1. 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).