Blog Ohrid | a complete travel guide to North Macedonia’s lakeside gem

Ohrid | a complete travel guide to North Macedonia’s lakeside gem

Nestled along the shores of Lake Ohrid, the city of Ohrid offers a captivating blend of ancient charm and modern allure. As one of Europe's oldest cities, this North Macedonian gem boasts a UNESCO World Heritage designation, testament to its rich history and cultural significance. Its cobblestone streets wind through well-preserved medieval architecture, Byzantine churches, and Ottoman influences, providing a journey through time for every traveler.
Introduction to Ohrid

Known as “The Jerusalem of the Balkans,” Ohrid offers a unique blend of history, culture, and nature. From the iconic Ohrid Lake to ancient ruins and vibrant local markets, this travel guide invites you to explore the hidden gems that make Ohrid a must-visit destination. Join us as we unravel the timeless beauty of Ohrid, where every corner tells a story, and the past seamlessly merges with the present, creating an unforgettable experience for those seeking a slice of Macedonian paradise.

Getting started in Ohrid

Arrival information

By plane

Ohrid is conveniently accessible by air, with the St. Paul the Apostle Airport (OHD) serving as the city’s main gateway. Located just 10 kilometers northwest of Ohrid’s city center, the airport welcomes both domestic and international flights. Airlines such as Wizz Air, TUI Airways, and Edelweiss Air operate regular services, connecting Ohrid to major European cities.

By train

While Ohrid itself does not have a train station, travelers can opt for the nearest railway connection in the town of Bitola, approximately 68 kilometers away. From Bitola, a short bus or taxi ride will bring you to Ohrid, allowing you to enjoy the scenic journey through the Macedonian countryside.

By bus

Ohrid’s bus station is centrally located, making it a convenient option for those arriving by bus. The city is well-connected to various cities in Macedonia and neighboring countries. Companies like Galeb, International Bus, and Vardar Express operate regular services, providing a cost-effective and comfortable way to reach Ohrid.

Overview of public transportation options

Ohrid’s compact size makes it easily navigable, and the city’s public transport system is efficient for exploring both the urban center and surrounding areas. Local buses and minibusses traverse popular routes, ensuring connectivity to key attractions. Taxis are also readily available and provide a convenient means of transportation within the city.

For a more immersive experience, consider exploring Ohrid on foot. The city’s charming streets and pedestrian-friendly zones allow you to soak in its unique atmosphere, uncover hidden gems, and appreciate the picturesque surroundings at your own pace.

Additionally, boat rides across Lake Ohrid offer a scenic and relaxing way to explore the lake’s shores and visit nearby landmarks. Whether you prefer the convenience of public transport or the freedom of exploring on foot, Ohrid’s well-planned transportation options ensure a seamless and enjoyable start to your journey in this captivating Macedonian destination.

Neighborhoods and Accommodations in Ohrid

Different neighborhoods and their characteristics

Ohrid’s distinct neighborhoods offer a diverse tapestry of atmospheres, each contributing to the city’s unique charm.

Ohrid Old Town
Nestled on the hill overlooking the lake, the Old Town is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, historic homes, and ancient churches. Stroll through the charismatic bazaar, where local artisans showcase their crafts, and explore landmarks like the Ohrid Fortress. The Old Town exudes a timeless ambiance, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the city’s rich history.

Kaneo
Perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid, the Kaneo neighborhood is renowned for its iconic church of St. John at Kaneo. This area offers breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the sunset. The tranquil surroundings make Kaneo an ideal escape for those seeking serenity and natural beauty.

Dolno Konjsko
Located on the outskirts of Ohrid, Dolno Konjsko provides a more rural experience. Surrounded by lush greenery and vineyards, this neighborhood is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Explore the picturesque landscapes, visit local wineries, and experience the warmth of Macedonian hospitality in this peaceful corner of Ohrid.

Lagadin
Situated along the shores of Lake Ohrid, Lagadin offers a serene lakeside retreat. With a mix of traditional houses and modern accommodations, this area provides a peaceful escape while remaining in close proximity to the city. Enjoy water activities, lakeside dining, and the tranquility of this lakeside haven.

Sv. Naum
To the south of Ohrid, Sv. Naum is renowned for the Monastery of St. Naum, a cultural and natural treasure. Surrounded by pristine nature, including the Black Drin Springs and the Ohrid National Park, this neighborhood is perfect for those seeking a blend of history, spirituality, and the great outdoors.

Whether you prefer the historical charm of the Old Town, the panoramic vistas of Kaneo, the rural tranquility of Dolno Konjsko, the lakeside serenity of Lagadin, or the cultural richness of Sv. Naum, each neighborhood in Ohrid invites you to discover its distinct personality and contribute to the overall allure of this Macedonian gem.

Accommodation

Attractions and Landmarks in Ohrid

Ohrid, with its rich history and cultural significance, is adorned with a myriad of attractions and landmarks that tell the story of its past and present.

Ohrid Lake
The jewel of Ohrid, the pristine Ohrid Lake, stretches across the city’s edge, offering not only breathtaking views but also a myriad of water activities. Explore the lake by boat, swim in its crystal-clear waters, or simply relax along its picturesque shores.

Ohrid’s Old Town
Steeped in history, Ohrid’s Old Town is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, adorned with charming houses and ancient churches. Highlights include the Ohrid Fortress, which provides panoramic views of the city and lake, and the charismatic bazaar, where local artisans showcase their craftsmanship.

St. Jovan Kaneo
Perched on a cliff overlooking the lake, St. Jovan Kaneo isn’t merely a church; it’s a soul-stirring experience. This is probably our favorite spot in Ohrid—SO SO beautiful. The medieval architecture and the stunning backdrop create a serene setting, with views that redefine the meaning of insane. Especially during sunrise and sunset.

Church of St. Clement and St. Panteleimon
Perched atop Plaoshnik hill overlooking Lake Ohrid, the Church of St. Clement and St. Panteleimon is a captivating symbol of Ohrid’s history and spirituality. Inside, our €3 tour unfolded like a captivating story, led by an enthusiastic guide who brought the church’s ancient frescoes and significance to life. As a sacred site attracting pilgrims and visitors alike, this Byzantine marvel offers a glimpse into Ohrid’s rich cultural heritage and continues to inspire awe with its timeless beauty.

Ancient Theater of Ohrid
Transport yourself to Roman times at the Ancient Theater of Ohrid. This well-preserved amphitheater isn’t just a relic; it’s a stage where history comes alive. Today, it serves as a unique backdrop for cultural events and performances, injecting a vibrant energy into Ohrid’s historical legacy.

Robevci House
The Robevci House isn’t merely a museum; it’s a portal to the past. Immerse yourself in the exhibits showcasing Ohrid’s history, with artifacts and glimpses into life from bygone eras. It’s not just a visit; it’s a journey through time, adding layers to your understanding of Ohrid’s cultural heritage.

Plaoshnik Archaeological Site
Explore the depths of history at the Plaoshnik Archaeological Site, where the reconstructed Church of St. Clement and St. Panteleimon stands. Beyond the ruins, this site holds the essence of Slavic literacy and boasts an archaeological narrative that unfolds before your eyes.

Ohrid City Wall
Ohrid’s ancient city wall, dating back to the 4th century BC, bears witness to the city’s rich history and strategic significance. Originally built during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, remnants of the wall can still be seen near the Old Town and Ohrid Fortress. These historic remains offer a glimpse into Ohrid’s past as a fortified city, showcasing its enduring legacy as a cultural and political center in ancient Macedonia.

Dining and Cuisine in Ohrid

As you navigate the charming streets and lakeside promenades, immerse yourself in the gastronomic delights that Ohrid has to offer.

  • Kaj Kanevche: Nestled in the heart of Ohrid’s Old Town, Kaj Kanevche offers a cozy and authentic atmosphere. Specializing in traditional Macedonian cuisine, this restaurant is renowned for its grilled meats, fresh salads, and, of course, Ohrid Trout.

  • Kaneo Restaurant: Situated near the iconic Church of St. John at Kaneo, the restaurant offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Ohrid and the surrounding mountains. Kaneo Restaurant is renowned for its picturesque setting, fresh seafood dishes, and traditional Macedonian cuisine.

  • Su rooftop restaurant: With a menu showcasing mouth-watering cuisine and freshly roasted coffee, complemented by the stunning backdrop of historic landmarks and Lake Ohrid, visitors are welcomed by an atmosphere of exquisite style. Catering to both curious tourists and friendly locals, “Su” provides a perfect setting to savor local delicacies or unwind with a refreshing drink while enjoying the mesmerizing vistas of Ohrid.

  • Irish Pub Dublin: As avid travelers who love to explore various Irish pubs around the world, we stumbled upon Dublin, located right on the picturesque promenade of Ohrid. While it may not stand out as the most memorable spot, it does have its charms. What sets Dublin apart are the generous portions of hot snacks they offer at incredibly affordable prices!

Local delicacies

Ohrid Trout
Indulge in the local specialty, Ohrid Trout, freshly caught from Lake Ohrid. Grilled or oven-baked, this delicacy showcases the region’s commitment to fresh and high-quality ingredients.

Tavče Gravče
A Macedonian staple, Tavče Gravče is a hearty bean casserole seasoned with a medley of herbs and spices. Served as a side dish or a main course, this flavorful comfort food embodies the essence of Macedonian home cooking.

Ajvar
A savory pepper-based condiment, Ajvar adds a burst of flavor to many Macedonian dishes. Made from roasted red peppers, garlic, and eggplant, this versatile spread is a must-try, whether as a dip or a relish.

Activities and Entertainment in Ohrid

Ohrid offers a plethora of activities and entertainment options to suit every traveler’s preferences. From exploring ancient sites to enjoying outdoor adventures, there’s no shortage of experiences to immerse yourself in.

Cultural Exploration
Delve into Ohrid’s rich cultural heritage by visiting its numerous museums, galleries, and historical sites. Explore the ancient ruins of the Ohrid Fortress, wander through the Old Town’s cobblestone streets lined with Byzantine churches, or delve into the city’s past at the Robevci House Museum.

Lake Activities
Embark on a variety of water-based activities on the stunning Lake Ohrid. Whether you prefer swimming in its crystal-clear waters, kayaking along its tranquil shores, or taking a leisurely boat cruise to explore hidden coves and caves, the lake offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Hiking and Nature Exploration
Lace up your hiking boots and set out to discover Ohrid’s breathtaking natural landscapes. Explore the trails of Galichica National Park, which boasts diverse flora and fauna, panoramic viewpoints, and pristine mountain lakes. Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, enjoying the fresh air and scenic vistas.

Waterfront Dining and Entertainment
Indulge in the vibrant atmosphere of Ohrid’s lakeside promenade, where a myriad of restaurants, cafés, and bars await. Enjoy a leisurely meal with panoramic views of the lake, sample local delicacies, or sip on cocktails as you watch the sunset over the water.

Evening Performances and Cultural Events
Experience Ohrid’s vibrant cultural scene by attending evening performances and events. From traditional folk music concerts to contemporary theater productions, there’s always something happening in Ohrid to entertain and inspire visitors.

Shopping and Souvenir Hunting
Explore Ohrid’s bustling markets and artisan shops, where you can find a variety of locally made crafts, textiles, and souvenirs. Whether you’re searching for handmade jewelry, traditional Macedonian pottery, or unique gifts to take home, the city’s vibrant shopping scene has something for everyone.

Nightlife and Socializing
As the sun sets, Ohrid comes alive with a lively nightlife scene. Join locals and fellow travelers at the city’s bars, clubs, and live music venues, where you can dance the night away, sample local wines and spirits, and make unforgettable memories under the starry skies of Ohrid.

Language and Customs in Ohrid

Language
In Ohrid, the predominant language spoken is Macedonian, although English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas. Learning a few basic phrases in Macedonian, such as greetings and simple expressions of gratitude, can enhance your experience and show respect for the local culture. Remember to say “fala” (thank you) to show appreciation for hospitality.

Currency
The official currency of North Macedonia, including Ohrid, is the Macedonian Denar (MKD). While some establishments may accept Euros (EUR), it’s advisable to exchange your currency for Denars to ensure the best rates. ATMs are readily available throughout Ohrid, allowing you to withdraw local currency as needed.

Tipping
Tipping in Ohrid is generally appreciated but not obligatory. In restaurants and cafes, a tip of around 10% of the total bill is customary for good service. However, it’s always a good idea to check if a service charge has already been included in the bill. Tipping taxi drivers, tour guides, and hotel staff is also common practice for exceptional service.

Religious sites
Ohrid boasts a rich religious heritage, with numerous churches, mosques, and monasteries scattered throughout the city. Visitors are encouraged to dress modestly when visiting religious sites out of respect for local customs and traditions. It’s also customary to remove your shoes before entering certain religious buildings, so be prepared to do so when visiting mosques or monasteries.

Shopping in Ohrid

Whether you’re searching for traditional Macedonian keepsakes or contemporary treasures, the city’s diverse shopping scene caters to every taste and budget.

Old Bazaar (Charsija)
Step back in time and wander through the bustling lanes of Ohrid’s Old Bazaar, where a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and sounds awaits. Here, you’ll find a treasure trove of handicrafts, textiles, pottery, and souvenirs crafted by local artisans. From intricately woven rugs to hand-painted ceramics and embroidered textiles, the Old Bazaar is a haven for shoppers seeking authentic Macedonian goods.

Antique Shops
For collectors and antique enthusiasts, Ohrid boasts a selection of antique shops offering a glimpse into the city’s storied past. Browse through vintage jewelry, coins, furniture, and artwork, each piece telling its own unique story and adding a touch of history to your home.

Art Galleries
Immerse yourself in Ohrid’s vibrant art scene by visiting one of its many art galleries and studios. From contemporary paintings and sculptures to traditional Macedonian folk art, these galleries showcase the talents of local and regional artists, offering a diverse array of works to suit every taste.

Local Markets
Experience the authentic flavors and aromas of Macedonia by exploring Ohrid’s bustling local markets. From fresh produce and spices to homemade jams, honey, and traditional sweets, these markets offer a sensory journey through the region’s culinary delights. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample local specialties such as Ajvar (pepper-based relish) and Rakija (fruit brandy) before selecting your favorites to take home.

Lakeside Promenade
Stroll along Ohrid’s picturesque lakeside promenade, where a variety of shops and boutiques offer everything from clothing and accessories to artisanal crafts and souvenirs. Pick up a handcrafted piece of jewelry, a locally made scarf, or a decorative item for your home, all while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Ohrid.

Traditional Workshops
Discover the time-honored techniques of Macedonian craftsmanship by visiting traditional workshops scattered throughout Ohrid. Watch skilled artisans at work as they create pottery, woodcarvings, and other handmade goods using age-old methods passed down through generations. Many workshops also offer hands-on experiences, allowing visitors to try their hand at these ancient crafts and create their own unique souvenirs.

Shopping Centers
For those seeking a more modern shopping experience, Ohrid is home to several shopping centers and malls offering a wide range of retail outlets, boutiques, and international brands. Whether you’re in need of clothing, electronics, or household goods, these shopping centers provide convenient access to a diverse selection of products in a modern and comfortable environment. 

Happy travels!

As your time in Ohrid draws to a close, take with you the memories of its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you explored ancient sites, indulged in local cuisine, or simply soaked in the beauty of Lake Ohrid, this Macedonian gem has surely left its mark. 

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4 Responses

  1. Sonia says:

    Ohrid Lake looks like a highlight of a trip to Ohrid. I’d love to have a chance to visit.

  2. Bri says:

    Wow I had no idea it was so beautiful !! Your photos are stunning, definitely adding to our list 🙂

  3. kmf says:

    Love this guide to Ohrid – a North Macedonian gem. And would love to explore all the neighborhoods in this charming and historic city with such scenic views.

  4. Tigrest says:

    Wow, Orchid looks amazing! I love the Church of St. Clement and Ancient theater! Would love to go hiking there as well!

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Chapter Fernweh
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We are Kiki & Jazzie – travel content creators based in the Netherlands. On our website and social channels, we share our European adventures, insights, and discoveries. From immersive travel guides and breathtaking photography to personal reflections and captivating video content.

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