Rila Monastery

The biggest and most popular monastery in Bulgaria

Have a touch of this magnificent place in the beautiful Rila Mountain. Somewhere between the Rilska and Drushliavitsa rivers and about 120km south of Sofia is the most significant and big monastery in our country founded in the 10th century – The Rila Monastery. There are about 40 active male monasteries on the territory of the country, one of which is this monastery.

It is believed that its name comes from the first Bulgarian hermit, John Rilski, who settled in the area and gave himself only 7 years of fasting and prayer. The relics of the saint are displayed in the main church “Nativity of the Virgin” of the complex. In the yard of the monastery you can see the well-preserved Hrelyova Tower – 25 meters, a medieval defensive tower dating from the year 1335. In it, on the last 5th floor there is a small church “Transfiguration of the Lord”, a bell tower and a clock. A carpenter’s workshop, a monastery bookstore, a library and, of course, the church-historical museum ( 8 leva fee) are only part of the wonders of the beautiful monastery complex, which is quite impressive because of its size. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

It is important to know if you visit these sacred lands during the warm days of the year that the monastery is strictly forbidden to admit people with shorts, short skirts, jerseys and other scarce clothing. In the vicinity, just 4 km away, on a steep and narrow path is the cave of the saint, where he lived in solitude for many years. A legend says that whoever can get out of the cave through the narrow hole between the rocks, is sinless.

Nearby there is a magical place with a fountain which, if you leave a sheet with a written sincere desire, will come true. Believe in your dreams and boldly write your most sincere desires! Enjoy the walk in this wonderful holy place.

  • Museum entrance: 8 lev (4€)


You can spend a night in the monastery. There are dormitories and private rooms intended primarily for people who are visiting Orthodox Christian pilgrimage to the monastery. The rooms and common areas are specific and one should not forget that one is in a religious complex, so one cannot demand much comfort. The reservation can be a bit complicated, since it can only be done by phone, so you should contact the monks of the monastery directly. It is imperative that the person who wants to make the reservation by phone knows how to speak Bulgarian to facilitate the work for the monks.

Getting there

Public transport

  • Departure from Sofia at 10:20 AM and arrives at 1 PM.
  • Departure from Rila monastery at 6:20 PM and arrives at 8:15 PM.
  • Ticket price: 11.00 BGN leva (approx. €5.50) per person, one-way.
  • Seat reservation in not possible and availability is not guaranteed.
  • The bus departs from bus station Ovcha Kupel, located in the west part of Sofia city.

Shared shuttle (daily shuttle)

  • 09:30 departure from St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral – arrives at Rila Monastery at 11:30h.
  • Free time to explore the site and surrounding area until 14:30.
  • 14:30 departure from the Rila Monastery. About 2 hours journey to Sofia.
  • From 19.99€ per person (two-way)
  • No payment in advance or credit/debit card required