Ohrid stands out as one of the most beautiful spots in Macedonia. This little town sitting next to the Ohrid Lake has achieved something remarkable: basing most of its income and popularity on a stunning natural setting without either polluting it or surrounding it with apartments and hotels oriented only to tourists. If you are traveling to Macedonia or Albania, make sure you swing by this place and stay at least a couple of days there: you won’t regret it. Macedonia isn’t often featured in anyone’s bucket list, and I must admit I bought my flight tickets to Skopje, the capital city, before I was able to locate where exactly Macedonia lies in the atlas. And yet, I’ve spent this last month thinking almost daily of the delicious food I was lucky enough to discover, remembering some people I stumbled upon and exchanged some words with and, most of all, longing for the country’s landscape, which is a wonder to the eye. A couple of natural gems stand out among the rest in Macedonia: the Matka Canyon and the Ohrid Lake. This article is devoted to the latter.
A mesmerizing natural gem, during both day and night
The Ohrid Lake, which is, according to both local fishermen and Wikipedia, over 3 million years old, is located in the southwest of Macedonia: the lake’s surface and water is actually shared by Macedonia and Albania. It spreads over an area of about 360 sq km (140 sq mi) and provides some of the most remarkable and stunning landscapes I’ve seen lately. I got to Ohrid by bus from Skopje: the trip took about 8 hours, since the bus broke when we’d just left Skopje — something which, according to locals, happens quite often. However, I am grateful this happened, because my friend and I got to the city by night, and on a moonless night the lake was an endless black carpet which swallowed all the starlight and the flickering flames of the streetlights. However, the next morning the mountains of Eastern Albania appeared on the other side of the lake seemingly out of nowhere, their silhouette and snowed tops reflected on the crystal-clear water.
Cruise around the lake and enjoy all of its perspectives
What most people do when they visit the lake is to take a boat at the Ohrid dock which cruises around for some minutes and charge ridiculous prices when converted to the local price. Instead of taking a boat at the port, talk to local fishermen and arrange a price for a boat ride along the shores. You’ll see the churches from a different perspective as well as a cell that was used by communists to lock up dissidents. It’s hard to chose between the views of the lake from Ohrid or vice versa, both of them will provide stunning photographs and unforgettable images in your minds.
Several churches surround the lake, offering privileged spots for snap shooting
My personal recommendation is that you start walking northwest along the Promenade Macedonia and follow the lakeshore until you reach the church of Saint Sofia, a remarkable building which was built over a thousand years ago. If you keep following the lakeshore you’ll find a little cape on top of which another church, devoted to Saint John at Kaneo, offers some of the most stunning views of the lake and its shores. Another option is to start southeast at the Ohrid dock and take a boat or a bus to the Saint Naum church, another interesting building lying a few miles away from the Albanian borderline. It shouldn’t be hard to find accommodation in Ohrid, although the town gets pretty crowded during summertime. You will find options from villas with swimming pools to small rooms near the lake, none of those should cost more than 15 EUR (17 USD) per night.
The Ohrid Lake, a place you will never forget
Ohrid is a great staple on any trip you are thinking of taking near Macedonia or Albania: the lake is a wonderful place to slow down the uptempo lifestyle of the traveler, and the village surrounding it will certainly delight you. I bet after some weeks you’ll be telling your fellow travel buddies to visit this little spot in eastern Europe, just like me!
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