Macedonia is one of the best destinations and getting a lot of attention among European travelers. This landlocked country should be on your route plan if you are making a Balkan road trip. And easily accessible from surrounded countries such as Bulgaria, Greece, Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo.

Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located southernmost part of Macedonia bordering Albania one of the deepest and beautiful lakes in eastern Europe. Majority of the 19 miles (30 km) long and 9.5 miles (15 km) wide lake is within Macedonian side. Ohrid is a perfect place to spend a few days relaxing peacefully away from the busy life.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Things To Do in Ohrid

Ohrid is a beautiful destination because of its fascinating preserve of historical heritage. And Lake Ohrid is so picturesque makes it an excellent place as a weekend gateway for visiting lakeside spots. Here are a few activities you may consider doing during your trip.

Day 1 - Explore Old Town and Near By Historical Places

Visit Church of St. John at Kaneo (Sveti Jovan at Keneo)

The beautiful postcard-perfect Macedonian orthodox 13th-century church is located on a rocky cliff above the Kaneo Beach overlooking Lake Ohrid, about a 15-minute walk from Ohrid’s port area, and is perhaps North Macedonia’s most fabulous photographed location. Particularly during sunset, the stunning view of the church, Lake Ohrid, and the surrounding rolling mountains are picturesque.

If you want to see the iconic church from a different perspective, then take a 20 minutes boat from the Ohrid to the pier below St. John at Kaneo.

St John at Kaneo (Sveti Jovan at Keneo)

Ancient Theatre of Ohrid (Amphitheater) in Old Town

This place is on your way to/from St. John at Kaneo, can’t miss it. The ancient amphitheater is the largest in Balkans — Built-In the 200 BC during the Hellenistic period. It was once used by the Romans and buried after the fall of the Roman Empire. Currently is comes to life during summertime with live music and Ohrid’s summer festival.

Theatre of Ohrid (Amphitheater)
Theatre of Ohrid (Amphitheater)

The Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon

Only a few minutes walk from King Samuel’s Fortress this church is located on a very picturesque setting at the edge of Lake Ohrid. This Byzantine church believed to be built when St. Clement arrived in Ohrid 893 A.D, where he taught and further spread the word of Christianity.

Monastery of Saint Naum, Orhid

Ohrid’s Car Samoil’s Castle

From the Monastery of Saint Naum, I walked a few minutes through a wooded area and arrived at this historic fortress of Samoil. Tsar Samoil built the enormous walls of the turreted fortress on the top of a small peninsula stretching into Lake Ohrid. Once you climb the steep steps to the top of the wall, you will be rewarded with fantastic 360 views of the town, Lake Ohrid and the rolling mountains in the far distance.

Car Samoil's Castle, Ohrid

St. Sophia Church in Ohrid

St. Sophia Church worth a visit. If you are strolling through the old town, you will definitely see a few signs pointing to this historic church. It is one of the most important iconic monuments of Macedonia home of a few priceless architecture and art from the Middle Ages. There are a couple of great restaurants surrounding the curch so, feel free to try them out.

St. Sophia Church in Ohrid

Boat Ride in Lake Ohrid 

Nothing can be more enjoyable in Ohrid then taking a boat trip in the crystal clear blue water of Lake Ohrid and watching the sun goes down behind those mountains in the horizon. You can also take the boat trips from the town to the Monastery of St. John of Kaneo.

I recommend to take a boat ride from Ohrid main pier to the beautiful beaches such as Beach Labino, Kaneo Beach and Beach Potpesh and have a great view of the old  town from the lake.  

Boat Ride in Ohrid, Macedonia
Boat Ride in Ohrid, Macedonia

Strolling through the Turkish Bazaar in the old quarter

It is worth to check out Turkish Bazaar. Take a walk starting from the waterfront all the way to the Krushevska Republika Square right after Ali Pasha Mosque. I enjoyed walking on the pedestrian street crowded with lots of shops on both sides. Interesting to see the historic over 1000 years old Chinar Tree by the water fountain. I am sure once you pass through the restaurant area and see those mouth-watering food, you won’t be able to resist. I went to a restaurant called Brioni 2008 tried one of the delicious Macedonian Kebapi (kebab) made from rolled minced beef.

Turkish Bazaar in the old quarter, Ohrid

Day 2 - Day Trip Places Around The Lake Ohrid

Boat Ride to The Monastery of St. Naum  

The Monastery of St. Naum is one of the most desirable tourist destinations from Ohrid. A great day trip location I definitely recommend if time permits because it’s about 29 km from Ohrid close to the Albanian border. Best way to get there is by taking a boat from Ohrid Pier. The first boat starts at 10 am and returns at 3:00 pm, sailing time one direction is about 1 hour 20 mins. The return trip is about 10 euro.

Saint Naum Monastery near Ohrid in Macedonia

Enjoy The Unforgettable Experiences

There are a few great places that will give you once in a lifetime experience. The most enjoyable one is taking a walk to the small sandy cove of Kaneo beach. From St Sophia Church in oldtown take a stroll along the lake and follow the wooden walkway. Get a table at Restaurant Kaj Kanevche or try Kaneo Letna Bavca lake side restaurants for a delicious smoked fish, local beer and enjoy the magnificent view of the lake while having your dinner.

Ohrid, Macedonia
Ohrid, Macedonia

There are a few great places that will give you once in a lifetime experience. The most enjoyable one is taking a walk to the small sandy cove of Kaneo beach. From St Sophia Church in oldtown take a stroll along the lake and follow the wooden walkway. Get a table at Restaurant Kaj Kanevche or try Kaneo Letna Bavca lake side restaurants for a delicious smoked fish, local beer and enjoy the magnificent view of the lake while having your dinner.

Keneo Beach, Ohrid
Board walk to Keneo Beach, Ohrid

Where Did I Stay in Lake Ohrid

City Palace Hotel, Ohrid, Kej Makedonija, Ohrid, North Macedonia

It is a newly built 4 star hotel, located at Kej Makedonija road alongside Ohrid Lake, only about 200 meters from the city square and the old part of the city. I got a room with a balcony overlooking the beautiful lake and had one of the best moments of my life spending hours sitting there and enjoying the surrounding views. 

City Palace Hotel, Ohrid

A view of my room in City Palace Hotel

Have Local Food at Lakeside Restaurants

Aleksandrija Restaurant, Orhid, Macedonia

This restaurant is right at the center of the town, along the Ohrid Lake, plenty of outdoor sitting is availabler with a beautiful view of the lake and the port. I have tried smoked trout and a few slices of their famous wood-fired oven pizza.

Helpful Information

I have visited Ohrid between Late May and early June. The weather was fantastic, the mountains surrounding the lake were lush green, and the temperature during the day was comfortable with lots of sunshine.

Therefore the best time is spring and autumn to be more specific, be there between early May and the end of June for gorgeous weather while dodging the summer crowds. Not to mention that Hotels are going to be still a bargain.

By Air

The closest International airport from Ohrid is St. Paul Apostle Airport (OHD) also known as Ohrid airport. There are multiple airlines fly there regularly. It is only about 6 miles (10 km) away from Ohrid and will cost you approx 20 Euro by taxi (negotiation needed).

From Ohrid taxi is the most convenient way to get to and from Ohrid Aiport or get a pre-arranged private transfer. You can also rent a car but need to book it in advance.

By Bus

If you are in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, then the best way to get to Lake Ohrid is to get on a bus for those who are not driving. The 3+ hours bus ride is comfortable, and costs are reasonable check schedule here.

From Tirana, Albania you can take an international bus to Ohrid, which is only 81 miles (131 km) and travel time is about 2:30h. Get your bus from Tirana International Bus Station, and for ticket information, you may contact Drita Tours.

By Car

The majority of travelers prefer to visit Ohrid by car from neighboring countries. The nice scenic highway systems even make it easier for European travelers. I drove from Gjirokaster, Albania to Ohrid, Macedonia with a few hours stop in Berat since I wanted to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site on the way. The total distance was about 200 miles (320 km) and travel time is about 5+ hours plus the time spent in Berat.

The old town of Ohrid is compact most of the major attractions are easily accessible on foot without needing public transportation.

I was driving my rental car, and from my own experience, I found that having a car has some advantages. It is the easiest way to getting around the lake and seeing the surrounding villages. The rental vehicle is available from Ohrid St. Paul The Apostle Airport.

Taxis are available in Ohrid, and it’s a convenient way to go places difficult to reach or find parking, particularly in the old town. I highly recommend negotiating the fare with the driver in advance.

I found it exciting and saw may people enjoy riding a bicycle in Ohrid. Ask your hotel usually; they offer bicycle rental.

Ohrid is small and compact, a great weekend getaway from the capital Skopje. If relaxing is on your mind, then you will definitely need a few days depending on your interest. There are so many things to do in Ohrid such as exploring the old town, cruising in the Ohrid lake and visiting lakeside villages and attractions, Sunbathing at one of those hidden beaches, having local food sitting net to the water, shopping in the Turkish Bazaar and much more.

I was there for two days and found it a little tight to cover my interest, should have added a day or two to my itinerary.

Macedonia has its own currency called Denar (MKD); the current exchange rate is US$ 1 = 55.48 MKD. ATMs are widely available, and I used my debit card to withdraw local currencies without any issue.

If you are taking a taxi ride, you may need some bargaining skills and always settle for the fare before getting in.

Exploring the Old Town of Ohrid, there is quite a bit of walking involved, so having a tourist map handy will save you a few unnecessary hiking.


My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Ohrid, Macedonia? Any cool tips to share?

I loved being to this Fairy tail country and want to go back again. Hope my story have motivated you to visit. 

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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