Ohrid, Macedonia Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in Ohrid
Also known as the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’, Ohrid is a picturesque seaside town on the Republic of Macedonia’s south coast. Situated on Lake Ohrid, the city has much to offer in terms of culture and natural beauty and presents an attractive alternative to the bustling capital of Skopje. With azure waters and medieval churches, it’s a relaxing oasis that demands to be explored.
- Ohrid is both a Natural and Cultural UNESCO World Heritage site – one of only 28 other locations to be awarded the dual accolade.
- The city once had 365 churches, one for every day of the year. This observation was supported by the traveller Evilya Çelebi in the 17th century.
- Since 1953, Ohrid has hosted an International Swimming Marathon which takes place in the lake each August. The course runs from the Monastery of St. Naum towards the city port.
- NASA named one of the lakes on Titan (Saturn’s largest moon) after Lake Ohrid in 2010.
- Lake Ohrid is one of the largest and deepest lakes in Europe and has over 200 endemic species.
Lake Ohrid – Things to do
- Boat trips: There are a few companies offering boat and catamaran tours of the Macedonian side of Lake Ohrid. However Lale Tours offers numerous excursions, both via boat and bus, including trips to St.Naum’s monastery, Galicica National Park, Albania and Lake Prespa which is bordered by Greece, Macedonia and Albania.
- Paragliding: If you fancy an adrenalin rush and want to see the lake from a different perspective then a tandem paraglide might be just the ticket. There are different packages available, but the average price is about 70 euros for 20 mins of flight time.
- Diving: Amfora and Kaneo diving centres both offer scuba diving courses and trips. This is a great way to explore the underwater kingdom of lake Ohrid and see some different species of fish. With Kaneo, it costs about 50 euros each which includes equipment rental, two dives and transport.
- Kayaking and Canoeing: Exploring the lake by Kayak or Canoe is a more adventurous option but definitely worthwhile if you want to explore some remote beaches and scenic spots.
- Swimming: There are many places where it’s possible to enjoy a relaxing dip in Lake Ohrid’s azure waters.
- Potpes Beach, situated in the old town is accessed by a winding wooden bridge leading from llindenska street. From here you can enjoy a lovely view of Church St. Jovan Kaneo and gain access the connecting Kaneo Beach which is even more secluded.
- Golden Beach is busier but offers luxury service including food, music and cocktails.
- Gradishte Beach is another popular tourist site but just along from it you will find three hidden coves, including one known as ‘jungle beach’ which is perfect if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more natural and wild.
Places to Visit
- St. Naum’s Monastery: Located at the southern end of the lake by the Albanian border, the monastery was founded in 905 AD by St. Naum himself. Since it was believed that St. Naum possessed miraculous healing powers many visitors still flock to his tomb in the hope of being cured. The monastery is set in a beautiful scenic area with numerous peacocks roaming the grounds and many beautiful springs nearby.
- St. Jovan Kaneo: This Orthodox church stands on a cliff above Kaneo Beach, offering a spectacular views of Lake Ohrid. It’s dedicated to John of Patmos who wrote the book of Revelations and is believed to have been constructed in the 13th century.
- Galicica National Park: Situated on Mount Galicica, this stunning area of natural beauty is a must-see for lovers of the great outdoors. With a wide array of flora and fauna, the park stretches over 227 square kilometres and offers beautiful views of the mountains.
- Museum on Water: Located in the Bay of the Bones, 16km south of Ohrid, this is an archaeological site with a reconstruction of a prehistoric settlement. Between 1200 and 600 BC the area was home to ‘pile dwellers’ who lived on platforms on top of the water. Buses to the site from Ohrid only cost one euro.
- Ohrid is a good place to buy Ohrid pearls as well as inexpensive silver and filigree jewellery, copper products and wood carvings.
- Must see shopping locations include the Old Bazaar and the the Antica Pearl Shop, a family run business situated on Costa Abras Street in the old town.
- A local delicacy is the Ohrid Trout but the city has restaurants to suit all tastes. Top choices include Dr. Falafel in the old town which has vegan and vegetarian options and Gladiator which serves traditional Macedonian dishes and mouth-watering baklava.