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Boyana Church

Boyana Church: Our most recommended tours and activities

From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church Small Group Tour

Depart Sofia at 09:00 AM sharp, and 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 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 specialties such as mekitsi (a traditional Bulgarian dish of kneaded dough made with yogurt that is deep-fried). Depart at 01:30 PM 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 for illustrating biblical figures with emotions and placing them alongside the local aristocracy. With an estimated arrival time at the church of approximately 03:40 PM, enjoy about 30 minutes to explore. Leave at around 04:10 PM for the drive to Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia city center by 04:30 PM to 05:00 PM.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Day Trip

2. 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 near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. 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. 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.

From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

3. From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

The tour departs early in the morning in front of Alexander Nevski. Your first stop will be the great UNESCO Boyana Church located on the outskirts of Sofia consisting of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th-century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-story building to be erected next to it. After exploring it, head to Rila Monastery, where you will admire the impressive architecture, frescoes and learn about the history of the monastery from your guide. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, discover the most precious pieces that are kept from the past and all the facts and stories about the largest Bulgarian monastery complex. After your monastery tour, enjoy about 2.5 hours of free time for food and shopping.

From Sofia: Afternoon Half-day Trip to Rila Monastery

4. 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 Half-Day Tour

5. Sofia Half-Day Tour

A guide will pick you up from your hotel and start off the tour by visiting the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the vicinity of Sofia - the Boyana Church. This delightful church is small in size yet has an enormous collection of historical art. You also have the option of going to the National Historical Museum nearby. Afterwards, it's on to Alexander Nevski Square for a visit of the largest Cathedral in the Balkans, followed by a stroll to the Russian Church. You'll also get to visit the National Theater and its garden, the rotunda (circular church) Church of St. George and the Roman remains. The tour will finish with a walk in front of the Balkan Hotel (St. Nedelya Church square).

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

6. 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.

Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

7. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

After pickup from any accommodation in Sofia, your journey through over 1,000 years of Bulgarian cultural history begins. Make the 2-hour drive to the Rila Monastery via air-conditioned bus into the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain. Upon arriving, explore the monastery, which was founded in 927, at your own pace with 2 hours of free time. Amble the 21-acre complex, taking in the colorful and unique traditional Orthodox architecture. Gaze at the 5-domed church, with its numerous altars, side chapels, and gold-plated mosaics. Take in the beauty of the tranquil mountain environment surrounding the peaceful place of worship. Afterwards, you’ll have lunch, before heading on to your next destination. Only a couple of miles away from the monastery into the forest is St. Ivan Rilski Cave, where St. Ivan of Rila took up residency in the early 10th century. Experience a sacred site of tremendous importance to Bulgarian Orthodox Christians. On the way back to Sofia, you’ll pass through Boyana Church, famed for its elaborate frescoes dating back to the 11th, 13th, 15th-17th, and 19th century. Afterwards, you’ll be transported back back to your accommodation in Sofia.

Boyana Church & Rila Monastery Full-Day Private Tour

8. Boyana Church & Rila Monastery Full-Day Private Tour

The tour departs early in the morning and heads to the tranquil hearth of Rila Mountains where you can admire the impressive Rila Monastery (UNESCO). Its architecture and frescoes present the apogee of Bulgarian Renaissance art. During the guided tour in the inner yard and the monastery museum, you will discover the most treasured monuments and learn the most fascinating facts and stories about the biggest Bulgarian monastery complex. The first stop will be at the Rilla monastery and the museum, so you can fully explore the history and see what it was in the past. After the museum you will have the chance to explore more about the complex and then visit the surrounding mountain around the monastery.  There will be sufficient time to stop and have lunch by the side of the river in one of the greatest restaurants on the side of the road back to Sofia. There you will have the chance to taste some great Bulgarian cuisine.You will also have free time to buy souvenirs, take some photos and then continue on to the tour. After visiting Rila mountains, you will go back to Sofia and on the way stop at Boyana church. Part of the UNESCO heritage area, it's located deep in the Vitosha mountain near Sofia. Located on the outskirts of Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two storey building to be erected next to it. The frescoes in this second church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings. The ensemble is completed by a third church, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This site is one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art.

Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church with Lunch & Admission

9. Sofia: Rila Monastery & Boyana Church with Lunch & Admission

Depart Sofia and travel to the Rila Mountains to visit Rila Monastery, the largest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. Inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1976, the monastery is set deep in the dense pine forests of the mountains and has been considered the keeper of Bulgaria's national identity since the Middle Ages. Marvel at the domes and striped colonnades of the monastery complex, and discover some amazing examples of Bulgarian icon paintings and woodcarving in the museum. See the cave where the monastery's founder, Saint Ivan Rilski lived and was buried. Learn how he was considered a miracle worker and why his cave is believed to be sacred. Then, go to Boyana Church on the outskirts of Sofia, added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1979. Admire its Byzantine architecture and Greek cross ground-plan with domes. Be mesmerized by the richly decorated facades and interior of the church, where several layers of wall paintings date from the 11th, 13th, 15th, 16th, 17th and 19th centuries. Look at the frescoes from 1259 and their depictions of life in Bulgaria in the Middle Ages. According to the experts, the style of these paintings is reminiscent of the Renaissance, even though they were created much earlier.

Half-Day Private Tour: Sofia, Boyana Church & History Museum

10. Half-Day Private Tour: Sofia, Boyana Church & History Museum

The tour starts at 9:00 AM when you will be picked up by a private guide from your accommodation in Sofia. By car you will head to the outskirts of Sofia and Vitosha Mountain. The first stop is the National History Museum, the biggest museum in Bulgaria and one of the biggest in the Balkans. It has rich collections from antiquity to nowadays. The next stop is the remarkable Boyana Church, recognized by UNESCO because of its amazingly well-preserved frescoes from the 13th century. After exploring Boyana Church, head to the center of Sofia for a two-hour sightseeing tour. You will go around the most interesting buildings and places and learn their history from your guide. See sights such as Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Saint Sofia Basilica, Saint George Rotunda, the Parliament, the Presidency, the Roman Remains and others. The tour will finish at around 14:00 PM near the beginning of Vitosha street – the main street in Sofia.

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What people are saying about Boyana Church

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,789 reviews

A must do while in Sofia. We had only a couple days in Sofia and this was really a great way to spend our time. The church and monestary were really beautiful and the drive out into the country was nice. Our favorite thing was our guide Martin who gave us a great commentary on the history of the places and Bulgaria, with some jokes thrown in.

we really enjoyed the tour and highly recommend. Martin the tour leader was excellent well knowledgable and managed the tour in a professional manner

This tour was brilliantly organised with a very friendly tour guide. It’s a very good price for what you get!

Great tour! Beautiful places, definitely worth seeing!

Great transportation. They filled the entire van up.