In this article I talk about some of the top things to do and to see in Ohrid, a beautiful village in North Macedonia.
Before visiting North Macedonia I honestly didn’t know much about this country. So why did I choose to visit it? To be completely honest mainly because I found a very chip flight from Milan to Skopje.
The other reason is that I’m always happy to visit new places and I thought that 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 really amazing!
Why you should visit Ohrid
In a few words, if you haven’t seen Ohrid, you haven’t seen North Macedonia. Ohrid is without any doubt one of the most beautiful places in the Balkans.
This small city lies on the est side of the Lake Ohrid that 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 there are several villages nearby, the water is crystal clear, just like an alpine lake. This lake is also quite deep: about 300mt.
It’s rare to find lakes like Ohrid. General Tito loved this place so much that he built the summer residence that you see in the picture.
Ohrid is also one of the few places in the world that have been declared both Natural and Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. This village is not only famous for the crystal clear water but also for 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, in summer, lake Ohrid can be very crowded so, if you can, it’s much better to visit Ohrid during the low season.
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 and if your time is limited you can actually book a day trip from Skopje to Ohrid on this website.
The hotels are quite cheap in North Macedonia. You can spend about 35€ per night (low season) for an apartment with the lake view. Find out some good deals on Booking.com or Airbnb (here a discount code).
The food is cheap as well, and very delicious (I love the Kepap in North Macedonia).
Top things to do and see in Ohrid
The first day you can explore the old town. At the top of the hill there are the ruins of the old castle 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 the very unusual architecture.
The monastery is believed to have been built when Saint Clement arrived in Ohrid, at the request of Boris I of Bulgaria. According to tho the story, Saint Clement was not satisfied with the size of the church and 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 get to the most famous church in Ohrid: Sveti Jovan Kaneo. The location and the view are simply stunning as you can see.
If possible try to get there for the sunset. The landscape will be just idyllic.
On the second day, you can do a boat trip on the lake. I recommend this boat tour that will take you across the border to Albania.
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.
For lunch you can eat some local delicacies, but please don’t eat the Ohrid trout: it’s an endangered species.
If you have some more days left you can visit the Prespa Lakes to see the endangered, and beautiful, Dalmatian Pelican.
Keep in mind 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
Ohrid is surely the place I liked the most in Macedonia. The atmosphere is unique and the local people are really great.
My suggestion is to spend at least two days in Ohrid and if possible try 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.