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Sofia Nature & adventure

Our most recommended Sofia Nature & adventure

From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

1. From Sofia: Rila Monastery, Scenic Train Ride & Bansko Town

In the morning - meet your local English-speaking host at the centrally located meeting point. A 2-hour minibus transfer through the Bulgarian countryside takes you to the Rhodope mountains, where you climb aboard the narrow gauge train for a scenic ride through the mountains. Meet local Bulgarian people on the train and learn about the history of the area. Get off the train at Avramovo station for a short transfer to Bansko town at the footsteps of Pirin National Park. Your driver will drop you off at the convenient location, close to the Old Town. Explore at your own speed the ancient streets, visit the main church or take the opportunity to taste traditional local food at one of the traditional restaurants called mehana (lunch is optional and not included). In the afternoon, meet again your host and driver for a minibus transfer to the Rila National Park. You will arrive at the UNESCO listed Rila monastery after the crowds have gone, for a truly intimate experience. Explore on your own the ancient monastic complex. Later in the afternoon, get on the minibus for the final transfer back to Sofia city.

Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

2. Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes Snowshoe Walk & Thermal Spring Pools

Dramatic landscapes and breathtaking alpine sceneries, centuries old pine forests and rugged mountain peaks make the Seven Rila Lakes circuit one of the most beautiful areas in the Rila Mountains National Park. Enjoy a gentle snowshoe walk in the picturesque Seven Rila Lakes area followed by relaxation in the thermal water pools of Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, fed by one of the hottest springs in Europe. All this within a day tour from Sofia. Your guide will pick you up early in the morning from your hotel in Sofia for a wonderful journey to the Rila Mountains. You will arrive within 1.5-hours to Pionerska Mountain Hut from where you will take a chairlift to Rila Lakes Hut, situated high above the tree line at 2150 meters above sea level. The walk will begin from the hut in the direction of the Kidney, the third of the Seven Rila Lakes. Along the way, admire breathtaking alpine sceneries of jagged peaks and frozen mountain lakes. After a short break and a cup of warm tea at the lake, you will head toward Rila Lakes Hut and descend via the chairlift to the van and have a short transfer (20 minutes) to Sapareva Banya Spa Resort, where you will be able to relax deeply in the thermal pools fed by hot spring waters.

From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

3. From Sofia: 7 Rila Lakes and Rila Monastery Self-Guided Trip

Depart Sofia in the morning and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver. Journey in air-conditioned comfort to Panichishte in the beautiful Rila National Park. Get briefed on arrival by your driver, who will tell you the different options and routes you can take up the mountain. Ride the chairlift to the 7 Rila Lakes, where you will get 5 hours of free time to go on some amazing nature walks independently to experience the glacial lakes from different perspectives. Board the shuttle bus at the agreed meeting point and relax on the 2-hour drive to Rila Monastery in a deep valley of the Rilska River. Founded in the 10th century, the monastery complex is regarded as one of Bulgaria's most important cultural and historical monuments. Get 1.5 hours to explore the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria at your own pace. Then, return to Sofia in the evening and get dropped off at the meeting point.

The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

4. The Seven Rila Lakes: Full-Day Tour from Sofia

Enjoy a full-day trek into the Rila Mountains to explore the most picturesque area near Sofia and one of Bulgaria's most beautiful natural sites, the Seven Rila Lakes.  This group of glacial lakes lies between 6,900 and 8,200 feet (2,100 and 2,500 meters) above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. Leaving Sofia, you will drive for 90 minutes to reach the Panichishte resort area, where you board the chairlift to the Rila Lakes mountain hut.  From here, continue on foot to explore the landscape and its majestic blue pearls – the Eye, the Tear, the Kidney, the Twins, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake, and the Lower Lake. The route is not difficult and can be altered on the spot depending on fitness levels or strength, following either more gentle routes or steeper gradients. Take your chance to explore the Blue Pearls of the Rila Mountains, and the Seven Rila Lakes.

From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

5. From Sofia: Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Self-Guided Trip

Explore Bulgaria's most famous sites in 1 day from Sofia: the UNESCO Rila Monastery and the city of Plovdiv on a small group, self-guided trip. Walk the sites at your own comfortable pace without the need of following others. Get expert local advice from your friendly English-speaking driver/host and benefit from reliable comfortable transfers. Depart from Sofia city center at 7:00 AM and travel by shuttle bus with a friendly English-speaking driver/host. After your 2-hour transfer in an air-conditioned minibus, you will reach the medieval Rila Monastery in the spectacular Rila Mountains. Once there, you have more than 1-hour to explore the monastic complex at your own pace - more than enough time to see all the major parts of the complex. The monastery was founded by the hermit monk Ivan Rilski in 927 AD. Marvel at the frescoes of the main church and visit the museum and medieval tower independently. Continue with a 3.5-hour transfer through scenic mountain roads to the city of Plovdiv (a short break half-way is included) and get more than 4 hours to explore Bulgaria's second largest city, famous for its Old Town, Roman remains and Kapana artistic district. Your driver will provide you with a free copy of a tourist city map and local tips. Board the shuttle bus at 5:30 PM (for the period May to September, departure is 6:00 PM) at the agreed meeting point and return to Sofia in the evening to be dropped off at the meeting point around 7:30 PM at knyaz Alexander I square. For the period May to September, departure from Sofia is at 07:30 AM and the bus goes to first to Plovdiv and then to Rila monastery. Return to Sofia is around 8:30 PM.

Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

6. Sofia: Lovech, Devetaki Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls Tour

Your tour begins as you are picked up from your hotel/accommodation in Sofia. After an approximately 2-hour drive, you will reach Lovech. From there you will begin exploring the old quarter of the city. You will walk through the small cobbled streets, traveling back in time as you admire the typical 14th-century houses. You will then take a detailed trip to the Vassil Levski Museum, before continuing your walk to the Hisarya Fortress. The last site in the town to which you will pay attention is the famous Covered Bridge, a masterpiece of Bulgarian architecture which was built by Master Kolio Ficheto. Following the bridge, you will continue your trip with a 20-minute drive to your next stop, Devetashka Cave. Once there you will have some time to walk around the stunning cave, and will proceed to the Krushuna Waterfalls (a 20-minute drive from Devetashka Cave). There you will discover a unique natural wonder where you can take a walk through the beautiful forest and along the stream that has formed this beautiful cascade of blue waterfalls. Following this waterfall visit, your tour will then end with drop off at your point of origin.

From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

7. From Sofia: Seven Rila Lakes & Rila Monastery Full-Day Tour

This full-day tour is designed for active people wishing to combine a trek to natural wonders, with a tour of the most visited tourist attraction in Bulgaria, the magnificent Rila Monastery. Departing Sofia, you will head for the Rila Mountains, where you will enjoy a moderate hike through what is arguably the most distinguished area in the mountains, the 7 Rila Lakes. After a transfer of approximately 90 minutes, you will reach the region of Panichishte, where you will board a chair lift to the Rila Lakes hut. Consisting of a group of glacial lakes, the 7 Rila Lakes is located at an altitude of between 6,900 feet (2,100 meters) and 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) above sea level. Surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys, you will see spectacular views as you walk through its pearls, such as The Eye, The Tear, The Kidney, The Twins, The Trefoil, The Fish Lake and The Lower Lake. The route can be adjusted on the spot, following more gentle or steeper paths, depending on your fitness levels. Having visited all of the lakes, continue by car for approximately 90 minutes to Rila Monastery, the biggest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Behind the 65-foot (20-meter) walls lie impressive monastery buildings, including a church and a chapel with valuable murals. The monastery's most treasured historic and artistic monuments include the 14th-Century Hrelyo Tower, the 5-domed Birth of the Blessed Virgin Church and the original monastery kitchen from the 19th-Century. You will also explore the monastery’s rich museum, containing a valuable collection of old manuscripts and documents, charters and icons, an ethnographic exhibition of fabrics, jewelry, carpets and wrought iron objects and a library containing more than 16,000 books.

From Sofia: Skopje and Matka Canyon Day Trip

8. From Sofia: Skopje and Matka Canyon Day Trip

Cross the border from Bulgaria and enjoy a day trip in Macedonia. Dive into the past as you explore Skopje's historic neighborhoods and see its attractions. Learn about the history of the Macedonians as you walk through the new part of the city, rebuilt during the Skopje 2013 project. After your visit to Skopje, head to Matka Canyon to take a break in nature. Your day trip begins with an 8:00 AM pickup from your accommodation in Sofia. Drive for approximately 3.5 hours and reach Skopje. During your drive learn about the history of the region from the Bulgarian point of view. Arrive in Skopje and have a 2-hour guided tour of the city from a local Macedonian guide. Learn about Yugoslavia and have the chance to compare the two historic perspectives of the region provided to you on this trip. During your guided tour of Skopje visit Skopje Fortress, Sultan Murat Mosque, and the Old Bazaar. Have the chance to see the caravanserais from the Ottoman period when Skopje was one of the main trade centers in the Balkans. Visit the new neo-classical Macedonia Square and be impressed by the statue of Alexander the Great and his father Phillip II. Continue on to the Mother Teresa Memorial House. In the house museum, learn about Mother Teresa's life story. Afterward, conclude your walking tour of Skopje at Macedonia Gate. Head to Matka Canyon where you will have approximately 1.5-hours to admire the beauty of nature. Have the chance to enjoy a boat trip inside the canyon and pass by one of the deepest underwater caves in the world. At about 4:00 PM, meet with the rest of the group and depart back to Sofia. On the drive back, discuss your day's impressions and ask your guide any remaining questions you may have. Unfortunately, the day trip's itinerary will not allow you to have free time for lunch in Skopje. It is recommended to take some fast food during the walking tour or bring some sandwiches with you. You can buy food from a petrol station before arriving in the city.

From Sofia: One-Day Tour of Vitosha Mountain

9. From Sofia: One-Day Tour of Vitosha Mountain

This tour starts with pick-up from your hotel. The transfer to the foot of the mountain takes approximately 20 minutes. You will see the great symbol of Sofia rise above you as you draw near. The hike begins with Boyana waterfall, which with a height of 15 metres and an elegant setting is the most beautiful on the mountain. After the waterfall you will see a typical hut, Momina skala. You will have time to relax before the groups continues to Kamendel from where you will see Sofia from above. On the way down to the city you will visit Boyana lake. Then its time to return to Sofia where the tour ends at your hotel. 

From Sofia: Belogradchik Rocks Full-Day Tour

10. From Sofia: Belogradchik Rocks Full-Day Tour

Take a day trip to the northwestern corner of Bulgaria to see the Belogradchik rocks, located in the Balkan Mountains. You will drive 2.5 to 3 hours from Sofia until you reach this area. The rocks are grouped in various formations and are made up of primarily sandstone. In 2009, they were nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Many rocks have fantastic shapes and are associated with interesting legends. They are often named for people or objects they are thought to resemble, and on your tour, your guide might share some of these stories while pointing out the specific rocks and their names. The Belogradchik Rocks have also been declared a Natural Landmark by the Bulgarian government and are a major tourist attraction in the region. At the top of a hill near to some of the rocks is also a medieval fortress, known as the Belogradchik Fortress, built when the region was part of the Roman Empire. You will have the opportunity to visit the fortress and behold its well-preserved and menacing facade. Later, you will also be taken to the nearby Veneca cave, an incredibly beautiful cave with modern colorful lights. All entrance fees are included in the price and there will be time to stop for an optional lunch, which is not included.

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Frequently asked questions about Sofia

What top attractions are a must-see in Sofia?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Sofia?

The best day trips and excursions from Sofia are:

Rila Monastery

Other Sightseeing Options in Sofia

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What people are saying about Sofia

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 619 reviews

Daniel our guide was wonderful from start to finish and deserves so much praise. We were picked up promptly from our hotel in a very comfortable car and taken firstly to the caves then the waterfalls and finally pretty Lovech. Daniel was full of interesting stories and cultural/ historical facts for us. The tour felt very relaxed and Daniel was very considerate to our needs. Super great lunch recommendation in Lovech “Tavern Varosha” must go there! :) The caves were stunning as was the waterfall. 2 great natural examples of Bulgaria’s hidden beauty and the visit to Lovech felt magical as it feels like a hidden gem in a hidden gem of a country. Great great tour made all the greater by our super guide Daniel. Highly recommend it. A wonderful day full of natural beauty, history, culture and food. Visit Bulgaria! And do this tour :) top marks :) Thank you Daniel and Bultrips

They picked me up in front of the hotel where I was staying in Sofia and we made the trip in a very small group, so the guide made it like a VIP tour. Even the way to the attractions was very beautiful and the Belogradchik Fortress is a fantastic place to visit, with its surreal rock formations. Also the Venetsa Cave that we visited is extremely beautiful and looks like something out of a dream. The guide was very kind, funny and very knowledgeable. We also stopped for lunch at a typical bulgarian restaurant with excellent traditional "real food" (as the guide told me), in a very cozy and heartwarming place, as an experience that was good even to fill the soul. In the end I was dropped back at the same hotel. It was perfect and I highly recommend the experience.

Vasco was an outstanding guide. He took us to the 7 Rila lakes explaining everything to us in detail, there we took the chairlift that took us to the mountain (€13 round trip) and then proceeded to snowshoeing (very tiring). After that we went to a nearby restaurant and finally to the spa where we allowed ourselves some relaxation. Really worth it!!!

The guide Peter was very nice and friendly. Enjoyed an excellent outing in his company, and with comfortable vehicle and no lack of interest in explaining everything. He was even kind enough to provide suggestions for local attractions outside the scope of the tour package! Enjoyed thoroughly! <3

Peter was great and managed to make it work for the diverse group he had and also worked with the misty weatjer we had and change the program to suit. Thank you Peter