Rila National Park
Rila National Park
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5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles261 reviews
Excellent
222
Very good
29
Average
8
Poor
0
Terrible
2

mcsilla2014
Berlin, Germany120 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
There are many picturesque landscapes, but this one is guaranteed to be one of the most beautiful experiences. In October 2020 I was lucky enough to make a great tour here by sunshine. I would like to repeat this tour ones in winter. The drive to the parking lot of the national park was about 1 hour from Sofia. For 20 leva (10 euros) you bought the ticket there and back and the tour can start. You should plan about 4-5 hours and lots of photo stops - since the area is worth a photo at every point.
Written February 28, 2021
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
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2020
Could this be the Longest and cheapest chairlift ever? Simply incredible. Unspoiled area. Lots of local Bulgarians love to come here which adds to the atmosphere, so definitely Not a tourist trap! Great boiled corn on the cob from vendor. But Beware the long return queue for the chairlift.
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.

Rachel
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2017 • Couples
We were staying in Sofia for four nights and thought going the Rila Lakes would make a really great day trip away from the city. Since we're students, we didn't want to take a guided tour, but instead opted for public transport. We spent a long time researching the best way to get to the Rila Lakes chairlift from Sofia, but had quite a hard time working this out, so thought it would be best to write an easy guide about how to do this here.

To the chair lift:

1. Take a bus from Sofia Central Station to Dupnitsa. Trams to the station start running from 5am (approx.). We were staying at the EasyHotel Sofia, and Tram 3 got us to the station in 20 minutes. Once at the station don't go to the central bus station building (this is the mistake we made and we ended up missing the bus we were aiming to get). Instead there are a number of bus bays outside the central train station. There is more than one company that runs buses to Dupnitsa from here (for example, Avtogari and Union Ivkoni), and these are regular. We went to the Union Ivkoni counter in the building behind these bays and easily bought a ticket for the next Dupnitsa bus. Note: the bus timetables in the station are very incomplete - we ended up getting the 7:20am bus and this wasn't shown on the board! The bus costs 6 lev for a single journey, but 9.60 lev for a return and takes approx 2 hours.
2. Once at Dupnitsa, take a bus to Sapareva Banya. These buses are also regular, and we only had to wait 20 minutes. The journey took around 40 minutes and cost 1.60 lev.
3. Here there are two options - either take one bus to Panichishte, then another to the Pionerska Hut. This is what we aimed to do, but found it very hard to find the bus to Panichishte once in Sapareva Banya as it was not clear which bus stop to get off at. Due to this, we ended up walking around lost for over an hour trying to work out where to go but having little luck. Eventually, we found a friendly tourist who gave us the number to a taxi company which could take us directly from Sapareva Banya to the chairlift - the number for this company is +359 89 9363982. I would definitely recommend taking the taxi to the chairlift - this saved us a lot of time (since the journey was direct and took only 40 minutes) and cost 16 lev (which, since there were two of us, is roughly £4 each).

We had 4 hours at the lakes (including the time needed to use the chair lift - i.e. 25 minutes either way), and this gave us plenty of time to see the first 5 lakes. To see all 7 lakes, we would have needed a couple more hours (and probably would have been able to do this if we hadn't got lost!).

Back to Sofia:

1. We decided to save time and potentially getting lost on our way back, to book a taxi (with the same company) straight from the chairlift to Dupnitsa - this cost us 28 lev (£7 each) which may seem a little pricey, but was well worth it as we could enjoy our day without having to worry about the transportation back. However, if you decide to get a bus from Sapareva Banya to Dupnitsa, buses run fairly regularly, with the last bus leaving at 8pm (Monday to Saturday). Note: this is correct at the time of writing (13/09/17). This bus would cost 1.6 lev again.
2. The last bus from Dupnitsa to Sofia leaves at 18.50, with other buses running at 17.50 and 15.50 (correct at time of writing).

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Rila Lakes and would recommend this to anyone visiting Bulgaria, especially those in Sofia, who want a beautiful and rewarding day out. Please use what we have learnt from our trip to make yours a lot easier - enjoy!

Written September 13, 2017
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.

Stoycho Bozukov
Sofia, Bulgaria226 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2019 • Friends
I love this place, I like to go there all the time, I meet different people all the time and I like the views that hold my breath!
Written October 26, 2019
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.

BMilano
New York City, NY1,037 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2017 • Friends
Disclaimer: This rating is for the amazing nature which left us breathless. It is not for all the accommodations, staff, and service which deserves 0 stars.

Four of us decided to visit the national park in August to hike to the seven Rila lakes. We drove from Sofia on Saturday morning - the road was great, very well maintained highway and pretty pretty views, and it took is about 2hrs to get there.

About 3km before the lift we were told by the park staff to pull over and park as there is not enough parking spaces closer up. There were many cars already parked by the road and so we were naive enough to leave the car. This is where the frustrations began. We soon learnt that the whole thing is a hoax meant to push tourists to pay for someone to drive the to the lift rather than having to walk the uphill narrow road alongside traffic. Every minute there would be someone with a jeep driving by offering a ride. They also lied saying how long the wait for the lift is and that for an extra charge they will drive you straight to the end of the lift where you can begin the hike to the lakes. Be ware not to buy in as this is a big scam! There was no line for the lift (at arnd 1pm) and we also saw the jeeps dropping people off halfway through so that everyone had to hike extra km on a really hard and unpleasant terrain.

The next unpleasant experience came by after we got off the lift. There is a small motel right where the hiking trails begin. There you can get lunch (not recommended as we sam the "kitchen") and also stop by to use the toilet. Again, be weary: the toilets are paid (0.5lv) and are extremely dirty. There is not toilet paper or soap anywhere and there is filth everywhere. Be sure to bring lots of tissues and wipes. It is really disappointing to see such poor conditions in a place that surely makes more than enough money to afford a cleaning lady and paper. It is infuriating that such an amazing nature place can be marred by people's greed.

If you can get past the above, the rest of the day will be quiet magical. There are two trails: one starts to the left of the motel and looks to be longer but it passes close by all the lakes. We took the other one but later heard many people describe their experience on the left trail and we think it to be the better more scenic choice. The right trails which we took starts off with a huge uphill - it is the most difficult part of the hike and takes about 10-15min to climb. Afterwards you will pass on top if three of the lakes and continue on to the kidney. The road is well def ned by all the tourists and it is easy to follow the trail. The views are breathtaking and all is very wild and untouched by people. We managed to dip our feet in the kidney lake - the water was freezing but so very refreshing on a 40degree summer day. Past the kidney, there is another short incline to reach the last two lakes. If you are not too tired it is definitely worth braving the hill as you can see all seven lakes from the top. The whole tour took us about 3hrs on a slower pace. We were rushing to get back to the lift as the line was building rather quickly and we were told the lift closes at 6:30pm. The line took about 1hr to pass and the wait was rather difficult because there is no shade to hide under.

Small tips:
1. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. There is no need for hiking boots if you plan to stay on the trail but you would need sneakers with some grip just so u don't slip on the loose dirt.
2. Bring water and some small light snacks. I would not recommend eating in the motel as the kitchen did not look very clean and also it can get quiet busy.
3. Take sunscreen- it is high and sometimes the wind can mask how strong the sun is. We used 30spf but still got quite red.
4. Don't pay for the jeep rides - they are cheats who don't even take you to the top of the hill and the lift offers some amazing scenery which should not be missed.
5. If you have extra time, bring a picnic blanket and get off the main trail for some quiet relaxing time off.

The place is gorgeous and if it wasn't for the initial hurdles the day would have been absolutely perfect.
Written August 13, 2017
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.

Constantins_Travels
Cologne, Germany40 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2016 • Couples
Rila National Park is actually the largest National Park of Bulgaria. I only refer to the hike to the "seven lakes".

We took the car from Sofia, which took (due to rush-hour) about 1,5 hours. There is a lift, that takes you from 1.600 m a.s.l. to 2.100 m a.s.l. That takes about 20 minutes (if you are afraid of highs, you should consider that the lift is about 5-10 meters above the ground).

The route is easy to find. It's about 8-10 kilometers long, but it includes several rather steep parts with lots of loose rocks. The lakes themselves are really amazing. The water is perfectly clean. We saw some fish, frogs and beetles.
On the lakesides and in shady places between rocks there was still ice (mid-July). The highest point is at about 2550 m a.s.l. The view is just beautiful!
During your hike, you'll also cross some small mountain creeks and impressive waterfalls. If you are interested in biology, pay also attention to the small bogs beside of the trail.

Including some breaks at the lakes the hike was about 6 hours.

what to wear:
- the hiking route is well above the treeline, so bring sunblocker, UV-proof sunglasses and a hat - you might also consider wearing a long sleeved shirt and trousers. since the trail is partly rocky and steep wear boots.
Written July 31, 2016
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.

Catherine W
50 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2015
The largest national park in Bulgaria about 90 minutes from Sofia. Fabulous opportunities for hiking. We did the 7 lakes hike - a day hike but probably best for those with a reasonable level of fitness because there are some very steep sections. We climbed to 2500 meters. Wear robust hiking boots. It's also possible to do longer hikes and stay in one of the 17 chalets and 4 lodges. The Rila National Park website is a good starting point for info.
Written October 17, 2015
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.

NinaAlexander
Sofia, Bulgaria151 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2015 • Friends
My first trip in Rila was when I was 13 years old and ever since that's my most favorite place on earth! As one of the other contributors here said - definitely worth travelling to Bulgaria just to see it! Climb Musala, see the Rila Monastery, the 7 Rila Lakes, The "Ribnoto" ezero, Skakavitsa waterfall - whatever you choose to do, I promise you'll feel reborn!
Written September 25, 2015
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.

Jacques M
Brussels, Belgium20 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2015 • Solo
A really impressive place - the lakes are so beautiful. Mind that there is still snow in Ma so good shoes and clothes are a must. Driver told me the lift is closed on Mondays I think it might be too strenuous hike for a day without the lift. I used Rila Shuttle to get there and it was a very efficient service. They leave you a the parking from where you take the chair lift and walk around the lakes. The shuttle leaves from the same parking and takes you back to your hotel which is very nice after a day of walking in the mountain.
Written May 8, 2015
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.

Rumen2014
Salvador, BA2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014 • Couples
Rila mountains in Bulgaria are a must see! We did a really nice trek at the end of july starting from Malyovitsa ski center. We left our car and headed towards Malyovitsa lodge. Just outside the lot the trail goes in the forest alongside a river in a moderate size canyon. In an hour or so (average speed) we got to the lodge where we rested and had some tea. The lodge is simple but cozy. We continued towards Malyovitsa peak – a good 3 hours from the lodge. On the way there we saw a couple of times wild goats who were not shy to pose for us. The path to the top was segregated in terraces and had many lakes with clean drinking water. It was very convenient because it took some weight off our backs. At the summit we enjoyed the great view overlooking other mountains then headed to the 7 Rila lakes along the patristic ridge. We camped at an altitude of 2600m. above Urdini lakes facing north east so we had a great view of sunrise. The sensation of the place was amazing! Very relaxing quiet and peaceful but at the same time harsh and cold! It gets around 5-10C* at night so make sure you have a decent sleeping bag or a space blanket. At some point during the night we experienced strong winds but our guide had provided us with a sturdy tent so it wasnt much of a problem. We hired a guide from No Limit who helped us organize the trail. He spoke fluent english, cooked for us and was not shy to tell us more about Bulgaria and its secrets.
The next day we continued towards the 7 Rila lakes – took us another 3 hours to get there. The scenery along the way was as if you were on another planet. We passed by several other peaks on our way to the lakes who were trully a natural phenomenon but near them we saw a great deal of tourists and that somehow had an impact on our experience. There is a chair lift nearby and because of it there is a great deal of people going there. The connection with Nature is still there but not quite the same. The 7 Rila lakes lodge has a lot more to offer than Malyovitsa, however the charm is not the same. After a nice break at the sunny lodge we headed down towards Lovna lodge. With the altitude change there was a change in the scenery as well. The bald bushy peaks were replaced by big pine trees as we entered the forest. Lovna lodge in my opinion surpassed both other lodges with its charm and coziness. The host was very friendly and gave us home made wine from his own cellar. It took us another 3 hours to get to the parking lot and I must say we were all exhausted and happy to be back in the car.
The experience we had was truly amazing because we were able to connect with Nature in its purest form! We had the opportunity to feel the serenity away from the city. My only remark would be the overcrowded 7 Rila lakes lodge and the area. The mass tourism show somehow destroys the vibe, however it is still nice. If you decide to visit Rila I recommend you hire a local guide to show you around. The money is well worth it, because it will help you save $$$ from transportation accommodation and food. If you like to experience the local culture and get the best value for your money get someone to show you around. Frankly I enjoyed the overnight stay at Urdini lakes much more than the 7 Rila lakes. The vibe there is fantastic. Dont forget your sun screen and a camera!
Written August 14, 2014
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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