Just a 30-minute drive outside the Albania border lies a tranquil lakeside town in North Macedonia. This small town of 40,000 residents is a beautiful, treasured secret to locals in the region who come here for a weekend getaway or make it their summer escape.
To others across the globe, it would rank high on the list for their next vacation or retirement dream goal if only they knew this place existed.
Welcome to Ohrid!
Lake Ohrid is one of the largest and deepest freshwater lakes in Europe. It is actually set in two countries, Albania and North Macedonia (more commonly known as Macedonia). The lake looks pristine from any direction, or country, for that matter. But the small town of Ohrid on the Eastside of the lake is the place to go for the best experience. Those who decide to make the trip will not be disappointed!
More airlines are adding routes to both Tirana, Albania, and Ohrid, making it much more accessible than it used to be. This charming town is actually just a 2-hour journey from the capital of Albania compared to a 4-hour journey from its own country’s capital, Skopje.
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Historical Old Town
Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a mix of old and new, like many other European cities. Old Town is where tourists will discover the heartbeat of Ohrid.
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Cobblestone streets and alleyways zig and zag all across the city center, mostly full of locals going for a walk or digital nomads on their laptops at a breezy sidewalk cafe. Macedonians live life at a slower pace, and it is easily noticeable here. Want a coffee, for example? You might have to wait for your barista to finish their morning cigarette first before taking your order. Need a cab ride? Maybe your driver hasn’t finished reading the newspaper yet. That’s right, a newspaper.
There are numerous restaurants in Old Town offering fresh seafood straight from the lake and a cheap, cold local brew. Most of them offer outdoor patios so patrons can enjoy the calm, cool breeze and take in the amazing scenery of Ohrid. Many of these establishments specialize in cuisine from other nearby countries too such as Greece, and even Turkey. Those looking to indulge themselves really can’t go wrong here!
Going Back In Time
Walking through Old Town and the surrounding streets, one is bound to come across a church. It would actually be almost impossible not to since this town was once known for having 365 churches – a different church for every day of the year!
What’s left behind now is incredible. The preservation of these buildings is still mostly intact, with some dating back to at least the 9th Century AD! There are a lot of challenging hills to climb in Ohrid, but the postcard-worthy views of the lake, combined with the unique design of these Romanesque churches, is a one-of-a-kind experience well worth the trek.
Macedonia is the third least visited country in Europe, but the tourists who have already checked Ohrid off their list recommend the steep hike to Samuel’s Fortress for the breathtaking 180-degree views.
If one could forget there’s a smartphone in their pocket, they would truly feel like they are taken back in time.
The Serenity Of Lake Ohrid
Wherever travelers wander throughout Ohrid, it is impossible to miss out on Lake Ohrid. In many parts of the world, it’s common for lakes to be murky and not have the best reputation. Lake Ohrid just doesn’t belong in that category. The calm, crystal-clear water is more comparable to what one would see at a 5-star resort in the Maldives.
Seemingly untouched, it’s no mystery why this area is known as the “pearl of the Balkans”. There are a lot of options to best experience this natural wonder:
- Or simply dipping your toes in the water and enjoying the serene surroundings of the lush green hills
@themanwhosawtheworld Macedonia anyone? 🇲🇰 #clearwater #lake #lakes #mountains #pretty #gorgeous #macedonia #ohrid #ohridmacedonia #lakeohrid #europe #eurotrip #backpacking #solotravel #solotrip #travels #travel #traveltok #passport #bucketlist ♬ What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
Many tourists say the best way to experience Lake Ohrid is by taking a boat ride at sunset. The orange glow lights up the entire town. One recent traveler described the lake as, “a really special place” and “drop-dead gorgeous”.
If vacationers are seeking pure bliss and serenity, look no further than Ohrid, North Macedonia.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Sunday 26th of February 2023
As a student of history, I cannot help but notice how the article does its best to avoid mentioning the fact that Ohrid was a Bulgarian medieval capital and that the territory itself was part of the medieval Bulgarian state. Bulgarians do have a point when complaining about Macedonia appropriating Bulgaria's historical heritage in the region of present-day North Macedonia. In North Macedonia tourists like myself can never find a sign correctly pointing the Bulgarian heritage of the archaeological sites. A good example of that is Samuel's Fortress in Ohrid. They present a major medieval Bulgarian ruler-Samuel- as well as his fortress as "Macedonian" trying to convince the naive western tourist that North Macedonia is an old state. Unfortunately, this kind of misinformation works in the West as the modern Westerner is not particularly interested in History. However, after checking some of the facts from independent sources, it does seem that Bulgaria does have a point.
Wednesday 8th of March 2023
@Mcheal Dupont, too bad the Bulgars have been on wrong side of history,over the last 1,000 years.Fix Bulgaria first then worry about about history.
Monday 20th of February 2023
Macedonia was a part of Bulgaria before. These people do not know their history and are trying to steal our history. Bulgaria was established in 681 years, and you have been a country for only 30 years. None of your insults will break us, because we are a tree with roots , and you don't even have roots. By insulting us, you are insulting yourself, because you are Bulgarians. THIS IS THE VERY TRUTH, no matter how much you don't want to admit it
Sunday 26th of February 2023
Bulgarians do not want to make Macedonians Bulgarian. They want you to stop appropriating their history and claiming their history on your territory as your "ethnic" history. Their claim is that you can use Bulgarian history to legitimise your country as Bulgarian. If you want to be a separate nation and people then you should give up claiming Bulgarian history and heroes as yours. At first, it seems complicated but it is actually quite straightforward what they want.
Wednesday 22nd of February 2023
@Silviya, Your fascist ancestors tried to steal Macedonia, but didn't suceed. Since then you are whining that we are part of Bulgaria. Just get real and let's move on. Genuinely nobody in Macedonia feels as a Bulgarian, so just spare us of your bull$!it pls..
Sunday 19th of February 2023
It is called North Macedonia like the country not Macedonia like the Northern province of Greece.
Tuesday 21st of February 2023
@Steve Kastoras, Beautiful place.Get rid of the politics and start with the people.Plenty of Greeks are visiting this amazing place.
Sunday 19th of February 2023
@Steve Kastoras, It was called, It is and It will called only MACEDONIA by macedonian people and whole the world. N.M. is political name not for the people. The same name for greek region is new thing from 1990... Go in the region of northern Greece , in the villages towns and ask the old people which language They speak...or which is theire mother tongue...
Saturday 18th of February 2023
Don't go during high tourist times and certain national festivals as it will be crowded. And as someone mentioned in another comment, the water in the lake is polluted. Other than that, the place is charming, and the hiking trails are awesome. Also, it's very affordable.
Thursday 16th of February 2023
Yes, Ohrid is absolutely gorgeous!!! But don't swim in the water; it is often contaminated, as there are no environmental regulations that prohibit dumping. I became seriously ill after swimming there and learned afterward the water was contaminated with fecal matter. A friend from Skopje said this is known among Macedonian people.