Trek to the Seven Lakes and visit the Rila Monastery | Bulgaria

byVerónica Crocitti
Itinerary of 7 or 10 days in Bulgaria, what to see from Sofia to the Black Sea

All you need to know about trekking to the Seven Lakes and visiting the Rila Monastery, among the most beautiful things to see in Bulgaria.

The Rila National Park, about 90 kilometers south ofSofia, is one of the most evocative places in the wholeBulgaria. With its 81,000 hectares of extension, it represents an ideal destination for lovers of mountain excursions, trekking, walks in the midst of nature but also history, art and culture.

Itinerary of 7 or 10 days in Bulgaria, what to see from Sofia to the Black Sea

Within the Rila Natural Protected Area are impressive attractions such as theMount Mussala(which with its almost 3,000 meters represents the highest peak), iseven lakes of glacial originand the picturesqueRila Monasterywhich, due to its beauty, was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1983.

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If you are thinking of organizing a7 or 10 days itinerary in Bulgariaknow that the stops at the Seven Lakes and the Rila Monastery are absolutely unmissable, and in this article I tell you about them.

Trekking to the seven Rila lakes: route and difficulty

Situated at an altitude of between 2100 and 2500 metres, the Seven Lakes of the Rila National Park are one of Bulgaria's most famous natural attractions. It is a group of stretches of water of glacial origin connected to each other by small streams and reachable through a suggestive trekking route that winds through cataracts, waterfalls and enchanted landscapes.

Itinerary of 7 or 10 days in Bulgaria, what to see from Sofia to the Black Sea

Itinerary and route

The Seven Rila Lakes Trekking Trail starts at the parking lot of the site where it is located chairliftleading to Rila Lake Hut. Although it is possible to make the first stretch on foot, the advice is to take the chairlift which, in less than 20 minutes, reaches the real starting point of the route. The cost of the ticket is 20 BGN return (12 BGN one way).

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The trekking itinerary that starts fromRila Lake Hutit is a ring, has a length of about 15 km and can be covered in 4/5 hours of walking depending on the breaks you want to take. Based on your degree of preparation and the time available, you can decide whether to do the wholering routeor choose one of the two climbs that will take you to the top as far as the last lake. As you can see in thedownloadable map here, the one on the right is the shortest but steepest route, while the one on the left is longer but less intense.

Trekking Seven Rila Lakes, Sofia, BulgariaTrekking Seven Rila Lakes, Sofia, BulgariaTrekking Seven Rila Lakes, Sofia, Bulgaria

The names of the seven lakes

The seven lakes of Rila have names that reflect their essence. TheKidney(number 1) is so called because its banks are the steepest, theEye(number 2) due to its oval shape, theTear(number 3) for clear waters, theTwin(number 4) for the size of the surface, theClover(number 5) due to its irregular shape and low sides, theLake Fish(number 6) because it is the shallowest and theLower Lake(number 7) because it is the lowest in altitude.

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When to go

The best time to go to the seven Rila lakes is in the summer when the temperatures are pleasant, there is no high risk of rainfall and the route is completely free. In winter, in fact, the lakes freeze and the snow reaches even two meters. The path is completely submerged and orientation becomes difficult, as well as dangerous.

Rila monastery, Unesco heritage

Located at an altitude of 1147 meters, the Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous in the wholeBulgaria. Its foundation dates back to the 10th century when, during the reign of King Petar, thehermit Saint John of Rilahe settled there. His disciples who often went to those places to study, decided to build a building that could accommodate them.

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The Rila Monastery soon became a highly respected place. All the Bulgarian kings brought you gifts and, when it was destroyed at the hands of the Ottomans, it was able to see the light again thanks to the offers of the wealthiest men in the country. Since 1983, the Rila Monastery has been a UNESCO heritage site.

Visit Rila Monastery, Sofia. Bulgaria

What see

The Rila Monastery complex looks like a fortress surrounded by a moat which can be accessed through two large mirrored portals. Inside there is a four-story building with 300 cells, a large courtyard, a central church and the tower of the despot Hrelio.

Visit Rila Monastery, Sofia. BulgariaVisit Rila Monastery, Sofia. Bulgaria

The most famous works are kept inside the church, such as theiconostasiscarved in wood, the frescoes of Zaharij Zograf, the icons and thesplendid mosaicsof Byzantine appeal.

Note Well!Access to the Rila Monastery is free, taking pictures inside the Church is not allowed.

How to get there from Sofia

The Rila Monastery is about an hour's drive from the Seven Lakes and two hours fromSofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The only two ways to reach the town are by car or on organized excursions (for example, day trips that depart from Sofia and sometimes also include a trek to the Seven Lakes – the price is around 40/50 euros).

Verónica Crocitti

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