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- 20 Jan 2021, 3 nights
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Ohrid is Macedonia's Ottoman gem on the shore of the deep and ancient Lake Ohrid. A terracotta old town dotted with dozens of churches sits below wooded hills, while pebbled beaches provide plenty of opportunities to swim in the cool water. Spend afternoons sampling the best of Balkan cuisine or browsing for the famous Ohrid pearls, made by coating an emulsion with secret ingredients onto small pieces of mother-of-pearl. There's lots of hiking too, whether you venture into the nearby national parks or simply wander the lakeside paths.
You can choose from a rustic Ohrid hostel in the hills, a modern building with crisp white interiors and balconies or a villa with a terrace and gardens overlooking the town. Several Ohrid hostels arrange activities like boat trips, while others offer free breakfast. Most have dorms for solo travellers and some also have apartments you could book as a group if you're travelling with friends.
The old town of Ohrid tumbles down the hillside in a series of cobbled lanes lined with Ottoman homes, many now converted into shops and restaurants. Most streets lead to the waterfront, where you can stroll along the boardwalk that runs the length of the bay. For bars and low-key nightlife, head to Kosta Abras, just off the waterfront. North of the promenade is the fishing village of Kaneo and its famous viewpoint. To eat like the locals, make the 30-minute drive to the hillside village of Vevčani for speciality cheese and nettle pies.
The panoramic views over the lake from Sveti Jovan Church in Kaneo are a travellers' favourite. Just uphill, you'll find the medieval ruins of Samuel's Fortress and the amphitheatre that hosts concerts every summer. Continue on from Kaneo to check out the reconstructed prehistoric settlement at the Bay of Bones Museum; you could even go diving to see the underwater remains of the original settlement. For hiking, travel 30 minutes to the forests of Galičica National Park, where you can climb Magaro Peak.
To reach Ohrid, you can fly to the city's St Paul the Apostle Airport. You could also travel by bus from Macedonia's capital, Skopje (3.5 hours), from Belgrade in Serbia (9 hours) or Tirana in Albania (4 hours). There's no public transport from the airport and the bus station is outside the town centre, so you'll need to take a taxi from either. Local minibuses go to the sights around the lake, although schedules can be sporadic so arrange your return in advance.