Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery
4.5
About
Founded in the 10th century, this monastery was restored in the 15th and again in the 19th century.
Duration: 1-2 hours
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from $5.52
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  • robyn r
    Melbourne, Australia272 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A beautiful and fascinating monastery
    This beautiful monastery is a must to see. You can pay extra to see living quarters and kitchens on the upper level floors. These reveal insights into living conditions. Going when there are not hoards of tourists is a challenge and worth planning for.
    Visited June 2023
    Written July 26, 2023
  • sakmr
    Thane, India24 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Peacful and beautiful
    Set in the beautiful hills, Rila monastery is a sight to behold. The walls and ceilings are decorated with stories of saints in beautiful colours, especially blue. The monastery itself is peaceful, rich with history of the land. I would suggest a guided tour to truly understand the beauty o the place. Dress code is applicable for entrance into the monastery. (no short dresses or sleeveless, no shorts) Afterwards, don't forget to visit the small bakery behind the Rila monastery for a piping hot Mekitza
    Visited July 2023
    Written August 14, 2023
  • delagioventu
    Luxembourg City, Luxembourg1,553 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Magnificent
    Very impressive complex of church and monastery in the mountains. Quite a drive from Sofia though, be prepared, especially the last part is a bit windy. Dress code in particular for women. Mostly free, but for some parts entrance fee in Bulgarian lev.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 16, 2023
  • Joe
    Bucharest, Romania4,925 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Must visit
    A Sofia must visit if you're in Bulgaria. Located a short distance from downtown, this is a truly magnificent place. An ancient Orthodox Christian monastery that has some beautiful architecture, murals, craft work and more. You can walk around and take in all sights and explore the mountains too. The painting in the main building is truly amazing. Grab some snacks if you get hungry too. Free entry. Donations are welcomed. Please dress respectfully
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written August 18, 2023
  • dgjohansson
    Ronneby, Sweden1,591 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Lots to see
    This place shouldn't be missed! A wonderful situated monastery with a very interesting design located far into a deep gorge which even makes the trip there intersting. At the place, there is a no photo policy inside the church and the museums, but photos are allowed on the grounds. As for the museums, there are several and you can buy entrance to some of them or buy a combined ticket. I visited the icon museum (not so impressive, can be skipped), and the historical museum, the "main" museum which was interesting. Several very beautiful pieces and a lot of history to read about, English signs everywhere. You can also visit a kitchen, a representative loding of some sort and maybe one museum more (can't recall). Bring cash if you go here since the monastery shop only accept cash and if you come by car, the parking will also be needed to be paid in cash. Museum entrance fee can be made by card. If you drive - whach out for the road since the gorge is deep. At the entrance I had +12 C but at part insdie the gorge the temperature went down to 0 C making the road icy.
    Visited December 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written January 1, 2024
  • Travellingdoc
    London, United Kingdom11,460 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Highlight of Bulgaria
    The monasteries must be the jewel in Bulgaria UNESCO heritage and it’s absolutely beautiful. It takes about an hour and 45 thereabouts from Sofia. I hired a car and drove there and left about 7am and got me there about 9 o’clock at which point there were no tourist buses and just a couple of people in the monastery who are staying there overnight in a couple of people who decided to drive in early. The atmosphere was peaceful. Enjoyed the monastery bells ringing. The church was empty other than a few local worshippers which chants being sung.there are also two shops selling religion art. There is another museum about the guards for 4 lev at the back entrance of the monastery. The museum was rather small with a cost eight lev for entrance fee( cash or card) on the ground and the lower ground. The start takes you underground with one large room with two smaller. Middle lower ground room - article for church, gifts , church memorabilia religions art, Ecclesiastical flags, guns shrouds. Far end room of the lower ground had machine for Printing prints from metal cliche, modern day posters. Top Floor were three rooms with Priest liturgical And Vestments. Probably only need 30mins in there. The back entrance of the monastery is a lovely as there is fast stream adjacent with a hotel and a number of restaurants, one with a terrace and nice view. Here again there is parking. The stand-load coffee shop sells coffee and snacks with coffee for 3.50lev that was below average. The hole in the wall with the Mekitsa was good for 1 lev. Free parking 250meters with three enclaves before the main car park. Total time in the monastery was about 90mins.
    Visited May 2024
    Traveled solo
    Written May 12, 2024
  • flosventure
    Arizona187 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Worth it!
    I think it's totally worth it to go out there to the Monastery. It is incredible and really nice to have a look at everything. If you don't have a tour or anything, I think an hour is enough, at least for me. It's nicely situation in the mountains too, which also means that it's another 30mins to drive from the freeway on smaller roads. Behind the monastery is a small restaurant, a small bakery which I really liked and maybe two souvenir stands. There are also toilets which are dirty and awful. Overall, a really nice getaway from Sofia or when you're around.
    Visited June 2024
    Traveled solo
    Written July 2, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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Yanko H.
Sofia, Bulgaria527 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
Rila monastery is the biggest in Bulgaria and the most repaired and renewviert. It is absolutely sure in top 5 of the most beautiful and must see objects. You have to visit. No entrance ticket. Parking is 5BGN, but you can park 100 meters before the parking without paying.
Written September 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

dgjohansson
Ronneby, Sweden1,591 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Couples
This place shouldn't be missed! A wonderful situated monastery with a very interesting design located far into a deep gorge which even makes the trip there intersting. At the place, there is a no photo policy inside the church and the museums, but photos are allowed on the grounds. As for the museums, there are several and you can buy entrance to some of them or buy a combined ticket. I visited the icon museum (not so impressive, can be skipped), and the historical museum, the "main" museum which was interesting. Several very beautiful pieces and a lot of history to read about, English signs everywhere. You can also visit a kitchen, a representative loding of some sort and maybe one museum more (can't recall). Bring cash if you go here since the monastery shop only accept cash and if you come by car, the parking will also be needed to be paid in cash. Museum entrance fee can be made by card. If you drive - whach out for the road since the gorge is deep. At the entrance I had +12 C but at part insdie the gorge the temperature went down to 0 C making the road icy.
Written January 1, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Travellingdoc
London, UK11,460 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Solo
The monasteries must be the jewel in Bulgaria UNESCO heritage and it’s absolutely beautiful. It takes about an hour and 45 thereabouts from Sofia.

I hired a car and drove there and left about 7am and got me there about 9 o’clock at which point there were no tourist buses and just a couple of people in the monastery who are staying there overnight in a couple of people who decided to drive in early.

The atmosphere was peaceful. Enjoyed the monastery bells ringing. The church was empty other than a few local worshippers which chants being sung.there are also two shops selling religion art. There is another museum about the guards for 4 lev at the back entrance of the monastery.

The museum was rather small with a cost eight lev for entrance fee( cash or card) on the ground and the lower ground. The start takes you underground with one large room with two smaller. Middle lower ground room - article for church, gifts , church memorabilia religions art,
Ecclesiastical flags, guns shrouds. Far end room of the lower ground had machine for Printing prints from metal cliche, modern day posters. Top Floor were three rooms with Priest liturgical And Vestments. Probably only need 30mins in there.

The back entrance of the monastery is a lovely as there is fast stream adjacent with a hotel and a number of restaurants, one with a terrace and nice view. Here again there is parking. The stand-load coffee shop sells coffee and snacks with coffee for 3.50lev that was below average. The hole in the wall with the Mekitsa was good for 1 lev.

Free parking 250meters with three enclaves before the main car park.

Total time in the monastery was about 90mins.
Written May 13, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ryan J
Los Angeles, CA156 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2019
This monastery is located where nature meets religion. So beautiful the craftsmanship is gorgeous, it is like a museum on the walls and ceiling. The whole monastery is full of history and story. I cant stop admiring the work of arts on the walls and ceiling. And they have local bakeshop where you can order Mekitsi so delicious. This century old snack is awesome.
Written August 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KarenWAL3
St. Albans, UK22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2020
We went to the Monastery as we travelled between Sofia and Bansko. A bit of the beaten track, but well worth the visit. It is stunning. We had a lovely walk around, and the place was peaceful, the mountain air felt truly refreshing. We also got donughts from the bakery which were lovely. One of the highlights of our trip to Bulgaria.
Although the monastery is free to enter, they charge (a reasonable rate) for parking.
Written February 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sharpster08
Woking, UK409 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
This is a beautiful place! We visited it driving south from Sofia on our way to Melnik. The actual road to it follows the Rilska River valley and it's a beautiful drive through super Rila Mountain scenery. Even though we went in August it wasn't especially busy and we were able to park easy enough and for free on the roadside. Entrance to the monastery is free as well and it turned out to be a much nicer place than we expected. The large central courtyard is so colourful with arches all around and decorated walls. The outside of the Orthodox Church in the centre is covered in the most amazing murals, most of which seem to depict scenes involving temptation by the devil! The dark wooden balconies and stairways leading up to the monks living quarters all add to the spectacle. The setting with the mountains looking all around is perfect and we enjoyed a couple of hours or so here. There are a few restaurants around the back so we were able to have lunch there too. Well worth a detour and the best monastery we saw in Bulgaria....and we saw a few!
Written September 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Czechmate
Pilsen, Czech Republic28 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
First and foremost, be respectful. We saw girls in low crop tops, men in short running shorts, people sticking cameras right in monks faces - who wasted no time in expressing their sincere objection. This is a monastery, and these people have dedicated their lives to this place. Walk slowly, please speak softly, and show the utmost respect and remember you are lucky to be allowed to visit such a fantastic place!
Written May 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Dream26270206130
101 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022 • Couples
Very interesting architecture and art. We went in the morning before the tour buses arrive (~13:00) and it was a good time to see everything without the crowd. You will probably spend an hour there so it’s worth renting a car so you can leave earlier to see other places like the Rila Lakes. Monastery was very cool but make sure you wear appropriate clothing or else they will not let you in. I’d park a little down the road instead of on site.

You must get the mekitsa from their bakery on the other end of the monastery with the jam and powdered sugar!! They were only 1lei for one and we should’ve bought a dozen.
Written September 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Ellie Stewart
Manchester, UK22 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022
We couldn't get to the Rila Lakes so decided Rila Monastery instead. Took the metro from Serdika II to Vitosha, a bus from there to the start of the trail. It was a very steep walk which took a while up, but on the way down was very quick. There are multiple routes up the mountain, with other things to see. We were disappointed the chairlift wasn't active. The monastery itself was so beautiful and calm, we couldn't believe it was open for anyone to go in. There are friendly cats roaming everywhere and a few souvenirs to purchase inside via an honesty system. A few fresh water taps and a few seats for a picnic lunch. You could carry on walking past the monastery to the top of the mountain but because we couldn't get the chairlift we were too exhausted to carry on.
Written November 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sakmr
Thane, India24 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023
Set in the beautiful hills, Rila monastery is a sight to behold. The walls and ceilings are decorated with stories of saints in beautiful colours, especially blue. The monastery itself is peaceful, rich with history of the land. I would suggest a guided tour to truly understand the beauty o the place. Dress code is applicable for entrance into the monastery. (no short dresses or sleeveless, no shorts)

Afterwards, don't forget to visit the small bakery behind the Rila monastery for a piping hot Mekitza
Written August 14, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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