Visiting The Balkan’s Jerusalem – Ohrid, Macedonia
I’ve never been much of a fan of Ohrid, even though this is a UNESCO’s cultural and natural world heritage site. As one of the most popular spots in Macedonia, I’ve always ended up in Ohrid during the high summer season, which meant crowds and noise. However, several days ago we made a random plan with Milena to visit Ohrid and photograph it, so we could review it.
Surprisingly, this poorly planned adventure turned out to be a wonderful trip that everyone could easily enjoy. We traveled by car to Ohrid from Skopje. The road wasn’t busy since it’s the winter period, plus we were traveling during business days. The weather was on our side and the sun was following us, creating stunning views on each corner. We were bound to have a great time.
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Means of transportation?
How many people traveling?
How many nights?
Type of vacation?
Exploring, relaxing, dining out, taking photos, enjoying nature.
24.01.18 – 27.01.18
First Impressions of Ohrid
We arrived in Ohrid around 2:00 PM and went directly to our apartment Cosy Ohrid Apartment (our Airbnb accommodation in Ohrid). We’re always anxious to see the accommodation first and then move on to the exploring part. We were happy with our Airbnb apartment in Ohrid, so we just left the bags and went to the city center.
Honestly, everything was gorgeous; people were relaxing on benches along the Ohrid lake or walking along the path that offered unforgettable views of the sunny horizon. We were a bit tired from the trip, so we just walked around and then had a lunch. We were happy, even though it was pretty cold outside, and it was getting dark. On our way towards the car, we were walking along the lake and were mesmerized by the sunset.
Comments on Ohrid:
The place in general – Ohrid is a beautiful city, that’s never been put to question. Here are some of the reasons to visit Ohrid: it has an incredible charm thanks to its numerous landmarks, cobblestone streets, and authentic houses, and medieval look. Ohrid at one point was considered the Jerusalem of the Balkans because of the 365 churches it had (one church for each day in the calendar). It is also popular for being positioned on the oldest lake in Europe, Lake Ohrid, and Samoil’s (Samuel’s) Fortress that watches over the city.
Parking – as it is a popular tourist spot, Ohrid has organized parking throughout the city. One hour costs 30 Macedonian denar or around 0.5 euros; payments are made by sending an SMS (text message). It’s usually crowded during the summer, so finding a spot can be a real challenge. Those looking for a free option can leave their vehicles at the Marina and then walk towards the city along the lake.
Nature – Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage site and that says enough regarding its nature. Situated along the Ohrid Lake and under the Galichica National Park, Ohrid offers clean air, greenery and lots of activities for nature lovers. Lake Ohrid has over a 100 beaches, and it’s perfect for a nice swim in the summer to cool off from the hot temperatures in Macedonia.
Shops – in the city visitors can find lots of souvenir and authentic shops as well as jewelry shops, boutiques and markets. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find generally cheap souvenirs or expensive Ohrid pearls jewelry. Nevertheless, you’ll have a lot of options for spending your cash.
During the Stay
We spent three whole days exploring Ohrid and several nearby landmarks. The first day we had only the afternoon and therefore walked around the lake and had lunch in Leonardo, a nice pizza place. The second day we went to the Samoil’s Fortress, Plaoshnik, Kaneo and even took a boat ride. An entire day was reserved for visiting the Bay of Bones and St. Naum, since they’re 15 km and 30 km away from Ohrid, respectively.
Visitors should keep in mind that Ohrid is on a hill and there’s a lot of walking involved when it comes to exploring its landmarks. You’ll need comfortable clothes and shoes as well as sunglasses and hats during sunny days. There are coffee shops and restaurants around, so you’ll won’t be suffering for drinks as long as you have cash. The city due to its uphill position and narrow, cobblestone streets is not wheelchair friendly.
Below you’ll find a list of the things that everyone must visit when in Ohrid; however, more information regarding these sights shall be provided in future posts.
Things to see when you visit Ohrid:
- Czar Samuel’s Fortress – 40 Macedonian denars entrance fee, built 4th century B.C.
- Plaoshnik (SS. Clement and Panteleimon – Early Basilica) – 100 Macedonian denars entrance fee, archeological site.
- St. John Theologian at Kaneo (and the smaller church of St. Virgin Mary) – built in the 13th century, built in Byzantine style.
- Fisherman Settlement Kaneo – a small settlement of houses made in recognizable fisherman style.
- Czar Samuel’s Fortress – Upper Gate – upper gate to the city, near the Fortress.
- Church Mother of God Perivieptos and the Icon Gallery – built in 1295.
- Ancient Theatre – built in 200 BC, built in Hellenistic style, offers a magnificent view of the lake.
- Church St. Sophia – the main part of the church was built in the 11th century, one of the most important monuments in Macedonia.
Sad to Check Out
All in all, we had an unforgettable adventure in Ohrid and we were sad to check out. I must point out that the City is far from being this empty during the high summer season and I’m very glad I had the chance to explore it when it’s not crowded and noisy.
Visit Ohrid in the summer to get a whole different experience of the city and the locals. From nightclubs to beach parties, Ohrid in the summer is one of the most popular destinations for young adults, couples traveling together, and even solo travelers that like parties.
Pros of Ohrid
- Wonderful nature
- Cheaper than other European travel destinations
- UNESCO City
- Numerous historical landmarks
- Combines swimming with exploring
Cons of Ohrid
- Gets overly crowded during the summer
- Many things to see are outside the city
All my previous experiences in Ohrid were easily replaced with this wonderful 4-day trip and I recommend visiting Ohrid to everyone interested in exploring historical, architectural and religious monuments, and wonderful UNESCO recognized nature.