From Sofia: The Cave of Saint John and the Rila Monastery

190 Reviews
Tours Culture & history Activities Good for groups Day trips Day Trips From Reseller exclusions Things to do for adults Day Trips To Nature & adventure Outdoor sports Sightseeing Tours Nature & Panorama Architecture tours Religious & spiritual activities History & heritage UNESCO Sites Group activities Family-friendly Medium-risk activities Audio Guides Hiking & trekking Hiking

Combine the best of history and nature with this day trip from Sofia to the the Rila Monastery and the holy cave of Saint John. Choose from a self-guided option or an option with a local guide.

Our Top Experiences and Tours in Bulgaria:
If youʻre booking your trip to Bulgaria last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours and experiences!
View All Experiences


  • Discover Rila Monastery, the largest Bulgarian monastery complex
  • Learn more about the history of the landmarks
  • Spend a great day in the Rila Mountain
  • Enjoy a short refreshing hike in the mountain to the holy cave of Saint John


This day tour is a great combination of history and nature – the Rila Monastery and the holy cave of Saint John. The meeting point for the tour is behind Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, near café La Cathedrale – please be there at 8:45. The departure is at 9:00 and since this is a group tour, we cannot wait much if you are late. First, we will travel about two hours on a picturesque road to the Rila Monastery – this is the biggest and most important Bulgarian monastery, a UNESCO heritage site as well. There, for sure, you will be captured by its amazingly beautiful frescoes and architecture. Then, if you have booked the guided option of the tour, you will have about 40-minute guided visit of the monastery, during which you will learn about the life of Saint John and about the history of the monastery – from the time of its establishment in the 10th century until nowadays. The guide will also show you and tell you the story of the more important frescoes, as well as the miraculous icons, situated in the church, and the relics of Saint John. If you have booked the ‘transport only’ option, you will have more free time to explore the monastery on your own. After the guided tour, at 12:00 we continue with a short 5-minute drive down the road, until we reach the beginning of the path to the holy cave of Saint John – the place, where he spent the last years of his life and considered to be a sacred area. The walking path to the cave is about 15-minutes, moderate difficulty, and it is a great refreshing walk in the nature. There, you will have the chance to pass through it and to drink water from the nearby spring, which is believed to be never freezing. After the hike, we will go back to the monastery, where you will have 1 – 1.5 hours of free time, during which you can take photos, check the souvenir shops and have a lunch break. Since the dining options around the monastery are rather limited, we recommend you to bring some food from Sofia. Around 14:00 – 14:30, you will head back to Sofia. The expected return is between 16:00 and 16:30, depending on the traffic and on the group size.


Trip to Rila Monastery and the cave of Saint John Transportation with a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle English-speaking guide or driver (depending on the option you booked) Parking fees

Important Information

  • If the weather is rainy, the hike to the cave is substituted with a stop at the Boyana Church • Please note, women should have their knees and shoulders covered in the monastery

Easy cancellation

Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund


My Guide Book Now! From Sofia: The Cave of Saint John and the Rila Monastery

My Lists

Create New Guide


Mini Guides

Login to create your guides for Bulgaria.

Add to My Guide

Create New Guide



Recommended Experiences in Bulgaria

500+ trusted car hire partners globally

Create & Share your own Guide to Bulgaria with friends and family!

Add your recommended places to visit by browsing the website and pressing the icon.

Create your own guide of favourite 'must see' places

Earn your Local Expert badge by Sharing your guides with others

Get your guide seen by submitting it to the Mini Guides section


We Are Part of the My Guide Network!

My Guide Bulgaria is part of the global My Guide Network of Online & Mobile travel guides.

We are now in 120+ Destinations and Growing. If you are interested in becoming a local travel partner and would like to find out more then click for more info about our Website Business Opportunity.

Nearby Destinations

Events in Bulgaria

Filter Events by Sub-Category

Please select a Date first.

Search for a company in Bulgaria