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Ohrid

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Ohrid and Lake Ohrid

Ohrid (Macedonian: Охрид) is a town in southwestern Macedonia on the shore of Lake Ohrid. A town of vast history and heritage, it was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1980. Nestled between high mountains up to 2,800 m and Lake Ohrid, it is not only a place of historic significance but also of outstanding natural beauty. Ohrid is the jewel in Macedonia's crown.

Understand[edit]

Archaeological finds indicate that Ohrid is one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. The lake itself is over three million years old. Ohrid town is first mentioned in Greek documents from 353 BCE, when it was known as Lychnidos - or, “the city of light.” Only much later, in 879 CE, was it renamed Ohrid. The name probably derives from the phrase “vo hridi” – meaning roughly, “in the cliff.” It comes from the time when the town was limited in a small area on the lake side of the hill, which in fact is a huge cliff rising above the lakeshore. The town as we know it today was built mostly between the 7th and 19th centuries. During the Byzantine period, Ohrid became a significant cultural and economic center, serving as an episcopal center of the Orthodox Church and as the site of the first Slavic university run by St. Kliment and St. Naum at the end of the 9th century. At the beginning of the 11th century, Ohrid briefly became the capital of the kingdom ruled by Car Samuil, whose fortress still presides over the city today.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • 1 Ohrid "St. Paul the Apostle" International Airport (IATA: OHD) (about 7 km from city center),  +389 46 252 820. The airport is open year-round but most airlines only fly during the summer, so check with your travel agent or airline for most current information. It is a very small airport and it sees at most a few flights per day. There are two food options at the airport: one cafe in the parking lot and one sandwich shop at the gates. Both are overpriced.

Flights are operated between Ohrid and several European cities including Amsterdam, Basel/Mulhouse, Belgrade, Brussels, Eindhoven, London, Sofia, and Zurich, as well as Tel Aviv in Israel.

By boat[edit]

There is a daily boat to Pogradec in Albania, leaving Ohrid at 10:00.

By bus[edit]

  • 2 Bus station (few kilometers outside of the center of town, about a 30 minute walk. Taking a taxi to the centre is easy enough as there are lots of them waiting outside the station anytime, but make sure to agree on a price before you get in the taxi, as the drivers may try to rip the tourists off. For a ride to the centre, 100 den seems fair, for the western flank of the city around Goce Delchev St, where much accommodation is clustered, make it 120 den),  +389 46 260 339.

The easiest way to get to Ohrid is from Skopje, where buses run every few hours. A bus from Skopje takes about 3.5 hours and costs 520 MKD one way or about 750 MKD RT. Timetable: Ohrid - Skopje: 5:00**, 5:30, 7:15**, 7:30, 10:45, 12:45, 15:00, 17:45, 19:00*, 20:30** . And for coming back: Skopje – (Kičevo) – Ohrid: 5:30, 6:00, 6:55*, 7:00*, 8:00, 8:30*, 9:00*, 10:00, 11:00, 14:00, 14:45, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30, 19:30* (*summer only - 01.06 to 31.09). In the summer, travelers to Skopje might want to buy a ticket a day or two in advance.

There is a regular bus service from Bitola.

Frequent local buses and shared taxis to Struga. Both should cost 100 MKD.

From Albania, there is a bus line from Vlore (passing Durres and Tirana). Departure time from Ohrid to Albania: 04:30 and 05:40 am.

It's a little bit trickier to get to Ohrid from Greece. From Thessaloniki, the easiest way is to take a train to Skopje and then hop on a bus to Ohrid.

If you want to reach Ohrid and Macedonia from Montenegro there is an overnight bus (operates only on Sundays) from Herceg Novi to Skopje via Albania, passing through Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj. Ticket price vary from place in Montenegro and most expensive is from Herceg Novi and cost around 25 €.

Get around[edit]

The lakeside walk between Kaneo and the town centre in early spring

By foot[edit]

The city center and the old town is compact and best seen on foot. An interesting walk that takes in the main attractions starts in the main square. The city's museums are in this area. From here, visit St. Sophia Church, the Antique Theater. Finally, walk up the hill to King Samuil's Fortress. Plaoshnik, and St. John - Kaneo can be visited on the return journey.

By taxi[edit]

Transport in Ohrid is inexpensive and covers all areas of the city. Taxi drivers may try charge tourists higher rates, so insist on a set price.

By boat[edit]

Daily boat trips to St Naum Monastery and a few interim beaches. It leaves Ohrid's main harbour at 10:00 and at 15:30 from St. Naum Monastery, with additional trips on certain days. 600 denars return.

See[edit]

Looking toward the town from the fortress

Aside from the lake, Ohrid is most famous for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries where Saints Kliment and Naum with the help of king Boris I (students of Cyril and Methodus) wrote their teachings and formulated the Cyrillic alphabet used in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and as far as Russia, and many of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Most of these churches charge an entry which for tourists is normally double that what locals pay, but is still worth it. It is a good idea to cover up when entering a church, but most locals will understand the inconveniences involved during a hot Macedonian Summer. There is also a wonderful ancient walled fortress at the top of the city.

Fortifications[edit]

The old town is circled with walls, which are crowned with Tsar Samuel fortress. The first fortifications were built in the 5th century BC, but the oldest remains preserved are from 3rd century BC. The fortifications were reinforced various times throughout history and what stands today is largely from the 10th century. There used to be four gates to the city: the Lower Gate - you’ll reach it soon after you walk from the main square inside the old part of the town on “Car Samoil” street. It used to be the gate through which regular visitors entered the city in the ancient and medieval times, just one tower of it still stands; the Upper Gate - in ancient times it used to be connected with the ancient theatre by portico. It is well preserved due to the reinforcements made in the 16th century; the Front Gate - near St Mary's Celnica Church. It is the main entrance gate but just stands in traces today; and the Water Gate - the entrance in the city from the lake, the place where it used to stand is not known.

The Church of St Sofia, front facade
  • 1 Tsar Samuel's Fortress (Самуилова тврдина). The fortress sits like a crown above the old town. It was built in the 10th century when Ohrid was capital of the First Bulgarian Empire by Tsar Samuel, though it was likely built upon foundations of an older fortification dating to the 4th century BC. With its positioning at the top of the Ohrid hill, it provides expansive views of the town, the lake, and the mountains. 30 denars. Samuel's Fortress, Ohrid on Wikipedia

Major churches[edit]

  • 2 Church of St Sofia (Црква „Св. Софија“),  +389 46 267 403. Dating to the 9th century, St Sofia is a cathedral church of the Ohrid Archbishopric. The present church was built during the period from 1035 to 1056. The front façade with the towers and the open galleries was built in 1317 under Archbishop Gregory. The side porch was added when the church was turned into a mosque by the Turks. The interior contains a significant collection of preserved 11th century frescoes. The main altar has scenes from the Old Testament and an emotional procession of angels bowing to the Virgin Mary. The side altars have frescoes of the 40 martyrs and portraits of Patriarchs from Constantinople, Jerusalem and Antioch, archbishops from Ohrid and Roman Popes. The small square in front of it was the main forum in ancient times and is still used for various cultural performances today. 100 denars. Church of St. Sophia, Ohrid on Wikipedia
The Church of St Mary Perivleptos
  • 3 Church of St Mary Perivleptos (Црква „Пресвета Богородица Перивлептос“). This church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary; "Perivleptos" (from the Greek Περίβλεπτος) is an attribute given to her meaning "the Omniscient and Clairvoyant." The benefactor in its construction was the son-in-law of Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II. The church was painted by Michael and Eutychius, two young painters. Their work shows that styles later adopted in the Renaissance were already current in Byzantine art long before Gioto. The frescoes they painted have all the elements of Renaissance art except perspective. Important frescoes include, on the eastern wall, the detailed portraits of St Clement and Constantine Kavasila (former Archbishop of Ohrid) and the Lamentation of Christ painted with much emotions. On the western wall, in the Prayer on the Olive Mountain as the apostles are sleeping, take a look at their dress and how well the artists worked with color and showed the roundness of the bodies. On the northern wall, in the Death of the Virgin Mary, in order to present the holiness of the moment, there is a group of angels coming from the gates of the sky to take her soul, above her stands Jesus holding her soul. The figures are not presented the traditional Byzantine way, skinny, and emotionless. The painters were also the first Byzantine artists to sign their work (on 20 different hidden locations, look on the front columns at the sword and the cloth of two holy warriors). 100 denars.
There are three small 14th century churches situated next to St Mary Perivleptos:
  • 4 Church of Sts Constantine and Elena (Црква „Св. Константин и Елена“). Built in 1477, this church sits just southeast of St Mary Perivleptos. It is a small church with a single nave. The whole interior is painted with frescoes.
  • 5 Church of St Demetrius (Црква „Св. Димитриј“). Just east of St Mary Perivleptos is this 14th century church, dedicated to St Demetrius. The three-nave church has high quality frescoes.
  • 6 Church of Sts Cosmas and Damian (Црква „Св. Кузман и Дамјан“). Further southeast of Sts Constantine and Elena, is this small church, also built in the 14th century. It has great frescoes, including one which is depicted on the 1,000 denar banknote. It also has a wooden iconostasis.
The Church of St John at Kaneo, overlooking the lake
  • 7 Church of St John at Kaneo (Црква „Св. Јован Канео“),  +389 46 230 455. This 14th century church is best known for its scenic location, standing on a cliff above Lake Ohrid, likely making it the most photographed of the town's churches. Notable about its architecture is the Armenian influence with the zig-zag line of the roof of the dome. There are only few original frescoes left inside the small church. A popular beach is situated just below the church. 100 denars. Church of St. John at Kaneo on Wikipedia
The Church of St Pantaleon
  • 8 Church of St Pantaleon (Црква „Св. Климент и Пантелејмон“). Situated on the wider archaeological site of Plaošnik, the site has been an important religious center since early Christian times, if not before. It is the site of the first university in Europe, opened in the 10th century and is the place where the Cyrillic alphabet was created. The church you see is largely a reconstruction of the church St Clement built when he came here and opened the university. The original portions are the church are easily distinguished from the reconstructed portions. Inside, some original tunnels are visible via plexi-glass. When St Clement established the church, just the small round chapel that today serves as the altar existed. Because of the large influx of worshipers that followed him, he enlarged the church by building the central part of the church and turning the existing church into an altar chapel. He dedicated the church to St Pantaleon (also spelled Panteleimon), the protector of health. The closed porch and the bell tower were added later in the 13th century. Before St. Clement died, he dug his own grave inside the church. During early Ottoman rule, the Turks tore the church down after a rebellion. It still attracted a large number of worshipers and pilgrims, so they built a mosque above it. Saint Panteleimon, Ohrid on Wikipedia
    • 9 Early Christian church. Sitting on Plaošnik next to St Pantaleon is a church in ruins, built in the 5th century. It is important as an architectural solution since it has a four-leaf shape. Central solutions like this were built in Syria and Mesopotamia and they became customary much later in Europe, in the 10th century. It shows that Ohrid had great ties with the early Christian centers and that there was an exchange of artists and minds. It has a three-leaf shape on the outside and four-leafs on the inside and it had a big dome in the center (notice the 4 huge basis of columns). There is also a small baptistry to the right with a four leafed shape with some excellent mosaics.

Other churches[edit]

The Church of St Nicholas Bolnički
  • 10 Church St Nicholas Bolnički & Church of St Mary Bolnička (Црква „Св. Никола Болнички“ и Црква „Св. Богородица Болничка“). These two small neighbouring churches were built in the 14th century with dormitories around them which were used as quarantine stations for visitors of the city. After the coming of the Turks, they were turned into hospitals. That is where the name "Bolnički" comes from (bolnica means hospital). St Nicholas Bolnički was built in 1313. The small addition on the roof was influenced by Adriatic architecture and it imitates the bell-towers of the churches on the Adriatic coast. The frescoes are in decent condition and include interesting portraits of some royals, of St Nicholas and of an Ohrid archbishop. Look for the fresco of God’s hand protecting the pure souls inside a tiny window. St Mary Bolnička's frescoes are in poorer condition. Even though the church is tiny there is a transverse vault, so the roof is in the shape of a cross. 50 denars.
  • 11 Church of St Clement of Ohrid (Црква „Св. Климент Охридски“). This small, well-hidden church, built in the 14th century, is just a few steps away from the Bolnički churches, in the heart of the old town. The church is historically important since it is here that the bones of St. Clement were hidden after the Turks took the city and converted St Pantaleon to a mosque. It also has well-preserved frescoes. The church is locked; ask around the neighbouring houses for the key. Free.
  • 12 Church of St Barbara (Црква „Св. Варвара“). This small church was built in 1965 but looks like it was built centuries ago.
  • 13 Church of St Nicholas Gerakomija (Црква „Св. Никола Геракомија“). Built of stone and limestone, this church was completed in 1860. While still not completed painted on the interior, the existing frescoes were done by noted artist Dičo Krstev.
  • 14 Church of the Assumption (Црква „Успение на Пресвета Богородица“). This church, dating to the 17th century, sits just above the main shopping street of the Old Bazaar in the center of town. Most of the present structure was built in 1832. It has a single dome and contains impressive frescoes. The town's small 16th-century clock tower is nearby.
Square in the Old Bazaar
  • 15 Church of St Nicholas (Црква „Св. Никола“). The Church of St Nicholas is in the newer part of town on Partizanska Street, one block north of the lake. It was built in 1863 and has been expanded over the years.

Old Bazaar[edit]

Ohrid was a major religious and cultural center but not really an important trade center, which left it with a relatively small bazaar. It is a simple bazaar consisting of mainly one street, St Clement of Ohrid Street, which gets packed with tourists in summer evenings. It is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. The bazaar starts with the market at the northern end, followed by a square with a 1,000-year-old tree and a fountain. Walking down the bazaar, on the left are a couple of stone stores, which is the best-preserved section of stores in the bazaar. The bazaar ends with the main square which faces the port and lake. There are a few statues in this square.

  • 16 Ali Pasha Mosque (Џамија Али Паша). While Ohrid is known for its churches, it also has mosques including this Ottoman-era one. Located on the main pedestrian street of the Old Bazaar, the mosque was built in the 15th century. It has a rather simple design with one large dome and three smaller ones above the porch. It originally had at least one minaret but no longer has one. The mosque contains a few shops fronting the pedestrian street.
  • 17 Zeynel Pasha Tekje (Зејнел паша-теќе). A tekje is a place of spiritual retreat in the Bektashi Order, a type of Sufi Islam. Dating from 1590, the tekje is situated north of the square with the 1,000-year-old tree. It belonged to the Halvet dervish order. The building is square in shape with one minaret. The mausoleum of Muhammad Hayati, who was the founder of this dervish order, can be found in the yard of the complex. The tekje was renovated with Turkish funding in 2012.

Traditional residential architecture[edit]

The Robev family house

When the Turks came they settled on the flat land along the lake and that became the Muslim part of town and the part on the hills inside the walls was always the Christian part, with the bazaar as a meeting place. As the city grew and the Christians were not allowed to build outside the walls, Ohrid developed very specific architecture with tight narrow streets and tunnels (houses built over the streets). The houses had tiny yards usually enclosed in the ground floor, and the houses grew over the streets on the upper floors since the locations were small. The steep terrain enabled everybody to have a good view of the lake and because of the strong sun the houses were painted white, so they would reflect the sun. Because of the winds from the lake, the houses in Ohrid don’t have the open spaces that traditional houses in other towns in Macedonia have.

Interesting houses can be seen all over the old town but the best examples are along “Car Samoil” and “Ilindenska” streets. Robevci & Uranija houses are the two best examples of traditional architecture. They are houses of very rich families (normally the houses were not this big). Especially rich in terms of architecture is Uranija house, with entrances on different levels and inside galleries. They have been turned into museums today. If you don’t have time, visit just Uranija this one is free, even though the top level of Robevci has great views, nice wood carvings, and some furniture (100 denars entrance). The house next to St. Gerakomija church is one of the few traditional houses that has been nicely and carefully preserved. It has been turned into a hotel now; Kanevce House On the right from the main façade of St. Sophia church, is the small house that belonged to Kanevce family. It has beautiful proportions and it is a good example of how they built on small locations.

Other sites[edit]

The Ancient Theatre
  • 18 Ancient Theatre (Антички амфитеатар). This is the only Hellenistic theatre remaining in Macedonia, with the three others being from Roman times. Built in 200 BC, it was discovered by accident in the 1980s. It originally had an upper portion but only the lower portion is preserved. Today, it once again functions as a theatre, frequently used during Ohrid's Summer Festival. The theatre has a great open view of Lake Ohrid. Ancient Theatre of Ohrid on Wikipedia
  • 19 Icon Gallery (Галерија на икони). T-Su 9AM-5PM. Within the complex of the Church of St Mary Perivleptos, this gallery contains some of the best examples of the iconographic art in Macedonia. It is considered to be the second-most important and valuable collection of icons in the world after the Moscow collection. 100 denars.
  • Mesokastro Settlement. Mesokastro is the quarter right above the old bazaar, between the bazaar and the city walls. The name originates from the Latin term “meco castrum”, which means the city outside the city walls, where the poor used to live. It is interesting that the term has survived since ancient times. The houses of Mesokastro have incorporated parts of the city walls and in some parts they are not visible. If you have time walk around, since there are couple of old houses still standing and some of the streets offer great views over the lake.
  • Kaneo Settlement. Start the walk to Kaneo from St. Sophia church. You can reach it from Plaoshnik but you would miss out on the great views and the quiet streets of Ohrid. Kaneo settlement was the quarter of the poor fishermen. This the most scenic spot of Ohrid, standing below the rock on which St. Jovan Kaneo church is situated. There is a small beach overcrowded in the summer, and a couple of restaurants.
  • 20 National Ohrid museum. Tu-Su 10:00 - 14:00 and 18:00 - 21:00. Established in 1516 making it one of the oldest museums in the world. Now it shows exponents of history, archaeology and ethnology.
  • Hand-made paper workshopTsar Samoil (near the National Museum). watch paper being made from wood pulp using traditional methods, also copy of the original Gutenberg press. Line drawings and colour prints can be purchased, printed on their own paper. Free entry.
  • Photo Gallery & Cultural Centre "Cultura 365"Tsar Samoil (near the two small churches St. Nikola Bolnički & St. Bogorodica Bolnička.). open every day. Excellent photo exhibition(s). Here they provide tourist information, tour guides, maps of the city, and books in English. Free entry.

Day tours[edit]

East coast of Lake Ohrid: The east coast is the most beautiful part of Ohrid Lake. It is part of Galičica National Park and it is protected by UNESCO along with the lake for its natural values. The first part of the east coast is less interesting, the road goes along the lake and is lined with hotels, tourist settlements and organized beaches.

  • St. Stefan Cave church 14th c. If you have time take the scenic walk, up to 1 hr, along the coast from Gorica Hotel beach.
  • Elshani village Elsani is the perfect place to relax and recharge. Just sitting on the terrace of a guesthouse, drinking a coffee and enjoying the view of the lake is an experience in itself, but when it's time to get up and stretch your legs, there is plenty to do. This village is a great place to enjoy walking in the mountain, and it's a perfect starting point for a number of hiking trails for all ages and skill levels. While any guesthouse can point guests in the right direction or even arrange a guide for longer hikes, trails on hikers can follow trails on either the north or south end of the village to the nearby villages Konjsko or Pestani. The windy, hilly streets of the village also provide an unforgettable place to explore.
  • Peštani village – this once quiet fishing village has given up to tourism, with almost every house renting rooms and many restaurants and cafes. Desaret hotel has a good organized beach. If you don't like camping but like to enjoy the great beaches and parties in Gradishte you can stay here.

From here on the coast becomes more wild and beautiful with stunning views over the lake.

  • Trpejca village – due to the its setting between the rocks this small fishing village has managed to preserve its charm and escape the overgrow of tourism. It has a great long but narrow beach with the cleanest waters on the lake. It has couple of good small lakeside fish and barbecue restaurants and a bar on the left side of the beach. If you don't like the beach or it seems crowded take one of the small boats and ask to be taken to one of the isolated beaches around the village and enjoy the lake by yourself, the boat will come back for you at arranged time (50-100 denars).
  • Ljubaništa village – Many people seem to like it, probably because of the long, sandy beach. There is camping here. Beautiful nature makes it a perfect family place to be during summer vacation. In the camp you can take a trailer for usually 4 people, a bungalow or you can take a place to put a tent. There is no night life in this place. After 10:00 PM loud music is forbidden.
  • St. Bogorodica (Zaum) church – the church can be reached only by boat from Trpejca or Ljubaništa villages. Ask on the beach or in one of the restaurants. It was built on a stunning location among the rocks on a small beach in 1361. The architecture is exquisite, but the main reason to come here is to see the fresco of St. Anna breastfeeding Virgin Mary.
St Naum
  • 21 St. Naum monastery (At the other end of the lake and is accessible by bus that goes once every 2 hours (from St. Naum at 8:20, 10:20, ... 18:20), or by boat leaving Ohrid at 10:00. If you take a taxi, it may be worth asking the driver to veer off into one of the picturesque mountain villages overlooking the lake to stop for a cheap lunch of grilled meat and cheese.). One of the most beautiful monasteries in Macedonia and an important pilgrimage place. Breathtaking setting on a plateau over Ohrid Lake and Galičica mountain towering from behind. It was founded in the 910 by St. Naum, but the present-day church was built in the 16th c. Of the original church just the side chapel with the grave of St. Naum still stands. The frescoes were painted in 1806 (the side chapel frescoes depict the life and miracles of St. Naum); in the first chamber of the church look for the fresco of St. Cyril and Methody and their students including St. Klement and St. Naum. The icon screen was made in 1711 and it is the oldest completely preserved wooden high icon screen in Macedonia. In the side chamber it is popular to get down on your knees and try to listen the heart of St. Naum. Around the church look for the peacocks including a rare albino one. Bigger part of the dormitories of the monastery are turned into a hotel now. Near the monastery there is a chapel with holy water and before are the big springs with a lovely cafe on a small island inside the springs. It is possible (and a great experience) to take a boat tour of the springs (available only in summer) 50 denars, but skip the short boat tour offered to see the monastery from the water. Next to the monastery the river enters the lake. Around the monastery there is a pleasant sandy beach.

Do[edit]

Beaches[edit]

Apart from sightseeing, there are a few different natural beaches, usually the further from the city center the more scenic they become, and each offers a unique beach experience. Gradiste beach is known for many young people and music for instance, while others have families or tranquil atmosphere. Beaches are most crowded in July and August, and quiet the rest of the year, which is a whole different experience.

  • Labino beach. It's a small, stony beach that is not crowded. The water is clear and refreshing. Best time to go is in the morning.
  • Ljubaništa beach (On the South-West side of the lake.). Probably the best beach on Ohrid Lake. The beach is long, sandy with usually clean water. There are a lot of people but you can't feel that since the beach is really big. Best time to go is after 6 PM. A sunset you won't forget.
  • Gorica Hotel beach. This is maybe the most beautiful beach on the coast, it's covered with small pebbles and cut between deep rocks. Unfortunately it can get very crowded, so come here in early morning or late afternoon. If you visit Ohrid off-season this is the place to come and enjoy a great swim. There is a small cafe on the beach where one might also get some snacks and ice cream or rent beach beds. Walking along the coast from the city center to this beach is scenic, even more past it, and takes about 1.5h. The presidential Villa Ohrid, where the Balkan's Peace Framework was signed, is in the woods near too.

Events[edit]

  • [dead link]Ohrid Summer Festival. The Ohrid Summer Festival is one of the largest and most important music and drama festivals in Macedonia. The first concert took place in 1961 in the church of St. Sophia, with its exceptional acoustics. The festival in Ohrid has a particular international flavour because of the participation of a large number of leading musicians and ensembles from the best known European and world music centers. There have been participants from 44 countries. This Festival has a solid reputation as it has gradually become part of the large family of the most famous European music festival. The Ohrid Summer Festival has its own sound conceptions, and it is able to draw up a musical program that includes artists of world renown. The Ohrid Summer Festival is held each year from July 12 to August 20.
  • Ohrid Swimming Marathon - Each year, in the second half of July, the swimming elite throughout the world gathers in Ohrid and, starting from the monastery St. Naum, they swim along the Lakeshore to the town harbour, approximately a 30-km route. Since 1998 the Ohrid Swimming Marathon has entered in the World Swimming Club of the 12 worldwide held marathons under the patronage of FINA-The World Swimming Association.
  • The Balkan Folklore Festival - Member of the UNESCO Association of The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art, and The International Organization for Folklore Art. This festival has so far presented numerous original songs and dances from folk culture for more than 30 years. About 1,200 ensembles with 42,000 members have taken part in the festival.

Buy[edit]

International seller published in Ohrid
  • Traditional Macedonian musical instruments, filigree jewelery, woodcarvings, items made from copper, or a CD with authentic Macedonian music, can be brought home to refresh your memories of your visit.

If interested in real Macedonian folk music, ask for music performed by Aleksandar Sarievski, Nikola Badev, Vaska Ilieva, Petranka Kostadinova, Anka Gieva, Jonče Hristovski, Kočo Petrovski... Avoid CD`s with modern-day "turbo folk" music (i.e. semi-naked girls with bad voices, singing on techno melodies).

  • The Talevi and Filevi are the two Ohrid families who make genuine Ohrid pearl necklaces, earrings and broaches; they carried over this handcraft down from one generation to another. Ohrid pearl is created from seashells and coated with 5-7 thin layers of emulsion made from the scales of the Ohrid fish called Plashitsa, and is protected with a Designation of Origin.

Books[edit]

  • Books from Ohrid to read on the beach or take home.

Some of the modern buys in this birthplace of Cyrillic literacy, include books from Happy Something Press, Ohrid's book publisher in English, founded by Macedonian born author and Oxford University student Evangelina Cifliganec [1] [dead link], known for her contemporary novel "Happy Something". Its 2nd edition was published by the publisher's Ohrid branch, HappySomething.com [2] [dead link], as the author was said to be inspired by Ohrid. You might find it easier online as the price of the English version there is higher and not always in stock.

A Passage through the Fog is a book that has been written in Ohrid by the Ohrid born writer and photographer Misho Yuzmeski. Dr. Michael Seraphinoff, in his Translator`s note on the book has written: "Misho Yuzmeski's novel invites the reader to join his young narrator on a journey of discovery through the heart of modern Europe. While this journey offers certain narrow insights into modern day city life in England and a few of the continent's major cities, it is the internal journey of the young traveler that is at the heart of this novel. Readers are liable to find parallels to some youthful search for meaning of their own in Michele's journey. He reminds us of a critical time in many of our lives, when childhood is finally behind us, but the road ahead is quite uncertain." A copy of the book can be found in all Ohrid`s bookstores and there is no difference in price between different stores. Bulgarian translation of the same book is available, as well.

Short History of the Macedonian People by Risto Stefov was published in Ohrid in 2011. This book is a chronological outline of historical events involving Macedonia and the Macedonian people from ancient times to the present.

Numerous book stalls can be found (at least in good weather during the tourist season) in the square near Ohrid harbor. They sell a variety of maps useful for tourists as well.

Groceries[edit]

The downtown farmers' market has all kinds of fresh produce, as well as local specialties such as walnuts. There are cheese and sausage shops in the market as well, as well as numerous vendors of clothing and assorted industrial goods.

Bicycle supplies and service[edit]

There is at least one bike repair shop, which also sells common spare parts and supplies, next to the farmer's market. Some vendors in the market carry bicycle accessories (spare tubes, pumps, etc) as well. This is pretty much the only place in the region to purchase stuff like this, since smaller towns around Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa do not seem to have any bicycle related shops or services - and even gas stations there may not have air pumps.

Eat[edit]

Restaurants and hotels throughout Macedonia are proudly displaying Ohrid trout (Ohridska pastrmka) on their menus because it is very delicious but it is illegal to catch the fish along the Macedonian shoreline of Lake Ohrid. Please do not support or encourage the consumption of the trout. Ohrid trout, an ancient living fish, is in severe danger. There is also another trout species called Belvica. Some popular restaurants in Ohrid known to most people in town simply by the name are:

  • 1 Belvedere +389 46 265117. In the city center
  • Gino Italian Restaurant (in the city center),  +389 46 253 568.
  • Dalga +389 46 25 999. with a terrace over the lake in the old part of town
  • Villa St. Sofija, - in the old part of town near the cathedral church St. Sofia +389 46 254 370
  • Galeo Fish Restaurant, - in the city center +389 46 285 631
  • Biljanini Izvori, - meaning Biljana's Springs, 2 km away from the city center at the famous Biljana Springs +389 46 265 141
  • PizzaCafe – the Big Blue, - city center +389 46 261 242
  • Etno Restaurant St. Petka, - Outside of the city, Ul. Ilidenska 143 Ohrid +389 78 288 906 / +389 46 288 160 / +389 75 335 411. Real biological tradtional food.

Try these foods:

  • Ribna Čorba, a traditional fish soup served in most restaurants, mostly as a starter.
  • Burek, a layered pastry inherited from Ottoman times and popular for breakfast here. Choose with meat, cheese or spinach/cheese (arguably the best), and take a cup of traditional Macedonian yogurt. Modest looking place Burekđilnica Igor makes the best burek in town, Žito Leb's is also good.
  • Makalo, a starter spread made with garlic and yogurt.
  • Gjomleze, baked layered pancakes cut in a rhomboid shape, and usually served with white cheese.
  • Ohridski Gevrek, a traditional bakery product. You can buy it in Žito Leb'. Try it with yogurt or peach juice.

Drink[edit]

The traditional Macedonian alcoholic beverages are rakija and mastika. Boza is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day; it was spread throughout Macedonia with the arrival of the Turks and it has significant nutritional value. Other popular drinks are Macedonian wines called Kavadarka and Smederevka and Skopsko beer. Try boza with ice-cream. Its called "Ambasador".

  • Cafe GalerijaKliment Ohridski (city center, just before the entrance to the old city). 08-00. If you like to have your morning coffee at the city center, enjoying the view of the lake, you better find the small authentic coffee shop named "Galerija". It is one of the oldest coffee shops in the city. Enjoy in the lake view and the city at the same time. 80 cents.

Sleep[edit]

Main forms of accommodation are private houses, apartments and villas,you can also try to find a couchsurfer. For an average price of around €10-15 per night, you will find an excellent private facilities, located mostly in the Old Town. Fastest and safest way of booking accommodation in Ohrid hotels and apartments is to visit website www.visitohrid.com.mk. On the page are published different information which help tourists during their stay in Ohrid.While arriving there, to get a host you can ask at the nearest Tourist Information Bureau (at the bus station, for example). However, the best solution is to make your reservation in advance via Internet or phone, having in mind the growing popularity of Ohrid as tourist destination:

  • Villa St. SofijaKosta Abrash, 64 +389 46 254370fax: +389 46 279028, e-mail: . Check-in: after 1 PM, check-out: before noon. 4 star hotel in the heart of the old city and close to Ohrid Lake. A restaurant with two dining rooms and a spacious terrace. Warm and inviting bar and lounge to unwind in the evenings. Relaxing reading lounge as well as on-site parking and meeting facilities for business functions or private celebrations for up to 80 people. €25-€99.
  • 1 [dead link]Albergo Mimi OhridStraso Pindur, 2 +389 46 250103, e-mail: . Guest house, quiet yard. €10.
  • Antonio Guesthouse OhridDejan Vojvoda str No.94 +389 70 736906, e-mail: . Nice family guesthouse in the centre. There are 4 double and twin triple bed rooms, car parking, free Wi-Fi Internet, cable TV, and bathroom.
  • Sunny Lake Hostel +389 75 629571, e-mail: . Cosy 35-bed hostel with friendly and helpful stuff, in the old town two minutes' walk from the center. Nice breakfast included. Very nice kitchen and lake view balcony. Wifi, hot water showers. They have some bikes for guests to use free of charge. Dorms from €8 (low season), private rooms € 25 per room.
  • PelaSt. Stefan village (4 km to the south, on the road Ohrid - Sv. Naum). Is situated in a pine forest in the tourist settlement of St. Stefan. Nearest sandy beach is only 100 meters away. Capacity: 40 rooms with 120 beds. All rooms with bathroom, cable TV, WiFi, direct telephone line, mini bar, air condition, balcony. The hotel offers: seminar hall, parking, football/basketball courts, restaurant, play garden for the youngest. B&B starting from €16.
  • Risto's Guesthouse23 village of Elsani (on the western slopes of Galichitsa National Park in the village of Elshani, 10 km south of Ohrid),  +389 75 977 930, e-mail: . Check-in: 12:00-00:00, check-out: 11:00-12:00. The guesthouse has clean and tidy single and double rooms. The hosts serve home made drinks, home made bread and traditional food. All rooms have a terrace and prices include breakfast. €15 per person.
  • [dead link]Metropol-Bellevue (7 km south),  +389 277660. These four star hotels are on the lake
  • Sv. Naum HotelSv. Naum Monastery (Bus from Ochrid or walk 1.2 Km from Border crossing). The hotel surrounds the church of St. Naum. On the shore of Lake Ochrid. A beautiful and relaxing place to spend a night. Visit the monastery early in the morning before the crowds arrive. Hike in the surrounding area. 40€.

Apartments[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

  • Be warned that the Ohrid Pearl is a type of imitation pearl (an artificial, man-made pearl) and as such has no real value as a gemstone. Most of the "pearls" sold around Lake Ohrid, on the street and in most shops, are simply unfinished imitation pearls (beads made of nacre, but without the pearly coating). Although selling shops have clear notes stating these are hand made ones.

Go next[edit]

  • 3 Bitola (Битола) (E 80 km). — one of the most European-flavoured cities in the country, Bitola is known for its colourful neo-classical architecture and the Ancient Macedon ruins of Heraclea Lyncestis nearby
  • 4 Kičevo (Кичево, Kërçovë) (N 60 km).
  • 5 Kruševo (Крушево) (NE 90 km via Bitola). — a museum-city nestled high up in the mountains of southwestern Macedonia; it is one the most historically significant destinations in the country as it was the site of a revolt against the Ottoman Empire; also home to great skiing
  • Pogradec, Albania (SW 40 km) — small city on the other side of the lake, and worth a visit for those with extra time in Ohrid.
  • 6 Prilep (Прилеп) (NE 110 km). — tobacco fields, medieval monasteries, and strange rocks
  • 7 Resen (Ресен) (E 25 km). — home to Saraj Castle built in 1908
  • Struga (Струга) (E 16 km) — small town on Lake Ohrid which used to be rather quiet, yet nowadays (2016) it receives an enormous number of Dutch tourists.
This city travel guide to Ohrid is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.