"Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do"

POTTER STEWART

"Being good is good business"

DAME ANITA RODDICK

"The time is always right to do what is right"

MARTIN LUTHER KING

"The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity"

LEO TOLSTOY

"Compassion and tolerance are not sign of weakness, but a sigh of strength"

DALAI LAMA

"A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business"

HENRY FORD

"Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid"

ALBERT SCHWEITZER

One Day Trips

Sofia Full Day Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Sofia is a city where history is layered, one age built upon another. It is the second oldest city in Europe and is the biggest city of Bulgaria and the country’s capital. The town centre, however, is compact and packed with archaeological sites, architectural, historical and cultural monuments.

You could spend forever trying to discover all the secret treasures and hidden gems of the Bulgarian capital. But in one day, you can certainly visit all of Sofia’s major highlights in a comprehensive and interactive way. The tour will include: Boyana Church, Alexander Nevski Square for a visit of the largest catherdral on the Balkans; as well as an underground tour of St. Sofia Church catacombs from Byzantine time, a stroll to the Russian church, the National Theater and its garden, the Rotunda St.George (round church), the Roman remains, the Mosque Bania Bashi, the Museum of History of Sofia, the Hall market and the thermal springs nearby.

The tour will include: Boyana Church, Alexander Nevski Square for a visit of the largest catherdral on the Balkans, as well as an underground tour of St. Sofia Church catacombs from Byzantine time, a stroll to the Russian church, the National Theater and its garden, the Rotunda St.George (round church), the Roman remains, the Mosque Bania Bashi, the Museum of History of Sofia, the Hall market and the thermal springs nearby.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 1h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 4h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Yes, fairly accessible.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes.

Sofia Communist Monuments Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing
Sofia is the contemporary capital of Bulgaria. Its population grew rapidly during the Communist-Socialist era (1944-1989). By the time of its liberation from the Turks in 1878 the population of the city was around 20,000 inhabitants. For a few decades after the liberation the city experienced extensive population growth mainly from other regions of the country reaching around 1,200,000 inhabitants in 1989.

During World War II, Sofia was bombed by allied aircraft in late 1943 and early 1944. As a consequence of the invasion of the Soviet Red Army, Bulgaria’s government, which was allied with Germany, was overthrown.

The transformations of Bulgaria into a People’s Republic in 1946 and Republic of Bulgaria marked significant changes in the city’s appearance. The population of Sofia expanded rapidly due to migration from the country. Whole new residential areas were built on the outskirts of the city, like Druzhba, Mladost and Lyulin.

The tour will include: a visit to the former residence of Bugarian Chief of State (President of People’s Republic of Bulgaria 1954-1989)  which houses now the National History Museum; a visit to “The Bells”, a unique of its kind monument created by the daughter of former Chief of State, Ludmila, who gathered there children from over 135 countries in the world; The Museum of Socialist Art, again a unique of its kind place, where you can see real propaganda sculptures and paintings along with a documentary about life under communist regime in Bulgaria (1944-1989); some remaining and disappeared places of recent communist era and a visit of National Museum of Military History whose open-air exhibition is extremely interesting with its Soviet era aircrafts, tanks, digging machines, helicopters, ballistic missile complexes (this is the only place in the world where you can see such installation!).

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 1h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 4h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Yes.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes.

Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Rila Monastery is one of the Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments. It was established by the hermit St. Ivan of Rila during the rule of Tsar Peter I (927-968). The hermit lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’s location, while the complex was built by his students, who came to receive their education.

The Boyana Church is a medieval Bulgarian Orthodox church situated on the outskirts of Sofia. The east wing was originally constructed in the late 10th century, and then the central wing was added in the 13th century. The church owes its world fame mainly to its frescoes from 1259. A total of 89 scenes with 240 human images are depicted on the walls of the church.
Both sites are included in the List of World Cultural Heritage of UNESCO.

The tour will include: about two hours drive to reach the Monastery in the Rila mountain at an altitude of 1147m (3763 feet)  above sea level. You will have two hours for a visit of the complex. If you wish to have more time, you can skip the lunch and spend more time in the Monastery. The guide will introduce you to the UNESCO site for about thirty minutes and you will have the opportunity to either follow our detailed audio guide (5 Euro per person) or book a local guide and visit the Monastery Museum (4 Euro entrance fee per person) and Hrelio Tower (3 Euro per person). Therafter if you wish you will go to a nice restaurant for a local grilled trout and shopska salad lunch or you will go straight to Boyana church. Due to special humidity and temperature regime the visit inside is limited to about 10 minutes but you can hear a lot of explanations from our guide outside.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 4h 00m approximately.
Walking time: 30m approximately.
Handicap accessible: Yes, fairly accessible.
Special requirements: Comfortable shoes. Warm clothes even in the summer. Women should have their knees and shoulders covered in the Monastery.

Plovdiv Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Plovdiv is one of the oldest European towns as old as Troya and Mikena. It has existed as a settlement for 8000 years and became a town some 3000 years ago during the Troyan war. In 342 BC it was conquered by Philip ІІ of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great who renamed it “Φιλιππόπολις”, Philippopolis or “the city of Philip” in his honour. Later, it was reconquered by the Thracians who called it Pulpudeva (a reconstructed translation of Philipopolis). With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681, Philipopolis became an important border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. In 1364, the Ottoman Turks under Lala Shakhin Pasha seized Plovdiv. The Turks called the city Filibe which comes from “Fhilip”.

In the historic quarter of the city, you will see beautifully decorated period houses, the ancient fortress wall, the Roman forum and stadium and magnificent churches. The Old city of Plovdiv with its museums, historical sites, old houses and paved streets will be proudly the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The tour will include:  two 19th century astonishing houses, Nebet tepe ancient remains, St.St. Constantine and Helena church, the old pharmacy, the Roman theatre and the Mosque on the main Djumaia Square  (please note some of the sites are closed on certain days).

After exploring the central part of the city there will be three options (subject to discussion with your guide and other participants in your tour):

  1. You can continue exploring the beautiful central part of the city with the Roman stadium, watch a 3D film (paid extra) about pre-olympic competitions, enjoy a beer in lovely Kapana areaand walk to the singing fountains beautiful garden.
  2. A more congested visit of Plovdiv will allow you to have time for a visit of Assenova Fortress, a beautiful medieval fortress, allowing for beautiful views over the Chaia river valley.
  3. A thirty minutes drive will take you to the Bachkovo Monastery that is an important monument of Christian architecture and one of the largest and oldest Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Europe. It is directly subordinate to the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery is known and appreciated for the unique combination of Byzantine, Georgian and Bulgarian culture, united by the common faith. You can visit for around fourty five minutes the church and monastery dining room (6BGN per person) with its amazing frescoes.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 3h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 3h 00m approximately.

Handicap accessible: No.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).

Plovdiv Shuttle Tour (including Assen Fortess)

Cultural and Sightseeing

Plovdiv is one of the oldest European towns as old as Troya and Mikena. It has existed as a settlement for 8000 years and became a town some 3000 years ago during the Troyan war. In 342 BC it was conquered by Philip ІІ of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great who renamed it “Φιλιππόπολις”, Philippopolis or “the city of Philip” in his honour. Later, it was reconquered by the Thracians who called it Pulpudeva (a reconstructed translation of Philipopolis). With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681, Philipopolis became an important border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. In 1364, the Ottoman Turks under Lala Shakhin Pasha seized Plovdiv. The Turks called the city Filibe which comes from “Fhilip”.

In the historic quarter of the city, you will see beautifully decorated period houses, the ancient fortress wall, the Roman forum and stadium and magnificent churches. The Old city of Plovdiv with its museums, historical sites, old houses and paved streets will be proudly the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

The Assenova Fortress rises majestically in the Rhodope Mountains, just 2km ( miles) from the town of Assenovgrad. The glorious history of the Assenova Fortress begins from the ancient Thracians who settled in this location. In the 9th century the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Assen II built a city in the same place and defended it with a fortress. Today this fortress bears his name.
The fortress guarded closely the pass to the mysterious Rhodope Mountains. One of the most interesting buildings in the Assenova Fortress is the church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Petrich. Perched on the rim of the rock it hides many mysterious legends about kings, princes and sirens.

The tour will include: a visit to some houses, the church, the Roman theater and stadium. In the beginning of our walk we can stop in an old house, where you can try local production of alcohol drinks and rose oil products. You will also have free time to explore the commercial part, have lunch or coffee along the main pedestrian street. Thereafter you will have a 30 min drive to Assenova Fortress and opportunity to explore it and enjoy the magnificent view.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 4h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 3h 00m approximately.
Handicap accessible: No.
Special requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).

Plovdiv and Wine Testing Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

In the historic quarter of the city, you will see beautifully decorated period houses, the ancient fortress wall, the Roman forum and stadium and magnificent churches. The Old city of Plovdiv with its museums, historical sites, old houses and paved streets is a beautiful place for sightseeing.

You will visit the “Chateau”, where the Bulgaria communist leader Todor Zhivkov had welcomed some of his most prominent guests. You will learn about the amazing history of the winery and after that will proceed with tasting five different kinds of the delicious wine.

Plovdiv is one of the oldest European towns as old as Troya and Mikena. It has existed as a settlement for 8000 years and became a town some 3000 years ago during the Troyan war. In 342 BC it was conquered by Philip ІІ of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great who renamed it “Φιλιππόπολις”, Philippopolis or “the city of Philip” in his honour. Later, it was reconquered by the Thracians who called it Pulpudeva (a reconstructed translation of Philipopolis). With the establishment of Bulgaria in 681, Philipopolis became an important border fortress of the Byzantine Empire. In 1364, the Ottoman Turks under Lala Shakhin Pasha seized Plovdiv. The Turks called the city Filibe which comes from “Fhilip”.

The tour will include: in the beginning of the walk we can stop in an old house, where you can try local production of alcohol drinks and rose oil products. You will be able to spend two hours admiring wonderful Revival houses of the richest people in Plovdiv from 19th century, then can enjoy a visit to the Ancient theatre, located on one of the highest hills in the city. After the visit the old town, you will have the option to have lunch at a small typical Bulgarian restaurant on the way to the wine cellar, where you will enjoy wine tasting of Bulgarian wines.

Recommended period: All year round, except Sundays when the winery is closed.
Driving time: 4h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 3h 00m approximately.

Handicap accessible: No.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).
Sundays the winery is closed!

Koprivshtitsa and Topolnitsa (Neolithic Village) Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing
Koprivshtitsa is one of the charming historic Bulgarian towns, still preserving the atmosphere of the Bulgarian National Revival period of the 19th century. The town is huddled in the mountain folds 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of Sofia. The town boasts 383 architectural monuments from the period, most of them restored to their original appearance. Collections of ethnographic treasures, old weapons, National Revival works of art, beautiful fretwork, household weaves and embroidery, national costumes and typical Bulgarian jewellery have also been preserved. It was here that the first shot of the April Uprising against the Ottoman Occupation was fired in 1876.

On the way back you will visit the Topolnitsa Neolithic archaeological park near the scenic village of Chavdar. This remarkable park includes several houses rebuilt in the pre-historic style (7th millennium BC) and shows the life of people from this era. There is also a small archaeological museum with an exhibition from the village of Chavdar. The view from the complex is astonishing with the surrounding mountains.

The tour will include: about two hours scenic drive (meadows, forests and small towns) along the Balkan range; a visit to three houses-museums, where you will be let through the 19th century late Ottoman period and the Bulgarian Revival, preparation of the Revolution against the Turks and life of Bulgarian ordinary people; a beautiful church;  have lunch in some local tavern; a quick visit of Topolnitsa neolithic archaeological park near the scenic village of Chavdar, that includes several houses rebuilt in the pre-historic style (7th millennium BC) and shows the life of people from this era. There is also a small archaeological museum with exhibition from the village of Chavdar. The view from the complex is astonishing with the surrounding mountains.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 4h 00m approximately.
Walking time: 2h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Very limited access.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).

Kazanlak Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Kazanlak is the centre of rose oil extraction in Bulgaria and the oil-producing rose of Kazanlak is one of the most widely recognisable national symbols. Bulgaria is the major supplier of a particular type of rose and Kazanlak’s rose gardens are the largest rose gardens in the whole world. It is the only place in the entire world that can grow this particular rose (Rosa Damascena or Rose from Damascus).

Kazanlak is located in the very central part of Bulgaria, right in the heart of the Valley of Roses or also known as the Valley of the Thracian Kings. The oldest settlement in the area of the modern-day city dates back to the Neolithic era (6th-5th millennium BC). During the 4th-3rd centuries BC the Thracian ruler Seuthes 3rd took an important place in the historical development of Thrace during the Hellenistic era. The Thracian city of Seuthopolis was discovered near Kazanlak and thoroughly studied at the time of the construction of the Koprinka Reservoir.

Within the area, it is located the Shipka Memorial Church, built after the Liberation from Turkish occupation in 1878 in honour of the Russian and Bulgarian victims in a rich and beautiful 17th-century Russian style.

The tour will include: about three hours scenic drive; a visit to Shipka Memorial Church; a visit to Goliama Kosmatka – the tomb of Seuthes 3rd; a visit of an UNESCO world heritage tomb that dates back to the 4th century BC and its murals are memorable for the splendid horses and especially for the gesture of farewell, in which the seated couple grasp each other’s wrists in a moment of tenderness and equality; a visit of a local rose garden and distillery (Damascena or other), where you will see how rose essence is extracted and you will be able to buy some rose-scented souvenirs.

Recommended period: All year round, best period May-June (rose picking).
Driving time: 6h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 1h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Yes, fairly accessible.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).

Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Veliko Tarnovo is a city in north-central Bulgaria. Often referred to as the “City of the Tsars”, Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396), attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. The old part of the city is situated on the three hills Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. On Tsarevets are located the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, as well as some administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls. Trapezitsa is known for its many churches and as the former principal residence of the nobility. In the Middle Ages, the city was among the leading European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School and literature.

Arbanassi is known for the rich history and a large number of historical monuments, such as 17th and 18th-century churches and examples of Bulgarian National Revival architecture, which have turned it into a popular tourist destination. It is set on a high terrace above Veliko Tarnovo where you enjoy a scenic overview of the city and the fortress Tsarevets.

The tour will include: on the way to Veliko Tarnovo there will be a short break in Yablanitsa where you can try Halva – many types of dense, sweet confections, served across the Balkans. Here it is nut-butter-based – crumbly and usually made from tahini (sesame paste) or other nut butters, such as sunflower seed butter. When you arrive in Veliko Tarnovo you will have the opportunity to enjoy a great view of the Fortress before you set on a climb to Baldwin’s Tower and the top of the medieval hill – the Patriarchal Church of Tsarevets. On your way back you will take a glance at the Assen’s Dynasty Monument and then take a stroll over Samovodska Charshia Street where you will be able to buy a small souvenir of your exciting trip. We will aslo take a look at the oldest church in Arbanasi – the Nativity of Christ with its beautiful frescoes from 1632 and one of the oldest preserved iconostasis from wood. The mural paintings include the life of St. John the Baptist, patron of the church, and the wheel of life with the twelve zodiac signs.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 6h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 3h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Very limited, lots of steps.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets).

Melnik and Rozhen Monastery Tour (including Rupite)

Cultural and Sightseeing

Melnik is a declared architectural reserve. It became a part of the First Bulgarian Empire under the rule of Khan Presian I (836-852) and prospered greatly in the period. Melnik became the capital of an independent feudal principality governed by Despot Alexius Slav in 1209 and had an economic and cultural prosperity. The town continued to flourish under Tsar Ivan Assen ІІ because of the duty-free trade with Dubrovnik (ruled by Venetians). In the late 18th century, the town had 1300 houses, seventy churches and a population of some 20, 000 people.

The Rozhen Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God is the biggest monastery in the Pirin Mountains in south-western Bulgaria. It is one of the few medieval Bulgarian.

Rupite is a holy place for believers. It is where  Vanga – a blind  mystic, clairvoyant and herbalist, spent most of her life. Vanga was famous in Bulgaria and abroad  for her predictions and prophesy. Millions of people around the world believed she possessed paranormal abilities.

The tour will include: a two hours and twenty minutes drive with various landscape (highway, mountains, river canyon and valleys). The walk into the town is fairly short, some steep steps and streets will take you to Kordopoulov’s family house, where you will  learn about 19th century Melnik history, people, grapes, wine making and you will see a real wine cave and of course also taste some. We can have lunch in Melnik itself or on the way to nearby Rozhen Monastery (another 15 minute drive). At the Monastery you will enjoy a beautiful view of sandstone rocks and mountains. In the end you will visit Vanga’s home in Rupite.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 5h 00m approximately.
Walking time: 1h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Very limited accessibility.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes (cobblestone streets), some steep walk.

Belogradchik and Magura (or Venetsa) Cave Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Belogradchik, whose name literally means “small white town”, is situated in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains just east of the Serbian border and about 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of the Danube River. The town is famous for its unique and impressive rock formations, the Belogradchik Rocks, which cover an area of 90 square kilometres (35 square miles) strange shaped sandstone and conglomerate rock. Many rocks have fantastic forms and are associated with interesting legends. They are often named for people or objects they are thought to resemble.

The Magura Cave is located in north-western Bulgaria, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from the town of Belogradchik. The cave is 15 million years old, and its total length is 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles). Thanks to its prehistoric paintings, Magura is, with Grotta dei Cervi (Otranto-South Italy), the most significant and extended European post-Palaeolithic painted cave.

The Venetsa (The Wreath) Cave is located 13,5 kilometres (9 miles) from Belogradchik. It is declared a natural monument because of its exceptional beautiful coloured calcareous formations and ice crystals which look like flowers, figures, animals and lot of different things that it is possible to imagine. Coloured formations are explained by scientists by the absence of oxygen, wherein water crystallised, and the various colours derived from the diversity of clay and rocks. Inside the cave, there are corridors with a length of 200 meters and 5 falls.

The tour will include: a scenic but mountainous two hours and thirty minutes drive through Petrohan Balkan range pass (if you don’t mind the turns). After a short view point stop right before the town, we arrive in front of Belogradchik Fortressand go for a walk uphill to the top part. On the way we can enjoy the funny-looking forms of the rocks and use our imagination to “see” the figures of the Madonna, the Rabbit, the Turtle, The Ice-Age Squirrel, the Rebel and many more, learn the history of the Fortress during the different periods, hear the frightening legends of prisoners and rebels. The parking lot offers some nice souvenir shops, a good variety of wine and rakia (local strong brandy) from the Magura cave wine cellar.

At this point you will have three options:

  1. Drive further north to Magurata Cave, famous for its pre-historic drawings. The visit takes over one hour and is divided in two parts – main part (5 BGN per person entrance fee) and Pre-historic drawings part (5 BGN per person entrance fee). Both entrance fees are not included. Please pack a snack with you before departure.
  2. Drive to a nearby newly-opened cave Venetsa (The Wreath), smaller in size than Magura cave but more impressive and shorter drive from Belogradchik. Please pack a snack with you before departure. Entrance fee not included.
  3. Skip cave visits and have a hearthy lunch in a very traditional local tavern called Madonna Inn in a nearby village Falkovtsi (lunch price not included).

Please note that the drive to Belogradchik is fairly long and mostly mountainous and with turns on the way to Belogradcik. The return leg is on a straight road.

Recommended period: All year round.
Driving time: 6h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 2h 00m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Not accessible.
Special Requirements: Good walking shoes. Some steep steps and climbing uphill. Snack or sandwich recommended.

Caves Tour

Cultural and Sightseeing

Saeva Dupka Cave’s five halls and 400 metres (249 miles) of corridors offer some of the most beautiful cave formations in the country. The cave has hosted many choral music performances, thanks to the excellent acoustic conditions. Saeva dupka was named after two brothers, Seyu and Sae, who used it as a hiding place during the Ottoman occupation of Bulgaria. Recent excavations have shown the cave was inhabited since Roman times. Saeva dupka is one of the top 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.

Ledenika is a cave in the North-western parts of the Balkan Mountains, 16 kilometres (10 miles) away from the Bulgarian town of Vratsa. Cave’s entrance is situated at 830 metres (2723 feet) above sea level. It features an abundance of galleries and impressive karst formations including stalactites and stalagmites, dating back thousands of years. The cave is about 300 metres (984 feet) long and contains ten separate halls. The biggest one is the Concert Hall. To reach the Hall one has to pass through the Passage of Sinners. Only those whose heart is pure can pass through it. Once the cave was full of water but now only a small lake has remained – the Lake of Wishes. The legend says that if you dip your hand in the ice-cold water of the lake and make a wish, the wish will come true.

The tour will include: about an hour and a half drive across the Balkan range (highway) the cave will be reached. A visit there takes about one hour. Then you continue to the town of Vratsa where you can have lunch in the beautiful canyon called Vratsata (The Door) which is the best place for rock climbing in Bulgaria. Then after a short drive you will reach Ledenika Cave.The return trip will be around one hour and forty minutes.

Recommended period: All year round, best period May-October.
Driving time: 4h 30m approximately.
Walking time: 1h 30m approximately.

Handicap accessible: Not accessible.
Special Requirements: Comfortable shoes.

Seven Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Tour

Mountain Walking, Cultural and Sightseeing

The Seven Rila Lakes area is the most attractive and easy-access option for the ultimate scenic hike. It is located in Rila Mountain, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) south of the capital Sofia and after 2-hour drive an open chair lift takes you up directly for about 30 min from the parking lot to the hike starting point – Seven Rila Lakes hut. The loop hike takes about 5 hours, and it is not very difficult, except for some uphill parts.

Rila Monastery is one of the Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments and it is a key tourist attraction. It was established by the hermit St. Ivan of Rila during the rule of Tsar Peter I (927-968). The hermit lived in a cave without any material possessions not far from the monastery’s location, while the complex was built by his students, who came to receive their education.

We recommend this combined option tour only to people that are experienced mountain walkers.

The tour will include: after the Seven lakes walk you take the chair lift back to Panichiste and then you go by car to the Monastery of Rila (one hour and thirty minutes drive). If you get on time, you will have some forty five minutes to explore the Monastery complex using our professional audio guides in English, Spanish, Russian, Italian or Spanish and also hear the evening mess at 17:00h and then go back to Sofia for another two hours drive.

Recommended period: June-September.
Driving time: 6h 00m approximately.
Walking time: 5h 30m approximately.
Difficulty: Moderate (someone in good hiking condition; trails are generally in good condition; increased mileage; moderate elevation gain).
Special requirements: Comfortable shoes, warm clothes, snacks and sandwiches, a bottle of water.

Seven Rila Lakes Walking Tour

Mountain Walking

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.
The Seven Rila Lakes, located in the northwestern Rila Mountains, are glacial lakes located on different terraces from 2100 metres (6890 feet) to about 2500 metres (8200 feet) above sea level. They are scattered at the foot of a massive cirque that includes the peaks Suhi Chal (Dry Peak), Otovishki and Haramiya.

The lakes have been named for their shapes and qualities. The highest of them is Tear Lake, which gained its name for its crystal-clear water. It is located at an altitude of 2535 metres (8316 feet). Next is Eye Lake, the deepest of the seven lakes, being 37.5 metres (123 feet) deep. It is oval and an intense blue when the weather is good. Somewhat lower than Eye Lake is Kidney Lake, named for its kidney shape, which has a surface area of 85 hectares (0.33 square miles) and steep rocky banks. Next, comes the Twins. Wide at both ends and narrow in the middle the lake resembles an hourglass. During dry years, the lake becomes two smaller lakes, and this is the source of its name. Further down the trail are Three-leafed Lake and Fish Lake. The Seven Lakes Shelter is on the banks of Fish Lake. The lowest lake is appropriately called Lower Lake. It feeds the Dzherman River. The lakes are all connected by narrow streams. The breath-taking views of the lakes make this hike an unforgettable feast for the eyes and senses.

Please note that getting to the viewpoints takes at least 2 hours walking each way.

The tour will include: after an hour an a half drive an open chair lift takes you up directly for about thirty minutes from the parking lot to the hike starting point – Seven Rila lakes hut. The place is fairly modern, it offers a good food variety and rooms to stay, although a reservation is required well ahead of time. The loop trekking takes about five hours and does not require previous trekking experience, but you have to be prepared for some uphill parts in the beginning.

Recommended period: June-September (snow does not allow visits during the winter and spring).
Driving time: 4h 00m approximately.
Walking time: 5h 30m approximately.
Difficulty: Moderate (someone in good hiking condition; trails are generally in good condition; increased mileage; moderate elevation gain).
Special requirements: Comfortable shoes, warm clothes, snacks and sandwiches, a bottle of water.