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Top things to do in Ohrid: the heart of North Macedonia

In this article, I talk about some of the top things to do and see in Ohrid, a beautiful village in North Macedonia.

Ohrid the heart of Macedonia

Before visiting North Macedonia, I honestly didn’t know much about this country. So why did I choose to visit it? Mainly because I found a very cheap flight from Milan to Skopje.

The other reason is that I’m always happy to visit new places and I thought it would have been nice to know more about this small country in the Balkans. After all, we don’t hear often about North Macedonia.

On my trip I spent some days in the capital, Skopje, then I drove to Ohrid because I read that it was a great place. And I’m glad that I did: Ohrid is amazing!

Why you should visit Ohrid

In a few words, if you haven’t seen Ohrid, you haven’t seen North Macedonia. Ohrid is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the Balkans.

This small city lies on the east side of Lake Ohrid, which belongs for one-third to Albania and for two-thirds to North Macedonia. It’s one of the oldest lakes in Europe, and even though several villages are nearby, the water is crystal clear, just like an alpine lake. This lake is also quite deep: about 300mt.

lake ohrid

It’s rare to find lakes like Ohrid. General Tito loved this place so much that he built the summer residence in the picture.

Ohrid is also one of the few places declared Natural AND Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. This village is famous for the crystal clear water and the number of churches: in the past, there were 365 churches, one for every day of the year. No wonder this place was called the Jerusalem of the Balkans. For these reasons, lake Ohrid can be very crowded in summer, so visiting during the low season is much better.

To get to Ohrid, you can fly to Skopje. Once in Skopje, it’s a good idea to rent a car. In this way, you have a lot of freedom to explore Ohrid and other places less known in North Macedonia. Ohrid is about 170km from Skopje.

The hotels are pretty cheap in North Macedonia. You can spend about 35€ per night (low season) on an apartment with a lake view. Find out some good deals on or

The food is also cheap and delicious (I love the Kepap in North Macedonia).

Top things to do and see in Ohrid

things to see and to do in ohrid north macedonia

On the first day, you can explore the old town. At the top of the hill are the ruins of the old castle of Car Samoli. The view is quite impressive.

Once at the top of the hill, you can follow the path in the forest that goes down, and you’ll get to the famous Saint Panteleimon Church, famous for its very unusual architecture.

sveti jovani ohrid

The monastery is believed to have been built when Saint Clement arrived in Ohrid at the request of Boris I of Bulgaria. According to the story, Saint Clement was unsatisfied with the church’s size; therefore, a new one was built, and Saint Panteleimon was assigned as its patron saint. In the 15th century, Ottoman Turks converted the monastery into a mosque.

If you keep walking, you’ll reach the most famous church in Ohrid: Sveti Jovan Kaneo. The location and the view are stunning, as you can see.

sunset over lake ohrid in macedonia fyrom

If possible, try to get there for the sunset. The landscape will be just idyllic.

You can take a boat trip to the lake on the second day.

Don’t forget to buy some souvenirs to support the local economy. Unlike many other touristic destinations, in Ohrid, it’s possible to find some authentic artwork made by local artists.

handmade paper lake ohrid

You can eat some local delicacies for lunch, but please don’t eat the Ohrid trout: it’s an endangered species.

Prespa Lakes

sunset prespa

If you have more days left, visit the Prespa Lakes to see the endangered and beautiful Dalmatian Pelican.

There are two lakes in Prespa: the Great Lake Prespa or simply Prespa Lake, which has an area of 273 km² and is about 850 m above sea level. The maximum depth is 54 m. Small Prespa Lake is located almost entirely in Greece, with a small part in Albania, and is divided from the bigger one by a narrow strip of land. The lake has an area of 48 km², and the water surface is 4 m higher than the other lake. The waters of the Small Prespa Lake drain into the larger one. The outflow of the latter is underground and flows into nearby Lake Ohrid.

Remember that if you want to visit Prespa from Ohrid, the only way is through Bitola: don’t follow the suggestions of Google Maps!

Ohrid: Final thoughts

boat over lake ohrid

Ohrid is undoubtedly the place I liked the most in Macedonia. The atmosphere is unique, and the local people are great. I suggest spending at least two days in Ohrid and, if possible, trying to visit the country nearby to see more beautiful landscapes.

If you, like me, love photography, it’s a good idea to bring a sturdy tripod to photograph the sunsets. And don’t forget your GND and ND filters and a good wide-angle lens.

Here, you can read my post about another beautiful European destination: Slovenia, and here you can find more pictures of North Macedonia.

22 thoughts on “Top things to do in Ohrid: the heart of North Macedonia”

  1. Menus

    Thank you Fabio for sharing this awesome list of things to do in Ohrid.

  2. Sandra

    Great post but too bad you had changed the title recently by adding the word North next to Macedonia… The word “north” is offensive to us ,to all Macedonians. So we are feeling offended by it. The name of our country was changed by force not by people will !!
    When visiting our country and you talk to people if you are using the word “north” you’ll break our heart, it’s just very hurtful.
    If you say Macedonia (my recommendation) oh my… than you will be treated like a king/queen!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Would love to hear more from other people from your country though. Is this a common view?

  3. Annalisa Ricciardi

    Hi Fabio. I loved this article: essential, but beautiful filled in by wonderful pictures.
    I’m Italian and, some days ago, I was on the Lake Ohrid with my daughter for the first time. We were impressed, couldn’t imagine it was so beautiful.
    We ❤️ Ohrid

  4. HelloPeopleOfTheExploreThing

    Well, having this luxury of living in Ohrid lake is fun, amusing and seriously a fun treat for people. I enjoyed this article a lot, so thanks for pointing out my country and home city. Appreciate it 😀

      1. HelloPeopleOfTheExploreThing

        Im planning to visit Italy and a couple other countries. Have any advice on where i should visit? 🙂

        1. Italy is quite big, it really depends from what you like, history, culture, nature, etc…

          1. HelloPeopleOfTheExploreThing

            Well, i like to learn it all! I have 2 months in Italy, so what are You’r recommendations on what i should visit.

            ~Thanks 😀

            1. Besides the most famous places I’d suggest to visit Puglia, a beautiful region in Southern Italy. 🙂

    1. Gordana

      Fabio..thank you for your amazing photography and in capturing the beauty of my country of birth..yes not many people know about the natural beauty history and culture of this place..cheers Gordana

    2. Wow! I had no idea that Ohrid was so beautiful. Your pictures do a great job of capturing the water, especially at Sveti Jovan Kaneo as the blue water just kind of fades out into the sun and casts a tranquil spell out to anyone who views it.

      I’d also love to draw on some handmade paper.

    3. Jovan

      Bitola isn’t the only way to Prespa. You should go trough Galicica national park, its closer and the landscapes are stunning, and if you want a little climbing you can reach a spot than you can see both lakes in same time.

    4. Mats Lindborg

      Great post Fabio, we’ll post it in all our channels for sure. We also posted it on our website Macedonia Timeless, down at the bottom.
      Thanks from Mats Lindborg at the Share Macedonia team.

    5. Mats Lindborg

      Great post Fabio, we’ll post it in all our channels for sure.
      Thanks from Mats Lindborg at the Share Macedonia team.

      1. Thank you Mats. I really love your country. It’s a shame that only few people know about it. I hope that with my article I can somehow promote the tourism over there…

        1. Mats Lindborg

          Yes Fabio, thanks for the promotion help <3

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