The Seven Rila Lakes and the Legendary Giants Story

A two hours drive South of the capital Sofia are a group of seven glacial lakes. Situated in the beautiful Rila mountains they are the most visited group of lakes in the whole of Bulgaria.

The lakes are between 2100 and 2500 metres elevation and are perhaps best accessed during the summer months of June,July and August when the winter ice has thawed and the weather is above 10 degrees and is more suited to the occasional hiker.Plus the less chance of severe storms

Connected by streams with tiny waterfalls and cascades each of the seven lakes is named after its characteristic feature. They are,

The Lower Lake. Needs no explanation!
Fish Lake. which is the shallowest lake.
The Trefoil. Which has an irregular shape and low shoreline
The Twin. this is the largest lake covering about 22 acres
The Kidney. Being shaped like a kidney and a great spot for a rest and picnic
The Eye. The deepest lake in Bulgaria at 37m
The Tear. Named after its clear waters and is the highest of the group at 2500m


For less than 40 euros per person you can be taken from Sofia to the
Panichishte lift. You will have 5 hours to enjoy the hike to the Seven Rila lakes.
Afterwards you will be taken to Bulgaria’s No1 attraction and UNESCO World heritage site of Rila monastery before being shuttled back to Sofia. A perfect day for getting the most from short trip to the capital.

A lovely Hike

The lakes are not far from Rila monastery and so give many options if planning a few days hiking in the area.

If staying in Sapareva Banya a spa resort with the warmest thermal geyser in the Balkans and the nearest village to the lakes, you can drive/taxi to Pionerska chair lift.

You can start your hike here( add 3-4 hours)or as most visitors do. Check the times and take the
Panichishte chair lift to the Rila lakes hut and start your walk from there.

After your 20 minutes lift ride to the seven Rila lakes hut, the hike should take about 4 hours.

Many visitors walk to the the Kidney lake have a picnic and return. Allow  2 hours plus your picnic

To hike the top two lakes add a further two hours.

Before reaching the Babreka (Kidney) Lake mountain guides show to travelers a huge rock situated in the direction of the Salzata (Tear) Lake, which “features” a man and a woman in huge dimensions. According to the legend, these are the figures of the two giants in love with each other, who will remain there to “protect” their beautiful home forever.

The Legendary Giants of The Seven Rila Lakes

legend of giants

According to the legend, thousands of years ago in the Rila mountains lived a male and female giant.
They were madly in love with each other and worshiped their beautiful home and the wonderful nature surrounding it. It was so charming, sunny and beautiful that all living beings all over the earth admired it.

One day the evil forces were passing by their home and seeing so much beauty, peace and love they became jealous and decided to destroy it.
They sent devastating winds and dark clouds, thunder and earthquakes that shook every inch of the ground.

The man giant defended his loving wife and their beautiful home as best he could but in the end outnumbered and weakened by the continuing onslaught the young giant was killed.

The evil forces being satisfied with their destruction left the area with broken rocks devastated valley’s and a heartbroken woman.
The giant’s wife wept with grief day and night. Her tears gushed in a never ending flow and streamed down the valley’s which formed formed the crystal lakes of Rila we see today.

How to get to the seven rila lakes from sofia

Go on a organised trip

Perhaps the best way to visit the lakes is to take a guided tour Their local knowledge will ensure you get there and back and have an enjoyable hike and a chance to meet new friends.

self drive

The journey will take you about one hour and 45 minutes to reach the car park at the lift.

Public Transport

Departing several times day from Central bus station in Sofia there is a bus to Dupnitsa.

You can then take another local bus to Sapereva Banya which departs several times a day also.

This an excellent bus and train timetable for getting around Bulgaria

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