Kyustendil Province
Art & Museums

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Our most recommended Kyustendil Province Art & Museums

Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

1. 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.

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

2. 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.

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Boyana Church & Rila Monastery Full-Day Private Tour

3. 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.

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What people are saying about Kyustendil Province

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 36 reviews

The tour was worth it, nice hike to the seven Rila lakes and then on to the Rila monastery. The bus first goes to a chairlift, the ascent takes about 10 minutes. You should have cash for the driveway with you. The following hike takes about 4 hours and goes there and back to a lookout point past the lakes. Especially towards the end it is quite steep and stony up the mountain, so good footwear is helpful.

We had an absolutely wonderful excursion to Rila monestery and Boyana church. It is definitely 'Must see', when you are in Sofia! Not least our amazing guide, Maria, made the day absolutely perfect! She is very knowledgeable and the sweetest person. We had a lot of good talk about Bulgaria, history and culture!

It is really worth it to wisit the Rila Monastery and Boyana Church. Both are very special places, full of history and curiosities, and beautiful surroundings. Our guide was a really amazing person. She said interesting things about the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I really reccomend this trip.

The best trip to Rila Monastery . Maria is wonderful guide. Really recommend to all who would like to have perfect weekend outside of Sofia

Our tour was perfect ! Maria was our guide and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide.