12 seriously amazing things to do in Ohrid, Macedonia

Looking for the best things to do in Lake Ohrid? Let me help.

The serene Lake Ohrid is the perfect lakeside retreat. Straddling the border between Macedonia and Albania, it’s a protected UNESCO site and one of the world’s oldest lakes.

Although Lake Ohrid is off-the-path compared to countries like Italy or even Croatia, it’s still a popular place for Albanians and Macedonians to kick back. Prices are cheap and people are so nice.

There’s something rustic, retro, and quite charming about Lake Ohrid, that I haven’t seen other places. Much of the interior has a ’70s feel; warm earthy brown and orange tones, wood paneling, and Afghan blankets. It’s incredibly cozy and charming.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to the best things to do in Ohrid, Macedonia, and include a bit of the historical background.

From the most beautiful churches to the Old Bazaar and the historic Samuil’s fortress, here’s a list of the 12 best things to do in Ohrid. 

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Things to do in Ohrid, Macedonia

There are a lot of things to do in Ohrid. But most of all, it’s a place to relax and unwind for a long weekend or a week. 

The views are definitely the main reason to visit Ohrid. It’s just so peaceful and quiet. And it’s easy to reach from Skopje.  

Ohrid is a fairly small city and you can reach each sight by foot. You’ll need transportation to reach Lagadin or Sveti Naum. 

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

When to visit Lake Ohrid

Ohrid is a seasonal city, which means that hotels shut down during winter, and it can feel sort of abandoned.

We visited Macedonia in early November, just before our hotel closed down for the season. Although I haven’t been to Lake Ohrid during other seasons, nothing beats autumn when it comes to beautiful, vibrant views.

  • High-season: Mid-July – mid-August, during the summer festival
  • Most beautiful season: October – early November
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

What to see in Ohrid

1. St. John Kaneo Church

The hallmark of Lake Ohrid (and North Macedonia as a whole) is St. John Kaneo Church, built sometime before 1447. It’s the most beautiful place in town.

The church stands right above a small fishing settlement, on a cliff rising up from Lake Ohrid and it’s dedicated to John of Patmos, believed to be John the Apostle.

3 ways to get to St. John Kaneo Church:

  1. Walk from the Plaošnik, downhill through a forest (only take this “road” if you’re coming from the fortress)
  2. Walk the over-water boardwalk from the main dock (most scenic)
  3. Taxi boat ($5.3) from the port to the base of Kaneo church (most convenient)

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

2. St. Sophia church

The top Lake Ohrid attractions also include St. Sophia church. It dates back to 852 – 889, and it’s one of the most important churches in Macedonia.

It’s even pictured on one of the country’s banknotes.

It’s worth going inside to see the architecture and art from the Middle Ages. When St. Sophia was converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire, the frescos were covered and preserved. 

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

3. Plaosnik

Plaošnik is an archaeological and holy place in Ohrid. It’s home to the multi-domed medieval Church of Sveti Kliment i Pantelejmon.

Plaošnik is situated on a hill, 250 meters below Samuil’s Fortress and just above St. John Kaneo Church.

Lake Ohrid

4. Samuil’s Fortress

A little further up the hill from Plaošnik and St. John Kaneo Church is the mighty Samuil’s Fortress.

Samuil’s Fortress was the HQ of the Macedonian Empire during the rule of Samuil in the 10th century.

Today, this historical monument is a tourist attraction and was renovated in 2003. There’s not much information to be found at the castle, but you’ll get some really beautiful panoramic views from the top.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
The Amphitheatre is to the left

5. Ohrid Amphitheatre

Ohrid’s historic amphitheater was built around 200 BC. The Romans later removed some of the rows for gladiator fights and Christian executions.

You’ll find it tucked in between residential houses, and in the summer it’s a venue for Ohrid’s summer festival.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Houses next to the Amphitheatre

6. Ohrid Bazaar

In the heart of Ohrid is an atmospheric old quarter that cascades down steep streets.

The most lively part is the old bazaar, especially on market days, where lots of food and handmade products are for sale.

In the center of the square stands a 1,000-year-old tree and a fountain. Above the square is the clock tower of Ohrid.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

7. Ohrid boardwalk and city beach

Even if you visit outside the hot summer months, you should take a walk on the over-water boardwalk.

It starts at the main pier and takes you to a stunning outcrop of pebble beaches and a handful of small restaurants and bars.

During July and August, the water is clear and warm, perfect for swimming.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
The harbour
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

8. The Robevi family house museum

Open 10:00 – 14:00, 18:00 – 21:00. Closed Monday.

This three-floored museum is housed inside a 1864 building. It features ancient statues, stone monuments, and a carved torso of the Goddess Isis, dating from 200 BC.

On the top floor, there’s an exhibition of local woodcarving and other folk arts from Macedonia.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

9. Take a stroll along Lake Ohrid

One of the most beautiful places to visit in Ohrid is the nature in Lagadin. It’s a small tourist village 9 kilometers south of Ohrid.

It’s really quiet there, and there’s also a beach, restaurants and several hotels.

While summer is the best time to visit for swimming and higher temps, autumn is particularly beautiful.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

10. Day trip to Sveti Naum

Sveti Naum is the most popular day trip from Lake Ohrid and is most definitely worth a visit.  

Sveti Naum is very beautiful, and the iconostasis inside the church dates to 1711, and the frescoes to the 19th century.

The whole area is quite large and perfect for a picnic and swimming once you’re done exploring the church. There are also wild peacocks on the grounds and a lake where you can take a boat ride. Perfect for families.

How to get from Ohrid to Sveti Naum:

  • By car: Drive 30 minutes south towards the Albanian border. Park at the entrance to the monastery for a small fee.
  • By bus: Runs six to seven times daily (around $2.6 one way).
  • By boat: 1½ hours each way. Runs every day at 10 am and returns at 4 pm ($11 return).
  • By taxi: $18 one way.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

11. Bay of Bones

On the way from Ohrid to Sveti Naum is the Bay of Bones. It gets its name from the many animal remains that have been found here.

Between 1200 and 600 BC, Ohrid was home to a settlement of pile dwellers who lived literally on top of the water, on a platform supported by up to 10,000 wooden piles anchored to the lake bed.

The Bay of Bones is a reconstruction of Lake Ohrid in prehistoric times. 

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

12. Indulge in Macedonian food

The food in Macedonia is colorful and diverse, and most of the recipes are based on organic produce.

Vegetables and pastry serve as the backbone of Macedonian food, and it’s influenced by Turkish flavors, quite similar to other Balkan cuisines.

The most popular dishes in Macedonia include:

  • Tavce Gravce – baked beans with spicy peppers, onions and fresh tomato
  • Shopska salad – salad with cheese
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Burek – flaky filo dough with vegetables or meat
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Breakfast burek
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
A typical restaurant in Ohrid

Where to stay in Ohrid

We based ourselves in Lagadin, which I think is the prettiest place around Lake Ohrid. It’s got everything you need – a restaurant, ATM, small kiosk, and hotels.

But it’s 7 km from the Ohrid city center, so you’ll need a car, scooter, bike or taxi to go anywhere. Regardless of where you end up staying, just remember to book in advance if you visit during the high season.

Vila Bisera – We stayed at this lovely hotel with two swimming pools, spacious rooms, and such a nice staff.

The rooms have air-con (a must in summer) and such beautiful views over Lake Ohrid because it’s located on a hill. I’d definitely stay here again!

Click here to find the latest prices: booking.com

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

FAQ – What to do in Ohrid

How do I spend a day in Ohrid?

Spend a day in Ohrid by exploring the old town, visiting St. John at Kaneo for the views, and checking out the ancient theater. Don’t miss Ohrid’s fortress and a stroll along the lake.

Is Lake Ohrid worth visiting?

Absolutely, Lake Ohrid is worth visiting for its stunning natural beauty, cultural significance, and relaxing atmosphere.

How long do you need in Ohrid Macedonia?

Two to three days in Ohrid let you enjoy the main sights without rushing. It’s enough time to explore the town and relax by the lake.

Can you swim in Ohrid?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Ohrid. It’s known for its clear waters and beautiful beaches, making it a perfect spot for swimming in the warmer months.

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Looking for amazing things to do in Lake Ohrid Macedonia? Find my tips for the best sights, delicious food and gorgeous hotels in this amazing Macedonian lakeside town! #ohrid #macedonia

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