Things to do in Ohrid, the pearl of North Macedonia
March 5, 2019
by Kristina Kostadinoska
Being Macedonian means taking part in the Balkan countries that are known for many things. Mostly they are characterized with incredible nature, stunning landscapes, tasty and greasy food, happy and welcoming people, history, beautiful lakes. Speaking of lakes, right on the border between North Macedonia and Albania lays the deepest lakes in Balkan, the oldest and one of the most unique lakes in Europe. This beauty is shared by three towns: Ohrid and Struga in the Republic of North Macedonia and Podgradec in Albania. So, visiting Ohrid means you can easily check on the other two cities. Ohrid is being called a “Jerusalem” of the Balkans or even “Balkan Pearl”. I am happy to be able to visit this city and the lake anytime I want, to share my experiences and give advice and recommendations to people interested in visiting it. Here is a list of things you may want to know when in the city of Ohrid.
Go to church
If you ask the local people of the city of Ohrid they will tell you there are exactly 365 churches for each day of the year, but this number is not that accurate, as many of the churches built in the past were ruined or even rebuilt, during the Ottoman rule, into mosques. Regardless of the number, there are definitely many to be admired, being built on places that offer the most incredible views of Ohrid lake. One of the most significant is the Monastery of St. Naum, then the Church of St. John at Kaneo, Church of St. Panteleimon, Church of St. Sophia. Even if you are not such a religious person you will find worth visiting all of them only for the view and amazing surroundings. Al of them are very easy to reach and the best is, there are no long ques or entrance fees.
Make an effort and try burek
I did mention earlier that our food is tasty but greasy, right? Well, burek is one of the most delicious but at the same time most greasy pastry Ohrid offers. As a visitor, you should definitely have a go and start the day as any local would, with a quarter of the burek and a cup of yogurt. It is an indescribable experience and I assure you, you will go back for more. Besides the burek, you may also want to try a pastry called “priturano” which is basically layers of crepes and oil. Aside from these pastries, the city of Ohrid is well known for its delightful fish specialties and traditional Macedonian food served in the many restaurants situated along Lake Ohrid.
Seek the hidden beaches
If you are in Ohrid to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, the villages along the lakeshore and the beaches they are hiding is a must. Of course, famous, loud and crowded beaches are there to have fun, but if you are searching for an escape, take the bus or rent a car and go further in the nearest villages. There you will testimony untouched nature, clean water and silence that calms your mind. Labino Beach is a perfect getaway for anyone seeking clear water, freshness and peaceful mornings. Peshtani Beach, located on the Peshtani coast is another relaxing place worth being visited. In the quest of perfection and calmness, Trpejca Beach is at the top of the list. Small village with the perfect stony beach where you have the feeling that time stopped and where small local stores work the same way they did many years ago. There is only one, very old school hippie bar that plays a low volume of Bob Marley’s songs and gives you the sensation of tranquilness. Sveti Stefan Beach is another beach reachable by boat only, offering the cleanest water of the lake to swim or dive in. Last but not least is the Beach Potpesh that will amaze you with numerous scenic views and breathtaking landscapes.
Take a tour
Embrace the historical and cultural significance of the Macedonian pearl, Ohrid and enjoy a private full day tour or choose by your preferences of the many tours offered by agencies or private tour guides. Face to face with the spectacular old town, situated on the shores of the lake, witness the archeological remains and meet the culture and customs of living between the VIIth and the XIXth century. Walk by the Hellenistic theater that was later turned into a Roman one. Take a trip to the Reconstruction of Bronze Age near Peshtani, only 12km south of the city of Ohrid or challenge yourself to get to Tsar Samoil’s Fortress on the hill, the major tourist attraction this city offers. You can even book a tour and go hiking to Galicica National Park, on a mountain situated between north Macedonia and Albania. All the tours are affordable, but it is always better if you just grab a map and try to discover the city yourself.
One of the best places to party when in Ohrid is Gradishte Beach. During summer, especially July and August, this is where the crowd, loud music, live performances, DJs, events, bonfire parties are. Feel free to park the car near and hit the beach. Naturally, you can always just get to the city center and go to clubs or restaurants that most of the time have live music, drinks, and parties till early morning. If you are a wine lover, there are many good quality wineries in the Old town of the city of Ohrid and many traditional restaurants. Excellent food and music can be found at St. Stefan beach too. The hotels and resorts on the lakeshore offer a fancier partying style if that is your cup of tea. Off-season, the city of Ohrid is another level experience and many blues bars and restaurants can let you enjoy the calmness that the winter fairytale offers.
If by far I was not convincing enough, let me tell you that the city of Ohrid offers the most beautiful handmade pearls from shells and scales of the fish “plashica”, endemic fish that live in the waters of the Ohrid lake. Most of the shops in the city center, besides other jewelry, sell these wonderful pearls.