When I was young, I failed to recognize the unique beauty of Ohrid and its lake.

Stunning sunsets and ancient fortresses didn’t mean much to me growing up – after all I was just a kid at the time. But, as I grew up and my interests changed, I decided to give the town a second chance.

After all, UNESCO concluded that the Lake Ohrid region has an outstanding universal value. The old town of Ohrid is among the earliest human settlements in Europe. The area boasts Byzantine arts, Slavonic monasteries, and 200+ endemic species.

Still, all these facts don’t matter until you set foot in the Old Town and its cobblestone streets filled with authentic Ohrid houses and a view to the lake.

The crystal-clear lake invites you to let go of all your problems and take a dip. The water is cold but liberating. Bring a kayak and escape the summer crowds to enter your heaven in the water.

You won’t be alone, however. Seagulls and even swans may join you on your adventure, offering you a journey of a lifetime.

Ohrid is raw nature, yet still, a modern town where locals go on with their busy everyday life. It’s also a living monument of ancient times with its archeological sites and churches hidden in caves.

The Exact Day I Fell in Love with Ohrid

About a 30-minute drive away from the city, you get to a campsite called Ljubanishta. It is a popular leisure spot due to its fabulous sandy beach. Nature there is pure, with camping trailers and tents placed under massive trees.

A few steps away, a calm lake awaits you.

We visited Ljubanishta on a beautiful summer day. The sun was shining proudly, and there was no wind to spoil our plans whatsoever. Equipped with an inflatable kayak and a standup paddleboard, we quickly hit the water to explore the lake.

We all started rowing and laughing. After joking for about five minutes, silence overtook. All we could do was to take in the beautiful surroundings.

Far ahead was the town, slowing down from the busy working day. Toward the beach, we could see barbeque smoke coloring the sky grey. Behind every rock, there was a secret and wild beach.

Maybe a countless number of couples hid there to make love. Perhaps a group of friends would go there to party away from the rest of the world. We couldn’t know the history of each of those mysterious beaches. All we could do is let our imagination go wild in the middle of the peaceful lake.

I could see it on everyone’s faces. Light wrinkles around the eyes and depth in their look made it crystal clear – we all felt the same. Utterly lonely in a group of four. And it felt comfortable right there, on our kayaks and SUPs. We didn’t need anyone else, just like we didn’t need anything else. We shared an experience of a lifetime, floating together in the Ohrid Lake.

It didn’t take long for the laughter to rise again. We jumped in the water, took selfies, and fooled around. Yet, those half an hour of silence carved an Ohrid-shaped mark in each of our hearts.

Ohrid Is Home To 365 Churches, Or So A Legend Says

A legend claims that there used to be 365 churches and monasteries in Ohrid. More precisely, these used to be one religious building for each day of the year. Even though the number is much lower these days, the town remains a popular religious tourism destination.

The Church of St. John is associated with the city and featured in many photographs of Ohrid. It dates back to the 13th century and impresses with its Byzantine style. I recommend anyone visiting Ohrid to hike there. Breathe fresh air in a dense forest only to reach a magnificent viewpoint of the entire area.

The spot makes for perfect Instagram shots and selfies.

It’s interesting to learn that the church legend isn’t the only one associated with Ohrid. One story, revealing how the town got its name, mentions the Emperor Justinian. Supposedly, when he got on top of the hills surrounding the area, he exclaimed “Ох, рид!” This would translate to “oh, hill!” leading to the town’s current name.

Other sources claim it was Samuel’s warriors who were exclaiming the same phrase while returning from one of their fierce battles. Either way, the idea is the same. The area surrounding Ohrid and Ohrid Lake is breath-taking.

Ohrid Details

Ohrid is a popular travel destination in North Macedonia. The town is settled on Lake Ohrid, and it’s home to 42,000 citizens. UNESCO has recognized the city as both a Cultural and a Natural World Heritage Site. A title held by only 27 other cities worldwide.

With about 230,000 tourists visiting the town each year, Ohrid is the most popular destination in the country. Besides being a top summer pick, Ohrid is famous for religious tourism. Of course, its centuries-old churches and monasteries are to blame.

  • Iva
  • : I am an American born in Macedonia, and a Macedonian brought up in America. After finishing my studies and doing my fair share of working, I decided to take a break from it all and spend some time traveling. I am a former software engineer who decided that enjoying life was more important than wasting time. Only time will tell if I was wrong. So far, I've got no complaints!
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  • : Above all, I want to provide useful content. From honest destination reviews to travel guides and tips, all my articles are helpful in one or another way. I'm neither a digital nomad nor a risk-taking explorer. Instead, I'm just a regular girl who loves traveling and helping fellow travelers. So, my blog isn't about bragging about the fantastic places I've seen. It's all about the raw truth that enables you to decide where to go, what to pack, and when to leave. I accomplish this by offering three basic travel-related actions on my blog - read, book, and shop.
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