Nearly a million visitors explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year. You can visit Rila Monastery's cloisters, farming buildings, and church, and step into its on-site museum for a look at its history and to see handwoven national costumes. Take a self-guided tour, or visit with a guide for deeper context. Some tours combine a monastery visit with a trip to a Bulgarian winery or to nearby Boyana Church, known for its medieval murals.
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Things to Know Before You Go
Prebook tickets to the monastery to skip the line and enjoy more time inside.
Visitors must wear clothing that covers shoulders, knees, and elbows to tour the grounds.
A traditional bakery behind the monastery serves homemade mekitsi (dough fritters), while several nearby restaurants specialize in Bulgarian food; trout is a specialty.
How to Get There
Travelers can take the E79 International Route between Sofia and Kulata to the monastery. It’s located about 16 miles (25 kilometers) from Kocherinovo. The easiest way to get there is by joining a guided tour with included transportation.
When to Get There
Rila Monastery is a popular day trip destination among locals and visitors, especially in summer. Plan to visit the monastery in winter when it's quieter and you’ll have the grounds largely to yourself.
Cave of St. Ivan of Rila
No trip to Rila Monastery would be complete without a stop at the nearby cave where St. Ivan of Rila, the hermit who founded the monastery, lived while his students built what would become Bulgaria’s most famous spiritual center. Visitors can hike to this small nook in the mountainside from the monastery to see where the saint spent some 20 years in relative solitude.
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- Rila Mountains
- Tsari Mali Grad
- Vitosha Mountain
- Boyana Waterfall
- Vrana Palace (Park-Museum Vrana)
- Boyana Church
- Sofia National History Museum
- Museum of Socialist Art
- Vitosha Boulevard (Vitoshka)
- Bulgarian National Museum of Military History
- Monument to the Soviet Army
- Ivan Vazov National Theatre
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
- Sofia National Gallery (Kvadrat 500)