If you search the Internet for photos of North Macedonia, the search engines will definitely give you several pictures of the city of Ohrid. Usually these are photographs of churches against the backdrop of a dazzling blue lake. The canonical landscape, which, however, is not at all banal – on the contrary, causes a lot of impressions and invites you to travel. According to populationmonster, Ohrid is one of the largest cities in Macedonia.
The local lake is one of those magnets that attract tourists to this small town. About a hundred more magnets are Orthodox churches built from the 9th to the 14th centuries AD. The mention of the era is obligatory, since the city itself appeared around the 6th century, but BC.
Interesting fact: Ohrid is a sister city of the Russian Podolsk. It is not entirely clear on what basis such a relationship was determined.
How to get there
There are direct flights to Ohrid from Moscow, about once a week. In order not to wait for a charter, you need to fly to Belgrade, and from there get to Ohrid by domestic flights. The total duration of the flight will be about 6 hours.
In addition, the airport, which is located 7 kilometers from Ohrid, receives flights from Zurich, Ljubljana, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Amsterdam and Dusseldorf.
In a town of 60 thousand inhabitants, buses have taken root best of all. Many of them look tired, but they are still reliable. Reusable bus tickets can be purchased at tobacconists.
The fastest mode of transport in Ohrid is a taxi. Trips are inexpensive, on average, it will cost 150-200 rubles. True, some drivers like to rip tourists off as much as possible, so agree on a price in advance before you get into the car.
Like many small towns that live mainly at the expense of tourists, Ohrid tries to please its guests in everything. This feature applies to hotels as well. The city has a good selection of various hotels, apartments, hostels, campsites and private accommodation. Most often there are hotels of the level of 2-3 “stars”. The cost of living in a double room is from 25-30 dollars. You can get a discount with a YHA card. True, in the high season it is sometimes difficult to find a room, so it is better to take care of this in advance.
A hostel room costs about $10 per person. These are hostels or houses designed for 5-10 people. If there are no places, then you may be allowed to put up a tent on the territory of the hostel for only 5-6 dollars. Campsites are mostly open from July to September. Not far from the camping “Sveti Naum”, located near the monastery of the same name, there is a nudist beach.
Private rooms in Ohrid are perhaps the cheapest type of housing. The average cost per night is 10-12 dollars. Like in a hostel. Only the choice of rooms is much richer, and living alone or together is better than in a large room with 10 people.
The beaches of Ohrid are located on the shores of the local lake. Their total length is more than 30 kilometers. This is a long line of clean sand where you can sunbathe and have fun. The average water temperature is 25 degrees Celsius. The swimming season lasts from May to September. Hotels and boarding houses were built on the shore of the lake. One of the popular activities in Ohrid is sailing. Here you can rent a yacht or go on a boat.
Cuisine and restaurants
In local restaurants, first of all, you should try dishes of national cuisine. The city has a large selection of establishments that will tell you in detail about what the inhabitants of Macedonia have invented for food over the past few centuries. For example, Ohrid meat or fried trout are excellent choices.
For a complete experience, it is best to choose a restaurant on the lake. Then you can enjoy both the food and the scenery.
The cafe sells a variety of coffees and a variety of pastries. Service at the local restaurant is good. Prices are small, at the level of the average cost of a European lunch or dinner. By the way, all the famous places in the city are close to each other, so you can wander from one cafe to another all evening.
Local residents are sure that you can still hear the beating of the heart of St. Naum, if you put your left ear to the sarcophagus with his relics in the monastery named after him.
There are two well-known families in Ohrid who became famous for the production of pearls – these are Talevi and Filevi. Knowledge and skills in this business are passed down in families from generation to generation. If you are in Ohrid, look for their shops if you want to buy earrings, brooches or necklaces.
In addition, national musical instruments, jewelry, wood and copper products are in use in Ohrid. Often, tourists buy CDs with Macedonian music performed by local bands. This is, so to speak, genuine music, and not something that can be found on torrents.
Entertainment and attractions in Ohrid
There are not many attractions in Ohrid. Basically, tourists see monasteries and churches and ride on the lake.
Summer Drama Festival
This is one of the most important music and drama festivals in Macedonia. Troupes from all over Europe come to the city. The festival has been held in the church of St. Sophia, whose building is distinguished by special acoustics, for 50 years. The event has clear dates – from July 12 to August 20.
Festival of Balkan Folklore
A huge celebration in which more than a thousand teams participate. We can say that this festival is a collection of all the best that has been invented in the Balkans for many centuries. The festival is sponsored by UNESCO. While the people are singing and dancing, the audience walks around the fairs and eats national food.
Monasteries and churches
As already mentioned, there are about a hundred monasteries and churches in Ohrid, some of which are more than 10 centuries old. For example, the monastery of St. Panteleimon was opened in the 9th century. The first Slavic university and the oldest medical school in Europe were located here. The monastery houses 800 Byzantine-style icons.
The Church of St. Clement is a tribute to Clement of Ohrid, a disciple of Cyril and Methodius. Clement is famous for adding letters to the Greek alphabet designed specifically to convey the corresponding Slavic sounds. His relics are kept in the church.
In the monastery of St. Naum there is a sarcophagus with the relics of a saint who devoted his life to healing the sick. Local residents are sure that you can still hear the beat of Naum’s heart if you put your left ear to the sarcophagus.
The symbol of Macedonia is the church of John Kaneo. It rises above the lake on a rocky cliff. This is a very beautiful church, which is painted with frescoes of the 13th century.
3 things to do in Ohrid
- Go to a rave in nightclubs – in Ohrid there are perhaps the best clubs in Eastern Europe. People are dancing everywhere – in bars, restaurants, on the beach. All clubs are located next to each other, so you can go around several establishments in one night.
- Climb into a thousand-year-old tree – this giant, which, according to various sources, is from 900 to 1100 years old, is located at the intersection of Gotse Delchev and Kliment Ohridsky streets. Little is left of it, but the tree is still admired. Previously, it housed a barber shop and a money changer’s office.
- Arrange a performance in the ancient theater – the ruins of the ancient Roman theater are located in the Varos region. Here you can feel like a dramatic actor and, for example, stage your own play. You will create the desired atmosphere with the help of costumes from the era of Ancient Rome.
This lake is considered one of the most beautiful and clean in Europe. In its composition, it is similar to the Baikal ecosystem. The lake is so large and deep that it can be mistaken for the sea.
Here you can swim, dive, sail, ride a boat. There are many churches on the shore of the lake. The wooded ridge, hanging over Ohrid, is located on the territory of the Galicica National Park – in a calm area with almost untouched nature.
Galicia National Park
This park is located between the two largest lakes in Macedonia – Ohrid and Presla. The attraction of the park is the peak of Magaro with a height of more than 2 kilometers. But the strongest impressions are made by plants, of which there are more than a thousand species. Some of them can only be found in this park and nowhere else in the world.
There are 18 villages in the park. Local residents are mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding, and also provide various services to tourists.