RILA MONASTERY AND BOYANA CHURCH EVERY DAY TOUR

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Rila Monastery and Boyana Church - 2 Unesco sites in one day

Join the original and best selling tour from Sofia made and ran by Traventuria since 2010. Enjoy the two most famous and photographed Bulgarian UNESCO sites as well as the amazing Rila National Park. Travel in a modern air-conditioned minibus and discover Rila Monastery and Boyana Church and have a professional guide by your side. You will also have enough free time to explore the Rila Monastery surroundings or sample the local food specialties at the restaurants close by. Check the awesome videos below if you are still trying to decide why booking the Rila Monastery and Boyana Church one day tour from Sofia.

Rila Monastery

The Rila Monastery is also called the Treasury of Bulgaria. It's located in the Rila mountains between the Drushlyavitsa and Rilska rivers. It was founded in the first half of the 10th century by St. Ivan Rilski - spiritual protector of the Bulgarian people. The monastery is a cradle and a keeper of the Bulgarian spirit and national identity.

Top 3 must see Rila Monastery sights

Rila Monastery is the most important spiritual and literary center of the Bulgarian national revival, with an uninterrupted history from the Middle Ages until present times. Reconstruction work was required following a fire, and sections of the monastery, a new church and other structures date to the 18th century.
  • Main Church - "The Nativity of the Virgin Mary".
One of the main reasons most people visit the Rila Monastery is to see the main church - "The Nativity of the Virgin".  And we assure you'll be impressed with it both inside and outside. Literally those frescoes will wow you! Of course there is more to see in the complex.
  • The tower of Hrelja
The  tower of Hrelja is the oldest building in the complex, built 1334 - 1335. The famous inscription on the tower says: "During the reign of the high lord King Stefan Dušan, lord Prōtosebastos Hrelja, with great work and with great expense he built this tower for the holy father St. John of Rila and the Mother of God, called Osenovitsa, in the year 6843 fifth indizione. [1334–1335] "
  • The museum of the Rila Monastery
From the end of the nineteenth century onwards, the Rila Monastery has a museum with historical exhibits from the region. The exposition includes important examples of Bulgarian and foreign art from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The most precious exhibit is the finely carved wooden cross, the work of Father Rafail. He worked on his masterpiece for years, using the finest chisels and tools, and completed it in 1802, losing his eyesight due to the strenuous work. The cross represents 36 Biblical scenes, eighteen on each side, with over 600 miniature figures.

Boyana Church

The Boyana church "St. Nicholas and St. Pantaleimon" is most famous for its medieval frescoes. In 1979 it was included in the world cultural heritage list under the protection of UNESCO. The founding inscription in the narthex indicates the year of its complete writing - 1259.  

About this activity

Prices from 30 euro

Approximately 8 hours

Printed or mobile voucher accepted

Instant confirmation

Live guide: English

Audio guide/headphones: Spanish, English, German, Italian, Russian

EASY CANCELLATION: CANCEL UP TO 24 HOURS IN ADVANCE FOR A FULL REFUND!

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TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
  • Join the original and best-selling day tour from Sofia
  • Discover the two most visited Bulgarian UNESCO sites
  • Uncover the fascinating history of Boyana Church and Rila Monastery with a guide
  • Travel with a modern air-conditioned minibus
  • Experience and admire the awesome beauty of Rila National Park
TOUR ITINERARY

09:00: The trip starts from the parking behind Alexander Nevski Cathedral (you will receive a detailed map after you complete the booking process).

09:30: A planned visit to the Boyana Church (It can be rescheduled for the afternoon).

10:15: Departure for a 2-hour journey through beautiful countryside to the Rila Monastery.

12:15: Estimated time of arrival at the Monastery.

12:15 – 13:15: Guided visit to the Monastery

13:15 – 14:45: Free time for lunch or further explorations of the area on your own.

14:45-15:00: We depart from Rila Monastery and head back to Sofia.

16:45-17:30: Approximate time of arrival at Alexandar Nevski Cathedral parking.

PRICES

April – October
30 Euro per adult; 25 Euro per child (6-12 years old).

November – March
35 Euro per adult; 30 Euro per child (6-12 years old).

Group Discounts:

  • For group discounts contact us via email.

Prices include:

  • English or Spanish speaking tour guide (depending on the booked package)
  • All transportation and parking costs

Prices do not include:

  • Food and beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Gratuities

EXTRAS
  • Hotel pick-up costs an additional 5/10 Euro per reservation, depending on the location of your hotel.
  • Tour with a Spanish-speaking guide every Thursday and Saturday during the summer period.
  • Audio guide with headphones (English, Spanish, German, Russian and Italian) – 5 euro per device.
GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Rila Monastery’s Dress Code: The monastery is functioning as an Orthodox temple. A strict dress code is imposed and should be respected. Men and women should be wearing clothes covering their shoulders. Women should not wear short shorts or skirts.

Clothes: The monastery complex is more than 1000 meters above sea level in the mountains. The weather conditions can change within minutes. We advise you to bring warm clothes even during the summer.

Shoes: We advise you to wear comfortable walking shoes as the inner yard of the Rila Monastery is cobbled. Walking around the monastic complex (optional) also requires comfortable walking shoes.

Photos:

Boyana Church
Taking photos in the inner yard is allowed, but it is strictly forbidden to take photos inside the church.
The time spent inside the Boyana church is limited to a maximum of 10 minutes, as a preservation measurement for the UNESCO World Heritage site’s fragile frescos.

Rila Monastery
Taking photos in the courtyard and of the frescoes on the outer fresco gallery of the main church of Rila Monastery is allowed.
Taking photos inside the main church, the residential parts and the museum is NOT permitted.

Admission tickets:
The entry ticket for the Boyana Church is 10 leva (approx. 5.5 euro). It can be pre-booked from our side.
Entering the Rila Monastery is free! However, there is a small fee (8 leva/approx. 4 euro) for going into the museum (optional).

Cash is the king: Kindly note that payment by credit/debit card is possible only at the Boyana Church. There is a cash machine at the Rila Monastery, but most of the time it is not working. The restaurants around the monastery are not accepting debit/credit cards. For your personal expenses, we recommend bringing leva in cash with you.

Food: There are two restaurants near the monastery serving local delicacies (e.g. grilled trout, bean soup, sheep yoghurt with honey). In peak season they can be rather slow on the servings. There are also some fast food options. The most famous is the monastery’s bakery offering made-on-the-spot mekitsi – Bulgarian doughnuts.
If you wish to spend more of your free time exploring the monastery and its surroundings than you should consider bringing a lunch pack with you.

If you’d like to travel on a private tour with an English-speaking driver, you may go book this tour from HERE

You can also read more about the Monastery from HERE.

ABOUT RILA MONASTERY (UNESCO)

Rila Monastery – UNESCO site

The Rila Monastery is one of Bulgaria’s symbols and a popular tourist destination. The monastery is set deep in the heart of Rila Mountain, between the Rilska and Drushliavitza Rivers, at 1147 meters (3760 feet) above sea level. It is situated 120 kilometers south of Sofia, and 41 kilometers east of Blagoevgrad.
The monastery was found in the first half of the 10th century AD. Its history is directly connected with the first Bulgarian hermit, Saint John of Rila, or ‚Ivan Rilski’, who chose this site to pray in seclusion. Through the ages, the Rila Monastery served as a spiritual, educational and cultural center for the Bulgarians.

During the Bulgarian Revival (eighteenth-nineteenth century) the monastery opened about fifty metohia – small convents located in the bigger settlements on Bulgarian territory and its monks frequently went there to officiate, educate and popularize the monastery among the laymen. Most of the present complex of the Rila Monastery dates from the nineteenth century. The oldest building here is the Hrelyova Tower. Every inch of the principal church here, Nativity of Mary is covered by frescoes, work of the most renowned Bulgarian Renaissance painters.

From the end of the nineteenth century onwards, the Rila Monastery has a museum with historical exhibits from the region. The exposition includes important examples of Bulgarian and foreign art from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The most precious exhibit is the finely carved wooden cross, the work of Father Rafail. He worked on his masterpiece for years, using the finest chisels and tools, and completed it in 1802, losing his eyesight due to the strenuous work. The cross represents 36 Biblical scenes, eighteen on each side, with over 600 miniature figures.

ABOUT BOYANA CHURCH (UNESCO)

Boyana church – UNESCO site

Boyana Church is a small temple on the outskirts of Sofia with frescoes dating back to three separate periods: the 11th, 13th  and 19th centuries. The most important and fascinating are the frescoes dating from 1259. They are Renaissance frescoes that predate the Italian Renaissance (triggered by the works of Giotto) and brake the strict Christian canon law to present pure human emotions, royal figures and folklore elements.