Lake Ohrid Travel Guide
Lake Ohrid is arguably Macedonia's most beautiful location, and definitely worth a visit if you're traveling through the Balkans. It's a great mix of culture and beauty; archaeologists claim that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. That, along with its picturesque villages, lakeside restaurants, and beautiful architecture make Lake Ohrid a relaxing weekend getaway packed with fascinating things to see and do.
I arrived in Ohrid from Sofia, Bulgaria via a stop in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The easiest way to reach Ohrid is by bus connections from Skopje, which take around 3 hours and cost around $10. It's hard to find information online about bus schedules, but in peak tourist season, if you arrive at the central bus station in Skopje you are guaranteed to find several buses leaving for Ohrid that you can buy same-day tickets for.
Once I got all settled in my hostel, I headed straight for the lake for a traditional Macedonian lunch: Polneti piperki, or stuffed bell peppers. A full lunch and 2 local Macedonian beers cost me $6! I took a leisurely stroll around the lake and the surrounding quaint town, enjoying the heavenly atmosphere.
When in Ohrid, there's a couple things that should be on everyone's to-do list. First, and my personal fvorite, was Tsar Samuel's Fortress, boasting massive fortified walls. The fortress itself is cheap (~$2 entrance fee), well kept, and fun to explore, but the real treat is the view from the top. Almost 360 degree views of the blue-green lake and cute town can be seen from the fortress walls. How to get here: you can take a taxi, or be cheap like me and walk there yourself. When facing the lake (with Ohrid town behind you), turn right and follow the boardwalk path along the lake - signs will point you towards the fortress. It takes maybe 30 minutes, but the views along the way meant that I didn't mind.
Also worthy of a visit is the Church of St. John at Kaneo, a Macedonian Orthodox church perched on a hilltop overlooking Lake Ohrid and the surrounding city. Built in the mid 13th-century, this is a real cultural delight and also a great place to take some photos. Entrance is free of charge.
Other awesome things to do while you're here: relax at the many stretches of lake "beaches," take a day trip to the Monastery of Sveti Naum (although, the Church of Saint John at Kaneo is more beautiful in my opinion), or simply relax and take a stroll along the lakeside boardwalks. My favorite part of Lake Ohrid was its tranquil atmosphere; it's practically untouched by mass tourism, extremely cheap for the budget traveler, and basically the perfect stop to recharge your batteries among gorgeous nature. Don't make a trip to the Balkans without visiting Ohrid!