Ohrid Stories and Tips

Macedonia's Prettiest Town

Having spent the previous two nights roughing it in a sleeping bag under the stars in the Mavrovo National Park and on the shores of Lake Ohrid at Struga and having had the most patiently slow of lifts down from near Gostivar to Ohrid from an exceptionally heavy trek - a bit of luxury was called for.

That was found in Ohrid with some bottles of beer which helped me to work out whether I preferred Zlatan Drab or Skopsko (the two most common brands).

On arrival we hunted out a place to stay, numerous houses had the notorious balkan "sobe" (rooms) sign (written in cyrillic of course), the key was finding someone actually in. Eventually a landlady was unearthed and the top floor of a house complete with beds and a kitchen was astutely negotiated by my Slovenian pal in Serbian. What's more - she seemed obsessed with offloading as many tomatoes as you could imagine on to us.

Despite Ohrid's modest size, it is definitely worth hanging around the area a while. Macedonia (or FYROM if you don't want to annoy their nationalistic neighbours the Greeks!) is cheap, so you needn't worry about running up huge bills (although services are notoriously expensive for locals -electricty etc)- both food and accomodation is nicely priced, internet as well.

Having been part of various empires over the years and ruled by all of its neighbours at some time or another, Ohrid has plenty of remnants of the past with lots of archaelogical site with the vicinty. Ohrid was the religious and educational centre of Macedonia and to some extent Slavic nations in general - supposedly once housing 365 churches (one for each day of the year), there are still plenty of stunning old churches to admire for its size but considerably less than that. My favourite (and probably most people's) is Sveti Jovan Kaneo, perched on a small hill at the edge of Lake Ohrid - it's a great place to relax and admire both the lake and cuteness of the church.

If that's not enough there's a nice big fortress overlooking the city, it's a bit of a distance to get up there but the view is staggering. St. Cyril (whose work along with Methodius and one of his disciples Clement of Ohrid invented the cyrillic alphabet) is a popular figure in Macedonia and there's a decent statue here too.
Lake Ohrid itself is a warm swim in the summer and if you begin to circumnavigate it a little (not suggesting you do the whole thing!), you'll find a quiet place for a swim soon enough.

With all of that plus interesting monasteries and a choice selection of hiking paths relatively close, you really can't afford not to go to Ohrid. Ohrid doesn't have a train line but there's bus services across the country as well as coaches across Europe.

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