18 TOP Things to Do in Ohrid → From a Local’s Perspective

A boat docked in the water near a village.

Nestled along the shores of the majestic Lake Ohrid in the small country of Macedonia, Ohrid is a diamond in the rough in the beautiful Balkan Peninsula.

I’ve visited Ohrid many times, always looking for something new to experience in this wonderful place. So, I have curated a list of the best 18 things to do in Ohrid, from admiring beautiful churches to swimming in one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes.

To help you organize your trip, I’ve also included a section about how to get to and around the city and some hotel suggestions for where to stay in Ohrid.

I’ve lived in Macedonia my whole life, and Ohrid holds a special place in my heart since my husband proposed to me there after almost 10 years of being together. 💍 See how special it is?

Quick Picks for Your Stay

If you don’t want to waste your time and want to book right away, here are the main things I suggest booking book in advance:

And here are the best hotels: Aleksandar Villa & Spa (luxury), Hotel & Spa Tino Sveti Stefan (mid-range), Hotel Aleksandrija (budget)

1. Embark on sun-soaked adventures on Lake Ohrid

people on a paddle boat in a lake

Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest lakes in the world and the deepest lake in the Balkans.

So when you visit Ohrid, you’ll have a chance to dip your toes in water that is more than 2 million years old. What an experience, right?

I love going for a swim in Lake Ohrid, even though I find it a bit cold (the average water temperature is 20°C, or 68°F). But the crystal clear water and the amazing views of the surrounding mountains make it worth every moment.

However, there’s much more you can do on the lake apart from going for a dip.

You can rent a paddle boat on some of the beaches and explore the lake and its surroundings, or you can take a SUP tour and explore some hidden gems accessible only from the water.

Alternatively, you can simply relax on the beach and sunbathe without being afraid of getting sunburnt since the average temperature in Ohrid during summer is 23°C (27°F).

No matter what you are looking for, Ohrid and Lake Ohrid have a lot to offer for every taste and budget.

TOUR PRICE: from €30 per person

Book your SUP tour

2. Marvel the beauty of St. John of Kaneo at sunset

view of a church at sunset

Did you know that Ohrid has 365 churches? That’s right! You can visit 1 church every day of the year in a common year! No wonder Ohrid is globally known as the Balkan’s Jerusalem!

Speaking of churches, the one that you shouldn’t miss is the Church of St. John of Kaneo. Built sometime in the 14th century, St. John of Kaneo is the most iconic sight in Ohrid. This medieval Macedonian Orthodox church stands as a testament to the architectural marvels of the past.

The beautiful church is pretty small, but you will be astonished by the amazing frescoes painted on its walls and the dome. With its unique octagonal design and red-tiled roof, the church presents a striking silhouette against the azure waters of Lake Ohrid.

The best thing about it, though, is that it is located on a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid, making it one of the most picturesque places in Ohrid, Macedonia. During sunset, the view from St. John of Kaneo becomes a stunning painting of colors, as the peaceful lake mirrors the evening sky, making it a truly magical sight.

a couple posing at sunset on a lake

PRO TIP: to catch a glimpse of an even more magical sunset, you should take a sunset cruise on Lake Ohrid during the golden hour.

TOUR PRICE: from US$10 per person

Book your sunset cruise

3. Join a walking tour of the Ohrid Old Town

a narrow cobbled street with Macedonian traditional houses

For me personally, what makes Ohrid such a gem is the Old Town. The fortified city of Ohrid, North Macedonia, is a charming and historic neighborhood that transports you to another time.

The narrow cobbled lanes and the traditional houses, built in a distinctive way with upper floors being slightly wider than lower ones, make you feel like you’ve stepped through a portal in the past.

I found this great walking tour that takes you to all the Ohrid attractions in the Old Town and the city centre. It’s a great choice if you want to learn more about the interesting history of this small city and admire the ancient architecture.

Walking up and down the steep streets, you will come across many significant historical landmarks, traditional craft shops, and amazing restaurants overlooking the lake where you can try local food.

Whenever I am in the Old Town, I love to have a coffee at Liquid (map) or have dinner at NOA Lounge Bar (map). Both places are located on the coast and have amazing views of the lake!

TOUR PRICE: from US$70 per person

Save your spot

4. Wander around the Ancient Theatre

a girl posing at an ancient theatre

The Ohrid Ancient Theatre dates back to 200 BC, and it is the only Hellenistic type of theater in the country.

In the past, people enjoyed Greek plays here, but the theater also hosted Roman gladiator fights.

Today, the theater still fulfills its purpose. With a capacity of over 5,000 people every year, this place hosts high-end performances during the Ohrid Summer Festival.

When there are no events, the theater is open for everyone to visit. Once you step into it after walking around the narrow cobblestone streets of Ohrid to reach it, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to thousands of years ago.

The place has a special vibe and amazing views of Lake Ohrid, making it an attraction you must visit.

5. Admire the views from Tsar Samuil Fortress

aerial view of a city by a lake from a fortress

Perched majestically atop a hill overlooking the serene waters of Lake Ohrid, the Tsar Samuil Fortress is a living testament to the fascinating history and rich cultural tapestry of Ohrid.

It’s named after Tsar Samuil, the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century. During his reign, he built this fortress as his headquarters on the site of an earlier fortification from the 4th century BC.

In 2003, the fortress was largely restored. However, there’s not much to see on the inside, and it’s not very well maintained and preserved.

a girl showing off her engagement ring at a fortress with a view of a city in the background

But no other place in Ohrid can beat the views you get of the lake and the surrounding mountains, making it worth the visit.

NOTE: you can buy tickets at the entrance, and they can only be bought in the local currency for MKD 120 or in euros, so make sure you have some when you come.

PRICE: €2 per person

6. Revel in the serenity of the Church of Saint Sophia

a girl posing in front of a church

Located in the heart of the Old Town Ohrid, the Church of Saint Sophia is probably one of the most significant historical landmarks in Macedonia.

A part of the Church of Saint Sophia is even depicted on the 1,000 Macedonian denars banknote.

Built over 1,000 years ago, it is one of the oldest surviving historical orthodox churches in the country as well as in the Balkans.

During the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque, so the frescoes were covered, but luckily they were preserved.

Nowadays, you can enter the church and admire the beautiful architecture and art between its walls. And since it has great acoustics, the Sophia Church hosts many concerts during Ohrid’s Summer Festival.

NOTE: make sure to have some change to buy tickets at the entrance.

PRICE: €2 per person

7. Soak in the lively vibe of Ohrid’s Old Bazaar

people walking along a wide walking street with shops

When visiting Ohrid, you must go to the Old Bazaar. It is the busiest and liveliest place in the whole city.

The Ohrid bazaar is not as big as the one in Skopje, but it is the perfect place if you are looking for something cool to buy.

There are many shops selling different products, many of which are handmade by local artisans. It is also a great place to look for souvenirs such as magnets and postcards or buy Ohrid pearls (just don’t be fooled by the cheap replicas, as the original pearls are expensive).

While traditional pearls last around 150 years, local artisans claim that the Ohrid pearls last forever!

Traditional bazaars are a common thing in Macedonia and a must-do if you decide to go to the capital, too. See the full list of things to do in Skopje here.

8. Find spiritual solace amidst St. Naum’s serene surroundings

Girl in front of St. Naum Monastery

The Saint Naum Monastery is my favorite place to visit when I go to Ohrid.

The monastery is majestic, with its ancient frescoes and unique architecture. Inside the monastery, you’ll find the remains of Saint Naum.

According to a legend, if you put your ear on the grave, you can hear the beating of Saint Naum’s heart. I’ll let you in on a little secret – you actually hear the waves crashing on the rocks, but it is still a unique experience.

The entrance fee to the church with Saint Naum’s remains is MKD 100, or €2. 

a bridge over a river flowing in the lake

Yet what mostly stands out for me here is the beautiful nature, with river Crn Drim flowing through the area to the lake. You can even see the point where the river becomes one with Lake Ohrid.

The water is so clear you can see straight down to the riverbed, revealing a world of aquatic life beneath the surface.

You can take a rowing boat tour from any boat operator on the shores and cruise on the crystal clear water to completely immerse yourself in the serenity and the natural beauty around you.

TIP: whatever you do, don’t miss stopping for lunch here. There are many restaurants along the river, with overwater terraces surrounded by lush greenery.

view of a crystal clear river water

My favorite place to go is Restaurant Ostrovo (map). It is located on an island on a river surrounded by gorgeous crystal clear waters. Or you can go to Sveti Naum, a restaurant located not too far away from the entrance gate on the way to the monastery.

Both are such serene places to indulge in locally caught trout (globally known as Ohrid trout) and a glass of cooled white wine. Perfect, I’d say!

9. Stroll along the promenade for a perfect view of Ohrid

view of old city from Ohrid lake's promenade

Taking a stroll along the lakeside promenade is the perfect thing to do in Ohrid for all ages!

The promenade goes along Lake Ohrid, offering a picture-perfect view of the town. You’ll see old buildings, red roofs, and the peaceful lake – it all looks like a talented artist’s masterpiece!

Whether you’re taking photos or just enjoying the scenery, walking along the Ohrid’s promenade lets you fully enjoy the city’s wonderful charm.

PRO TIP: traveling with kids? Don’t miss out on exploring the underwater world of Lake Ohrid on the Semi submarine (see Facebook page). It’s such a unique experience for the kiddos and costs €10 per person.

10. Relax on the sandy beach of Daljan

a guy sitting on a beach by lake Daljan

My favorite beach in Ohrid is Daljan. It is the only sandy beach in Ohrid and the only one located west of the Old Town.

There is a camp situated on the beach, so there are many kids and families enjoying their holiday and basking in the sun.

I like that there is no loud music here, so you can hear the waves crashing on the shore and enjoy the view of the lake’s still water.

TIP: if you are going to walk to Daljan from the Old Town, then you can explore some of the wild beaches you will find if you step away from the stone path going down the hill. The majority of beaches are covered with pebbles and lined with shades of big, tall trees, making them a great spot to unwind and relax.

11. Step through the doorways of Robev Family House

view of a museum in an old Macedonian house

I love exploring old houses and seeing how they were built and decorated back in the day. The House of the Robev Family is a great example of a traditional Ohrid house from 200 years ago.

The house was primarily built in 1827, but it was heavily restored in 1863 because it burned down.

What’s very interesting is that the house was divided between 2 brothers, and to make the 2 halves different, each hired different wood carvers. Hence, when you visit the Robev Family House, you’ll notice that the ornate, carved ceilings and the handmade furniture have distinct styles between the 2 halves.

Today, this exceptional building houses the National Ohrid Museum, where you can marvel at the diverse collection of artifacts, from ancient coins to traditional costumes, which provide a glimpse into the cultural tapestry of Ohrid.

PRICE: €2 per person

12. Plunge into Plaoshnik’s profound past

view of the Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon in Ohrid with archeological findings in front of it

The best ancient site in Ohrid is Plaošnik (Plaoshnik). It is one of the Natural World Heritage Sites protected by UNESCO.

Located at a very short distance from the Kaneo Church, here you will find another iconic church, the Church of St. Clement and Panteleimon.

St. Clement built the church in the 800s, but he dedicated it to St. Panteleimon. Later, this place became the Ohrid Literary School, where Saints Clement and Naum taught the Cyrillic alphabet to more than 3,500 disciples.

During the Ottoman Empire, the church and the whole religious site were transformed into a mosque. That is why you can see Muslim tombs in the area.

a mosaic surrounding old ruins at Plaoshnik

Yet, for me, the most astonishing things you can see here are the archeological findings. You can see the remains of a 5th-century basilica and the beautiful and ornate mosaics that were part of it.

PRICE: €2 per person

13. Party at Gradishte Beach, Ohrid’s youthful hotspot

view of Gradishte beach with pebbles and crystal clear water

For vibrant nightlife and energetic beach vibes, head to Gradishte Beach. This youthful hotspot offers beach bars, music, and a lively atmosphere.

The amazing thing about this beach is that it consists of 4 separate ones, and you can easily access from one to another via a boardwalk over the water.

Each beach has a different vibe and offers a unique experience for the visitors.

14. Unearth mysteries at the intriguing Bay of Bones

a girl posing in front of Bay of Bones, museum on water

The Bay of Bones Museum is a museum located on the water. It is an artificial replica representing a prehistoric pile dwellers’ settlement from the region.

It is fascinating to see how people lived in the old times, how they built their houses, and what tools they used. The ticket costs MKD 100 (€2) and can be bought only at the entrance.

This place is a perfect stop on your way to St. Naum and is included on this full-day private boat tour that will take you to the most prominent attractions near Ohrid. You only need to relax and enjoy.

TOUR PRICE: from €106 per person

Book your private boat tour

15. Embrace lakeside bliss in the hidden gem of Trpejca

people on a beach with pebbles and crystal clear water

Trpejca is a charming fishing village between the Bay of Bones Museum and Saint Naum.

The village itself is very small, but it’s got a unique character that you can notice as you walk among the houses to reach the beach. The beach itself is pretty small, but it has the most crystal clear water that you can find in Ohrid.

Apart from that, there are some pretty amazing restaurants where you can try the most delicious food in this area. You should definitely try locally caught fish and Macedonian dishes at Ribar Restaurant (map) or at Tavern Mrestilishte (map). Both places are located right on the beach, and both offer appetizing dishes!

16. Catch a boat to Holy Mother of God Zahumska

view of a church complex from the water

The Holy Mother of God Zahumska is an ancient monastery nestled within the tranquil embrace of Lake Ohrid.

It can only be reached via boat (see map), making it a literal hidden gem that even many Macedonians don’t know about, and a reason more why you should visit. Exploring the Holy Mother of God Zahumska is a chance to witness impressive frescoes and intricate religious artifacts.

Yet another reason why it is worth taking the boat to this monastery is the scenic views that you are going to enjoy along the way.

To get to the monastery, you will need to hop on a boat from Trpejca. The trip lasts around 10-15 minutes one-way and costs from MKD800 (€15) per ride.

17. Soar above Ohrid’s skyline on a paragliding adventure

two paragliders flying over a city

What better way to experience the uniqueness of Ohrid than from the sky?

This paragliding tandem tour adventure offers a unique viewpoint of the crystal clear water of Lake Ohrid and the red rooftops of the Ottoman houses in the Old Town.

Getting to the starting point is a journey in itself, as it is similar to an off-road experience in the mountains.

It’s a great opportunity to discover the unforgettable sensation of paragliding over Ohrid and create lasting memories above this picturesque Macedonian town.

PRICE: from €80 per person

Book your adventure

18. See the breathtaking beauty of Galichica National Park

view of a lake from a mountain peak

Nestled between Ohrid and Prespa, Galičica National Park is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. With diverse flora and fauna, hiking trails, and awe-inspiring viewpoints, it’s a haven for outdoor adventure and stunning panoramas.

There is a viewing standpoint when you reach the very top from where you can see both Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa at the same time. Incredibly stunning!

If, perhaps, you’re seeking an extra dose of adventure, you should take this full-day ATV tour through the national park.

PRICE: from €1 per vehicle to enter the park

👪 Family-friendly score:High
🏰 Top attraction with a view:Tsar Samuil Fortress
🏛️ Best museum:House of the Robev Family
💑🏻 Most romantic tour:Sunset Cruise on the Lake
👧 Best attraction for kids:Bay of Bones Museum
🪂 Unique tour:Tandem Paragliding
🐟 Must try food:Ohrid Trout

Where to stay in Ohrid

There are many amazing accommodation options in Ohrid. Below are my top picks for every budget. Remember that during high season, the hotels get booked quickly, so you should definitely book in advance!

a collage of three hotel photos: view of a hotel by the lake, outdoor pool, and bedroom

Luxury (from €120 and above)

  • Aleksandar Villa & Spa – located 10 minutes from the city center, this amazing villa is a perfect option to relax and unwind in a peaceful and secluded atmosphere.
  • Unique – Resort and SPA – a wonderful luxury option in the city, Unique Resort offers an outdoor swimming pool, a hammam, and a restaurant for their guests.

Mid-range (from €90 to €120)

  • Hotel & Spa Tino Sveti Stefan – this is one of the most famous hotels in Ohrid, located right in the heart of the city center. This modern hotel is close to all the top things to see.
  • Vila Bisera – this villa is a great option if you want to stay in a quiet neighborhood right at the beach. Each room has a balcony with amazing views of the lake.

Budget (up to €90)

  • Hotel Aleksandrija – if you are looking to stay in the Old Town, Hotel Aleksandrija is the perfect place for that. It is also a great option if you are staying for a weekend since it’s close to all major attractions.
  • Villa & Winery Mal Sveti Kliment – this vila is another amazing option in the Old Town, built in the traditional local style with authentic furniture and handmade carvings.

Check the rates for Ohrid

Practical information

Getting to and around Ohrid might be a bit tricky. That is why I wrote this section to help you navigate your way.

Getting to Ohrid

a car driving on a road surrounded by mountains

Typically, when you decide to visit Macedonia, you will be landing at Skopje International Airport.

From there, there are 2 ways to reach Ohrid from Skopje.

  • Rent a car from Skopje and drive to Ohrid on highway E-65. The trip takes around 3 hours, and on the way, you can also stop at other cities, such as Tetovo or Gostivar.
  • Take a bus. First, you will need to catch a bus from the airport to the Skopje bus station, which costs MKD 200 (€4). Check the timetable here. Once you reach the bus station in Skopje, you can get on a bus to Ohrid (timetable) for MKD 900 (€15) for a one-way ticket or MKD 1200 (€20) for a two-way ticket. The bus trip takes from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the route the bus takes.

Ohrid also has its own airport – St. Paul The Apostle Airport. However, it is only connected to a handful of cities, but you should check out the flight timetable in case you are coming from one of them.

Getting around Ohrid

boats harbored on a dock with a city in the background

Getting around Ohrid is a bit trickier. There are taxi companies that can take you around the city and the surroundings. However, there aren’t too many of them, and you should always be careful not to get ripped off.

That’s why you should always ask them to start the taximeter so you can be sure you will be charged the regular fare. The fare is MKD 50 (€1) charged at the start, then MKD 35 (less than €1) per km.

For places that are further away from the city, you can also catch a boat from the Ohrid Port.

However, the best way to get around the city and the surroundings (that you must visit), is by car (whether yours or a rental one). That way, you’ll be able to organize your trip however you want and have the transportation to visit everything in and around Ohrid.

FAQs about things to do in Ohrid

view of city houses with red roofs

📆 How many days are enough when visiting Ohrid?

I would recommend spending at least 2 days in Ohrid, one day to explore the Old Town on a walking tour, and the other day to go on a day trip or private boat tour to Ohrid’s surroundings.

🚶🏻 How do I spend a day in Ohrid?

Begin by exploring the historic Old Town, visit Tsar Samuil’s Fortress for panoramic views, enjoy a stroll along the Ohrid boardwalk, and end with a sunset boat ride on Lake Ohrid.

👪🏼 What to do in Ohrid with kids?

If you are visiting Ohrid with kids, then you can take them on a private boat ride to see the city and its surroundings or see the underwater world on the Semi submarine. For a free activity, I recommend spending the day relaxing and swimming at the beach.

✨ What are some unique things to do in Ohrid?

If you are looking for thrill and adventure, I recommend that you try a paragliding tandem tour for amazing bird’s eye views of the city. 


a girl posing by Ohrid lake at sunset

There you have it! A complete guide of the 18 best things to do in Ohrid and guide on how to get to and around Ohrid, as well as top options for places to stay.

I didn’t forget to add my personal favorites and spilled some locally known secrets, so I hope that article will have you well-prepared for when you visit Ohrid.

If you have any questions or concerns, just drop them down in the comments section! I’ve been to Ohrid many times, so I am happy to help you!



Pin it for later!

a collage of two photos: aerial view of city by a lake, and a church on a cliff

Pin it for later!

a collage of two photos: ancient theatre and view from fortress

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  1. David Golber 06.05.2024 at 15:14
    • Marija Petrushevska 09.05.2024 at 15:39

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