Hiking the Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria

I was waiting for this moment for almost 2 years. Since the last time I visited the spectacular Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria I went to many other hikes but always felt like this was the most rewarding one. Keep reading to see why!

The Seven Rila Lakes are situated in the highest mountain on the Balkans – Rila (2925 m), between 2,100 and 2,500 metres above sea level. The Lakes are just 1,30 h away from the capital of Bulgaria, which makes them a perfect day trip from Sofia. All seven of the lakes has their own name which reflects its typical shape or characteristics. The names of the Seven Rila Lakes are:

  • The Tear – the highest one
  • The Eye – the deepest one
  • The Kidney – perfect for a picnic
  • The Twin – the largest one
  • The Trefoil
  • The Fish Lake – the shallowest one
  • The Lower Lake – the lowest one

How to get to Seven Rila Lakes

Unfortunately, there is no direct bus to the Lakes. You can travel to Dupnitsa and Sapareva Banya and then take a taxi to the base of the lift (not working during winter months). The best way is to get there by car. 

When you arrive, you have two choices: to take the lift to the Rila Lakes hut where the hike starts (18 BGN ~ 9 EUR both ways) or hike all the way to the hut. The lift will take you around 20 min to buy a ticket, 20 min to get to the lift and 15 min ride ~ 1 h. The hike will take you around 2 h. 

There is also a Rila Shuttle running from Sofia to Seven Rila Lakes. The price for two-way tickets starts from only 24,99 EUR. If you use the discount code TravBuzz15, you get a discount from the prices.

You can also check out the tours to Seven Rila Lakes with our friends at Campfire.bg: www.campfire.bg




The hike

When you hike the Seven Rila Lakes you pass by each one of them from the lowest to the highest one. That’s what makes the hike so unique – you start with one, then two, three of them and when you get to the last one – The Tear, you can see all seven of them in unique harmony with the mountain.

I separate the hike in 3 parts – to The Kidney, to The Tear and the hike back:

1) The hike to The Kidney: When you get to the Rila Lakes hut you can start your hike. You have around one hour to get to “The Kidney” where you can take a nice picnic. The hike here is not very hard, you can take it easy and enjoy the beautiful views to the first 3-4 lakes. With this hike you pass around The Lower lake, The Fish lake, The Trefoil and The Twin and you get to The Kidney. There you can have your deserved break.


The Kidney lake, perfect for a picnic


The Kidney

2) The hike to The Tear: This one is a bit harder if you are not a regular hiker. It takes again around an hour to get to the highest lake – The Tear, while you pass by The Eye. With many little breaks you can get to the highest point where you will forget all the pain and efforts! You have a 360 degree view to all the Seven Lakes in a perfect harmony with the Rila mountain landscape. 


Passing by The Kidney


The Eye


The Tear

3) The hike back: It takes around 2 hours to get to the Rila Lakes hut. It is better to take a different rout. First you get back to The Kidney, then you take the lower rout where you pass by the first 4 lakes we mentioned The Lower lake, The Fish lake, The Trefoil and The Twin. The you get to the chair lift, wait for your turn and get back to your car 🙂

3) The hike back: It takes around 2 hours to get to the Rila Lakes hut. It is better to take a different rout. First you get back to The Kidney, then you take the lower rout where you pass by the first 4 lakes we mentioned The Lower lake, The Fish lake, The Trefoil and The Twin. The you get to the chair lift, wait for your turn and get back to your car :)

The spectacular view from the top!

3) The hike back: It takes around 2 hours to get to the Rila Lakes hut. It is better to take a different rout. First you get back to The Kidney, then you take the lower rout where you pass by the first 4 lakes we mentioned The Lower lake, The Fish lake, The Trefoil and The Twin. The you get to the chair lift, wait for your turn and get back to your car :)

Good job! You did it! Don’t forget to look up and enjoy the amazing views in Rila mountain. 

Would you visit Bulgaria to see the Seven Rila lakes?

Written by

Travel blogger and tourism graduate from Bulgaria, working in the field of Digital Marketing and PR for travel brands.

Latest comments
  • Great article!! I loved hiking the Seven Rila Lakes- unfortunately when I went I was not able to go all the way to the last lake as I had a sore back. I am hoping to go again very soon and your article has inspired me!! THANKS 🙂 Kylie

  • Beautiful pictures, Maria!
    We went a couple of years ago in May and the lift was closed on that day. Fortunately for us, there were a couple of 4WD SUVs bringing people all the way to the hut. The drive itself turned out to be the extremest part of the hike 🙂
    Unfortunately, we only made it to the 5th lake, The Kidney, as there were still a lot of snow and ice leftovers and the hike was very tiring. The path to the last two lakes was all covered in snow and required special equipment… Also, we were afraid it would get dark before we could come down.
    Nice post, I’m tweeting this shortly 🙂
    Cheers, N.

  • That looks fantastic!

      • I´m trying to persuade my bf to make a roadtrip through the Balkans next year so I hope I´ll try the hike myself! 🙂

  • Seven rila lakes is one of the most attractive and adventure place of bulgaria. it has so many destinations but bunch of peoples scattered here only its view from top is looks like a heaven.. ultimate spot never miss it!!!!

  • Hello! I loved the post, sleected it to the weekly roundup of the top travel blog posts at my blog, you can have a look at http://goo.gl/7gtmqi
    Hope you like it and please share it id you’d like!

      • You’re welcome 🙂

  • Hii Maria, the description is reallz tempting and the photos are magical, thank you!
    I would really need to know how much time we need for the hike (we’re fit and healthy) from leaving the car to coming back to it if we skip the lift. Can you or anyone give us that estimation please?

    Thank you.
    Zuzana and Marketa

  • Dear Maria, thanks for your information! we will visit the area in july 2016. I am looking for a list of mountain huts in rila and pirin in ENGLISH, and information as to reservation of accomodation in the huts. do you (or anybody else) know and would kindly give me a hint where to find that information? kind greetings maika

  • Hi Maria,

    Thank you for the information. It looks beautiful. Are you allowed to swim in the lakes? I am travelling there for the start of August and wouldn’t mind a quick dip if it is hot!

  • Hi Maria,
    This information is great! I will be doing this hike in a couple weeks. Is it necessary to have a guide or am I able to do a self-guided hike?

    Thanks, Natalie

  • Hi Maria, I read your post about the lakes and I found it more useful than the rest of the information I found online. A friend will come to visit me and I’m planning to go from Sofia to the Rila Monastry and then to the lakes spending a night out. Do you know if there is any kind of connection between the monastry and the lakes?

  • Hi Maria,
    we love the look of this hike, we will be coming this way from Plovdiv. Where is the start of the hike? Is there accommodation nearby?
    many thanks

  • Hi Maria,

    So would it be possible to do the round trip from Sofia and also visit the Monastery in one day or is it better to spend a night over?
    I’m going around the 20th of November. I don’t know if it will be possible to go there since the weather might be very bad, but just in case I prefer to have some informations before 🙂

  • Congratulations for your awsome blog!
    May I ask if is possible to do the hike in early November? It Seems the lift closes in october, but a hike being a little challenging is also good.


    • i am actually looking to travel in november, i am wondering if there will be snow and what kind of equipment is needed to do the hike.

  • HI,

    I am travelling the end of May. Do you know when the lifts operate from? I have checked online and cannot find any trace of these times or anyone to contact!


  • Hello Maria, this is definetely the best online location where to find info about a hike towards the rila lakes. I would like to know if the chair lift has the same working hours also on sunday. moreover, how long do you think would it take to go to the rila lakes hub without taking the chair lift?

    thank you,

  • hello maria! thank you for your blog, it’s really helpful for me to plan my trip to Bulgaria!
    i would like to know if it is possible to get to seven rila lakes by public bus from sofia, and then back to sofia again on the same day? it looks like the first bus leaves at 2.20pm which makes it impossible to visit in a day? would love to hear your suggestion, as I have to rely on public transport.

    Thank you!

  • Hello! i am going to the seven rila lakes in a couple of days and i was wondering, how long did the entire hike take you? i found an awesome tour that picks up in sofia in the morning and drops you off by the end of the day with a total hike time of 4-5 hours and I am wondering if that is enough to see all of the lakes? great article by the way it was great to hear someone’s perspective who has gone!

  • Hi Maria

    It looks great. Since I’ll be going to Bulgaria in October, I want to add 7 lakes into my itinerary. Just to check, is the lift services still working in October? And whether the weather is still suitable to hike?


  • Hi Maria, We are planning to visit the seven rila lakes in May and I would like to ask if it is safe to trek up with a 15-month old? I am not sure about taking the lift with him so would probably be a full day walking tour for us. I am just concerned about the elevation. your advice is much appreciated. thank you!

  • Hello Maria-
    Great Information. Two quick questions- I will be spending time in Plovdiv and Sofia, which is it better to access thelakes from? Also, will it be too hot in August to hike?
    Thanks in advance-

  • Dear maria,
    What a wonderful blog! Thank you for your great advice about visiting the beautiful seven Rila Lakes. By the way, I am writing this and everything is in capitals. Very Annoying!
    This summer, my wife and I will be retiring and we will be living permanently in Bulgaria. We have a house in Kalotina, about 60 km north of Sofia, and an apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. You can read about our adventures in my blog, http://www.bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com and my blog has this strange title because at the moment we are still in China.

  • Hi, maria! Thank you for Your post, was really useful! I Will arrive on a saturday To sofia And would do the hike on sunday or MONDAYand noticed the Shuttles only Work on tuesday, THUrsday And saturday. So I think i’ll have To Go by taxi or by public transport… do you Have any idea of how much might cost the taxi? We are two people so maybe its cheaper than public transport and easier… thank you a lot!

  • Hello!

    This is the best hike info I’ve found, thank you! Four of us will be hiking the 7 rila lakes this coming weekend. Do you know how long the hike would be from rila monastary- roundtrip? I am also curious if you know about hiking to the Ivan Vasov hut. Is there a trail from the monastary? Or can we continue along the normal trail from the hut? Thanks!

  • Hi

    We are looking at visiting next month July 2020. We have a small camper. Is it possible to drive the camper to the hut instead of hiking there, (to save time and our legs as we are not young lol). Our camper is not 4wd and I did note that someone said some Suv”s 4wd took them to the hut?
    Thank you for any help.