Sofia
National Parks

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Our most recommended Sofia National Parks

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

1. 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: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

2. From Sofia: Bus Transfer to Rila Lakes

Use a shared shuttle bus service which offers direct transportation from Sofia to the 7 Rila Lakes. The transfer starts with an early morning pick-up from centrally located meeting place in Sofia behind the Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Meet your driver for a comfortable direct journey to the Rila National Park. Arrive at the parking of the chair lift around 09:00 AM. Enjoy some free time for a self-guided tour of the 7 Rila Lakes area. You have more than 7 hours to explore this beautiful part of Rila mountain. Leave the parking of the chair lift in the afternoon and arrive back in Sofia city around 7:00 PM at the original central departure location.

From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes Hiking & Thermal Spa Day Tour

3. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes Hiking & Thermal Spa Day Tour

Explore the Seven Rila Lakes, the jewel of the Rila Mountains National Park and admire breathtaking alpine scenery. Escape the summer heat in Sofia and enjoy the refreshing mountain climate of the highest mountain of the Balkans. Join a pleasant, easy to moderate walk and relax deeply at the end of the day in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters. All this within a day tour from Sofia. You will be picked up early in the morning from your hotel or address in Sofia for a wonderful journey in the Rila Mountains. Within 1.5-hours, you will arrive at Pionerska Hut (1520 meters), from where the group will take a chairlift to the Rila Lakes Hut situated above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level in the Rila Mountains National Park. Here, the circular walk will begin passing by Ribnoto (The Fish), Trilistnika (The Trefoil) and Bliznaka (The Twin) Lakes. When the group reaches Bubreka (The Kidney) Lake, situated at 2282 meters above sea level there will be 2 options: the group can choose to take the long route or the short route. For the long rout, continue uphill passing by Okoto (The Eye) Lake, you will reach the Lakes Peak (2550 meters), offering you a great panoramic view of all the Seven Rila Lakes. Then, you will walk back the same way you came to Kidney Lake. For the short route, you will head towards the top station of the chairlift along a scenic route offering a great panoramic view of the Seven Lakes area. At the end of the hike, you will reach the Rila Lakes Hut and via the chairlift, you will descend to Pionerska Hut. The minivan will take you for a short transfer (approximately 20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, famous for one of hottest thermal springs in Europe (~103°C). Enjoy and take the time to relax deeply after the walk in some the numerous thermal pools with temperatures of varying degrees from 15 to 45 °C. In the late afternoon, the group will head back to Sofia, where you will be dropped back off at your preferred locations.

Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

4. Sofia: Adventure Tour to Plovdiv and Rhodope Mountain

Your tour starts with pickup from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia at 8:00AM. After an approximate 1.5-hour drive, you will reach Plovdiv. Once there you will visit the highlights, such as the 1st-century Roman Theatre, the 2nd-century Roman Stadium, the oldest mosque on the Balkans, and an old pharmacy. You will then have the chance to take a walk through the Old Town where you can observe the typical Revival Period houses, museums, and narrow cobblestone streets. Scheduled throughout your itinerary are visits to 5 sites, as well as the top of the main hill which provides great views over the whole city. After you finish your exploration of Plovdiv, you will drive south to the Rhodope Mountain. This road is very scenic, and you will soon reach Vucha Dam where you will be picked by a boat before being taken to a place where you can enjoy lunch. Whist at this scenic location, you can also enjoy a nice walk up to the cliffs, a boat trip on the reservoir, and take the opportunity to hire a waverunner. At the conclusion of this unforgettable experience, you will head safely back to Sofia.

The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

5. The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

Enjoy a full-day trek into the Rila Mountains to explore the most picturesque area near Sofia and one of Bulgaria's most beautiful natural sites, the Seven Rila Lakes. This group of glacial lakes lies between 6,900 and 8,200 feet (2,100 and 2,500 meters) above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. Leaving from Sofia, you will drive for 90 minutes to reach the Panichishte resort area, where you board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut. From here you will continue on foot to explore the landscape and its majestic blue pearls – the Eye, the Tear, the Kidney, the Twins, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake and the Lower Lake. The route is not difficult and can be altered on the spot depending on fitness levels or strength, following either more gentle routes or steeper gradients. Take your chance to explore the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains, the Seven Rila Lakes.

From Sofia: Belogradchik Rocks Full-Day Tour

6. From Sofia: Belogradchik Rocks Full-Day Tour

Take a day trip to the northwestern corner of Bulgaria to see the Belogradchik rocks, located in the Balkan Mountains. You will drive 2.5 to 3 hours from Sofia until you reach this area. The rocks are grouped in various formations and are made up of primarily sandstone. In 2009, they were nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Many rocks have fantastic shapes and are associated with interesting legends. They are often named for people or objects they are thought to resemble, and on your tour, your guide might share some of these stories while pointing out the specific rocks and their names. The Belogradchik Rocks have also been declared a Natural Landmark by the Bulgarian government and are a major tourist attraction in the region. At the top of a hill near to some of the rocks is also a medieval fortress, known as the Belogradchik Fortress, built when the region was part of the Roman Empire. You will have the opportunity to visit the fortress and behold its well-preserved and menacing facade. Later, you will also be taken to the nearby Veneca cave, an incredibly beautiful cave with modern colorful lights. All entrance fees are included in the price and there will be time to stop for an optional lunch, which is not included.

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

7. 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.

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

8. 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.

Sofia: Saeva Dupka, Devetashka and Prohodna Cave Day Tour

9. Sofia: Saeva Dupka, Devetashka and Prohodna Cave Day Tour

After pick-up in Sofia around 8:00 AM, head to Saeva Dupka, with 400 meters of corridors and 5 galleries. Explore the Harmana gallery's acoustic, stalactites, stalagmites, sinter lakes, draperies, and the largest stone column found so far in Bulgaria. Move on to Prohodna cave, one of the most famous caves in Bulgaria. See how it is naturally illuminated by two huge openings in the ceiling, inspiring the cave's local name, Eyes of God Cave. Explore the entrances, including a 45-meter entrance, the largest in Bulgaria.  Finally, see Devetaki Cave, northeast of Lovech. A picturesque karst cave, Devetaki stands at 2442 meters long and 60 meters high. It is one of the most beautiful caves in Bulgaria, full of stories from the Cold War to Hollywood productions. The cave is a protected landmark of national and international significance and has been declared a monument of culture. 

Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

10. Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

Dramatic landscapes and breathtaking alpine sceneries, centuries old pine forests and rugged mountain peaks make the Seven Rila Lakes circuit one of the most beautiful areas in the Rila Mountains National Park. Enjoy a gentle snowshoe walk in the picturesque Seven Rila Lakes area followed by relaxation in the thermal water pools of Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, fed by one of the hottest springs in Europe. All this within a day tour from Sofia. Your guide will pick you up early in the morning from your hotel in Sofia for a wonderful journey to the Rila Mountains. You will arrive within 1.5-hours to Pionerska Mountain Hut from where you will take a chairlift to Rila Lakes Hut, situated high above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level. The walk will begin from the hut in the direction of the Kidney, the third of the Seven Rila Lakes. Along the way, admire breathtaking alpine sceneries of jagged peaks and frozen mountain lakes. After a short break and a cup of warm tea at the lake, you will head toward Rila Lakes Hut and descend via the chairlift to the van and have a short transfer (20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, where you will be able to relax deeply in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters.

Frequently asked questions about Sofia National Parks

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Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 161 reviews

Velko was a perfect guide. He was intelligent, interesting and had a real enthusiasm for his work. The caves were great. The first a huge cavern where we explored the valley and walked to a very old tiny monastery. The second was an awe inspiring cave full of dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. Lunch was an authentic Bulgarian affair - can recommend the beef soup! The monastery was on a remote hill and was very atmospheric. We went at the end of March and we had all the attractions to ourselves. Highly recommend.

Wonderful tour with our guide Ves. Once at the frozen lake once in a while the hard cold wind was gone, and there was complete silence with a beautiful perfect blue sky. It was a perfect private tour and we had the mountains to ourselves. Absolutely a must see/experience!! Thanks Ves! We were here at the end of March, and the hot water source was ok, but several baths were closed. We would not do this here again.

It was a great experience and we were very lucky to have the greatest weather! I had a lot of fun with Velko, the guide. It felt like going for a hike with my friends Also loved the thermal baths. Just the perfect combination after a nice hike! ADVICE: it is really important to bring proper clothes and equipment to the mountain!

The trip was exhausting yet very fun! The trek is unexpectedly harder than I thought but Dobs is an excellent guide who consistently motivated the group. The hot spring after the trek was relaxing. We're considering hiking it again in the summer to finally see the lakes!

What a fantastic experience thanks to Dobrin, a truly exceptional guide.