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Sofia Self-guided activities

Our most recommended Sofia Self-guided activities

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Boyana Church & History Museum

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Boyana Church & History Museum

Enjoy the sights of Bulgaria with the convenience of a day-long transfer service to popular attractions, taking you to some of the country's most significant highlights. Discover the Bells Monument, Boyana Church, the National Museum of History, and the Rila Monastery. Meet your driver at a centrally located meeting point in Sofia and head to The Bells Monument. This is one of the hidden sights of the city that very few visitors see due to its remote location. Learn about the country's intriguing communist past. After that, continue with a short transfer to the UNESCO-listed Boyana church. See the medieval pre-Renaissance frescoes inside the church. Then, continue with a short transfer to the National Museum of History, where you will have ample time for a tour of your own. Learn about the intriguing history of Bulgarian lands, and then meet your driver again for an onward journey toward the Rila Monastery. Pass through beautiful countryside on the way to the Rila mountains. Go higher up the mountains through the scenic route, and reach the Rila Monastery. Visit at your own pace, then, in the afternoon, be driven back to Sofia city.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

2. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

In the morning - meet your local English-speaking host at the centrally located meeting point. A 2-hour minibus transfer through the Bulgarian countryside takes you to the Rhodope mountains, where you climb aboard the narrow gauge train for a scenic ride through the mountains. Meet local Bulgarian people on the train and learn about the history of the area. Get off the train at Avramovo station for a short transfer to Bansko town at the footsteps of Pirin National Park. Your driver will drop you off at the convenient location, close to the Old Town. Explore at your own speed the ancient streets, visit the main church or take the opportunity to taste traditional local food at one of the traditional restaurants called mehana (lunch is optional and not included). In the afternoon, meet again your host and driver for a minibus transfer to the Rila National Park. You will arrive at the UNESCO listed Rila monastery after the crowds have gone, for a truly intimate experience. Explore on your own the ancient monastic complex. Later in the afternoon, get on the minibus for the final transfer back to Sofia city.

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

3. 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 Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

4. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

Explore Bulgaria's most famous sites in 1 day from Sofia: the UNESCO Rila Monastery and the city of Plovdiv on a small group, self-guided trip. Walk the sites at your own comfortable pace without the need of following others. Get expert local advice from your friendly English-speaking driver/host and benefit from reliable comfortable transfers. Depart from Sofia city center at 7:00 AM and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver/host. After your 2-hour transfer in an air-conditioned minibus, you will reach the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Once there, you have more than 1-hour to explore the monastic complex at your own pace - more than enough time to see all the major parts of the complex. The monastery was founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the museum and medieval tower independently. Continue with a 3.5-hour transfer through scenic mountain roads to the city of Plovdiv (a short break half-way is included) and get more than 4 hours to explore Bulgaria's second largest city, famous for its Old Town, Roman remains and Kapana artistic district. Your driver will provide you with a free copy of a tourist city map and local tips. Board the shuttle bus at 5:30 PM (for the period May to September, departure is 6:00 PM) at the agreed meeting point and return to Sofia in the evening to be dropped off at the meeting point around 7:30 PM at knyaz Alexander I square. For the period May to September, departure from Sofia is at 07:30 AM and the bus goes to first to Plovdiv and then to Rila monastery. Return to Sofia is around 8:30 PM.

From Sofia: Afternoon Half-day Trip to Rila Monastery

5. From Sofia: Afternoon Half-day Trip to Rila Monastery

Discover Rila Monastery at your own pace on a self-guided, afternoon tour from Sofia. Begin by boarding the shuttle service at noon (12:00h) at the centrally located meeting point (Aleksander I square) and head to the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Get almost 2 hours of leisure time to explore the complex, founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the medieval tower independently. Wander down quiet outdoor corridors adorned with beautiful mosaics, and see gold-plated iconostasis and valuable icons from the 14th to 19th centuries. Learn more about the history of the site at the museum, where highlights include the double-sided crucifix of the Rila Cross. See the old bakery and other monuments, including the residential area with high stone walls and little windows. Board the minibus back to Sofia in the afternoon and get dropped off at the central pick-up point on arrival. Make full use of your day by combining the trip to the Rila monastery with a visit in the morning to the Bells Park monument Boyana church and the National History Museum, located in a former Bulgarian communist leader's residence, on the way to the Rila monastery (depending on the tour option selected).

Sofia Self-Guided Audio Tour

6. Sofia Self-Guided Audio Tour

Every traveler in Bulgaria wants to visit the most interesting places and take away the most vivid impressions. Your collection of memories will be complete if you visit the sights of Sofia in the company of an Audio Guide. You will explore the Sofia on your own at your own pace, with the help of an audio guide and a map of the excursion route. Approaching the desired object, you dial its number and start playback. After paying for the tour, a link with access to audio files will be sent to your email. On the day of the excursion you have chosen, the link will become active and will be valid for 24 hours. You will listen to audio recordings through your phone. You will need internet and headphones to listen to recordings in temples. Attention: Internet consumption is minimal! The itinerary that is proposed is circular and seems to be the most convenient in order to see all the sights, but you can feel free to remodel it to your tastes because you decide when and to which audio recordings to listen. The duration of the trip may differ, according to you, from 2,5 hours to 4 hours. Your first stops will be the National Theater, the Russian Church, Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the hidden Jewish memorial complex and St. Sophia Church. Next, continue on to the old St. Petka Church, the central Mosque and the famous St. George Rotonda Church.

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Frequently asked questions about Sofia

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What are the best day trips and excursions from Sofia?

The best day trips and excursions from Sofia are:

Rila Monastery

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 9 reviews

Hi, I'm Simona and I did this excursion on October 30th 2022 with another girl. Beautiful place, it is absolutely not describable with photos and videos, but it must necessarily be experienced firsthand. It is difficult to climb to the top, but for the less trained, you can choose a shorter but always beautiful route !!! Perfect and very clear organization even for those who, like us, have a lot of difficulties with English.

An incredible experience with breathtaking views. It is definitely worth a visit if you are in Bulgaria - be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions at Rila Lakes, even if it's the summer. I thought we had a bit too much time at Rila Monastery, especially because most things were closed but other than that, the trip was fantastic. Bobby was an amazing tour guide and took great care of us

This tour is an unique and interesting way to see more of Bulgaria. We loved all the activities and the transport is comfortable. Our host, Bobby, is a wealth of knowledge and brings a fun element to the group. I would highly recommend this tour!

Absolutely breathtaking views, great guide and small group. The hike at the 7 Rila Lakes was HARD but so worth it. I also really enjoyed the monastery! If you're going to do one excursion while in Bulgaria, do this one.

Smoothly run day trip with enough time alloted for a hike to the highest peak of the Rila Lakes.