Sofia – Rila Monastery – 7 Rila lakes – Melnik – Blagoevgrad – Sofia
The time has come to put in writing one of the best trips in my life – from Sofia to Sofia through the Rila 7 Lakes, Melnik and Blagoevgrad.
I made this trip just before moving to the Netherlands to remind me how beautiful Bulgaria actually is. I treated myself to a unique hiking experience exploring the 7 Rila lakes and the great scenery you can admire from the Melnik cliffs.
My trip started from Sofia, where I met a friend of mine with whom we went hiking the 7 Rila lakes and finished our trip in Blagoevgrad where she lived at this time.
First day: Rila Monastery and the 7 Rila Lakes
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of the Rila, well-known as the Rila Monastery (Рилски манастир, Rilski manastir) is an emblematic place and one of the most famous attractions in Bulgaria. It was founded in the 10th century and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. You can easily reach it by bus from Sofia. It’s located in between Sofia and the 7 Rila Lakes. Make a half-day trip to Rila Monastery and you won’t regret it!
By lunchtime we were ready to head to a much bigger adventure: hike the 7 Lakes in one day!
The 7 Rila Lakes
The 7 Rila Lakes are heavenly beautiful and are named after the shape each of them has: The Tear (Сълзата – Salzata); The Eye (Окото – Okoto); The Kidney (Бъбрека – Babreka); The Twin (Близнака – Bliznaka); The Trefoil (Трилистника – Trilistnika); Fish Lake (Рибното езеро – Ribnoto zero); The Lower Lake (Долното езеро – Dolnoto zero). Me and my friend did them all in one day – quite tough, but worth it! The hiking itself is just mind-blowing, you walk, admire the view and don’t think about anything. Just you and the endless scenery!
Second day: Melnik
Melnik – located in the south, famous for its wine and cliffs. It’s a small city, but extremely picturesque, especially the scenery from the cliffs. We walked from the city to the cliffs (about 7 km) and could immerse ourselves in the horizon in front of us. The panorama is breathtaking! I will never forget the view! In the evening, we were tired and drunk! Never visit Malnik without trying the wine!
Third day: Blagoevgrad
Blagoevgrad became popular the last few years thanks to Francofolies. Francophilies is the host of the biggest francophone music festival, which takes place annually in La Rochelle, France; Montreal, Canada, Spa, Belgium and Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. The festival has attracted some big names, including Patrick Bruel, Patricia Kaas, Zaz, rapper Fefe, and the groups Nouvelle Vague, Gypsy Kings, Parov Stelar.
Apart from Francophilies, the city impresses its guests with the cozy and vibrant city center, the Varosha Quarter located in the Old Town, the church ”Vavedenie Bogorodichno” in the Varosha Quarter, the Drama Theatre “N. Vaptsarov” and Blagoevgrad Opera House.
Fourth day: Sofia
The last day of our trip was in Sofia. We were up to visit the Sofia Synagogue – the biggest synagogue on the Balkans. It’s located in the city center, close to the Central Halls. The building itself is quite impressive from outside, but unfortunately, it was closed when we arrived there. It’s always good to have something left to visit the next time!
Thanks for reading!