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best things to do in ohrid north macedonia lake ohrid

Lake Ohrid is one of the most famous lakes you can visit in Europe. It’s thanks to its rich historyspectacular scenery, and beautiful monasteries. I keep having some of the best memories as this place took my breath away during my visit. It’s so unique in a way. I spent 3 days exploring Ohrid and the entire area around the lake and fell in love.

In this article, I’ll tell you about the 13 best things to do in Ohrid and around. So choose one or two and enjoy your time in Ohrid and at the oldest lake in Europe – Lake Ohrid.

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Interesting Facts About Ohrid & Lake Ohrid

πŸ’‘ It’s the oldest lake in Europe
πŸ’‘ Lake Ohrid is also one of the deepest lakes in Europe
πŸ’‘ It’s famous for Cyril and Methodius, who invented Cyrillic Alphabeth here in the St. Naum Monastery
πŸ’‘ It’s home to two endemic fish species: Plashica & Ohrid Trout
πŸ’‘ Ohrid town hosts 365 monasteries, one for each day of a year

North Macedonia Lake Ohrid Voices of Travel
Me walking to the Monastery of St. John The Theologian – North Macedonia

List Of The 13 Best Things To Do In Ohrid & Map

1. Stroll Through The Streets Of Ohrid Old Town
2. Can You Find 365 Monasteries?
3. Walk Alongside Ohrid Boardwalk
4. Enjoy Views Of Monastery Of St. John The Theologian

5. Visit Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon
6. Explore Samuel’s Fortress
7. Shop For Ohrid Pearls
8. Take a Panoramic Boat Tour Around Ohrid

9. Relax on a beach & swim
10. Visit St. Naum Monastery
11. Explore Bay Of Bones
12. Go Hiking
13. Drive around Lake Ohrid

1. Stroll Through The Streets Of Ohrid Old Town

Ohrid town is the most popular destination to visit around Lake Ohrid. It offers many attractions and activities with local restaurantsbarsbakeries, and shops. It’s also the best place to stay overnight and a great base to explore Lake Ohrid.

The town is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe.

Stroll through its streets and admire the beautiful whitewashed buildings with wooden decorations from the 17th Century.

➑ Book this wine tasting tour in a local monastery as part of your Ohrid exploration.

best things to do in Ohrid Old Town
Ohrid Old Town

2. Can You Find 365 Monasteries?

Many travelers, especially those with a religious purpose for their visit, come to this town to see at least a few of the 365 monasteries. If you can find all of them during your visit to this small town, let me know in the comments below. I think I haven’t counted more than 20.

Locals say they have one monastery for each day of the year. Therefore, the Ohrid town is also called the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans.’

North Macedonia itinerary 7, 8, 9, 10 days: Lake Ohrid St. John Monastery
Lake Ohrid – St. John The Theologian Monastery

3. Walk Alongside Ohrid Boardwalk

Walking on Ohrid’s Boardwalk was one of my favorite activities to do in the town. You’ll be walking on Lake Ohrid and enjoy stunning views of the entire area.

It runs below the Varosh neighborhood and ends at the iconic Monastery of St. John The Theologian. There are fishermen, so go ahead and ask them about local life.

My tip is to walk on the boardwalk just before the sunset. Then, you can finish at the monastery, sit nearby, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the sun setting at the lake’s horizon.

Ohrid Boardwalk
Me enjoying the Ohrid Boardwalk

4. Enjoy Views Of Monastery Of St. John The Theologian

This Macedonian Orthodox church is one of the most beautiful in the city, right on the shore of Lake Ohrid. Archaeologists claim it was constructed around the 13th century, even before the Ottomans took over the area.

Later in the 20th century, archaeologists found many frescos inside the church dating back to the Byzantine times.

Sometimes, you might also see the name ‘St. John at Kaneo‘, so don’t get confused.

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Me enjoying the views of Monastery Of St. John The Theologian

5. Visit Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon

Another iconic church in Ohrid lies close to the City Park. Visit the Church of St. Clement and admire its beautiful icons and frescos.

When St. Clement came to the city, Boris I of Bulgaria asked him to restore a very old church in the area.

So he did, and ever since, the church has been named after him. Later, it was severely damaged by the Ottomans. So, what you can see today is a complete restoration.

I loved the atmosphere of the church and its area. It’s worth the visit. You can buy tickets on the spot.

best things to do at Lake Ohrid North Macedonia: Monastery Saints Clement and Panteleimon
Visiting Church Of Saints Clement and Panteleimon – Ohrid

πŸ‘‰ READ ALSO: 13 Most Beautiful Places In North Macedonia To Visit

6. Explore Samuel’s Fortress

This Fortress is perhaps my favorite place in the town. I loved the stunning views of the entire lake. I even took some shots with my drone for you guys to see. It’s stunning.

Samuel’s Fortress was the main base and the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria. He ruled the empire from here in the 11th century.

After, it was abandoned and served as a hiding place, or just remained a pride of Ohrid.
Nowadays, you can walk alongside the Fortress’s walls and learn about the history of the place.

You can buy tickets on the spot.

PRO TIP: After your visit, stop at the Fort Cafe and treat yourself to a coffee and some sweets. This cafeteria has a unique atmosphere.

best things to do at Lake Ohrid North Macedonia Samuels Fortress Ohrid
Samuel’s Fortress – Ohrid

7. Shop For Ohrid Pearls

Ohrid is also famous for its beautiful Ohrid Pearls that you can only find in this area. They’re made from the fish scale Plasica, an endemic fish species that you can find only in Lake Ohrid. Locals name it Ohridski Biseri.

It’s then covered in a ground shell, which makes the pearls beautiful and shiny.

The truth is, there are only a few places where you can buy original and real Ohrid Pearls. Many places here sell fake ones. One of the best places with a family tradition to buy them is Filevi – Ohridski Biseri Filevi Dr. Pavel Filev.

FUN FACT: I bought a necklace from a local grandma to support her πŸ˜€ (with fake ones on purpose, because I wouldn’t like to be robbed as a traveler). I made it my travel necklace, so I always wear it while traveling. It always reminds me of this special place.

8. Take a Panoramic Boat Tour Around Ohrid

Another great way to explore Ohrid is to see it from a boat. Join this guided tour on a boat and see the most iconic sights from the lake.

Learn about the history from your captain’s perspective, and see sights like St. John The Theologian Church, the Church of Saint Clement, and even the Caves of Love.

If you want to make a bigger tour around the lake, go directly to the Port of Ohrid, where locals advertise all boat tours. Talk to more people and decide which boat trip is best for you.

➑ Book this panoramic tour of Ohrid with an English speaking guide.

9. Relax On A Beach & Swim

Lake Ohrid is one of the best places for relaxation and vacation. The water is calm, and it’s the perfect place to go swimming. If you want to go for a swim, I recommend heading to the Old Swimming Court. It has a small pier from which you can access the water.

If you want to relax on a beach, I recommend Voena Plazha Beach. It’s slightly further away from the town, but the beaches in the center are super small and often crowded. Also, the water is not the cleanest right in the center.

Ohrid Lake Ohrid North Macedonia
Lake Ohrid Beach – North Macedonia
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10. Visit St. Naum Monastery

St. Naum Monastery belongs to one of the most important spots in European history. The two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, Byzantine Christian theologians and missionaries from Thessaloniki (Greece), invented the Cyrillic Alphabet and started their first teachings.

They did so as they were sent on a mission to spread Christianity further to Eastern Europe, particularly Moravia, now a region in the Czech Republic next to Slovakia.

However, they first had to translate the Bible for the Slavic people to understand their religion. To make it easier for the Slavs, they invented a brand new writing system – the Cyrillic alphabet.

During their teachings in Eastern Europe, they taught Slavs important religious aspects, including the alphabet. Nowadays, the Cyrillic script is the official writing system of various languages in Eurasia.

You can buy tickets on the spot.

best things to do at Lake Ohrid North Macedonia St. Naum Monastery
St. Naum Monastery – Lake Ohrid

How To Get To St. Naum Monastery

The best way to get to the St. Naum Monastery is with an organized boat tour or a car. You can also take a taxi if you don’t mind paying more for the ride.

βœ… Organized Boat Tour To St. Naum: 10 EUR (roundtrip), leaves from Port of Ohrid
βœ… Taxi: Drivers ask for 1200 Denars, which is a lot – negotiate to at least 900 Denars.

πŸ‘‰ READ ALSO: How To Get Around North Macedonialearn how to negotiate with taxi drivers

Best Things To Do At St. Naum Monastery

You can do more things once you’re at the monastery, apart from visiting it. It’s a nice area worth spending at least half a day:

  • St. Naum Monastery
  • Relax on a beach & swim in Lake Ohrid
  • Visit Ohrid Springs by a boat
  • Do shopping at the local markets

11. Explore Bay Of Bones

One thing you definitely shouldn’t miss when visiting Lake Ohrid is the open-air museum in the Bay of Bones.

It houses a collection of animal remains and fragmented vessels that archaeologists found in Lake Ohrid. You’ll enjoy seeing those artifacts from the Bronze and Iron Ages.

So visit the museum and have a drink after to enjoy the stunning views. The museum is all built on the water, which makes it even more special.

You can buy tickets on the spot.

12. Go Hiking

Another exciting thing you can do in Ohrid is to go hiking. If your feet want more adventure, like mine, walk the hiking trails in the nearby Galicica National Park.

One of the easier hikes is to walk from Ohrid to Ramme village, then continue to Velestovo village, and come back to Ohrid. You can stop in the villages and experience local life.

If you want to challenge yourself, hike to the highest mountain called Mt. Magaro. Or walk across the Magaro Pass. First, you’ll start at Stenje (as the Lake Pespa), walk through the Lipova – Vrv Magaro, and then descend to Trpejca at Lake Ohrid.

The views from these hiking trails are breathtaking.

πŸ‘‰ READ ALSO: Matka Canyon: All You Need To Know For Your Visit

13. Drive Around Lake Ohrid

Another thing you can do is to rent a car, if you already don’t have one, and drive around Lake Ohrid. You’ll even be crossing the border twice. Once from North Macedonia to Albania and then again when getting back to North Macedonia in the southern part.

Ask at the Albanian border for a stamp on your passport. Crossing the border is relatively easy. You don’t need anything special, just don’t forget to take your passport.

On the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid, you’ll pass through Pogradec, which also has great beaches and a few resorts. You can stop here and relax for a while.

On the way, you’ll pass another big city on the lake, which is Struga, before making your way back to Ohrid town. Stop in Struga for lunch and explore its hidden gems.

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Me at Lake Ohrid

Free Things To Do In Ohrid

Ohrid and its lake offer so many free activities that you can enjoy. It’s a great place for everyone on a budget, as you can do almost everything without paying.

These are the best free things in Ohrid:

βœ… See Monastery Of St. John The Theologian
βœ… Walk around the Church of St. Clement
βœ… Visit the City Park
βœ… Walk on the Ohrid Boardwalk
βœ… Admire Sauel’s Fortress from the outside
βœ… Walk through the old streets of Ohrid Old Town
βœ… Admire beautiful Ohrid Pearls
βœ… Go swimming
βœ… Relax on a beach

BONUS: North Macedonia Itinerary 7 – 10 Days

If you want to explore more of North Macedonia, take my North Macedonian itinerary. Choose to spend 7, 8, 9, or 10 days in the country and travel with it.

It includes various things from the capital of Skopje, wine-tasting spots, hiking, and the best cities, and you’ll also make it to Ohrid and Lake Ohrid.

Click on the image below and travel with this itinerary:

Practical Tips For Visiting Ohrid & Lake Ohrid

To help you plan your visit to Ohrid, I’ve got some more tips for you. See when the best time to visit is, how many days to spend, where to eat, and get a 1-day itinerary suggestion from me.

Where Is Ohrid

Ohrid is located in North Macedonia on the Balkan peninsula. It’s a small town in the southwest of North Macedonia, close to Lake Ohrid and Albania. Lake Ohrid, as the border crosses the lake, belongs to North Macedonia and Albania.

You can also make a day trip from Ohrid to Tirana (Albania’s capital) or the nearby Pogradec.

Best Time To Visit Ohrid & Lake Ohrid

The best time to visit Ohrid and Lake Ohrid is June, September, and October. These months are less crowded than the summertime (July and August). Temperatures are also mild and range between 25Β°C/77Β°F to 33Β°C/91Β°F.

You can enjoy all the activities at this time of the year and even go swimming or relax on a beach.

How Many Days Do You Need In Ohrid?

3 to 5 days is the best time to spend in Ohrid. 3 days is the minimum to explore the city and enjoy the lake.

If you want to make day trips around Lake Ohrid, such as the Bay of Bones, hiking or driving around the lake, I recommend spending 5 days. This way, you’ll soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the lake to the fullest.

How To Get To Ohrid

You can get to Ohrid from various cities in North Macedonia and Albania.

There are many organized tours you can take from Skopje to visit Ohrid for a day or more. You can also take a local bus from Skopje or Bitola and other cities. Check out my article about North Macedonian buses and learn more about traveling by bus to Ohrid.

However, I think the best way to get to Ohrid is to rent a car. It’ll give you a lot of flexibility. Roads are easy to navigate, and you can also drive around the island.


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PRO TIP: Check ratings of the company you choose before booking (ratings can be off). Go on Google, see ratings of the car rental company, then book on Discover Cars.

How To Get Around Ohrid

The best way to get around Ohrid and Lake Ohrid is by car. There are not many buses, and it’s not clear when they run. The bus situation is a mess, so we wouldn’t rely on buses.

You can also take a taxi if you don’t mind paying more. Or you can take a boat to the major sights such as the Bay of Bones and St. Naum Monastery.

Overall, the best way is to rent a car for a while days, be flexible, and explore the area on your terms.

Where To Stay In Ohrid

Ohrid has some of the most beautiful apartments in North Macedonia. The villas are beautiful and affordable, and most of them have amazing views.

My tip is to stay in an apartment or Airbnb rather than a hotel. I found that the hotels were average, and you’ll get a much better value from an apartment or an affordable villa with stunning views.

So here are my top 3 apartments I recommend for your stay in Ohrid:

➑ Ohrid Boutique Apartments
➑ Villa Fortezza
➑ Villa Varosh

Where To Eat In Ohrid

I highly recommend having dinner in one of the following restaurants with a lake view. Don’t forget to make a reservation in advance as they are usually fully booked in summer:

  • Kaj Kanevche Restaurant
  • Kaneo Restaurant

1-Day Itinerary For Ohrid & Lake Ohrid

Visiting the monastery of St. Johnthe Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon, and Samuel’s Fortress has to be definitely on your Ohrid bucket list.

Stroll through the tiny streets, go inside a shop, and buy the famous Ohrid pearl.

After, walk alongside the lake on the Ohrid Boardwalk until you reach the famous St. John Monastery. After, walk up through the Old City Park and stop at the Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon. Then, visit Samuel’s Fortress, with stunning lake views.

Relax in a cafe at Fort Cafe before you check out the Ancient Theatre of Ohrid and make your way back down to the town. Have a great lunch, and take some rest. Shop for souvenirs on Old Bazaar Street and in the old town.

In the afternoon or in the morning, you can visit the St. Naum Monastery and learn about the history and the evolution of the Cyrillic Alphabet.

most beautiful places in north macedonia to visit Ohrid Fortress
Me exploring Samuel’s Fortress In Ohrid


I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand Ohrid and the lake better. Check the answers below.

Is Ohrid Worth A Visit?

Yes, Ohrid is 100% worth visiting. It’s the most beautiful town in North Macedonia with much history and culture. It’s also unique for having 365 monasteries, one for each day of the year. And it’s famous for the Ohrid Pearls that you can buy only in the town.

Can You Swim In Ohrid?

Yes, you can swim in Ohrid. There are a few small beaches such as Beach Potpesh and or Beach Saraiste. However, they’re often very crowded and small. So I suggest swimming further away from the center at Old Swimming Court.

What To Do In Ohrid When It Rains?

You can do everything in Ohrid even if it rains, including visiting its monasteries, Samuel’s Fortress, eating delicious food, and go swimming. Make sure to bring a waterproof jacket, and you can still do all the activities. Don’t let the rain stop you from exploring the town and Lake Ohrid.

WRAP-UP: Visiting Ohrid & Lake Ohrid

These are the best activities you can do in Ohrid and Lake Ohrid. It offers diverse activities, places full of history and culture, and beautiful relaxing spots.

Enjoy your time at the oldest Lake in Europe. Learn a lot about its history and the importance it brought to the world and the entire Europe. It’s a special place, and I’m sure you’ll love it.

If you have any questions or need a customized travel itinerary, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you. Or check out my favorite travel resources and plan by yourself.

Happy Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

NORTH MACEDONIA: Interested in more articles for North Macedonia?
Check out my North Macedonia Travel Page:

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