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  • Writer's pictureAbby

Exploring the ancient Lake town of Ohrid, North Macedonia

 Ohrid, North Macedonia

Another place that wasn’t planned on my European Balkans trip in August 2021 admist the pandemic, but quickly became on of my favorite places in the Balkans! I had planned a 4 night stay in the capital city of Skopje but the more I met other travelers and received recommendations, I quickly changed that to just 1 night so that I could go to Bulgaria and also experience the famous Lake Ohrid! Another perk was that traveling farther and closer to the Albanian border meant I would have a shorter trip to Tirana the last day of my solo stint before meeting up with my longtime friend in Albania to continue on our adventure into Montenegro and Croatia.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is known as the oldest lake in Europe and deepest lake in the Balkans measuring at 938 feet (286 meters) and 134 square miles (347 square km). There are a number of ancient towns with historic buildings and beaches along the lake, but Ohrid, North Macedonia is the largest and also known as one of the oldest human settlements in Europe dating back to the 7th century. The lake is a natural phenomenon and home to unique endemic flora and fauna. In 1979, Lake Ohrid was designated as a UNESCO site.

Kid, family, all types of travelers friendly 

As I was waiting for the bus from Skopje to Ohrid, I met a lovely couple with their young daughter, eager to board the bus for their last family vacation of the August european summer. When walking through the city and staying late into the evening, many young families and kids create an exciting energy alongside various street vendors and entertainment. There are numerous activities to do on and near the lake all at affordable prices that make it great for kids, families, older couples, solo and backpack travellers alike.


I stayed at Valentin apartments and rooms that I found on It was about 10 euros for the night and walking distance from the lake and right around the corner from the bus station! I arrived early in the morning and they let me settle in to my room with no worry about a check in time and the host helped me to do laundry before I set off for a full day of adventuring around the gorgeous town! This was definitely a classic Balkan granny’s home stay and gave the feel of a Macedonian home experience. 

Things to do

Bike or walk around the lake

Sunbath along the shore & Swim in the clear water of europe’s oldest lake

Kayak or boating stand up paddle boarding on the lake

Hike in the tall forest overlooking the city and lake below

Relax in one of the many restaurants lakeside 

Visit the 13th century church of Saint John the Theologian, Kaneo

Walk through the historic village town

Winding back alleys, cobblestone streets, local homes with their Balkan styles, plants everywhere, stubble upon ancient Roman sites.

See the ancient Roman stadium

As I was walking back down the hill from the fortress, I walked by the stadium which also has a beautiful overlook of the lake. Keep your google maps open/check often and you will see so many things as you walk around! That’s how I made sure to pass by this spectacular site. 

Explore Samuel’s fortress

Part of the European culture route and Just a short walk up the hill from the church, lies ancient castle ruins with an incredible view over the lake and city. The cost was only about 4 euros to enter and they took credit card at the time. There was no specific tour but it was so fun to walk around, walk up on the castle walls and take in the panoramic view. 

Make sure to also catch a sunset over the lake!


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