Photoblog: Still Waters of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Posted on July 18, 2010 by

Continuing my journey through the Balkans, I crossed the border into Macedonia by land from the western end of Bulgaria. Uncovering this part of Europe was a revelation to me. Not only is it within a hop and jump from my base in Spain, the region is also largely unexplored, veering clear from the standard tourist trail. The Balkans have had a conflicted past, racial disparities and political issues; but if you’re looking to uncover an unspoiled destination, then the Balkans won’t disappoint.

An Orthodox Church standing over Lake Ohrid  

Macedonia left a deep impression on me: its warm, resilient people and bounty of unspoiled nature – especially so at Lake Ohrid. The languid atmosphere and poetic setting of Lake Ohrid are reminiscent of the Greek islands, yet distinctively Macedonian. Besides the lower cost of living, the usual tourist crowds are nowhere to be seen here.

Ancient monasteries loom above the dark blue waters while narrow cobbled paths wind their way through the hilly lakeside town of Ohrid. The lake straddles between two countries: On the other edge of the lake lies Albania. On a clear day, you can even see the snow-peaked mountains that run parallel to the border.

Albania on the other side of the lake

Circling the lake, I would spot secret coves lined with stretches of pebbled beaches and turquoise clear waters, and surprisingly empty. My host, Budimir, told me tales of how his family would spend summers here, enjoying a barbeque by the lake and going snorkeling when the heat was overbearing. Although this area is frequented by Macedonians from all over the country, especially in summer, you can hardly find any other foreigner in the area.

Turqouise clear waters of Lake Ohrid 

Each morning, I woke up to to a sweeping view of the calm lake from my suite in Villa St.Kliment the Lesser. Named after the nearby Orthodox church, the villa is a charming and elegant boutique hotel poised on the hilltop of Ohrid town. My top-floor suite opened up to  a breathe of fresh air, sounds of birds chirping outside and a million-dollar panorama. In the comfort of my own room, breakfast was served. Savoring the freshly-baked chocolate croissant and strawberry juice, I drank in the views ahead and dreamt of life in Ohrid.

View from my room at Villa St Kliment

 

Historical Monuments in Ohrid Town

Amongst the numerous fishing towns that line the shoreline, the town of Ohrid is said to be the most beautiful, and naturally the most popular among visitors. It’s easy to see why. The town itself is a testimony to Macedonia’s history. During my stay in Ohrid, I wandered around its hilly walkways, constantly stumbling upon well-preserved Byzantine churches, Roman amphitheatre ruins and medieval fortress. Such historical remnants are a rarity in earthquake-prone Macedonia.

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View of Ohrid town from above

The Ohrid Castle stands above the sprawling town, expect to find some of the best views of the lake here.

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Orthodox church 

Perhaps the most picturesque point in Ohrid, the Jovan Kaneo Orthodox Church is perched on the water’s edge to create a poetic setting. As I sat in awe, lovelorn couples snuggled nearby while artists stood by the waterfront lost in their own thoughts.

Orthodox church standing above the lake

As the last ebb of the sun fades in the distance, the water takes on a dark shade of blue. Activities around the lake start to wind down as the town puts on a coat of elegance.

Sunset at Lake Ohrid 

Driving up to Galičica National Park

Just a 30-minute drive from Ohrid is the sprawling Galičica National Park. We left the sizzling heat of Lake Ohrid behind, climbing thousands of meters to reach the peak of Mount Galičica. Cooling temperatures welcomed us as we gained perspective of the lake from our new vantage point. Here, patches of snow were strewn around the green slopes – a starkly contrasting scene as the lakeside.

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From above, the glassy waters of Lake Ohrid resembled a mirror, reflecting the image of the snow-peaked mountains on its clear surface.

Lake Ohrid as seen from the snow peaks

Glassy surface of Lake Ohrid

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

16 Responses to “Photoblog: Still Waters of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia”

  1. jen laceda July 18, 2010 1:12 am #

    Thanks for sharing your adventure in Macedonia. Didn't know it's so pretty there.

    • Nellie July 23, 2010 3:40 pm #

      Jen, havent heard from you in awhile! Good to see you here. Macedonia's outstanding, many rave about the beauty of Montenegro as well, would love to hop over there when I get the chance. The Balkans in general is an amazing region that's largely unexplored, cant wait to go back soon!

  2. Adventurous Kate July 19, 2010 3:27 am #

    I love this post. Macedonia was the one place in the Balkans that I had no desire to visit — but after viewing this, that's changed!

  3. Roxanne February 23, 2011 12:28 am #

    Gorgeous photos of a beautiful part of the world that does not usually enjoy this kind of exposure. Thank you!

  4. Abhishek February 23, 2011 12:38 am #

    Really a great place ti visit.Thanks for sharing the knowledge and travel deeds of Macedonia.Hope some day i will visit this place.

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  6. Post To Classifieds April 21, 2013 11:26 am #

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  7. Stephanie August 8, 2013 2:22 am #

    I'm here at the moment, and couldn't agree more with what you wrote. Its an amazing place!

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