Plus either Boyana church, the cave of St Ivan, Stob pyramids or Kremikovtzi monastery
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 Point + Tour Duration
Meeting Point Options: Rail or Bus Station, Airport, Hotel, Address or Intersection, Monument/Building
Duration: 7 hours
The tour takes about 7 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: Boyana church, the cave of St Ivan, Stob pyramids, local winery or Kremikovtzi monastery.
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.
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.
A Recent Review of this tour
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Albena/Benny/Sofia was great. She provided a detailed and enjoyable tour adding plenty of opportunities for us to enjoy in and around the sites. Her choice of restaurant for lunch was excellent and we really enjoyed our time with her. She was even kind enough to make dinner reservations for us even though she had to try 5 or 6 before there were spaces for us. Was such a great guide and a great tour.