When I told people I was going to Macedonia, I had a few replies of “why?!” or “what’s there to see there?” and to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really know the answer. Sure, I wanna see everywhere so I was happy to add Macedonia to that list, but I wasn’t prepared for the hidden gem I found in Ohrid.
Ohrid is about a 3 hour journey south from Skopje ($12 on the bus, every hour). The town perches itself on the side of the 34km long Lake Ohrid, and quite rightly the beautiful, clear lake dominates the town.
The town is stunning two, with over 300 churches both old and new, squeezed into an area for no more than 60, 000 people. In fact, UNESCO deemed the entire city to be a world heritage site.
In terms of things to see in Ohrid, there’s plenty. I started off walking from the town to the fortress. From the top of the hill, you get some breathtaking views of the lake, and the town. Across the water lies Albania, and you can easily day trip it there too, and sample lakeside life in another country.
Sveti Kliment Ohridski is the main tourist drag where you can buy the ubiquitous flipflops, Macedonia tshirts and fake sunglassed. It’s a pretty boulevard though, and the beauty of Ohrid is that people are so friendly, yet never pushy.
Walking around the old town probably takes 3 hours or so, you can check out the classical amphitheater, Car Samoil’s castle, the icon gallery all the way down to, in my opinion, the coolest sight of them all – the Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo.
The church is precariously placed on the cliff top overlooking the main ‘beach’ section of the lake, where you can see everyone escaping the 35+ degree Macedonian summer sun. The clarity and colour of the water is insane. I had been walking for a few hours by then, so I beelined it right down to the water’s edge and dove right in.
Swimming in the lake is great, it’s fresh water and exceptionally deep so the water is refreshingly cool. There’s no ‘sand beach’ per se, but there are a couple of floating docks you can jump in from, and a handful of restaurants lakeside for lunch/dinner at around $7 per meal.
Accommodation in Ohrid:
I stayed at a hostel from hostelworld, but I really would strangely advise you guys not to make the same mistake as me! For the same price as the hostel (10 Euro/$12) you can get a lakeside ‘apartment’ for the same price, quite literally on the lake. Just turn up, make your way to the lakeside and enquire, there are countless things there.
There’s few places I actively plan to go back to, but Ohrid quickly became one of the those places. I’d love to own a holiday home here too, and armed with this knowledge, the next time someone asks you why you’re going to Macedonia, tell them you’re going to the most beautiful town in the Balkans, Ohrid. Happy travels!