The Seven Rila Lakes are among the premier tourist attractions of Bulgaria. This group of seven glacial lakes is located in the Rila mountain range in the southwestern part of the country. From Sofia, a car ride here takes approximately two hours The lakes range in size from a mere 0.7 hectares to more than nine hectares. They are located in ascending altitude above one another, which each lake feeding the one below through a series of streams and waterfalls.
- Salzata / Tear Lake
The highest of the lakes is located at an altitude of 2,535 meters. It is the smallest of the lakes and has a maximum depth of 4.5 meters and gets its name from the particularly clear water.
- Okoto / Eye Lake
Named for its remarkable oval shape, the second lake in line is at 2,440 meters and is notably deeper than Salzata, with a maximum depth of 37.5 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in Bulgaria.
- Babreka / Kidney Lake
Also named for its shape, Babreka is notable for its charactistically steep shoreline. It is up to 28 meters deep and lies more than 150 meters lower than Okoto at an altitude of 2,282 meters.
- Bliznaka / Twin Lake
Only slightly higher than its twin, Trilistnika, Bliznaka is located at an altitude of 2,243 meters. Being up to 27.5 meters deep, Bliznaka is the biggest of the chain of lakes.
- Trilistnika / Trefoil
Its unique shape makes this lake especially remarkable. It is rather shallow, clocks in at a size of 2.6 hectares and is only a few steps lower in altitude than Bliznaka.
- Ribnoto ezero / Fish Lake
There is a tourist accommodation at the banks of Ribnoto ezero, which is the shallowest of the lakes. It lies at an altitude of 2,184 meters and has a size of 3.5 hectares.
- Dolnoto ezero / Lowest Lake
This lake, at an altitude of 2,095 meters, marks the lower end of the chain of lakes. It is up to eleven meters deep and expands over an area of 5.9 hectares.
The lakes are usually covered by thick layers of ice from October to June and temperatures rarely go higher than 10°C. The months of July and August are most popular with visitors who will find only limited services in this area.
However, that does not mean that there aren’t plenty of things to do at the Seven Rila Lakes. Hiking is the most common activity and serious hikers can combine the lakes area with a visit to the nearby Rila and Pirin National Parks. There are tour operators in the area who will pick guests up at hotels and organize day trips in the area that is sometimes referred to as the “Bulgarian Alps”. The most popuar route to explore the Seven Rila Lakes is from the top to the valley. There is a chairlift available to transport hikers to the plateau in about 25 minutes. Its base station is located in the town of Pionerska.