Ohrid and Lake Ohrid

Ohrid (Macedonian: Охрид) is a large town in southwestern Macedonia on the shore of Lake Ohrid. A town of vast history and heritage, it was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1980. Nestled between high mountains up to 2,800 m and Lake Ohrid, it is not only a place of historic significance but also of outstanding natural beauty. Ohrid is the jewel in Macedonia's crown.


Archaeological finds indicate that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. The lake itself is over three million years old. Ohrid town is first mentioned in Greek documents from 353 BCE, when it was known as Lychnidos - or, “the city of light.” Only much later, in 879 CE, was it renamed Ohrid. The name probably derives from the phrase “vo hridi” – meaning roughly, “in the cliff.” It comes from the time when the town was limited in a small area on the lake side of the hill, which in fact is a huge cliff rising above the lakeshore. The town as we know it today was built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries. During the Byzantine period, Ohrid became a significant cultural and economic center, serving as an episcopal center of the Orthodox Church and as the site of the first Slavic university run by St. Kliment and St. Naum at the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 11th century, Ohrid briefly became the capital of the kingdom ruled by Car Samuil, whose fortress still presides over the city today.

Get in

By plane

Flights are operated between Ohrid and the following locations (although on occasional incoming flights have been known to be diverted to Skopje instead, without notice):

  1. Amsterdam - Mondays (28th May - 17th September), Tuesdays (12th June - 13th September) with Macedonian Airlines
  2. Belgrade - inbound on Mondays, outbound on Thursdays (14th May - 27th September) with Jat Airways
  3. Dusseldorf - Sundays (1st July - 26th August)
  4. Ljubljana - inbound Tuesdays and Saturdays, outbound Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (from 20th April) with Adria Airways
  5. Vienna - incoming on Fridays, outgoing on Sundays (year round) with Macedonian Airlines/Austrian Airlines (codeshare)
  6. Zurich - Saturdays and Sundays (1st July to 26th August), Saturdays (year round)

By boat

There is a daily boat to Pogradec in Albania, leaving Ohrid at 10:00.

By bus

The easiest way to get to Ohrid is from Skopje, where buses run every few hours. A bus from Skopje takes about 3.5 hours and costs 520 MKD one way or about 750 MKD RT. Timetable: Ohrid - Skopje: 5:00**, 5:30, 7:15**, 7:30, 10:45, 12:45, 15:00, 17:45, 19:00*, 20:30** . And for coming back: Skopje – (Kičevo) – Ohrid: 5:30, 6:00, 6:55*, 7:00*, 8:00, 8:30*, 9:00*, 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30* (*summer only - 01.06 to 31.09). In the summer, travelers to Skopje might want to buy a ticket a day or two in advance.

There is a regular bus service from Bitola.

Frequent local buses and shared taxis to Struga. Both should cost 100 MKD.

From Albania, there is a bus line from Vlore (passing Durres and Tirana). Departure time from Ohrid to Albania: 04:30 and 05:40 am.

It's a little bit trickier to get to Ohrid from Greece. From Thessaloniki, the easiest way is to take a train to Skopje and then hop on a bus to Ohrid.

If you want to reach Ohrid and Macedonia from Montenegro there is an overnight bus (operates only on Sundays) from Herceg Novi to Skopje via Albania, passing through Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj. Ticket price vary from place in Montenegro and most expensive is from Herceg Novi and cost around 25 €.

Get around

The lakeside walk between Kaneo and the town centre in early spring

By taxi

Transport in Ohrid is inexpensive and covers all areas of the city. Taxi drivers may try charge tourists higher rates, so insist on a set price.

By boat

Daily boat to St. Naum Monastery. It also makes stops at a few interim beaches. It leaves Ohrid at 10:00, and at 15:30 from St. Naum Monastery. 600 denars return.

On foot

The city center and the old town is compact and best seen on foot. An interesting walk that takes in the main attractions starts in the main square. The city's museums are in this area. From here, visit St. Sophia Church, the Antique Theater. Finally, walk up the hill to King Samuil's Fortress. Plaoshnik, and St. John - Kaneo can be visited on the return journey.


Ohrid at night

Aside of the lake, Ohrid is most famous for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries where Saints Kliment and Naum with the help of king Boris I (students of Cyril and Methodus) wrote their teachings and formulated the Cyrillic alphabet used in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and as far as Russia, and many of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Most of these churches charge an entry which for tourists is normally double that what locals pay, but is still worth it. It is a good idea to cover up when entering a church, but most locals will understand the inconveniences involved during a hot Macedonian Summer. There is also a wonderful ancient walled fortress at the top of the city. Churches to visit include:

Important churches

St. Bogorodica Perivlepta
Ancient church St. John Kaneo

Smaller churches

Ohrid Lake and Galichitsa Mountain near St. Naum Monastery

Other sites

St. Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik
King Samuil Fortress
Robevci & Uranija houses

Day tours

East coast of Lake Ohrid: The east coast is the most beautiful part of Ohrid Lake. It is part of Galičica National Park and it is protected by UNESCO along with the lake for its natural values. The first part of the east coast is less interesting, the road goes along the lake and is lined with hotels, tourist settlements and organized beaches.

From here on the coast becomes more wild and beautiful with stunning views over the lake.

St Naum



Apart from sightseeing, there are a few different natural beaches, usually the further from the city center the more scenic they become, and each offers a unique beach experience. Gradiste beach is known for many young people and music for instance, while others have families or tranquil atmosphere. Beaches are most crowded in July and August, and quiet the rest of the year, which is a whole different experience.



International seller published in Ohrid

If interested in real Macedonian folk music, ask for music performed by Aleksandar Sarievski, Nikola Badev, Vaska Ilieva, Petranka Kostadinova, Anka Gieva, Jonče Hristovski, Kočo Petrovski... Avoid CD`s with modern-day "turbo folk" music (i.e. semi-naked girls with bad voices, singing on techno melodies).


Some of the modern buys in this birthplace of Cyrillic literacy, include books from Happy Something Press, Ohrid's book publisher in English, founded by Macedonian born author and Oxford University student Evangelina Cifliganec , known for her contemporary novel "Happy Something". Its 2nd edition was published by the publisher's Ohrid branch, HappySomething.com , as the author was said to be inspired by Ohrid. You might find it easier online as the price of the English version there is higher and not always in stock.

A Passage through the Fog is a book that has been written in Ohrid by the Ohrid born writer and photographer Misho Yuzmeski. Dr. Michael Seraphinoff, in his Translator`s note on the book has written: "Misho Yuzmeski's novel invites the reader to join his young narrator on a journey of discovery through the heart of modern Europe. While this journey offers certain narrow insights into modern day city life in England and a few of the continent's major cities, it is the internal journey of the young traveler that is at the heart of this novel. Readers are liable to find parallels to some youthful search for meaning of their own in Michele's journey. He reminds us of a critical time in many of our lives, when childhood is finally behind us, but the road ahead is quite uncertain." A copy of the book can be found in all Ohrid`s bookstores and there is no difference in price between different stores. Bulgarian translation of the same book is available, as well.

Short History of the Macedonian People by Risto Stefov was published in Ohrid in 2011. This book is a chronological outline of historical events involving Macedonia and the Macedonian people from ancient times to the present.

Numerous book stalls can be found (at least in good weather during the tourist season) in the square near Ohrid harbor. They sell a variety of maps useful for tourists as well.


The downtown farmers' market has all kinds of fresh produce, as well as local specialties such as walnuts. There are cheese and sausage shops in the market as well, as well as numerous vendors of clothing and assorted industrial goods.

Bicycle supplies and service

There is at least one bike repair shop, which also sells common spare parts and supplies, next to the farmer's market. Some vendors in the market carry bicycle accessories (spare tubes, pumps, etc) as well. This is pretty much the only place in the region to purchase stuff like this, since smaller towns around Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa do not seem to have any bicycle related shops or services - and even gas stations there may not have air pumps.


Restaurants and hotels throughout Macedonia are proudly displaying Ohrid trout (Ohridska pastrmka) on their menus because it is very delicious but it is illegal to catch the fish along the Macedonian shoreline of Lake Ohrid. Please do not support or encourage the consumption of the trout. Ohrid trout, an ancient living fish, is in severe danger. There is also another trout species called Belvica. Some popular restaurants in Ohrid known to most people in town simply by the name are:

Try these foods:


The traditional Macedonian alcoholic beverages are rakija and mastika. Boza is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day; it was spread throughout Macedonia with the arrival of the Turks and it has significant nutritional value. Other popular drinks are Macedonian wines called Kavadarka and Smederevka and Skopsko beer. Try boza with ice-cream. Its called "Ambasador".


Main forms of accommodation are private houses, apartments and villas,you can also try to find a couchsurfer. For an average price of around €10-15 per night, you will find an excellent private facilities, located mostly in the Old Town. Fastest and safest way of booking accommodation in Ohrid hotels and apartments is to visit website www.visitohrid.com.mk. On the page are published different information which help tourists during their stay in Ohrid.While arriving there, to get a host you can ask at the nearest Tourist Information Bureau (at the bus station, for example). However, the best solution is to make your reservation in advance via Internet or phone, having in mind the growing popularity of Ohrid as tourist destination:


Stay safe

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.