Welcome to Rila Monastery


Most travellers visit Rila Monastery on a day trip, but you can stay at or near the monastery to experience its tranquillity after the tour buses leave, or explore the hiking trails that begin here.


Top experiences in Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery activities

$58.88 Tours & Sightseeing

Rila Monastery and Boyana Church with Light Lunch

Rila Monastery is the biggest and most important orthodox cloister in the country and the jewel of Bulgarian cultural and historical heritage. Recognized as a part of UNESCO world heritage sites since 1976, the monastery is an unique monument of the church architecture. Situated deep in the dense pine forests of Rila mountain, it is a place of massive cultural and historical importance and acts as the keeper of the national identity trough the middle ages. The monastery museum contains some amazing examples of the best Bulgarian icon painting and woodcarving.  Another UNESCO site, part of the tour is Boyana Church, located on the outskirts of Sofia. It was added to the World Cultural Heritage List in 1979. The building consists of three parts, which are example of the Byzantine architecture - Greek cross ground-plan with dome, richly decorated facades with ceramic elements. In the interior of the church there are several layers of wall paintings from different historical periods-11th, 13th, 15-17th and 19th. The church owes its world fame mainly to its frescoes from 1259, which reflect the unique achievements of the Bulgarian medieval culture. According to the experts the style of the paintings from this period is much resembling the Renaissance style though much earlier than it begun. The Boyana Church displays 89 different scenes with 240 human figures either individually or together. Itinerary: The tour starts from your hotel. After a 2-hour transfer, we reach the Rila monastery. Enjoy a 2-hour tour of the Holy cloister. Transfer back to Sofia (2 hours), visit of Boyana church (1 hour). Afterwards the tour ends at your hotel

$67.59 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Rila Monastery and Wine Tasting Tour

Medi Valley Winery and Rila Monastery OverviewMedi Valley Winery is a classic winery complex located at the crossroad of a multi-directional touristic compass. It is is a wonderful start or a reason to visit these sites. The winery will be an unforgettable experience that will leave memories and provoke your senses. The visitors may experience not only the wines but a whole variety of things like history, traditions, beautiful nature and many more.The Rila Monastery tour includes wine tasting of five different local wines, produced in the vicinity of Rila Monastery. The guides will make your day unforgettable and will impress you with their knowledge, energy and interesting history facts about Bulgaria.Rila monastery is the holiest place for the Bulgarian orthodoxy. The beauty of this place hardly can be described with words. Your first touch with it will leave you breathless. Here past, present and future are interlaced in one, whispering to you the intriguing history of the Bulgarian country. To make your day tour to this magnificent monastery unforgettable, after spending two hours at this holy place, you will then be taken for a unique wine tasting to a wine cell in the feet of Rila mountain. Before the Bulgarians, The Thracians were the rulers of these territories. There remarkable culture and warrior dignity are woven in the wine of the region, called after one of their greatest tribes - The Medi. The great Spartacus itself is originated from here.Your Day at Rila Monastery and Medi Valley – WineryThe start of your day begins with pick up from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia. After 2 hours drive we reach the Monastery in the Rila Mountain at an altitude of 1147m (3763 feet) above sea level. The introduction of the UNESCO site will begin with brief history of the founder and the construction of the monastery. After that we will visit the church and medieval 14th century defense tower.After we finish exploring the monastery complex we will have a lunch at very cozy restaurant with local food (grilled trout specialty). Then we will make our way to Medi Valley winery where you will have the possibility to try five different types of wines. A short story about the history of the region, the winery and the current products; questions and answers session. Walking the guests to the ground floor, introducing to them the option of purchase souvenirs and wine at a special price from the winery’s shop.

$45.81 Day Trips & Excursions

Rila Monastery and 7 Rila Lakes in one day from Sofia

In the morning meet your friendly English-speaking driver at the centrally located meeting point behind Alexander Nevski Cathedral. Departure time is at 07:30 am. The meeting point is at the car parking behind Alexander Nevski Cathedral (in front of La Catedrale restaurant), in the historical center of Sofia and close to metro station Sofia University. After a 1.5 hours drive with comfortable A/C van/minibus you will reach the area of Panichishte and the parking of the Rila Lakes chair lift. After arriving at the Rila Lakes area (chair lift base station) around 09:00 am - your driver will brief you of the different options and routes up the mountain that you can take from there. You can take the chair lift up to the lakes and then walk around the lakes area. You will be also given necessary information in regards to food, water, high-mountain weather, etc.You have more than 5 hours at your convenience for your self guided tour of the Rila Lakes. The time allows you to see most of the 7 Rila Lakes.In the afternoon your driver and van will be waiting for you at the previously agreed meeting point for your transfer further to the Rila Monastery. Departure time is at 02:30 pm. Please be ready on time for boarding as now waiting time is included. Allow about 20 min for the chair lift ride down from the mountain as well as time for queuing if it is a busy day.After a 2 hour drive you will reach the UNESCO listed Rila monastery. Your driver will leave you at a nearby parking which is a very close walk to to monastery complex. Enjoy your self guided visit to the Rila Monastery in the next 1.5 hours.In the later afternoon meet your driver at the meeting point for your transfer back to the city of Sofia. Departure time is at 06:00 pm. Please be ready on time for boarding as now waiting time is included.The drop off location is at the square/parking behind Alexander Nevski Cathedral (in the historical center of Sofia and close to metro station Sofia University).

$63 Day Trips & Excursions

Stob Pyramids and Rila Monastery Private Hiking Tour from Sofia

Enjoy one of the best ways of exploring and learning more about Bulgaria- with a professional guide while hiking through the amazing mountains. The tour starts from Sofia and first you will go for hiking in the region of the Stob Piramids. A place well know and excellent for hiking where you will enjoy the magnificent nature. The hiking is of moderate difficulty and it is about 2 hours. After that you will visit the largest monastery in Bulgaria: the Rila monastery. There your professional guide will take you around and blend you in to the history and the way of life in the monastery. You will spend about 1- 2h in the Rila monastery. Last but not least you will have the chance to taste one of the best and well known special pastry products in Bulgaria, which will be home-made and you will also have some free time for lunch at a great local restourant. After a great day the guide will take you back to your hotel in Sofia.

$153.25 Day Trips & Excursions

Seven Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Hiking Trip from Bansko

The Seven Rila Lakes are without a doubt one of the most notable natural attractions on the Balkan Peninsula, a dream destination not to be missed. Their beauty touches the thousands of Bulgarian and international visitors who visit them.The Seven Rila Lakes, located in the Dangskiya region of the northwestern Rila Mountains, are glacial lakes. They are scattered at the foot of a massive cirque that includes the peaks Suhi Chal (Dry Peak), Otovishki, and Haramiya.From Bansko you will be driven to Panichiste by car. Take the chair lift to the Seven Rila lakes. Ascent all the way through the famous Seven Rila Lakes to Razdela top (2600 meters). Lunch will be a picnic. Descent through some very old pine and oak forests, straight to the Rila monastery – the biggest and the oldest in Bulgaria, recognized as part of UNESCO world heritage site. Many lakes and a great part of the mountain’s highest peaks can be seen this day.Tour difficulty: Medium Suitable for people with some mountain experience in good shape; children older than 14 years old.

$52.69 Day Trips & Excursions

Rila Monastery - Private Day Tour from Plovdiv

Rila Monastery is nestled in the highest mountain on the Balkan Peninsula - Rila at 1147 m. a. s. l. along Rilska River. It is the most famous landmark of Bulgaria, founded in 10-th century by the hermit St. Ivan Rilski – patron of Bulgaria. This is the largest Bulgarian monastery, a spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site and most visited tourist site in Bulgaria by both foreign and local tourists. Known also as the Holy Rila Retreat, it’s the most outstanding monument of the Bulgarian National Revival period, an ultimate expression of the Bulgarian genius in matters of spirit, culture, architecture, construction, icon painting and woodcarving. The monastery was built as it stands now by Bulgarian master builders between 1816 and 1847. Before discovering the monastery have lunch in a nice restaurant perched above Rilska River to try the local specialty – grilled or fried trout. In Rila Monastery first visit the main church Nativity of the Virgin (1835 - 1837) decorated with wonderful and very well preserved murals. In all the scenes depicted on the exterior and the interior of the church are more than 1200. In the church we see the holy relics of St. Ivan Rilski as well as the tomb of the last Bulgarian king – Boris III. Next to the main temple is the only left building from the 14-th century – the Hrelio's tower which represents a strong fortification erected by the local feudal lord Hrelio in 1334 - 1335. The "Transfiguration" chapel on the top floor of the building houses precious mural paintings from the 14-th century. In the monastery museum see some ancient weapons of the monastery guards, church objects, documents, ancient printing machine from Vienna, ornaments, ancient coins and many more. The most impressive exhibit here is the wooden cross carved by monk Rafail. He worked on it for 12 years (between 1790 and 1802) and finally became blind. This unique piece of art contains 36 scenes from the Bible and about 600 figures as small as a rice grain! After exploring the Holy Rila Retreat optionally at a little extra cost go to the nearby cave of St. Ivan Rilski where he spent many years in hermitage, prayer and meditation. It takes around 45 min walking in a wonderful forest to reach this holy site where actually the monastery was originally founded. Next to the cave stands the Assumption of St. Ivan Rilski church which was built around the rock tomb of the saint. The “wish fountain” is nearby where visitors and pilgrims write wishes on a paper and put them between the stones. Trip duration: 9.5-10 hours

Rila Monastery in detail