The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a veritable treasure trove of natural beauty, vibrant cities and fascinating historical sites. It’s a country that has remained unchanged by the passage of modern tourism. Greek, Ottoman, Roman and Mediterranean influences remain a vital part of its culture.
Here are a few insider tips on making the most of your visit to Ohrid, Macedonia:
Do the ‘Church Route’
Ohrid is also known as the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkan’ – as it used to be home to no less than 365 churches. These days, it’s not quite that many, but there are still plenty of really wonderful and historically-important religious sites to include on your itinerary. Must-sees include the 13th-century St Jovan of Kanoe Monastery, 9th-century St Clement Church, a recently uncovered historic Roman theatre, as well as the particularly lovely 3rd-century Church of St Sophia, which boasts frescoes that have survived from as early as the 11th century!
Head for the hills
If you prefer to spend your time in the open air, National Park Galicica is an easy day trip away from Ohrid. This beautiful park was established in 1958 to safeguard the endemic fauna and flora, many species of which only occur in this swatch of the Sara-Pind mountain range between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. It’s a wonderful place to learn more about Macedonian ecology and there are great hiking routes to enjoy as well.
Take to the water
Lake Ohrid is, in one word, magnificent. It also happens to be one of only 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are protected for both its cultural and natural significance. You simply cannot leave the city before you’ve gone on a boat ride on its glassy expanse to see the city form this unique vantage point. We highly recommend a sunset cruise!
See if you can make the Ohrid Summer Festival
The Ohrid Summer Festival is the jewel in the crown of the city’s annual calendar, as well as that of greater Macedonia. Established in 1961, it traditionally takes place between the 12th of July and 20th of August each year. The rich, artistic programme features a variety of concerts, theatre plays, art exhibitions and poetry readings. These events all take place in some of the city’s most revered spaces, including the famous Samiul Fortress and many of Ohrid’s well-preserved cathedrals.
Find a hole in the wall & eat with the locals
One of the best parts about the city of Ohrid is that it is not overrun by tourists (yet!). As such, it has a very lived-in feel, with plenty of locals going about their day-to-day business while visitors make their way around. Soak up some true Macedonian culture on your visit by finding a hole-in-the-wall eatery and asking your server to recommend a local dish and an accompanying wine.
Recent archeological findings have shown that grapes have been grown in this region since the 13th century. With plenty of sunshine and excellent soil, the country is known for producing full-bodied, fruity red wines such as Vranec and luscious, elegant white wines like Smederevka. Pair either one of these with a fragrant traditional Macedonian dish like Turli Tava (a hearty combination of okra, potatoes, eggplant, ground meat, peppers, carrots, rice and onion), and you have a match made in heaven!
So, there you have it… These are just a few of the fun things you can get up to in and around Ohrid, Macedonia, enjoy!