Rila monastery, the holiest place in Bulgaria

Tour Number

Activity Level



Religious Heritage, Museums / Culture, First Time Visitor, Day Trip / Out of Town


Kid Friendly: Yes. Yes. Please let me know if you are coming with a young kid in advance so that I can provide a booster seat.

Friendly: No.
You must be able to get in and out of a car.
Please note that the yard of the Rila monastery is with cobble-stones, not sure if this will be comfortable for you. We can see the Stob pyramids also from distance and skip the hike.

Maximum travelers: 4



English (fluent), German (basic), Spanish (basic)

Plus either the cave of St Ivan, Stob pyramids, Retro museum or Boyana church

Rila monastery is the holiest place in Bulgaria and one of our UNESCO sites. It is located in the Rila Mountains, the highest mountain in Bulgaria and on the Balkans. It takes about 2-hour drive from Sofia to reach it.
We Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians since the 9th century. Many Bulgarians visit the monastery all year long because this is the holiest place in Bulgaria and It has kept the Bulgarian spirit through the ages of foreign domination.
St Ivan of Rila founded the monastery in the 10th c. He was a hermit who lived in a cave about 5 km away from the monastery.
The monastery church is among the most beautiful churches in Bulgaria. It has wall paintings both outside and inside. Today the grave of the last Bulgarian king Boris III is in the church. Also, the relics of St Ivan of Rila are here. One of the special icons is the miraculous icon of Virgin Mary. It gives support to people who visit the monastery and pray for health.
We can have lunch in the area. You can choose a second site to visit.


The time is flexible if you want to stay longer at some museum or at lunch.
Pick up in the morning from your accommodation in Sofia and departure to Rila monastery. (2 hours)
Visit Rila monastery and the Virgin Mary church. In order to enter the yard and the main church, there are clothing restrictions.
*NB: According to our religion, you need to cover your shoulders and knees. Otherwise, the priests will consider it disrespectful and will make you leave. When you enter the church take off your hat, sunglasses and please do not hold your hands in the pockets. This makes priests upset.
Free time for photos. Optional visit to the monastery museums.
Optional lunch in the area of the monastery.
Optional visit to a second site: Stob pyramids, Retro museum or Boyana church in Sofia.
Departure back to Sofia (2 hours).
Drop off at your accommodation in Sofia.

Meeting Location + Tour Duration

Meeting location: At your accommodation in Sofia.

End location: At your accommodation in Sofia.

Duration: 8 hours

The tour takes about 8 hours. It depends if you want to have an optional lunch in the area of the monastery and the second site you choose to visit: Stob pyramids, the Retro museum, Boyana church or a local winery.


A 5-seat car: Opel Astra Caravan. It is air-conditioned and is suitable for from 1 up to 4 travelers. Year of production is 2008. You can see a photo of the car in my profile photo gallery. The parking of Rila monastery is right next to the entrance so we will not have to walk long.

What’s Included

Transport by car and parking fees
English speaking driver and guide
Pick up and drop off from/to your accommodation in Sofia
Photos from the tour
Mineral water 0,5l per person.

Estimated Local Cash Needed

50 BGN - Optional lunch in the area will cost about BGN 20 per person. It can be paid also in EUR.
For the entrance fees in the museums, you need local money.
If you visit all museums in the monastery, you need BGN 18 per person.
For the second optional visit to Stob pyramids, etc, you need from BGN 2 up to BGN 10 per person.
In total, BGN 50 per person will be enough as extra cash.

What’s Extra

Optional lunch in the area of Rila monastery: about BGN 20 per person
Entrance fees for the museums:
1. Rila monastery
- History museum: BGN 8 per person, special item is the wooden Rafail cross
- the Hrelyo defense tower: BGN 5 per person
- The old monastery kitchen and agriculture museum: BGN 5 per person
An optional second visit to:
2. A short hike of 15-20 min one way to the cave of St Ivan of Rila. The terrain is stony, so please come with suitable shoes. At the cave there is a rock hole. We believe that when you pass through it out, all bad thoughts and emotions stay behind.
3. Stob pyramids: entrance fee of BGN 2 per person. Not suitable for the winter season.
4. Retro museum: for 25 years now a local guy has collected items from the communism time in his private yard and storage place. There is no entrance fee, if you decide, you can support the place by leaving some money.
5. Boyana church in Sofia, under UNESCO protection: BGN 10 per person
6. Visit and Wine tasting at a local winery upon request



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Message Albena T.

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