How to get to the 7 Rila Lakes in Bulgaria
When you come to Bulgaria one of the places that you must visit is the 7 Rila Lakes, which by the way, all have names which I am going to tell you later. The nature of this group of lakes with glacial origin, beautifully located in the heart of the mountain is splendid.
To get to the 7 Rila Lakes we booked a car through Top Rent a Car and it took us around 2 hours to drive there from Sofia. You need to go in the direction of Bansko, but then take the turn at Dupnitsa and look for the signs for Sapareva Bania (Сепарева баня) and Panichishte (Паничище). When you get to Panichishte (Паничище) you need to continue a further 7-10 kms until you get to the Rila lakes lift. There are parking spaces available there for 5 leva a day. You can choose to buy a ticket for the lift which is 10 leva one way, or 18 leva both ways and the lift working hours are 9am – 16.30pm. It took us around 25 mins on the lift to get to the Hut – Rilski Ezera (where there are toilets and refreshments) which is located at the bottom of the lakes. You can also choose to walk up instead of taking the lift, this will take around 1.5 hours, depending on your pace. We went there at the beginning of November and the temperature was around 2-3 Celsius. Usually this time of the year is less busy, however, in the summer there is likely to be a queue to go on the lift, so take this into account when planning your trip. We arrived there early, around 8.30am in the morning.
Arriving at 7 Rila Lakes – The walk
Once we got off the lift we started our route right from the hut and went up on the hill. It is a bit steep in the beginning and it would be good to maintain a moderate pace which would take you around 25 minutes. Then we got on a path which winds close to the edge of the hill where we could see the Hut, the “Lower Lake” and then the “Fish Lake”. After that we saw on our left “The Trefoil” and “The Twin”. After 45 minutes walking, the 5th lake – “The Kidney” was on our right.
When we passed “The Kidney” there was another steep path that took us around 45 mins to get through and due to the icy conditions we had to be extra careful. Once we did we were faced straight away by the 6th lake called “The Eye” with, approximately 40 metres depth which makes it the deepest of all of the Rila lakes. From here there was just one more climbing part which took us to the last lake called “The Tear” and from where we could see a wonderful scenic view of all of the other Rila lakes.
This is a good place to relax and have a lunch break or a snack if you’re tired and hungry after the long trek, that’s exactly what we did! On the way back we chose the same direction but after the last two lakes we took a path on the right which took us through the bottom three lakes. The total time with the breaks and having in mind the icy conditions that slowed us down, was around 5 hours and we were back on the lift at 2.30pm.
Useful information for a day trip to the 7 Rila Lakes:
Lift working times: 9am-4:30pm.
Lift cost: 10 leva one way – 18 leva return.
Distance from Sofia: 2 hours drive.
Car rental: Top Rent A Car
Shuttle buses available from Sofia for 24.95 EUR per person – shuttle bus information.