Ohrid City Guide


Introduction
Arriving & Departing
Weather
What to do here
Foods to eat
Where to stay
Getting around
Currency
Map
Is it safe
Conclusion



Introduction

Mountainous surroundings, scattered greenery, finely constructed mosques and churches, welcoming people, spacious roads and walkways, playful children and the most beautiful lake in the world. This is Ohrid, the cultural and holiday capital of Macedonia. Whether sun or snow or rain and clouds, you’re sure to find all this throughout the entire year in Ohrid.

Still an undiscovered and unheard of place for many, Ohrid as a city and Macedonia as a country are doing their best to open up their doors for visitors from around the globe. One of the most unique features of this place is the Lake Ohrid.

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in the world and more interestingly has some of the freshest drinking water in the entire world. What’s more interesting is that the Lake is shared by two countries; the first being Macedonia and the second being Albania (which also makes travelling to Albania possible within an hour or two). Both Pogradec, a city in Albania and Tushemisht, a settlement in Albania lie on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid whilst Ohrid sits on the Macedonian side of Lake Ohrid. It’s fascinating that although Macedonia is a country which is landlocked by five other countries (Albania, Kososvo, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece), it still boasts a beach and coastal setting thanks to the lake.

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Arriving

If you’re arriving to Ohrid via a plane, most likely you will arrive at St. Paul the Apostle Airport. Ohrid city is located approximately 10KM from the airport and can easily be reached via taxi. If you have not made any plans yet, I would recommend flying into St. Paul the Apostle Airport and not Skopje airport if you plan to spend more time here. Otherwise, you can fly into Skopje airport and then make your way to Ohrid via bus, taxi or car.

Do remember that St. Paul the Apostle Airport has no rail links so however you choose to get to Ohrid city centre, it will have to be via road. Before we arrived, we were told that there would be a bus waiting outside for those arriving via Wizzair. Let me just mention here that the airport is very small and we were the only flight arriving on that day at that time (Tuesday at around 10:15AM from London Luton Airport). Anyway, when we exited the airport, there were no buses but a lot of taxis. That left us with the option of getting a taxi. Make sure you get the Bel Mercedes Taxi and not any others. These are the best and official taxis of Macedonia and also one of the first and oldest taxis in Ohrid. A one-way journey will cost €10. This should be the same on your way back to the airport. Make sure this is settled prior to getting into the taxi.

I have put Boulevard Macedonian Educators 13 as the destination as it is in the city centre and gives you an understanding of how long it takes from the airport to the city centre.

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Weather

Ohrid does not boast year round sunshine. The best time to visit Ohrid is May – September. However, that does not go to say that you cannot visit outside of these months. April was the month we visited and we did have a few rain days but it was generally pretty good weather. The peak season though is May – September. You’ll get day temperatures reaching 30 degrees celsius.

The warm season lasts for 3.1 months, from June 9 to September 13, with an average daily high temperature above 73°F. The hottest day of the year is August 5, with an average high of 81°F and low of 57°F.

The cold season lasts for 3.6 months, from November 25 to March 13, with an average daily high temperature below 49°F. The coldest day of the year is January 12, with an average low of 27°F and high of 41°F. (Weather Spark)

If you’re looking for the best time to visit Ohrid, plan your journey for around May to September. This will give you the chance to experience the place in full swing and great weather with awesome views of the lake.

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What To Do Here

National Museum – Robevi Family House

In short, this is a house of one of the residents of Ohrid turned into an archeological museum. It is a really good example of Ohrid architecture and interestingly the house gets more spacious the higher you climb. There’s a lot to see inside including artwork, carpets, clothes, household utensils and more. It is really quite amazing that a lot of this has been preserved until today. It’ll take you around 30 minutes to do a tour of the entire house.

The house belonged to the Robev family in the 19th century but was originally built by Todor Petkov from a village Gari near Debar in 1863 – 1864 thus making it one of the most representative example of the old-town architecture.

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention the name of the museum and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Tsar Samoil, Ohrid 6000, Macedonia
Hours: 10AM – 2PM & 6PM – 9PM (may differ in winter)
Price: 100 MKD

National Workshop For Handmade Paper

Located next door to the Robevi Family House museum you have this small yet interesting hand made paper museum. Walking by this museum, you can easily miss it so keep this one on your list and keep a look out. Inside, you can see a demonstration on how paper is made. We were shown how paper can be made using oaktree, cotton and water.

This place is one of the seven in the world and they have been printing paper since the 16th century. They also have a copy of the Gutenberg press (150 years old) on which the first printed book was the Bible! There are only two copies of the Gutenberg Press in the world and one of them is here in Ohrid.

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention the name of the museum and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Tsar Samoil 44, Ohrid 6000, Macedonia
Hours: Monday-Saturday from 8:30PM – 9:00PM; Sunday and winter working hours 9:00PM – 4:00PM.
Price: Free

Ancient Theatre

This place was built in 200BC and is a hellenistic-type theatre. Legend has it that this place was once used for gladiator fights. It was built in this location because this is the center of the elevated town. The location is protected from winds that would have interfered with acoustics during performances.

For a long time this place was abandoned until it was discovered accidentally. It was then later excavated and today is a tourist site as well as the place used for the annual Ohrid Summer Festival. Oh yeah and one more thing, you can get some awesome views of Lake Ohrid from here.

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention Ancient Theatre and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Ilindenska, Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia
Hours: Open 24 hours
Price: Free

Samuel’s Fortress

One of the largest medieval forts in Macedonia, this place occupies the entire Ohrid hill which rises to 100 meters. It was definitely a mission to climb our way up here but worth it once we reached the top. The steps were incredibly steep so do be careful. Anyway, the purpose of the fortress was keeping a watch out over the city to protect the public.

The fortress was destroyed a number of times, only to be rebuilt and upgraded. From all sides of the fort you can get some amazing views of the city except for one side from which you get a really nice view of Lake Ohrid.

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention Samuel’s Fortress and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Samuel’s Fortress, Ohrid, North Macedonia
Hours: 9AM – 6PM
Price: 60 MKD

Church of St. John at Kaneo

Wow! One of the most spectacularly constructed churches in the world built in one of the most magnificent of locations. This church has a byzantine/armenian architectural style and was built in the honor of St. John the Theologian. The church is right above the fisherman’s settlement which is a great place to catch a boat ride and eat some fish. The church is known to be one of the most beautiful churches in the entire Balkan region!

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention Church St John Kaneo and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Kaneo Plaosnik Pateka, Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia
Hours: 9AM – 6PM
Price: Free unless you want to enter the church which will cost 100 MKD

Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon

This is a byzantine style church located in the area Plasonik. The interesting thing about this church is that it is likely the place where the first students of the Glagolitic alphabet were taught; the alphabet used to translate the bible into old church slavonic.

Saint Clement had this built when he arrived into Ohrid and used it as a place for teaching his disciples. In the 15th century the church was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. In the 16th century the Ottomans allowed for monasteries and churches to be restored. After this another mosque was built known as the Imaret Camii with this being torn down in 2000.

A little known fact; within the compound, in one of the corners you will find the graves of two muslim Turkish men who were residents of Ohrid. The names of only one of the men is inscribed on the wall outside which is Sinan Celebi from the year 1493.

Getting There: You can easily walk here or get a taxi. It’s easier to walk here. If getting a taxi, simply mention the name of the church and the taxi driver will take you there.
Address: Kuzman Kapidan, Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia
Hours: 9AM – 6PM
Price: 100 MKD

1000 Year Old Cinar Tree

This is a interesting fact. Travel guides and locals tell us that there is a 1000 year old Cinar Tree at the end of the Old Bazaar street (St Clement of Ohrid). Here you’ll see local street food vendors as well as locals selling souvenirs.

History tells us that this tree was planted by Kliment Ohridski 11 centuries ago and since then it has been a gathering place for everyone regardless of religion and social status. Close by to the tree, you will also see some city taps. These were the first city taps with cold water conducted from a close by mountain.

Since its inception, the tree has been through earthquakes, floods, battles and a change of masters. On the other hand, it was also a place where people gathered, conversed, bonded and got married. If in Ohrid, make sure to visit this ‘great’ tree.

Getting There: Walk over to the end of St Clement of Ohrid road which is at the end of the Old Bazaar.
Address: St Clement of Ohrid, Ohrid, North Macedonia
Hours: Open 24 hours
Price: Free

Take a Boat Ride

The boat in the middle with three men sat in it is the one we took.

It would be a shame to come all the way over to Ohrid and miss the opportunity to take a boat ride. Regardless of what type of boat ride you take, just make sure you take a boat ride. Close by to the port, you will find several companies offering their services and various types of boat rides.

To keep it simple I’ll tell you what we did. Walking across the marina we came across an old boat with an elderly gentleman sat in it. On the boat it said ‘Tourist Boat’ in Macedonian I think. The name of the boat was Delfin and the elderly gentleman’s name was Alchev Vasil. He charged us only €5 each and took us for a half hour tour around the lake which was accompanied with some commentary about the history of Lake Ohrid. He also let me take control of the wheel which was really fun! His contact details are below:

Name: Alchev Vasil
Name of Boat: Delfin
Phone Number: +389 70 747 268
Cost: €5 each

Visit Monastery of Saint Naum

Unfortunately we did not get to go to this place as we missed the weekly scheduled boat ride there. I highly recommend going there as it truly is a tranquil spot located at the very southwestern corner of the Lake Ohrid. It’s 29KM from the town of Ohrid and interestingly only 1KM from the Albanian border.

The location of this church was chosen on purpose as it provided a setting for peace and spirituality. It is one of the most popular tourist destination in Macedonia. The monastery dates back to 905 when it was first established.

Getting There: Either take a bus or boat to the Monastery. A bus can be taken from the Ohrid bus station and a boat can be taken from the port of Ohrid. There is a company that takes people there for €10 return via boat (another 100MKD to enter the monastery). Their details are below.
Address: Monastery of Saint Naum, Р501, 6320, North Macedonia
Hours: 9AM – 6PM
Price: 100MKD

Boat Details:
Website: http://www.boatohrid.com
Email: gilevskizoran@gmail.com
Phone Number: +38970232202, +38970232099, +38970264778

This boat takes you to the monastery around 10AM, allows you to spend a couple of hours or longer over there, then returns back to Ohrid port setting off around 2.30PM. Times may differ in the peak summer season.

Visit Church of St Sophia

One of the largest churches in the region, this place was once upon a time a cathedral. The exact date of its construction is unknown as there is no inscription with this information. When the Ottomans conquered Ohrid, the church was converted into a mosque. Much of the design, interior and exterior of the church was redesigned to look more like a mosque.

Getting There: It is best to walk here but you can also take a taxi.
Address: Tsar Samoil 88, Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia
Hours: Not sure, but if you visit throughout the day hours it will be open.
Price: Free unless you want to enter the church which will cost 100MKD

Explore The Old Town

A great place to just walk around and meet locals. Also a great place to find local food and buy genuine Ohrid pearls. The Old Town felt a lot more historical than the other parts of Ohrid so make sure you walk around here. I must warn you that some of the cobble back streets of the Old Town are steep so ensure you warm up nice and wear good footwear.

You can enter the Old Town from here.

Explore The Old Bazaar

St Clement of Ohrid is a long strip with many shops selling clothing, food, coffee, pearls, desserts, and souvenirs. It’s a great place to pick up breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, treat or even some groceries if you’re self catering. The people here are lively and welcoming and the prices are very reasonable. On this strip you’ll find cash machines, exchange bureaus and also an internet cafe.

Address: St Clement of Ohrid, Ohrid 6000, North Macedonia
Hours: All shops and food places have their own opening times. But you can walk around 24 hours a day.
Price: Free

Visit The Mosques

Emin Mahmut Mosque – Goce Delchev 186

As well as there being many old churches in Ohrid, there are also many mosques with many of them being 500-600 years old. Below are some of the mosques that we visited:

  1. Ali Pasha Mosque – St Clement of Ohrid. The mosque was under construction when we were there (April ’19). This mosque was built in the year 1573 by Sulejman Pasha and served also as a school. The mosque possesses beautiful ottoman architecture and is very spacious inside as well as outside.
  2. Zeynel Abidin Pasa Cami [Halveti Hayati Tekke] – St Clement of Ohrid. A small and conveniently located mosque, it features a small prayer room with facilities for women. There are toilets and washing facilities in the basement. The mosque has an open spacious courtyard probably used for Jumuah [friday prayers].
  3. Haci Hamza Mosque – Goce Delchev. A small mosque at the end of the street Goce Delchev close by to many Halal restaurants. The mosque is open round the clock which is great just in case the others are closed. The other mosques usually close after each of the five prayers.
  4. Emin Mahmut Mosque – Goce Delchev 186. A small local mosque, probably used for the locals. This mosque also has ablution facilities right outside.
  5. Kuloglu Mosque – Goce Delchev. Another beautiful small mosque, we were welcome to this mosque by two elderly gentlemen and 3 children who welcomed us with ‘Merhaba’ and ‘Assalamu’alaikum’.

Other mosques include:

Visit The Green Market

In the middle of the centre, you will find this very local green market which is literally a green market. Here they sell everything you need such as fruits, vegetables, pickles and street food. You’ll find sun dried chillis, organic fruits and many organic vegetables. The locals here take pride in their products and occasionally you’ll see local men taking a break to play chess/backgammon. Pop by, buy some produce and support the locals.

Getting There: Take a taxi or walk here. If you are in the centre of Ohrid, it’s best to walk here.
Address: Boulevard Turistichka, Ohrid, North Macedonia
Hours: Usually opens around 8-9AM and closes at sunset
Price:Free

Walk Along The Marina & Port

Whatever time of day and night, if you need a stroll, look no further. The Marina and port are great places to walk, sit and relax whilst also taking some awesome photos. It’s the place locals and tourists come to unwind so everyone you’ll see here will be friendly and polite. Grab a drink, head over to the marina and enjoy the views.

Relax In The Square

Another great place to relax is the St Clement Square very close by to the marina. There are benches all over the place with restaurants close by in case you feel hungry. Oh yeah, there’s free wifi here too!

Visit The Fisherman’s Settlement

Just below the St John Church at Kaneo, you’ll find the fisherman’s settlement. Here you’ll be able to take a boat ride, buy fresh fish and also eat freshly cooked trout at one of the close by restaurants. Click here to see where the fisherman’s settlement is on the map.

Visit The Bay of Bones Museum

Known as ‘The Museum on Water’, this is an archeological complex along the Ohrid coast. It’s a very popular day trip stop and one of the most visited places in Ohrid. This place was home to a settlement of pile dwellers in prehistoric times. They resided here above the water and were supported by 10,000 wooden piles which were obviously anchored.

For a long time they were left unattended until it was excavated by an underwater team around 1997 – 2005. The museum stands to be a reconstruction of the settlement and gives visitors the chances to experience and see what it would have looked like a long time ago.

Getting Here: The museum is 16KM from Ohrid. You can get a bus from Ohrid bus station for 60MKD or a taxi for 16 EUR which will also take you to the monastery of St Naum. You can also get one of the boats here. Boats that go to St Naum do stop here for an hour.
Address: Bay of Bones Museum, Р501, Macedonia
Hours: 9AM – 7PM (July – August), 9AM – 4PM (rest of year). Remember that the museum is closed Mondays from October through to April.
Price: 100MKD [Adults], 30MKD [Students & Children]

Visit The Beaches

Potpes Beach

Even though Lake Ohrid is a lake, what’s amazing is that it has some sandy and stony beaches. There are some beautiful beaches at St Naum Monastery and other beaches that are worth visiting are Kaneo Beach and Potpes Beach.

Drink Fountain Water

Scattered throughout the city, we came across some very old water fountains and public cold taps. There is one within the complex of Church of St. Sophia. There is also another right besides the Cinar Tree in the centre. The water is fresh and cold and always refreshing. Wash your hands, wash your face and get hydrated with some of the freshest water of Ohrid.

Visit The National Park Galicica

This park is based at the site of the Mountain Galicica. The park is situated between the two biggest lakes in the republic namely Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. It was only proclaimed a national park in 1958 thanks to its natural beauty and flora and fauna. Do come here as it boasts wonderful scenic views of both lakes as well as the mountains. Great for hikers, you will not regret hiking through this park.

Getting Here: The best way to get here is by car if you have hired one or via taxi. I’m not sure if there are buses coming here.
Price: 200 MKD

Take a Swim In The Lake

Don’t try this in the cold season of course! In the peak season and throughout the hotter months of June, July and maybe August, pop over to one of the beaches and take a swim. The water is crystal clear and temperatures rise to 24 degrees celsius in the summer months.

For a full list of things to do in Ohrid, click here.

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Foods To Try

Mousakka

An oven baked mince beef and potato gratin dish. This is almost like a Balkan style lasagne but instead of pasta sheets you have potato layers. The Mousakka at restaurant Adana 2 was scrumptious and we highly recommend it.

Cost: 180 MKD

Durum

Shredded chicken or lamb donner in a wrap with salad and sauces. We ate this at the Adana 2 restaurant as well.

Cost: 150 MKD

Veal Soup

This dish consists of shredded meat in a spicy soup which is warming and nutritious. We highly recommend restaurant Adana 2 again for their veal soup which was absolutely delicious. The veal was extremely tender and was packed with flavour.

Cost: 100 MKD

Ice Cream

There are many ice cream parlours around Ohrid serving up ice cream/gelato. Pop over to St Clement of Ohrid street which is where the Old Bazaar is. The strip here has some great stalls serving ice cream. The best part is that most of them cost between 20 MKD – 35 MKD for a single scoop. The best ice cream we had was from an ice cream stall that belonged to Cafe Dva Bisera which is on St Clement of Ohrid.

Cost: 20 – 35 MKD. The ice cream below costed 35 MKD.

Tavche Gravche

Tavche Gravche basically means beans cooked in a skillet. This is a hearty and tasty oven baked beans meal which is also a traditional Macedonian dish. Most restaurants serve this traditional dish.

Cost: 80 MKD

Zelnik

This is a crispy savoury pastry dish filled with either feta cheese and/or spinach and many other fillings. This can be found in most bakeries.

Cost: 35 MKD

Palacinki

Sweet pancakes that can be topped with many things such as chocolate sauce and honey etc. This is served at many Restaurant/cafes. We ate this at Alpi restaurant for breakfast and it was prepared by a very kind and friendly elderly woman. Pop over and taste some of her famous palacinki and also omelettes! Cenan, his wife and their son Abdullah will go out of their way to look after you.

Cost: 160 MKD

Sweet Bakery Items

There are many bakeries scattered around Ohrid with many sweet bakery items such as croissants, muffins and doughnuts etc. They’re all so delicious. Make sure you stop by and get something at least once whilst you’re there. We usually went to the ones on Boulevard Macedonian Educators.

Cost: Bakery items range between 15 MKD – 50 MKD depending on what you want. The croissant below costed 20 MKD.

Chocolate Filled Croissant From Bakery Boulevard

Falafel and hummus

This may not be a traditional Macedonian dish but we had to give a shout out to Dr. Falafel which is based near the Cinan tree for having one of the the best falafel and hummus meals. It comes served with salad, bread and a drink. A great place for vegetarians/vegans.

Cost: The entire plate below consisting of 6 falafel balls, hummus, tahini sauce, chick peas, olives, cabbage, beetroot, red onions, lettuce, cucumbers and carrots along with pogacha bread and a can of drink costed only 200 MKD.

Shopska Salad

Though this salad is famous throughout Macedonia, originally it is a traditional Bulgarian salad which has today become famous throughout the Balkan region. It consists of tomatoes and cucumbers topped with feta cheese and olives with a dressing of olive oil.

Cost: 120 MKD

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Where To Stay

Our Room At Villa Mesokastro

Ohrid is a great place when it comes to accommodation for price and location. You can find budget, mid-range and luxury hotels all in great locations.

I would recommend staying in the centre of Ohrid close by to the attractions, great food places, money exchange shops and the marina. When my wife and I stayed in Ohrid, we only stayed in 1 hotel so therefore we are only recommending this one hotel.T

Villa Mesokastro: This villa/hotel is located right in the heart of the Old Town of Ohrid and is only a 4-5 minute walk down to the centre of Ohrid. It features rooms with balconies in almost all rooms with awesome views of Lake Ohrid. Staff are extremely kind and friendly and because it is a villa, it does not have a hotel/corporate/customer feel to it. The family that own the villa are always available and will treat you like one of theirs. The rooms are basic and have all the amenities you’ll need for your stay. The only thing to remember with this villa is that it is located slightly uphill. Therefore, if you have difficulty walking or have a physical disability, I would probably look elsewhere.

If you want to search for hotels in general in Ohrid, head over to Booking.com. The above links are affiliate links which means that if you click on them and book a hotel, booking.com will pay me a commission without any extra charges to you. Thanks for the support.

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Getting Around

Getting around Ohrid is quite simple. Most attractions, monuments and sites can easily be reached by foot if you don’t mind the occasional up hill. However, taxis are readily available throughout the city should you require one. Taxis are very inexpensive – a 1 mile journey will cost you around 60 MKD which works out to around 80P!

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Currency

Macedonian Denar [MKD]

To find the latest exchange rates, click here.

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Map

Click here or look through the map below to see places you can visit when in Ohrid.

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Is It Safe?

Ohrid is a safe place. It’s a highly visited place in the peak season so is filled with tourists from around the globe and locals who are always welcoming.

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Conclusion

Ohrid is truly a wonderful city full of history, culture and beauty. The lake is one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited with stunning mountains in the distance making it one of the most picturesque places. Catching the perfect photo will never be an issue in Ohrid as with every turn is a picture perfect setting. The people of the city are lovely and very polite. The love for their city can be felt through their smiles and their knowledge about Ohrid. We highly recommend adding Ohrid to your bucket list, it will definitely not disappoint.

If you’ve been to Ohrid, comment below. If you have any tips or comments, please comment below. Thanks for reading this and please subscribe to our site.

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