Discover Sofia’s architecture and wander Plovdiv’s ancient streets, but don’t miss out on the beauty of Bulgaria’s mountain landscapes. The Seven Rila Lakes offer some of Bulgaria’s most dazzling hiking. Here are your options.
A scenic flight over the Rila Lakes—and perhaps also the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is a spectacular way to see the cascade of beautifully shaped lakes. They tumble from The Tear at 8,317 feet (2,535 meters) to the Lower Lake at 6,873 feet (2,095 meters).
Hiking tours of the Rila Lakes span the gamut from half-day tours, which cover the lower lakes only, to full-day adventures and even 2-day treks that take you through the wilderness to Rila Monastery. A cable car covers part of the distance.
Things to Know
- The Seven Rila Lakes are roughly 60 miles (98 kilometers) south of Sofia. Buses travel the route, but to make the round-trip in one day, you’ll want a shuttle or private transfer.
- Mountain refuges for hiking can get booked up far in advance in summer.
- During summer, sneakers are good enough to hike the Rila Lakes. In winter, snowshoeing trips are popular.
- On August 18 and 19 each year, the White Brotherhood spiritual group performs fascinating rituals at a gathering in the mountains.