Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
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Lake Ohrid, Macedonia: the ultimate travel guide

Considering visiting Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia? I visited earlier this summer and absolutely loved it. Boasting warm weather and affordable prices, this hidden gem in the Balkans is well worth a visit. A perfect summer destination in Europe, it’s also relatively undiscovered compared to its Greek neighbour, making it an ideal retreat. Ohrid (pronounced Ock-rid) itself is absolutely beautiful, boasting interesting history. The lake is actually the oldest lake in Europe, and it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Spend your visit relaxing at the beach with picturesque views, take a boat trip to some of the historical points in Ohrid, and try some delicious traditional food. In this Lake Ohrid travel guide, I share my top tips and recommendations for visiting this beautiful part of North Macedonia.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Quick tips for visiting Lake Ohrid

Get this: affordable panoramic boat cruise. Enjoy this beautiful boat tour around Ohrid Old Town and learn more about the town – it’s a great way to get your bearings.

Don’t miss: an Ohrid monastery winery tour. I was pleasantly surprised at just how delicious (and cheap!) Macedonian wine is, so try plenty of local wines, brandies, and a cheese and charcuterie platter on this winery tour.

Bucket list experience: tick off three incredible destinations with a tour of Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Montenegro in three days. I loved every single place and it’ll be a trip you never forget – the destinations are so close too, it’s rude not to visit them all.

Flights: find the cheapest flights to Ohrid with Skyscanner.

Stay: Find the most affordable hotels in Ohrid on

Where is Lake Ohrid, Macedonia?

Lake Ohrid is located on the border between North Macedonia and Albania in the Balkans in southeast Europe. Set in southwest North Macedonia, it’s huge, and spread across 134 square miles, and is both the deepest lake in the Balkans, and the oldest lake in all of Europe. Lake Ohrid is famous for being beautiful, and is deep rooted in interesting history. As well as fishing, sailing, and exploring the beaches, there are plenty of historical buildings to explore along the shores. It’s thought that Ohrid was a Greek colony which was rebuilt by the Romans following a huge earthquake centuries ago.

How do you get to Lake Ohrid?

There are a couple of options for reaching Lake Ohrid by plane. Ohrid actually has its own airport which is just 10km from the town itself, and Tui operates direct flights from London Luton Airport to Ohrid weekly throughout the summer months. You can take a shuttle bus that coincides with flights to take you into Ohrid itself. If this isn’t available for your flight, you can take a private taxi or arrange a transfer in advance. Either shouldn’t cost you much more than 500MKD, or roughly €8. If, like me, you’re visiting Ohrid out of season and there aren’t direct flights from the UK to Ohrid, you can arrive via Skopje. There are frequent flights to Skopje throughout the year from London, often for very reasonable prices. From Skopje, the simplest way to Ohrid is via the main Skopje bus station. The journey takes around three hours, and cost around £15. Don’t forget to save some cash for the platform fee – you’ll need to pay this regardless of having a bus ticket! Another option is accessing Ohrid via Tirana airport in Albania. I did this for my return flight, and Flixbus run a daily service from Ohrid to Tirana for around £15 one way too.

Coming from Skopje? Here’s my guide on the best ways to get from Skopje to Ohrid.

When is the best time to visit Lake Ohrid?

Lake Ohrid enjoys a Mediterranean climate, making it perfect for the summer months. I visited in May, and it was sunny and warm – so sunny in fact I even got sunburnt on a boat trip on Lake Ohrid! In July and August, temperatures will reach around 30°C – perfect for enjoying most of the activities Lake Ohrid has to offer. While July is usually the sunniest month of the year, August is often slightly hotter. If you visit in shoulder season, in May, June, or September, you’ll find it slightly cooler. In these months, temperatures average between 20-25°C. Lake Ohrid is still surrounded by (sometimes snowy) mountains, so do make sure to pack a light jacket and some warmer clothes particularly for the evenings which can get cooler.

Where is best to stay in Ohrid?

You have two primary choices when it comes to where to stay in Ohrid: the old town of Ohrid, or along the shores of Lake Ohrid. The old town has winding cobbled streets and adorable alleyways to explore. It’s where you’ll find the vast majority of sights, shops, restaurants, and cafes. It’s where I chose to stay because I wanted to be close to where things were happening, and I found a great boutique hotel nearby. A lot of the properties in Ohrid town are also just a short walk from the lake, and many offer sprawling views across Lake Ohrid. An alternative option is to stay along the shores of Lake Ohrid. Although further from the town of Ohrid, you’re more likely to find a hotel or resort with facilities including their own onsite beach, swimming pools, and restaurants. You may wish to stay along the lake and have a couple of day trips to Ohrid instead.

Where are the best hotels in Lake Ohrid?

There is plenty of great accommodation on offer in Lake Ohrid, and it excels when it comes to boutique hotels. Most of the luxurious hotels are situated directly on the water, and as a result, come with beautiful lake views. It can be confusing to choose where to stay – I know as I spotted dozens of hotels spread out across the lake and didn’t know where to be based. The good news is that many of them are very reasonably priced. When it comes to the best hotels in Lake Ohrid, I’ve shared some of my shortlist from when I carried out my research. I’d recommend staying as centrally to the town of Ohrid as possible so that you’re close to a range of great restaurants and shops. Here’s my pick of the best hotels in Lake Ohrid.

Luxury hotels in Lake Ohrid

Villa Varosh, Ohrid

We stayed at this luxurious boutique hotel for our visit to Lake Ohrid and I absolutely loved it. The room itself was a garden apartment with a lovely little patio area, and everything was immaculate. Located in the centre of Ohrid Old Town, it’s well positioned for most attractions – from the port, some excellent restaurants, and some of the historic churches. Some of the rooms have gorgeous lake views, and there’s a communal room in the boutique hotel for snacks and teas and coffee. The staff couldn’t be friendlier either, and are more than happy to help with recommendations on the local area. It’s super reasonably priced and I’d stay here again in a heartbeat.

Inex Olgica Hotel & Spa, Lake Ohrid

Situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, Inex Olgica Hotel & Spa is a luxurious 5* resort with some of the most scenic views in all of Ohrid. It’s just a stone’s throw from the beach, meaning it couldn’t be easier to go for a dip in the cooling lake in the summer months. One of the best hotels in Lake Ohrid, the hotel’s facilities are second to none. Here you’ll find a cocktail bar, a spa, and bikes you can borrow to explore the area. You’ll enjoy a buffet breakfast in the morning, and you can upgrade to half board to enjoy some of the traditional Macedonian cuisine.

Villa and Winery Mal Sveti Kliment, Ohrid

An exclusive bed and breakfast, Villa and Winery Mal Sveti Kliment, is as the name suggests also a boutique winery. This place was on our shortlist of the best places to stay in Ohrid, and I heard great things about it from locals while we were there. Situated close to the entrance of Ohrid at Lower Gate, it’s close to the lake and some of the best cafes and restaurants in the town. In the hotel, you can enjoy a buffet breakfast each morning in a traditional stone designed room. In the evenings, make sure you sample some of the hotel’s delicious award-winning wines.

Budget hotels in Lake Ohrid

Villa Stefano, Ohrid

Just 100 metres from the shores of the lake, Villa Stefano is undoubtedly one of the best budget hotels in Lake Ohrid. Arrive to enjoy a Macedonian tea or coffee, and explore the wonderful neighbourhood which is conveniently located between Lake Ohrid and the old town of Ohrid. All rooms are ensuite, and each has its own balcony, cable TV, air conditioning, and hardwood floor. There’s also parking and free WiFi – it’s a great base for exploring Lake Ohrid at a really reasonable price. You’ll also find the bus station just 2km away, and Ohrid Airport 10km away from Villa Stefano.

Bitrak Guest House, Ohrid

A no-frills guesthouse, Bitrak Guest House is one of the best budget hotels in Lake Ohrid. It offers simple, clean accommodation for very reasonable prices. Each of the apartments has free WiFi, TV, a bathroom, fridge, and a living area. You can choose to have a studio which features its own kitchen too. Bitrak Guest House is perfect for exploring Ohrid, and is just a five minute walk from Ohrid’s city centre. There are a number of supermarkets nearby, and a bus stop is a just a stone’s throw from the guest house. As a guest of the hotel, you can even request a grocery delivery, and there’s free parking too.

Old City House, Ohrid

Old City House is one of the best places to stay in Ohrid. It’s a sustainable aparthotel, and just a short walk from Saraiste Beach. It has its own garden, and comfortable rooms. Each room has its own sun terrace, air conditioning, flat screen TV, oven, en suite bathroom, and coffee machine – virtually everything you need for a great stay. If you don’t fancy cooking in the comfort of your apartment’s fully equipped kitchen, you can enjoy the hotel’s continental breakfast. Borrow a bike from the aparthotel and explore your surroundings. Potpesh Beach and the Early Christian Basilica are all nearby.

Things to do in Ohrid

There is plenty to do in Ohrid, whether you prefer getting acquainted with the town’s impressive historical legacy, or simply spending time on the lake. In fact, I’ve written a comprehensive guide on the best things to do in Ohrid. Here are a few highlights of the best things to do in Ohrid:

  • Explore Ohrid’s Old Town. This beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site has bags of character, and plenty of interesting shops and cafes. Wander the cobbled streets, take in the traditional architecture, and see the historic fortress of Tsar Samuil.
  • Sail to St Naum. A top attraction in Ohrid is visiting St Naum Monastery by boat. Located near the Albanian border, St Naum is a 10th century monastery and offers incredible views across Lake Ohrid and its surrounding beauty. I recommend taking a St Naum boat tour with your group.
  • Take a Lake Ohrid boat tour. This was definitely my favourite thing to do in Ohrid! We booked the following boat tour and set out for a tour across the beautiful water and coastline of Ohrid. Our captain was super fun and allowed us to stop off for drinks en route. You’ll get a detailed history of the region, and can stop at different attractions, including the Church of St John at Kaneo.
  • Visit the Church of St John at Kaneo. This is an iconic Macedonian church perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid. It’s often one of the symbolic views of Ohrid that you might see when Googling the town. Head here for a beautiful sunset and panoramic vistas.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine. Macedonian cuisine is absolutely delicious, so I’d definitely say to spend some time trying different traditional cuisines during your stay. Don’t miss dishes like tavče gravče (baked beans), ajvar (a red pepper condiment), and fresh trout from Lake Ohrid. Check out my guide to the best restaurants in Ohrid.
  • Go on a wine tour. You might not know that most households in Ohrid produce some kind of wine – and it’s delicious! I recommend booking onto the Monastery winery tour and wine tasting so you can sample delicious local wines and charcuterie platters, with transport included.
  • Relax by the lake. Of course, you can’t visit Lake Ohrid and not enoy the lake. Take a long stroll along the promenade, sunbathe by the lake, and go for refreshing swim in the crystal clear waters (it reaches temperatures of up to 27°C during the summer). There are plenty of beaches to enjoy.
  • Engage in outdoor activities. In such a beautiful part of the world where you can get close to nature, one of the best things to do in Ohrid is take part in activities. Try your hand at hiking, biking, kayaking, and even paragliding to see the town in a different way.

The best beaches on Lake Ohrid

It’s little surprise that a city as beautiful as Ohrid is a popular choice for holidays both with locals and tourists. Part of the attraction is the beautiful beaches you’ll find here. Here are some of the best beaches in Ohrid:

  • Potpesh Beach – one of Ohrid’s quieter beaches, Potpesh Beach is a seclunded spot near the beautiful St John Church. Just a short walk from the old town, there are plenty of sun beds for a lazy afternoon of sunbathing. I found it much quieter than a lot of the other beaches around Lake Ohrid, probably because it’s a bit smaller. There are beautiful views that make it perfect for catching the sunset, and there are a few nearby restaurants you can move to afterwards for lunch or dinner with a view.
  • Cuba Libre Beach – this iconic beach belonging to Ohrid’s iconic Cube Libre bar is undoubtedly one of the best beaches in Ohrid. Close to Ohrid’s city centre, Cuba Libre Beach is perfect for spending the day on one of the sun loungers. There’s a terrace overlooking the lake – perfect for a cold dip. You can also head into the restaurant for a bite to eat. The food is really good, with reasonable prices. Sunbathing at the beach is totally free.
Best beaches in Ohrid
Cuba Libre Beach
  • Lagadin Beach – this beach is a favourite with locals in Ohrid. It has a relaxed vibe, and beautifully clean water. Although easy to get to from Ohrid’s city centre, you do need to take a short bus ride or drive to Lagadin Brach. It has a beautiful view. If you fancy a relaxed day at the beach in Ohrid, add this beach to your list.
  • Gradiste Beach – if you’re up for more of an upbeat party beach, you need to visit Gradiste Beach. It’s popular, and often you’ll find parties and DJs here on most weekends throughout the summer. It’s perfect if you fancy partying all day along to loud music. There are also various bars and restaurants on Gradiste Beach. If you fancy, there’s a camping site here too where you can stay overnight.
  • St Naum Beach – at the furthest point south on the Lake Ohrid shoreline, you’ll find the Monastery of St Naum. A historical must-see in Ohrid, there’s also a fabulous beach here too. You’ll find an incredible panorama across the lake at one of the best beaches in Ohrid.

What to pack for a holiday in Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid’s Mediterranean climate makes it a perfect destination for a summer holiday. July and August are the most popular times to visit, and are also the hottest. I visited in early May, and it was still warm enough to get sunburnt! If you’re visiting in late spring, summer, or early autumn, you’ll want to bring plenty of summer clothes and swimsuits. Cover ups are perfect, as are water shoes in case you plan sunbathing and swimming on one of the pebbly beaches. I’d also take a light jacket or sweatshirt for the evenings – Lake Ohrid is surrounded by mountains, and it can get cooler in the evenings. Make sure to bring some comfortable walking shoes too – there are plenty of picturesque hikes and trails you can take while in Lake Ohrid. Here are some essentials I took with me that I’d recommend taking with you for your trip to Lake Ohrid:

  • SPF 50 – given that I did get pretty sunburnt in early May while on a boat in Lake Ohrid, I can’t recommend a good suncream enough! The sun can be deceptively strong, even when cloudy, and given the Mediterranean climate, you should make sure you take plenty of SPF with you.
  • Aftersun – for the same reasons as above, I’d recommend taking aftersun with you in case you catch the sun and need relief. Packing it in your suitcase just means you’re ultra prepared for your trip.
  • Water shoes – this is an item I hadn’t considered before arriving in Lake Ohrid. Many of the beaches are pebbly, and it can be super uncomfortable to walk on when getting in and out of the sea. Popping on a pair of these water shoes will be a huge relief!
  • Plug adaptor – if you’re UK based, you’ll need a plug converter. Like most of Europe, Macedonia uses type F plugs. This plug adaptor is amazing as you can use it in most other countries, no matter what the plug type. I don’t travel without one any more.
  • Multi device charger – I can’t travel without one of these any more, either. It’s so handy for charging a couple of iPhones at once (ideal when you’re travelling with someone and are limited on time or plugs for charging), as well as a couple of other devices.
  • Clear toiletries bags – these are an absolute lifesaver at airport security – no more flimsy sandwich bags for a starter! When I visited Macedonia, I’d travelled through the Balkans from Belgrade, and so it was super handy just to shove all my toiletries into one of these while moving about.

Lake Ohrid – FAQs

Is Macedonia cheap to visit?

Absolutely – in fact, I’d rate North Macedonia one of the cheapest European countries to visit. In the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring different European countries and Macedonia was incredibly affordable. Of course, visiting during peak summer will be more expensive, but on the whole, accommodation is very affordable (I paid around £30 per night in May). Food is very reasonable too – you can enjoy delicious restaurant meals for the equivalent of less than £10. Transport and activities are also inexpensive, making Macedonia a great place to visit on a budget. The Great British Pound has a very favourable exchange rate against the Macedonian Denar (MKD), and so you’ll find that travelling from the UK allows your money. to stretch even further.

How long do you need in Ohrid?

Of course, the amount of time you spend in Ohrid depends on your pace of travel and your interests. I visited for 3 days and found it perfect. We saw the majority of Ohrid’s attractions, thoroughly explored the Old Town, and took a boat over Lake Ohrid. We also went on some lovely walks along the lake, enjoyed dinners in the local restaurants, and relaxed. With more time, you can dive a little deeper into Ohrid’s culture and history. The Bay of Bones is a popular cultural spot, and many visitors choose to take a boat tour across the lake to see the Monastery of St Naum. You could also take a day trip to nearby attractions like Galichica National Park, or heading up Galichica Mountain for beautiful vistas across Ohrid. If you visit in summer, you might also want time for swimming, kayaking, and even scuba diving in Lake Ohrid.

How do I get to Lake Ohrid from UK?

In order to get to Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia from the UK, you can fly to either Skopje or Ohrid Airport. You’ll typically need to fly from London Luton Airport. Arriving into Skopje, you’ll need to take a coach journey, which costs around £10 and takes around hours. Ohrid Airport is obviously much closer at just a 15 minute car journey from Lake Ohrid.

Do they speak English in Ohrid?

Yes, English is widely spoken and understood in Ohrid. I found it very easy to communicate with locals in both Ohrid and Skopje. Of course, in areas with more tourists, this is likely to be the case. Whenever I’m away, I always try to learn a few phrases in the local language. Here are a few handy Macedonia phrases for you to begin with:

  • Hello: Здраво (“zdravo“)
  • Thank you: Благодарам (“blagodaram“)
  • Yes: Да (“da”)
  • No: Не (“ne”)
  • Excuse me: Извинете (“izvinete”)
  • Goodbye: Довидување (“doviduvanje“)

Is Ohrid protected by UNESCO?

Yes! Both Ohrid and Lake Ohrid are designated UNESCO World Heritage spots. This dates back to 1979, when Ohrid was listed due to its incredible natural and cultural importance. As Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, it is recognised for its biodiversity, with unique aquatic life residing in the lake. The town of Ohrid is also an ancient settlement, with dozens of well-preserved medieval architecture, churches, and monasteries. The UNESCO designation helps to protect the Ohrid region, encouraging sustainable tourism and conservation in the area.

What religion is in Ohrid?

Ohrid has a diverse religious landscape, with a number of different religions existing harmoniously. The prominent religion in Ohrid is Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and the town is an important location for the Macedonian Orthodox Church. You’ll find lots of churches and monasteries in Ohrid, many dating back to the Byzantine era. As well as Christianity, there is a strong Islam presence in Ohrid. This is typically represented by the ethnic Albanians in the area who follow mainly Sunni Islam. For this reason, you’ll also find plenty of mosques in Ohrid too.

I hope you found my guide to visiting Lake Ohrid helpful! It’s a wonderful place you should definitely visit if you’re looking to explore a beautiful area of Europe that’s a little more off the beaten track. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.

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