Spend the day in the Rila, walking around its pearls: The Seven Rila Lakes. During the last few years this destination has become one of the most popular places for one-day hiking tours in the Rila Mountains. The reasons are several: impressive nature beauty, easy access by chairlift, variety of paths and hiking routes in the area.
Difficulty: this walking route is moderately arduous, with individual brief paths featuring steep inclines. Please bring along comfortable hiking boots. Sandals and flip-flops are not accepted. Rain jacket might be useful in summer as heavy showers sometimes occur in the afternoons.
The tour is offered as guided (small group) or self-guided. Check the PRICES tab below for further details.
Total transfer time: 3-3,30hrs
Walking time: 3,30-4 hrs (hiking time only; moderate difficulty)
Best period: mid-June – mid-September (possible until mid-November and also in May – contact us for details on weather conditions and lift working time)
Circular trek, starting from the Rila Lakes hut, going along the lower lakes up to the highest one (the Tear Lake) and descending past the Kidney Lake back to the Rila Lakes hut. (3,30-4hrs hiking time only; 6km; +450m; -450m)
A transfer from Sofia takes us to the Panichishte Resort cable car which takes us to the Seven Rila Lakes Cirque. Then we start exploring them one by one. Each lake is named after its most characteristic feature. The highest one (at 2500m/8200ft above sea level) is called Salzata (“The Tear”), from where we have a bird’s eye view over all seven lakes, as well as surrounding outcrops and deep valleys; the next one in height carries the name Okoto (“The Eye”) after its oval form; Babreka (“The Kidney”) is the lake with the steepest shores of the entire group; Bliznaka (“The Twin”) is the largest of all; Trilistnika (“The Trefoil”) has an irregular shape; the shallowest lake is Ribnoto Ezero (“The Fish Lake”) and the lowest one is Dolnoto Ezero (“The Lower Lake”; 2100m/6995ft), where the water that flows out of the other lakes is gathered to form the source of Dzherman River.
Price (for guided tour): From 40 Euros/person (days with Special Offer); Other days: 1 pers: 138 Euro; 2 pers: 79 Euro pp; 3 pers: 58 Euro pp; 4-7 pers: 49 Euro pp;
Price (for self-guided tour): 120 Euro/car (group of 1-4 persons); 160 Euro/bus (group of 5-8 persons)
The price includes: Transfer from Sofia to Panichishte resort and back; English-speaking guide (for the guided hiking option); Detailed route notes in English and maps (for the self-guided hiking option; 1 set of route notes and 1 map per group)
The price does not include: Return chairlift tickets from Panichishte to The Seven Rila Lakes and back
Food: if you have forgotten to take a lunch pack or a sandwich with you, you can take advantage of the meals on offer in the two huts on our way. The menu is limited though: soups (lentils, beans), grilled meat and some basic meals.
Hiking time: hiking time only is mentioned on each day (not including stops for pictures, picnics, breaks etc.!); these are based on an average hiker’s speed of 4-5km/hr on flat terrain, additional 30min for each 300m elevation gain, and a backpack weighing not more than 10-15% of your body weight. Still this varies a lot on the terrain, the group size and the hiking experience of each client within the group.
"Tough hike but incredible views and wonderful guide"
We did the one day hike around the Rila Seven Lakes. It was a pretty tough hike (2.5 hours up, then 2 hours down) but the views were incredible and it made it feel like you’d earned it! Wear good shoes and optional layers for sure 🙂 Bring food because there’s nothing to buy, but you can top up your water bottle along the way at beautiful natural fountains. If you can I recommend doing the tour in August so you can see the “White Brotherhood” (not like it sounds!) festival campers who believe the mountain cleanses them are doing fascinating folk dances dressed in all white. We had Petar as a guide and he was lovely – patient, knowledgable and very proud of his country! There were only 6 on our group which was wonderful.
"Excellent tour of Rila lakes"
We went on a tour of the Rila Lakes with Traventuria. The tour was excellently organised, our guide Radi (?) was an experienced guide and great company. Would highly recommend this tour.
"Nice hike with a wonderful guide"
It was very nice even it was a bit cloudy. The environment is peaceful and perfect to enjoy the day in nature. The guide, Todor, was amazing! Explaining many things, helping us and using every single minute of the day to teach and how us something, easy to talk with and share experiences.
My wife and I had an excellent day seeing the Seven Lakes outside of Sofia. Our guide Mato picked us up right on time and took care of us the entire day. I loved not having to make any decisions. He was full of useful information and kept a refreshingly brisk pace on this rather rigorous hike. The total hike was 12 km with a lot of pleasantly challenging hiking and beautiful scenery. My wife and I have traveled quite a bit and we were nicely surprised by the affordable cost for an entire day of activity. I highly recommend this excursion.
"Wonderful day-trip to Rila!!"
This trip with Traventuria is absolutely recommendable. We were expecting the site visits to be quite rushed because of the tight agenda but you have actually reasonable time to enjoy both locations.
We had Todor as our guide, who was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. His explanations gave us a good taste of Bulgarian culture 😉 Thank you Todor!!
We also felt we had good personal treatment as groups are not larger than what a van can fit (8 people + guide).
"Fantastic day with breathtaking views with our guide Meto"
One of the best group tour we have ever had. Our guide Meto was very knowledgeable, friendly, helpful, attentive. He shares with us some historical and interesting facts about Bulgaria.
It was our very first hike but experience was fantastic despite the weather( it was windy and raining). It wouldn’t have been possible without his help. I will never forget this day. The views of mountains and lakes were breathtaking. Great value for money, we really recommend this tour
"If you can go! Stunning scenery"
Was a great tour, breathtaking scenery. So many pictures to choose from. 100% recommend. Pick up at 7 then 1.5 hr drive to the carpark of chairlift. Guide had lift tickets you could buy to save queuing. Lift takes 30mins each way and gets cold, also closes in bad weather so check with attendees. Was about 2 hours up and down in 1.5 hours walking. Steep in parts but my 74 year old grandma made it. The pace was a bit quick in parts especially on the way down when the weather got bad but the views are worth it. Very cold and had snow on top, take lots of layers and sturdy shoes. we went end of June. You need to bring food from Sofia as nothing around. Thank you Dobbs (tour guide) would go again.
"Fantastic trip to the Rila Lakes"
What a fantastic trip we had to the Rila Lakes, our guide and driver were both very welcoming and accommodating. We certainly wouldn’t of been able to have such a good visit without their help and I’m already dreaming of another trip one day to Sofia and into the mountains. The hike is suitable for all levels of people who are healthy, fit and steady on their feet. I had no ‘mountain hiking’ experience but I did just fine. The customer service when books was great and the lady I chatted to on their website was super helpful. A few tips that I would give to anyone considering the trip … pack sunscreen, we went on a clear cool day in October, there was snow on the ground but the sun was intense and I got burnt. Pack water and snacks to have on the way, you stop for food in the afternoon (if the hut is open) but it’s important to have energy as it’s a long day. This really is a fantastic trip, and I highly, highly recommend it.
“Amazing trip to the rila mountains ”
Last day of our small trip to Sofia and we decided to go and see the Rila mountains. We assembled at 7 in the morning near the Cathedral and we met our guide and 4 other hikers there. After one and a half hour we arrived at the Rila mountains and went up by chair lift.
We walked for an hour or two to arrive at the 5th lake and there the guide gave us the choice of going to the 7th lake or stay behind. We were glad that we went up because the view was stunning.
Afterwards we went via another route down the hill again and arrived at the chair lift at 16:30.
Our guide was wonderful. When we wanted to stop to take a picture or a small break, he patiently waited for us. His English was fluent and he explained a lot about the nature and the lakes. He was very passionate and while we don’t like guided tours that much, we really enjoyed this one because of the freedom we got. Was easily worth the €49 euros we paid per person!
Thanks for the amazing day!
“Fantastic hikes to Rila lakes and Vitosha mountain”
I took the guided tour to the Rila Mountains by Traventuria on 29th September, the tour was really well organised and the mountain scenery was just amazing, luckily the weather was also perfect. Our tour guide, Vasco made the hike just even better, he was respectful and supportive to the whole group, checking that no one left behind and supporting those who needed some help on the hike. Vasco also taught me perfectly how to use the trekking poles. When he mentioned that he would be the tour guide for a Vitosha mountain hike as well, I booked that immediately. I also recommend the Vitosha tour, the same experience, amazing scenery and of course the superb guiding from Vasco!!! I travel a lot, but these two hikes were the best experiences in this year for me!
“Fantastic hike to the Seven Rila Lakes”
We did the day trip to the Seven Rila Lakes, organized by Traventuria, and it was amazing. Although it was a little cloudy during our hike, the sites were still amazing and so worth it. The whole tour was very well organized and the company was great. We were picked up by the van from our hotel and they purchased our lift tickets ahead of time so there was no waiting in line. Our guide, Vasco, was amazing! He was very friendly and aware of the group’s different climbing abilities, always giving tips on how best to climb. and descend, offering support where needed. There was always lots of time to take pictures, and he made sure to take us to some great vantage points. He was very informative of the region and answered all our questions, and also told stories of the lakes and different myths associated with them that were very interesting. I would highly recommend this tour.
“Seven lakes hiking trip - amazing!”
We combined groups so there were about 12 of us with two guides – Jordan and Meto, both awesome! Jordan hadn’t been feeling great but was still enthusiastic, Meto was super informative about the lakes and about Sofia history in general and was so positive and understanding! Would definitely recommend an amazing day out!!! The guides also included an additional sight on the way back seeing a natural gazer in the ground, something they definitely didn’t have to do and weren’t getting paid for! Brilliant day!
“Seven Rila Lakes Hiking Small-Group Tour from Sofia”
We had an absolutely fantastic time on this hiking tour. Our guide Martin was excellent, very knowledgeable, really enthusiastic and very helpful. The chair lift which usually takes people part of the way up the mountain was not working properly on the day of our tour (this is extremely unusual) so Martin asked everyone if they were happy to walk the extra distance on the hike. We all agreed and Martin was really great at helping everyone and making sure everyone was comfortable as we went along on the hike. The views along the route of the hike of the seven lakes were very beautiful and I was really pleased that we persevered with doing the extra hiking as it was absolutely worth the effort! I would not have wanted to miss this highlight of our short trip to Bulgaria! The chair lift had been fixed by the time of our descent so we were able to relax and enjoy the trip back down the mountainside. I would recommend this one day hiking trip to anyone who has reasonable fitness and has good walking shoes and shorts/trousers. It is cooler near the top of the mountain but the sun is very strong (in July when we went) so you need lots of sun protection cream, and I would suggest having a hat too. Take plenty of water – you can top up your water bottle on the mountain – and some energy foods. There is a hut which serves food at the beginning of the hike, but if you get hungry on the mountain you will need some food with you as you don’t reach the hut again until the end of the hike. Don’t miss this one day trip out of the city if you are visiting Sofia! Highly recommended!!
“Absolutely fantastic experience”
My dad and I took three tours with Traventuria and had an excellent time on each one. Each day was easy, relaxing, enjoyable, fun, and very informative. The tours are very personalized, the guides are great, and the company is flexible. For example, my dad and I wanted to go to Belogradchik Fortress, which is not on one of the normal tours with the company, but it was very easy to arrange a trip there anyway. Similarly, our last tour was meant to be a hike through the Rila Lakes; unfortunately, the evening before our tour a cold front blew through and the day dawned with freezing rain. We decided rather late the day before that we didn’t want to do it, but unfortunately had no way of contacting Traventuria so late. That morning, when our guide came to pick us up, we asked to change the tour, and it was completely fine, no problem at all. Great, flexible people in charge of the company.
Our guides themselves were also awesome (we had tours with both Orlin and Rusi). Examples of the amazing things they did:
Guiding us on an impromptu hike when we expressed it might be fun to hike for a little while
Clearing away the branches on the trail in front of us while on the hike!
Offering to take pictures of us all the time without us having to ask them to
Knowing which gas stations had clean bathrooms and stopping there
Knowing the back routes to the important sites which avoided traffic/had more beautiful scenery
Offering to call ahead at the restaurant and place my order when I indicated I wanted a dish that he knew took a while to prepare
Taking the time to mark on our city map restaurant recommendations for Sofia when we indicated we were having trouble finding a place to eat
In addition to doing all this, both guides were very knowledgeable, not just about history, but about little quirks about the places we were visiting–they knew which restaurants were good, which place offered the best wine tasting, what was good at what restaurant, etcetera.
I would definitely recommend this tour company. Not only are the guides exemplary and the company flexible, but unless you read Cyrillic, you’ll want a guide escorting you around Bulgaria, and you can’t find any better than the ones at this company.
“EXCELLENT TOURS, EXCELLENT GUIDES”
I took 2 tours with Traventuria while I was in Sofia and they were both perfect. The 7 Rila Lakes hike was absolutely great with my guide Orlin Koychev being really exceptional, very friendly and helpful, he made the tour very enjoyable! The second tour to the Rila monastery and Boyana church was also amazing with our guide Kristian being perfect, very informative and friendly!