Kyustendil Province
Religious & Spiritual Activities

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Our most recommended Kyustendil Province Religious & Spiritual 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.

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

2. 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 at 9:00 behind St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral in Sofia. Sit back and relax for the next 2 hours as your friendly, English-speaking drivers transport you 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 which features a specialty of grilled trout. Get 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.

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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.

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From Sofia: Shuttle Tour to Rila Monastery & Boyana Church

4. 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.

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Full-Day Tour

5. 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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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

6. Rila Monastery and Boyana Church: Small Group Tour

Situated deep in the dense pine forests of Rila Mountain, Rila Monastery is the biggest and most important Orthodox cloister in Bulgaria. It is an outstanding example of the Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage, in which architecture and painting merge harmoniously. The site is part of UNESCO world heritage list. Rila Monastery was found in the 10th century by St. Ivan Rilski, a Hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy place and later on a monastic complex was formed. It played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. After the guided visit of the Monastery complex and lunch, we will head back to Sofia. On the way, we will stop at the second UNESCO site for the day, Boyana church. Small but unique with the most preserved frescoes in this part of Europe, dating back to 1259. The tour will end with drop-off at your hotel.

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From Sofia: Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

7. From Sofia: Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

Discover one of the most important historical monuments in Bulgaria: The Rila Monastery. The largest spiritual and cultural center in Bulgaria for hundreds of years, the Rila Monastery is located in the heart of the Rila Mountain, about 130 km (80 miles) south of Sofia. You'll be transported by car or air-conditioned minibus from your hotel in Sofia up to Rila Mountain, where your guide will take you on a tour of the captivating ancient Eastern Orthodox monastery. Named on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Rila Monastery offers insight into the Balkan's Medieval history. With its 1,200 scenes in numerous decorative paintings and figural images, the stunning open arcade is also an art gallery. Admire the exquisitely detailed artwork under the arches, and then visit beautiful church with colorful frescoes located at the center of the Monastery. Then enjoy a traditional 3-course Bulgarian lunch as well as a visit to Rila Museum.

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Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

8. Sofia: Spa Nature Tour to the 7 Rila Lakes & Sapareva Bany

Your day trip will start early in the morning with a pick-up from your hotel. Your professional guide will take you to the the highest mountain on the peninsula, Rila, just 1.5-hours away from the capital Sofia. Then, with the Panichishte resort cable car, you will head to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. The hike will take around 3-hours.  If you wish to make your walk harder or easier, your guide will be able to adjust the group program accordingly. All seven of the lakes have their own name which reflects its typical shape or characteristics. They are situated between 2,100 and 2,500 meters above sea level. The day trip will continue with a visit to the capital of the thermal spa on the peninsula called Sapareva Banya. There, you will have the unique opportunity to dive into the hot thermal waters and enjoy the magnificent panorama at the outskirts of the mountain. You'll also find the hottest geyser in Europe there. Mineral water is highly regarded and used as a cure by Thracians and Romans. Saparevian mineral water is clear and colorless with a smell of hydrogen sulfide, hyper thermal (temperature 103 °C), hydro carbonate, sulphate sodium, fluorine, silicon and sulfate. Hydrogen sulfide is 15.5 milligrams/ liter. It is claimed that the water treats disorders of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system and upper respiratory tract. After the spa, your guide will take you back to your hotel.  

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From Bansko: Rila Monastery Half-Day Tour

9. From Bansko: Rila Monastery Half-Day Tour

Meet your driver in Bansko and board the air-conditioned vehicle to travel to Rila Monastery. Relax during the 1.5-hour drive as you admire the beautiful Bulgarian landscape. Arrive at the monastery at approximately 3 PM, giving you plenty of time to explore the complex inside and out. Admire its 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. Stop at one of the 2 restaurants in the complex to have something to eat or drink. Take the opportunity to discover more at the museum, or purchase souvenir icons and other items in the nearby shops. The departure time from Rila Monastery will be between 5 and 5:30 PM. At the end of the tour, your driver will drop you off at your accommodation in Bansko.

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Sofia: Rila Monastery, St. Ivan Rilski Cave & Stob Pyramids

10. Sofia: Rila Monastery, St. Ivan Rilski Cave & Stob Pyramids

Spend the morning in the Rila Monastery, one of the country’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites, a must-see for anyone visiting Bulgaria. Discover the centuries old forests of the Rila Mountains on a scenic walk to the cave of St. Ivan Rilski (St. John of Rila), where the founder of the monastery lived as an anchorite and explore the amazing rock formations of the natural phenomenon of the Stob Pyramids. Escape the Sofia crowds for a memorable full-day trip led by an expert. You will be picked up in the morning from your hotel or address in Sofia for a wonderful journey through the scenic Rila Mountains. Arrive at the Rila Monastery within 2-hours and head towards the cave of St. Ivan Rilski by foot. A fairy trail will lead you through the centuries old woods of the Rila Monastery Nature Park to the cave where the founder of the monastery spent the last years of his life as a hermit. Visit the cave and walk back to the monastery for a guided tour and free time to explore the hidden corners of the 10th century UNESCO site. After lunch, the journey will continue with a short transfer (approximately 25 minutes) to the village of Stob, where you will have a short walk to the natural phenomenon of the sandstone Stob Pyramids. In the late afternoon, transfer back to Sofia, where you will be transferred back to your place.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Kyustendil Province

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What people are saying about Kyustendil Province

Overall rating

4.9 / 5

based on 403 reviews

This trip has exceeded my expectations. Beside the fact that the 2 sites are very important historically/ culturally & very beautiful , I engaged in long deep chats about Bulgaria with Martin -our guide- during the 2-hours bus drive each way. Martin was very organized & informative , yet funny & easy going. I was on a tight schedule in Sofia (only 3 days , including the trip to Rila), so Martin provided very useful insights about how to benefit of my short time there to the maximum. Highly recommeded trip & guide.

Our guide, Philip, was extremely knowledge about the monastery itself and about the history of his country. By the time we arrived we had an understanding of what we were visiting but were still unprepared for how stunning the place actually was. Pictures do not do it justice. We would encourage any visitor to take the opportunity to go.

really nice Guide, Philipp was verhelpful and told us many interesting things. the church was smaller than expected, but still very pretty. the monastery was lovely and ee had a great time there

Very enjoyable day. the Monadteto is an oasis of peace and the Boyana Church a small treasure. We thank our excellent guide, Georgi

Very nice travel destination, knowledgable tourguide and everything on time. Can recommend.