing them alongside the local aristocracy. After that, relax on the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. Upon arrival, explore the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See the gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. Take some time to refuel with lunch at one of the local restaurants, where you can purchase local dishes such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yoghurt that is deep-fried). Depart at 15:00 and travel to Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center by 17:00. 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: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

3. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

Experience the religious history of Bulgaria on a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Rila Monastery and Boyana Church from Sofia. Follow your guide around the monastery to learn about this epic site or choose to explore it on your own before viewing Boyana Church's ancient frescoes. Meet your friendly group for the day at the parking lot Behind Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, near cafe La Cathedrale. Settle down in your seat and set off out of the city as you drive along scenic roads with picturesque views of rural Bulgaria. Arrive at Rila Monastery, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country. If you've booked the tour, follow your guide around the historic site and learn about the main frescoes. If you're an explorer you can visit the museum, take photos, and check out the church at your own pace. Spend about 3-hours at the monastery where you will get the opportunity to take photos, check the shops, visit the museums, and have a lunch break in the nearby restaurant. Then start your journey back to Sofia with one more important stop along the way. Enter the medieval Boyana Church and stroll within the ancient walls, studying the artistic frescoes which make this place so special. Finish your journey at around 5:00 PM to 5:30 PM in the city center.

Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

4. Day Tour from Sofia to Skopje, North Macedonia

Discover Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, on this full-day trip from Sofia. During this day tour to Skopje, you will have the chance to explore the city's highlights and hear its rich history and culture from your guide.  Be picked up from your accommodation in Sofia and board an airconditioned vehicle. Relax, and take in the countryside on the transfer to Skopje. Once in Skopje, begin your walking tour of the at Skopje Fortress. Admire sweeping views of the city from the fortress before heading to the Church of the Holy Savior, home to fantastic iconostasis. Continue towards the Sultan Murat Mosque and the Old Bazaar, where you can witness the remnants from Ottoman Period.  Listen as your guide tells you about Skopje's history as one of the main trade centers in the Balkans. Stop a typical Macedonian restaurant where you can purchase a delicious lunch before crossing the Vadar River explore the other side of the city.  Visit the new neo-classical square and continue to the Mother Teresa memorial house. End your walking tour at the newly built triumphal arch Porta Macedonia. Journey back to Sofia and be dropped off at your hotel or accommodation. 

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 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: Plovdiv, Asen's Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

6. From Sofia: Plovdiv, Asen's Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery

After you have been picked up from your hotel or accommodation in Sofia, enjoy an hour and a half scenic drive to Plovdiv.  Visit sights of historic importance such as the Roman Theatre and the Roman Stadium. Walk around the Old Town and admire the architecture of the houses, museums and cobbled streets typical of the Revival Period. After a traditional Bulgarian lunch, take a 25-minute drive to Asenova Fortress situated on the top of a cliff in Rodopi Mountain. Admire this medieval building and breathtaking views across the valley.  Visit Bachkovo Monastery, founded in 1083 and see the beautiful mural paintings which are still preserved today. End your tour with a drive back to Sofia where you will be dropped off at your accommodation.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and St. Ivan Cave Day Trip

7. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and St. Ivan Cave Day Trip

Travel in comfort as you visit several Bulgarian landmarks like the Rila Monastery and the Cave of Saint Ivan Rilski in the company of a guide. See one of Bulgaria's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, enjoy a delicious bite to eat, and learn about each location through the use of an audio guide. 9:00 AM - Depart from Alexander Nevsky Cathedral Square (back side of the cathedral), and relax on a 3-hour drive to the Rila Monastery in the Rila Mountains. At noon arrive at the Rila Monastery. 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM - Enjoy a guided walk at the Rila Monastery. Admire the arcaded balconies, and discover unique frescoes by one of the most famous painters of the Bulgarian National Revival period. See the gilded iconostasis and enjoy the fabulous mountain views. Hear the story of the monastery from your guide before enjoying some time to explore the monastic complex on your own. Learn more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM - Take some free time to have lunch at one of the restaurants around the monastery, where you could taste local dishes such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yoghurt that is deep-fried) or some grilled trout. 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM - Visit the Cave of Saint Ivan Rilski - one of the most sacred places in Bulgaria. Pass through the tunnel of St. Ivan Rilski. Drink some water from the holy spring which is believed to never freeze. 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM - Head back to Sofia and arrive at Alexander Nevski Cathedral Square around 5:00 PM 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: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

8. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Rila Monastery and Boyana

Spend the day exploring 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located outside of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city. Begin by meeting with your local guide at behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia who is ready to make the best of your day, sharing historical facts and insider tips. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your English-speaking driver transportsyou to Rila. Upon arriving, spend 2 hours exploring the area and visiting the Rila Monastery, the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. Then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that features a specialty of grilled trout. Hop back in the van for another 2-hour journey, eventually arriving at Boyana Church, a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church on the outskirts of Sofia. Check out the elaborate frescoes that have made this site famous, before your tour returns you to your meeting point.

From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Plovdiv and Asen's Fortress

9. From Sofia: Full-Day Tour to Plovdiv and Asen's Fortress

After a 2-hour drive, begin this full-day tour in one of Europe's oldest towns, Plovdiv. Walk along cobblestone streets and visit a 19th-century house to learn about the local production of alcoholic drinks and rose oil products. Explore the Roman Theater, Roman Stadium and church before enjoying 2 hours of free time to walk around and have lunch and coffee along the main pedestrian street. After exploring Plovdiv, meet your van and guide to make the 30-minute drive to Asen's Fortress. Admire this beautiful, medieval structure and learn about the history of the place before taking photos from the top. Start your journey back to Sofia with an expected arrival time of approximately 6:00 PM.

From Sofia: Buzludzha Monument and the Rose Valley

10. From Sofia: Buzludzha Monument and the Rose Valley

Join us on a guided trip to one of the most iconic communist monuments from the past in Eastern Europe. The UFO-like abandoned building is located on top of Buzludzha peak in the Central Balkan mountains. Today an empty structure stripped of its initial purposes, it has gained many admirers and popularity around the world and is considered a remarkable representation of this part of history. Another highlight of this day trip is the town of Kazanlak - the center of rose oil production in Bulgaria. We will make a short stop at the wonderful Ethnographic Complex of Damascena where you can learn more about the production of the famous Bulgarian rose oil. The tour starts at 7:00 AM at the back of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. The transfer time is about 3.5 hours per direction and the tour is about 11 hours long. First, we will stop at the Complex of Damascena around 10:30. Then the town of Kazanlak where there will be a short lunch break. We will arrive at the Buzludzha monument around 13:30. Keep in mind that the Buzludzha monument is currently not open for visitors for safety reasons and cannot be seen from the inside. However, the views from the outside are well worth the time. The monument is atop the Buzludzha peak in the Balkan mountains (1.441m) so make sure you bring a jacket and comfortable shoes. The last stop will be at the Shipka memorial church. We leave for Sofia at around 16:00 and are back at the Alexander Nevski Cathedral around 19:30. The tour is offered as well with ONLINE, cloud-based audioguide in different languages (EN, ES, IT, FR, DE, RU). 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.

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 543 reviews

Very nice trip covering Boyana church and Rila monastery. Everything was in time and according to description. Bus was comfortable. Guide Martin was excellent, full of knowledge but also entertaining. We had enough free time to explore on our own as well. This tour was highlight of my trip to Bulgaria and I would recommend it to other travelers.

Phillip and Lena were excellent guides. We learned so much and we’re in good hands. Phillip reassured us during the border crossing and kept us informed with all the history. And Skopje was worth the drive. The culture and city were very good!

It was really worthy to go.We were small group of 7 people. Our guide Martin provide us all necessary information in English. I would highly recommend.

Expérience à faire ! J’ai été très bien prise en charge par les guides qui étaient très gentils, j’ai passé une super journée !

Our guide was very good and the history and views were very fascinating!