Ohrid: the jewel of Macedonia

The Lake Ohrid is well known around Europe and in the world. The reasons are a lot. It is one of the most ancient lakes of the hearth. Also, it is one of the deepest of Europe and, someone says it, one of the cleanest of Europe. I got those notions reading about it and talking with locals. But I can say by myself for sure that is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. I come from Italy and in my country, there are a lot of lakes. Like there are many around Europe. I had the chance to see some of them.

Why do I consider Lake Ohrid as a jewel of Macedonia? Well, I have been, as you have read in my other articles, many times in the Republic of North Macedonia. Step by step I explored the various towns and villages. But as a natural attraction, the lake is the one that gave me big positive feelings. Maybe it is not only because of the water and of its blue color. But also because of the town. Ohrid is really lovely, especially the old part built on a hill.

Struga

Before to describe this unique place, I need to mention Struga. It is another town located on the same lake, few kilometers far from Ohrid. It is faced on the lake and it offers a lovely downtown. That is made by the typical carsija, present in almost all the cities in Balkans. Because of its Ottoman origin. In the middle of the town, there is the Black Drim River that cuts the center in two parts.

It is a lovely place and there are many attractions to be visited. Among them:

  • the church of St. George, a 19th-century example of religious architecture built on the ruins of a church of 17th century;
  • the Nature Museum with a lot of species of birds, insects, and animals that populated the area in the past and in present time;
  • the Vangel Kodjoman Gallery, with all a lot of paintings realized by the famous Macedonian contemporary artist.  

Also, around Struga, there are a lot of places to be explored, like some archeological sites.

The town is a tourist destination and for this reason is full of good hotels, restaurants, and bars. They are located especially in the center and on the lake. Struga is few steps from the Albanian border and of course, a small part of the lake is on the Albanian side. So it is easy to get there, maybe for a small trip meanwhile the traveler is visiting Macedonia. Also, Ohrid is a tourist destination, so I suggest to not miss it, especially because it is a completely different place.

Ohrid

It is protected as Unesco Heritage and it offers to the travelers a marvelous view of the lake. The old part of the town was built on a hill from where it is possible to enjoy a great panorama. On the top, there is a beautiful ancient basilica with an archeological site. The small streets take the visitors to the main attractions passing by the old houses in an Ottoman style. It is like to walk in the past.

Ohrid is a combination of elements able to mix the past and the present. It looks like a peaceful town where to relax. But during the day a lot of tourists are doing sightseeing and shopping. Meanwhile, young people are living bright nightlife. There are many things that have to be mentioned. But as usual, I prefer to focus on a few parts of the town which I like most.

The first place is for the lake, it is really wonderful and it reserve nice surprises. Then the basilica with the churches disposed on the way that connects the lake to the top of the hill. Archeology in Ohrid has to be mentioned because there are really well-kept monuments coming from the ancient age. Last but not least I want to write about restaurants and accommodations because they deserve a place on my blog.

The lake

It was born 1 million years ago and this means that is the oldest lake in Europe. The area is rich of animal and plant species, experts say 212. In town, there are places where to lie down under the sun and swim. There are also small boats ready to take tourists around searching for more peace and some explorations inside nature. The prices to rent a boat are a bit expensive for Macedonian standards. But it is normal to find higher rates in the tourist towns. For Western Europe rates it is cheap, anyway, it is allowed to negotiate.

On the water, there is a museum, located few kilometers far from the center of Ohrid, close to Peštani. It is the reconstruction of Bronze Age stilt houses on Lake Ohrid. It is made in recent time, but with a lot of accuracies and they paid attention to every detail. They put inside the houses the different objectives like the ones used by the ancient population in their home on the water. It is really educational and interesting and from there the view on the lake is amazing. There is a road that goes there, but not the boats.

In the lake, there are obviously some fishes, in particular, the Ohrid trout. They are protected because the quantity is decreasing. But in some local restaurants, they propose the trout in the menu. I am not sure that the fish cooked is coming from Lake Ohrid, but at least it is very good. Anyway, I suggest to enjoy the lake deeply, also to spend there a week is a good idea.

Archeology, churches, and fortress

Walking in the old part and the carsija of Ohrid the visitor find modern and traditional shops. Especially on the main street, but the most interesting thing is to see the old constructions well kept. Among them, there is Robevi House, built in Ottoman style during the 19th century. Its name come from the most important family of the town at that time. Now there is a museum with historical finds from the area.

In the center, there is the magnificent St. Sophia church with its front porch. Then the ancient theatre realized in 200 B.C. well conserved but not so much valorized. Maybe that is why tourists are surprised when they see it. They do not expect it and then they find a superb architecture from the past. Going up in the middle of the houses it is possible to reach the top of the hill with the fortress. There are only the walls, but from there the view on the lake and on the surroundings is incomparable.

To reach the fortress and especially the basilica I prefer to pass directly from the beach (with gravel). From the lake, there is a way with a wooden bridge and then a trail that goes up. The beauty of this pathway is, of course, the panorama on the Lake Ohrid. But step by step it is possible to stop in the churches located on different levels. The church of Sveti Kaneo is the most important religious building in Macedonia, sacred in the 13th century and located on a small hill facing the lake.

On the top, not far from each other, there is the fortress, the monastery of St. Panteleimon and the archeological area of Plaošnik. The monastery is really wonderful Bizantine religious architectural example. It is dedicated also to St. Clement, the disciple of Cyril and Methodius who invented the actual version of Cyrillic alphabet. In the other side of the courtyard, there are the results of the archeologists’ work.

It is possible to see the remains of a Christian basilica and of a Baptistery. In the area, there are also Muslim tombs. Of course, also from the same place, the view of the lake is great. Especially with the sunset, because of the colors reflected on the water. It is full of tourists almost all the time, but there is a lot of space, so there are never problems to ”disturb” each other during the visits.

Eat and sleep in Ohrid

Stay in Ohrid is a good solution also if you want to see the district, also because the offer is various. Around the town, there is the National Park of Galicia and at around 20 minutes by car, it is possible to visit the Sveti Naum Monastery. Ohrid is famous for its 365 churches all around the district. I don’t know if it true or it is a legend, but if you like to explore religious buildings you will be satisfied.

In the town, you can find mainly two types of accommodation: the hotels and private houses. In the years, many people started to rent rooms and apartments, as it happens in all the world, to tourists. The difference is that they propose the space they have. It can be that you have a room with a bathroom, a big apartment or just a bed in a living room. That is why each home open to visitors has a star rating. From 1 to 5 stars as the hotels, so you can easily choose and find proper rates.

I can recommend you because I have been there, a five-star private house called Germanoff House. I had a room on the top floor with a private bathroom and a lovely balcony (with tables and chairs). The elegant setting shows the luxury, especially according to the standards of the private houses in the area. The equipment is complete and modern, with Wi-Fi and room service. It is located a few hundred meters from the main square with St. Sophia basilica. And also surrounded by restaurants, one of them with an agreement for the house guests.

If you prefer a hotel you can move a few hundred meters from the old part and stay in front of the lake at Hotel Aleksandrija, a luxury structure. It offers elegant and spacious rooms with all the modern services to make the guest stay more comfortable. The location is perfect to enjoy Ohrid and the high standards can be easily compared with Western Europe ones.

If you like to taste the local food Restaurant Chun is highly recommended. It is a fancy place with clear recall of the lake and located at the entrance of the old part of the town. They propose a fish and meat menu with recipes coming from the local cuisine. The staff is kind and you can find inside more locals than tourists, maybe also, for this reason, is a good place where to have dinner.

Another restaurant that I liked is the Restaurant Damar, a typical Macedonian place. It has old costumes on the wall and a varied menu that includes many meat proposals, well presented and served by a friendly staff, as often is happening in Macedonia. About fish, they say that they have the chance to get sometimes a few trout from the lake and to cook them. Who knows if it is properly like that, but anyway the fish in the plate was very good.

During the night bars and discotheques gives fun for young people, tourists and for who do not want to go to sleep. The choice is variegated, but I can suggest Liquid bar, very popular among locals. It is a modern structure in an ancient house, with a nice setting and an external part directly on the lake. All day long it is possible to drink, meanwhile, during the evening you can drink, listen to music and dance, not only during summer time.

The last advice

For me, it was really useful to read the book “Ohrid on the shores of the eternal lake“. It describes the town and the attractions with the point of view of a photographer and of who lived there. It is not properly a guide for tourist, but according to me the best mate to explore the town.

Also, it was very interesting for me to watch the DVD Global treasures Ohrid Macedonia“. It shows the best monuments, churches, and places to be visited explaining the history and the most important elements.

Travel preparation

It is time to search for your flight or a bus or a train to go to Ohrid. Infobus is the platform for you. Find there the best offers and create your connections combining the different track with various means of transport. To organize your trip, some activities in the place and find the accommodation, check out the TEZ Tour website. You will have a tailor-made proposal

Find a good suitcase on AliExpress and see my Amazon page to find all that you need to travel. I have also written an article about the best travel gadgets, maybe you can get inspired. Plan your trip carefully, then you will enjoy it a lot.

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Enjoy Ohrid!

24 thoughts on “Ohrid: the jewel of Macedonia”

    1. Dear Richard, I liked a lot your article. Skopje is a lovely place, especially because of the history and archeology museums. You wrote a great post!

    1. Many thanks to you for reading my post and visiting my blog. I am happy that you enjoyed my travel experience to Ohrid. Best wishes, Marco

  1. Generally I do not read post on blogs, however
    I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!

    Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, quite nice article.

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