Things to Do in Ohrid – What to Do in Ohrid

Nestled in the heart of the Balkans, Ohrid is more than just a city; it’s a vibrant tapestry of culture, history, and natural splendor. Known as the “Pearl of Macedonia,” this enchanting city lies on the shores of one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. Ohrid is not only a haven for history buffs and nature lovers but also a retreat for those seeking peace and relaxation in its picturesque landscapes. With its medieval churches, pristine beaches, and lively cultural scene, Ohrid offers a unique blend of experiences that cater to all types of travelers. Whether you’re here to delve into the rich history that dates back thousands of years or simply to enjoy the tranquil beauty of its natural settings, Ohrid promises an unforgettable journey through time and beauty. In this travel guide you will find the best things to do in Ohrid.

Best things to do in Ohrid Where to go

Best things to do in Ohrid – Where to go

Ohrid’s charm is evident in every season. In spring and summer, the city comes alive with vibrant festivals and outdoor cafes, while autumn and winter wrap the old cobblestone streets in a quieter, more introspective atmosphere. This guide aims to unfold the myriad of activities and sights that make Ohrid a must-visit destination, ensuring every traveler finds something to love in this historic city.

Things to Do in Ohrid

When it comes to discovering Ohrid, the array of activities available can truly enrich your travel experience. From historical explorations that transport you back in time to leisurely days spent by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Ohrid, this city offers a perfect blend of adventure, culture, and relaxation. Each corner of Ohrid tells a story, and every activity provides a window into the city’s soul.

If you make a plan of trip to North Macedonia, read Best Places to Visit in North Macedonia.

What to Do?

Whether you’re climbing the steps of ancient fortresses, wandering through lush national parks, or sampling the delights of Macedonian cuisine, there’s an endless list of things to do that will captivate your senses and ignite your curiosity. Let’s dive into the specific activities that make Ohrid a treasure trove of discoveries, ensuring you fully experience the best this city has to offer.

1. Immerse Yourself in the Old Town

Ohrid’s Old Town is a captivating maze of history, where every turn and alleyway tells a story. As you wander through its labyrinth of cobbled streets, you’ll encounter ancient architecture, small chapels, and vibrant marketplaces brimming with local arts and crafts. This area serves as a living museum, displaying the city’s progression through Byzantine, Ottoman, and Slavic influences.

The heart of the Old Town is the bustling marketplace where artisans display their handmade crafts, including the famous Ohrid pearls and intricate wood carvings. This is the perfect place to soak in the local culture, interact with the artisans, and purchase unique souvenirs that carry the essence of Macedonian craftsmanship.

Ohrid Oldtown Things to do in North Macedonia

Ohrid Oldtown – Things to do in North Macedonia

2. Visit St. John at Kaneo

Perched alone on a rocky cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid, the Church of St. John at Kaneo is perhaps the most iconic image associated with the city. This medieval church dates back to the 13th century and is celebrated for its architectural blend of Byzantine and Armenian elements, which reflect the area’s rich cultural tapestry. The church offers a tranquil spot for contemplation amid breathtaking natural scenery.

Visitors to St. John at Kaneo are often found sitting quietly on the rocks, soaking up the panoramic views of Lake Ohrid and the surrounding mountains. The serene water below and the often clear blue skies create a picture-perfect scene that is especially magical at sunrise or sunset, making it a photographer’s paradise.

Where is Church of St. John at Kaneo

Where is Church of St. John at Kaneo?

3. Boat Tour on Lake Ohrid

A boat tour on Lake Ohrid is not just a leisure activity; it’s a journey through the vibrant history and stunning natural landscapes that characterize the region. These tours allow visitors to see parts of the lake’s coastline that are inaccessible by land, including secluded beaches and ancient waterfront churches that are testament to the region’s historical depth.

Most boat tours offer narrated histories, adding context to the visual spectacle, with stops at significant cultural sites like the Bay of Bones, a reconstructed prehistoric settlement on the water. Whether you opt for a private tour or a group cruise, floating on Europe’s oldest lake is an enchanting experience that offers a fresh perspective on the natural beauty and historical layers of Ohrid.

Fun things to do in Lake Ohrid Boat Tour

Fun things to do in Lake Ohrid – Boat Tour

4. Explore Ohrid’s Monasteries

The monasteries around Ohrid are not only spiritual retreats but also repositories of art and history. The St. Naum Monastery, situated near the Albanian border, is a highlight with its stunning 10th-century architecture and the springs of the Black Drim River, which are clear enough to see the sand and fish swimming at the bottom.

Exploring these monasteries offers a glimpse into the monastic life that has played a crucial role in Ohrid’s history. The frescoes and icons within these holy sites are some of the finest examples of Byzantine artistry in the region, many of which tell stories of saints and sinners, heaven and earth, deeply rooted in the Orthodox Christian faith.

How to Get to St. Naum Monastery

How to Get to St. Naum Monastery

5. Enjoy the Ohrid Nightlife

Ohrid transforms at night with its vibrant mix of modern and traditional entertainment. From lakeside bars and bustling nightclubs in the Ohrid Riviera to quiet, cozy cafes in the Old Town, the city caters to all tastes. The nightlife here offers a perfect blend of lively music, dancing, and local beverages that provide a taste of Balkan spirit and hospitality.

Read Skopje Nightlife for a great Macedonian night!

For a more subdued evening, you can enjoy a concert or a live performance at one of the open-air venues overlooking the lake. These performances often feature traditional Macedonian music and dance, offering a cultural experience that is both entertaining and educational.

Things to do in Ohrid Nightlife Inclusive Disco Places to visit

Things to do in Ohrid Nightlife – Inclusive Disco – Places to visit at night

6. Dive into the Culinary Scene

Ohrid’s culinary offerings are a reflection of its cultural diversity, with influences from the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Restaurants in Ohrid serve everything from traditional Macedonian dishes, like grilled Ohrid trout or ajvar (a savory spread made from red peppers), to international cuisine. The local taverns, or ‘kafanas’, offer the perfect setting to try regional specialties accompanied by live folk music.

Food tours and cooking classes are also available for those who wish to dive deeper into the culinary traditions of Ohrid. These experiences not only teach you how to prepare traditional dishes but also provide deeper insights into the ingredients and culinary methods used by locals. This is a delicious way to connect with the cultural heritage of Ohrid.

What to eat in North Macedonia Pastrmka

What to eat in North Macedonia – Pastrmka

7. Ohrid Summer Festival

The Ohrid Summer Festival is one of the most prestigious cultural events in Macedonia, drawing artists and performers from around the globe. Held annually since 1961, the festival transforms the city into a vibrant hub of cultural activity with a program that includes opera, ballet, theater, and classical music performances.

The festival venues are as spectacular as the performances themselves, with events taking place in historic settings such as the Ancient Theatre of Ohrid and the courtyard of St. Sophia Church. These performances under the stars in such historic venues create a magical experience that melds art with the ancient spirit of Ohrid.

Tsar Samuels Fortress Beautiful Tourist Spots

Tsar Samuels Fortress – Beautiful Tourist Spots

8. Hiking and Nature Exploration

Ohrid is not only about its lake and historical sites; it is also a gateway to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the Balkans. Galičica National Park, located between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa, offers various trails that provide breathtaking views of both lakes and their surroundings. The park is a biodiversity hotspot, home to many endemic species and a perfect place for bird watching, especially during migration seasons.

For a more adventurous trek, visitors can climb Mount Magaro, the highest peak in Galičica, which stands as a challenging yet rewarding hike. From the summit, one can see across to Albania and Greece on clear days, making it a truly international viewpoint.

Things to do in Lake Ohrid Places to visit Galicica National Park

Things to do in Lake Ohrid – Places to visit – Galicica National Park

9. Discover the Bay of Bones

The Bay of Bones is a remarkable archaeological complex and museum that recreates a part of a prehistoric pile-dwelling settlement. This site offers an incredible insight into the life of the ancient people who lived on Lake Ohrid over 3,000 years ago. The museum displays artifacts found in the lake and reconstructed parts of the settlement, showing how these ancient people built their homes on stilts above the water.

Visiting the Bay of Bones is like stepping back in time. The museum not only educates about prehistoric life but also offers demonstrations of ancient fishing and crafting techniques, helping visitors understand the ingenuity and adaptability of the region’s early inhabitants.

Explore Bay of Bones near Albania Border

Explore Bay of Bones near Albania Border

10. Shop for Unique Souvenirs

Shopping in Ohrid is a delightful experience, especially for those looking to bring home a piece of this unique region. The Ohrid pearl is the most famed local product, each pearl handcrafted using scales from fish of the lake, coated with layers of emulsion for that distinctive luster. Jewelry made from these pearls is available in shops throughout the city and makes for a timeless souvenir.

In addition to pearls, the local markets offer an array of traditional Macedonian items such as handmade wooden crosses, intricate lace, and icons painted by local artists. These markets are not only places to shop but also to observe the rich craft traditions that are still alive in Ohrid today.

St. Clement Church Plaoshnik Historical Places to visit

St. Clement Church – Plaoshnik – Historical Places to visit

11. Relax at the Beaches

Ohrid’s beaches provide a refreshing break from the city’s historical explorations. Labino Beach and Potpesh Beach are particularly popular, offering clean, calm waters and well-maintained facilities. These beaches are ideal for families, with gentle slopes into the water and plenty of space for sunbathing and relaxation.

For a more secluded experience, visitors can explore the smaller beaches dotted along the lake’s coastline, accessible only by small boats or trails. These hidden gems offer peaceful solitude away from the crowds, where one can relax with only the sound of the waves and the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Where to swim in Lake Ohrid Slavia Beach Fun things to do

Where to swim in Lake Ohrid – Slavia Beach – Fun things to do

12. Engage in Water Sports

Lake Ohrid’s crystal-clear waters are perfect for a variety of water sports. Kayaking and paddleboarding offer leisurely ways to explore the lake’s many coves and inlets, while more adrenaline-fueled activities like water skiing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing provide thrilling ways to experience the lake’s vastness.

Scuba diving is another exciting option, with several dive shops offering excursions to explore the lake’s underwater treasures, including ancient ruins submerged beneath the surface. The lake’s unique ecosystem also makes it a fascinating location for freshwater diving, appealing to both novice and experienced divers.

Church of St Sophia Beautiful destinations in North Macedonia

Church of St Sophia – Beautiful destinations in North Macedonia

13. Attend Local Festivals

Ohrid’s cultural calendar is dotted with festivals that celebrate its rich heritage and vibrant community spirit. The Ohrid Choir Festival is a particularly notable event, featuring choirs from across the world in a celebration of vocal harmony and musical artistry. This festival fills the city with music and is a testament to the universal language of melody and song.

Another must-experience event is the Festival of the Ohrid Framework, which showcases traditional Macedonian crafts, music, and dance. This festival provides a colorful insight into local customs and offers a festive atmosphere where visitors can engage with the traditions that are woven into the fabric of Ohrid’s cultural identity.

Read Places to Visit in Skopje!

14. Explore the Archaeological Sites

Ohrid’s position as a significant cultural crossroad is reflected in its rich archaeological sites that chronicle its history from prehistoric times through classical antiquity and into the medieval period. The ancient city of Lychnidos, the precursor to modern Ohrid, offers ruins that include a Roman theater, early Christian basilicas, and medieval fortifications.

These archaeological sites offer a tangible connection to the past, allowing visitors to walk through the same spaces where ancient citizens once gathered, traded, and worshipped. Each site is well-preserved and provides informative displays to enhance the visitor experience, making history accessible and engaging for all ages.

Things to do in Ohrid Ancient Macedonian Theatre

Free Things to do in Ohrid – Ancient Macedonian Theatre

15. Take a Day Trip to Struga

Just a short drive from Ohrid, Struga offers a quieter but no less enriching cultural experience. Known for its riverside cafes and the poetic beauty of the Black Drim’s flow, Struga hosts the renowned Struga Poetry Evenings, a festival that brings poets from around the world to celebrate the written word by the tranquil waters of Lake Ohrid.

Visiting Struga provides a perfect complement to the bustle of Ohrid, offering a chance to relax along the peaceful river and explore more intimate cultural venues. The town’s friendly atmosphere and picturesque settings make it an ideal destination for those looking to experience the slower pace of life in North Macedonia.

How to get to Struga from Ohrid

How to get to Struga from Ohrid

Where to Stay in Ohrid: Accommodations for Every Budget

Choosing the right place to stay in Ohrid can significantly enhance your travel experience. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly hostel, a comfortable mid-range hotel, or a luxurious resort, Ohrid offers a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. Here are five highly-rated options that range from cheap to expensive, ensuring a comfortable stay during your visit to this picturesque city.

Check hotel list and book your room by using Booking website.

1- Di Angolo Apartments

Di Angolo Apartments is a fantastic choice for travelers looking for affordable and comfortable accommodation in the heart of Ohrid. Positioned in the bustling Old Town area, this hostel provides easy access to Ohrid’s most famous historical sites, lively cafes, and the lakefront. Guests can choose from private rooms or dormitory-style accommodations, making it ideal for both solo travelers and groups. The hostel features a popular onsite pizzeria, where guests can enjoy delicious meals and a lively atmosphere, adding convenience and fun to your stay.

2- Villa Mesokastro

Nestled in the historic part of Ohrid, Villa Mesokastro offers beautifully decorated rooms with stunning views of Lake Ohrid. This hotel combines comfort with affordability, providing excellent amenities including free Wi-Fi, private balconies, and a serene garden where guests can relax after a day of exploring.

Holy Mother of God Peribleptos Church

Holy Mother of God Peribleptos Church

3- Hotel Tino

Hotel Tino stands out for its fantastic location near the lakefront and its superb customer service. The hotel features modern rooms with all the necessary facilities, a spa center, and a restaurant serving delicious local and international cuisine. It’s a great choice for families and couples seeking a comfortable stay with easy access to both the lake and Ohrid city center.

4- Topencarov Guest House

Nestled in a quiet part of Ohrid’s vibrant center, Topencarov Guest House offers a delightful blend of traditional charm and modern amenities. This guest house is perfect for travelers who seek a more personalized and intimate experience. Each room is elegantly furnished, providing comfort and style with a touch of Macedonian hospitality. Guests can enjoy amenities such as private balconies overlooking the city, a lush garden to relax in, and a close proximity to both historical landmarks and the shores of Lake Ohrid.

5- Lihnidos Square Apartments & Spa

For those wishing to indulge in a bit of luxury, Lihnidos Square Apartments & Spa presents a top-tier accommodation experience. Featuring spacious apartments equipped with high-end amenities, an onsite spa, and an indoor pool, this place offers a luxurious retreat. It’s ideally suited for guests who desire the ultimate comfort and relaxation, with quick access to the main attractions in Ohrid.

Each of these accommodations provides a unique way to experience Ohrid, catering to different budgets and preferences while ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay in this historic city.