The mesmerizingly beautiful Rila mountains hold a treasure even more precious to the eye – the 7 Rila lakes, or the “7 Rilski ezera,” as referred to by the locals.
Long story short – once you’re in the Bansko region, you definitely need to take your time and pay a visit to this incredible and unusual natural landmark. They make a great one-day tour and will give you a pretty good idea of what hiking in Bulgaria looks and feels like.
Below, you will find all the information you might need before visiting the Seven Rila Lakes – their history and origins, their names and specifics, their legends, and their mountain trails.
The Seven Lakes in Rila, Bulgaria: Get to Know the Basics
The Seven Rila Lakes is a group of Bulgarian lakes with а glacial origin located in the Rila Mountain. This is the most visited lake group in the country by both Bulgarian and foreign tourists and one of the most remarkable natural sites on the Balkan Peninsula.
The lakes are located in the picturesque cirques in the Damgski area in Northwest Rila Mountain, as they are situated amphitheatrically between 2095 and 2535 meters above sea level.
The cirque in which they are located is surrounded by the peaks of Suhi Chal, Harmiyata, and Otovishki peak in Rila. They occupy furrows along the mountain slope and are interconnected with each other through small streams. In the water flow process, small cascades and waterfalls have formed along these streams.
All in all, the Seven Rila Lakes are an excellent option for a one-day reality escape trip from the city to the mountains and a great chance to enjoy the magnificent nature. They are one of the One hundred national tourist sites to see in Bulgaria, and in good weather, Rila Monastery will also be waiting nearby.
Your Full Guide Through the Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria
It’s good to have a pre-designed path for hiking and mountain walking in Bulgaria, so we are about to give you all the theoretical and practical knowledge you might need when planning to hit the most popular Bulgaria lakes.
The Lakes’ Names
Each of the Seven Rila Lakes – Bulgaria – has its own name and is unique in itself:
- The Tear Lake
- The Eye Lake
- The Kidney Lake
- The Twin Lake
- The Trefoil Lake
- The Fish Lake
- The Lower Lake
As you may have already guessed – the name of each one of the Seven Rila Lakes represents its specific features. For example, the lake situated at the highest altitude is called the Tear, because its water is crystal clear and transparent.
Second by height is the Eye Lake (also called the Heart), which has an almost oval shape. The Eye is a cirques lake with the largest depth in Bulgaria – its depth is 37.5 meters.
The Kidney is the lake with the steepest shores of the whole group. The fourth lake is the Twin. It is the largest of the entire lake group.
The Trefoil Lake has an irregular shape and low shores. The most shallow of all lakes is the Fish Lake, as on its northeastern side is located the „Seven Lakes“hut. The lowest lake is the Lower Lake, where the Dzherman River starts to flow.
The Lakes’ Origin
As we already mentioned above, the Seven Lakes in Rila Mountains, Bulgaria, have a glacial origin.
According to research, Rila mountain has been frozen three times throughout the ages, and each time has added up to its relief. The first of these freezing periods has left multiple glacial forms in the 7 Lakes Bulgaria circuit, as well as three staged shafts and well-formed moraine amphitheaters.
The lakes themselves were formed during the last Ice Age and remain as a result of the molten ice from that period.
The first three lakes (The Tear, The Eye, and The Kidney) drain separately in the Twin, then the water passes subsequently through the Trefoil, The Fish Lake, and the Lower Lake.
A more powerful stream passes through the last two lakes, which, when running from the lowest lake, gives the beginning of the Dzherman River (which s the left tributary of Struma River).
Know When To Go
It is best to plan to see the Seven Rila Lakes Bulgaria has for you during the summer months. In this season, the weather is most likely to be favorable for Rila mountains hiking, and the lakes themselves will be as abounding in crystal clear waters as possible throughout the year.
Generally speaking, hiking in Bulgaria is best organized from April and May to August and September, as temperatures will be balanced and tracks won’t be covered in snow. However, except for Rila’s seven lakes, Bulgaria has many other lake groups you can visit during this period, and some of them are included in Lucky Bansko’s free hiking tours.
Keep in mind that Rila mountain is the highest mountain in the country and you’ll need good equipment, even when visiting during the summer season.
Know the Paths
Seven Lakes Bulgaria is the name of your next adventure trip? So, it’s time to know how to get there.
The trip from Sofia city to the Seven Rila Lakes lasts about an hour and a half. Less than 90 kilometers will be the trip from Sofia city to the lower station of the two-seat ropeway „Rila Lakes”.
The Tear, the Eye, the Kidney, the Twin, the Trefoil, the Fish Lake, and the Lower Lake can be reached after a walk that lasts up to 4-5 hours, starting from the “Rila Lakes” hut and 4 kilometers from Panichishte.
From there, you can take a rehabilitated asphalt road, which is maintained in generally good condition. The distance between Separeva Banya to the Rila Lakes is 13.5 kilometers. When you enter Separeva Banya, you can orient yourself with the help of the signs indicating the way to the resort village of Panichishte.
Upon entering Separeva Banya, you can see signs that indicate the route to the resort village of Panichishte. On the way out of the town, along the way, there are signs indicating the route to the seven lakes Bulgaria lift. There is a paid parking zone in the area of the lower lift station.
Using the lift, you will get to the hut in less than 20 minutes, overcoming a distance of more than two kilometers and a displacement of six hundred meters. During most of your trip with the lift, you will pass by centuries-old forests of pines and firs.
In its upper part, you can enjoy the beautiful sights of the Rila National Park, especially the Malyovitsa area of the mountain to the east. The upper station of the lift is located a hundred meters away from the “Rila Lakes” hut.
The nearest lakes are a 40-minute walk away from the “Rila Lakes” hut. You can get to the Kidney Lake by following the upper path along the trail’s route on the Suhia rid. You can reach the Fish Lake following the old path to the southeast.
You can start the 7 lakes Bulgaria trip by following one path and return by following the other.
Routes Leading to the Seven Rila Lakes
From Separeva Banya, follow an asphalt road to the „Pionerska“ hut. From the „Pionerska“ hut, you should get on the lift to the Rila Lakes, which goes to the „Rila Lakes“ hut.
From Govedartsi, you can reach the lakes by following an asphalt road leading to Vada hut and from there to „Rila Lakes“ hut.
From Govedartsi, follow an asphalt road to the Malyovitsa resort complex, then from Malyovitsa hut to the „Rila Lakes“ hut.
Find Where to Spend the Night
Booking your stay at a local hut or hotel is a must if you want to enjoy a safe and well-organized trip to the Bulgaria Rila Mountains. But, gladly, there are plenty of nice hospitality alternatives around the area, and all you need to do is choose.
If you’re into mountain hut experiences, you will surely enjoy the nearby Rila Lakes Chalet, which offers rooms and apartments along with bigger tourist dormitories.
In the nearby towns of Panichishte, Bistritsa, and Kyustendil, you will also find different hotels, hostels, villas, and guest houses that regularly welcome tourists hiking Bulgaria.
Of course, you can always choose the 5-star Bulgaria hiking and mountain tourism experience in Lucky Bansko, which is about a 2-hour drive away from the area.
When staying in any Rila hotel, Sofia will also be about 2 hours away from you by car. In the tourist centers in the country, you will be advised on the best driving route from England to Bulgaria, or the shortest way to reach our country from any other destination.
Curious facts about the Seven Rila Lakes: The Paneurhythmy Dance
So, ready for some extra mystics around here? The are of the Seven Rila Lakes is traditionally used to organize the Paneurhythmy: a mystical dance of the White Brotherhood in mid-August.
If you happen to be on the spot during this time of the year, you will see big circles of people dressed in white and dancing to special music throughout their spiritual rites. These are the followers of the Bulgarian spiritual philosopher Petar Dunov, and their dance is a cosmic connection to nature.
If you want to see or be a part of this breathtaking experience, make sure you arrive in the morning and prepare to spend a day full of wonder and excitement.
The Legend of the Seven Rila Lakes
According to the legend of the Seven Rila Lakes, thousands of years ago, when Earth hadn’t yet been populated by people, the Rila Mountain was the home of two giants – a man and a woman. Their love was strong, and they worshiped the beauty and coziness of their lovely home.
Their home was incredibly beautiful, always warm, sunny, and pleasant. Every single creature was falling in love with this place and wanted to live there. All the elements around the world supported the giants and their love.
However, one day, troubles came, and evil forces passed by their home. When they saw this beautiful place, the evil forces felt envy because of the happiness of the giants, so they became angry and decided to destroy their home and their love forever.
They began to send black clouds and devastating winds toward them. Terrible earthquakes shook the earth.
The male giant defended with all his strength every blade of grass, every little stream or flower, as he guarded his beloved and fought against the attacks of the evil forces. But unfortunately, this only made them angrier, and they decided to fulfill their evil plan to the fullest.
In one heavy battle, the giant found his death. Satisfied with their victory, the evil forces decided to go and left behind them only destroyed rocks, meadows, and the sorrowful female giant who was devastated.
The sadness of the young widow was so strong that her tears were endless as they flew down along the mountain ridges to the valleys. As the tears were falling down, they gathered in the glens; thus, they formed crystal clear lakes with enchanting beauty – the Seven Rila Lakes.
Before you reach the Kidney Lake, your tourist guide will show you a huge rock located in the direction of the Tear Lake. The shape of the rock looks very much like the figures of a man and a woman of enormous size.
According to the legend, these are the two giants in love who will remain forever there, protecting their glorious and magnificent home.
Whether you think of the legend or just enjoy the here and now, visiting this place is an unforgettable experience. The amazing and enchanting beauty of the Rila Lakes attracts not only Bulgarian tourists but also visitors from all over the world – and it awaits you!