A new shuttle bus will start operating from mid April that will include transfer to Rila Monastery, free time there, transfer to Boyana Church (another UNESCO site) and then back to the center of Sofia.
From Sofia go by tram 5 to Ovcha Kupel bus station (don´t forget to by the ticket befor, only some drivers sell tickets). There is a bus to the Monastery at 10.20 (Lv 10.- in september 08) taking about 2.15 to 2.30 hour. A bus back leaves at 3 in the afternoon.
You can find the timetable for buses from Rilski Manastir at the door of the reception for the accommodation, just to the right of the museum. On my back way for Sofia, I took the buses from Rilski Manastir to Dupnica and from Dupnica to Sofia. Just only one time transfer!
Tourist agencies in Sofia organise tours to the Monastery ,so if you want everything planned and are not adventurous by nature - this is the best decision. On the other hand , if you are in short of buget or feel like you can manage on your own / and the biggest trouble comes here if you are not speaking bulgarian as you need to explain to the bus drivers where you want to go / you can try this : from Avtogara "Jug " - south , there are busses to the village of Rila .This will be the first challange , as the bus station is operating internal lines and is Off the Beaten path. Once there ,keep in mind that there is a bus at 10h as far as my memory goes. This is the easy part .Once you get to the village of Rila ,that is about 20km away from the monastery ,you'll change into an old bus that leaves as soon as there are enough passengers.
Make sure you ask when does the last bus return from the Monastery - somewhere around 16h - otherwise you'll have to spend the night in a monk cell ,which is after all a chance to live something out of ordinary :)))
From Sofia buses leave straight to Rila town (where there is absolutely nothing to see other than a bus stop)
there another bus takes you all the way up straight to the entrance of the Rila Monastery
5€ brings you from Sofia to Rila and even less to the Rila Monastery
Rila monastery is approachable by car and bus. We went there driving but i saw many buses. One can park in front of the monastery. Parking is free just like there is no fee to enter the monastery. Also if u rent a car like we did be sure to figure out the alrms before u get to the monastery (we had problems opening our car, the alarm went off and for second i thought we're gonna be punished for disturbing the sacred silence and peace up there).
Get a taxi or a hitch from the Monastary to Rila. The rides with local tourists is not difficult to get, for there are so many cars with local tourists starting their way to Rila from the parking place in front of the Dupnitsa Gate. Busses to the village of Rila leave at 9.00, 15.00 and 17.00. Busses to Dupnitsa leave the monastery at 9.40 am and 5.15 pm. From Rila busses to Dubnitsa leave at 8.30 am, 11.30 and 15.00 pm.So, when you want to make an absurd daytrip (not organized) to the monastery from Sofia: take the bus at the Ovcha Kupel in sofia before 8 am to Dupnitsa, jump on the bus to Rila at 10 am, and get the bus in Rila at 12.40 to the monastery. (Expect to pay for a stupid organized day tour by some Sofia travel agency: 60 euro ha ha ha. Better then, hanging in busses for some hours, apart from the fact that tourists tours are no real encounter with reality, but some kind of artificial experience).
The ride from Dupnitsa to rila is spectacular: a public bus, strolling along all the little villages, great views of the countryside and passing horse or donkey-driven carriages with farmers on it alongside the road. The ride is about 1 hour and costs 0,50 lv. In Rila, you are dropped at the busstation, but if you are not lucky, you also have to wait over there for a long time to catch a bus to the rila monastery. (Busses to the monastery leave at 7.40, 22.214.171.124) So, better share a taxi: its 25 km from the village of Rila to the Rila monastery. Prices for taxis can depend on your skills for negotiation (but always keep in mind: the taxi driver, at a particular moment and particular place confrontated with you being the only tourists to catch, is relative easy to negotiate into a lower price) So, the ride in the cab takes 30 till 40 minutes (its all up hill) Enjoy the sceneries of the mountains. So, then a ride from Sofia to the monastery can take you some 4 hours!)
Transportation to Rila is an interesting thing. The following info is only about going from Sofia to Rila Monastary. The thing starts in Sofia: you cannot get to Rila from the Princess (or: Sever) busstation. You have to leave from the Ovcha Kupel bus station. How to reach this place (which is not in the centre of the city of Sofia)? You cannot take the tram from the common tram stop at the Sveta Nedelya square, you have to take bus nr 60 tram nr 5 or a taxi (about 3 lv one way). The tram however stops at a place that is west of the Sveta Nedelya square, following the Alabin street upto the west, and ask for directions!!! (The tram halting-place is a bit difficult to find, for it?s a bit hidden; but it is to be find continuing the Alabin street in the west-direction) When you are kicked out at the Ovcha Kupel, you take the bus to Dupnitsa (3 lv, duration: 1 and a half hour). In Dupnitsa you will probably, as I did, have to wait a long time for the connection to Rila. (I waited 2 hours, but retrospectively it was a good thing, because I met some backpackers with whome I could share the taxi later on at Rila) The busses from Dupnitsa to the monastery (directly) leave at 6.40 and 14.15. the busses from Dupnitsa to Rila (and not going to the monastery directly) leave at 10 am, 11 am, 4 pm and 7.20 pm
(see transportation 2 for continuing the rest)