In this article, I talk about some of the top things to do and 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? 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.
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 food is also cheap and delicious (I love the Kepap in North Macedonia).
Top things to do and see in Ohrid
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.
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.
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.
You can eat some local delicacies for lunch, but please don’t eat the Ohrid trout: it’s an endangered species.
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
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.