To say that lake Ohrid is gorgeous would be an understatement. Its mountainous surroundings, vast basin and bevies of swans inhabiting its waters are definitely worth the trip. Being among the deepest lakes on the planet, Ohrid is the home of hundreds of endemic species of flora and fauna. A fun little fact is that NASA actually named one of the lakes they discovered on Saturn’s moon Titan after it – Ohrid Lacus. But what can you see and do at lake Ohrid if you’re not a diver or you’re not there to examine its diverse ecosystem?
Take a boat ride on the lake
It might sound obvious and even trivial, but taking a boat ride on the lake grants you some of the best panoramic views in all of Macedonia. Whether you’re on a tight budget and can afford only a small boat or you’re willing to splatter a small fortune on a fancy cruise, the possibilities are limitless. The lowest prices start just from €10 euro and don’t take longer than 30 minutes off of your precious leisure time.
Visit Samuel’s Fortress
Samuel’s Fortress, Tsar Samoil’s Fortress, Samoilova Tvrdina – locals and foreigners call it by many names. It was constructed back in the distant 10th century by Samuel in order to fortify the city of Ohrid, which then served as the capital for the First Bulgarian Empire. While historians still argue on Samuel’s Bulgarian or Macedonian origins, the fortress itself will make you forget about such arguments. Its grandeur and waterscapes are truly breathtaking any time of year. The fortress is among the most prominent features of the area and you shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to visit it.
Try out the local fish
Macedonian cuisine is hearty and will treat your taste buds to the point of absolute satiety. Unsurprisingly enough, you’ll find lots of fish restaurants nestled on the shores of lake Ohrid. Pick one (or more, depending on how long you’re staying) and try out the local fish meals. There are plenty of varieties to choose from and they won’t leave you disappointed. I’d suggest opting for sea food mash-ups, the carp, eel and some of the non-fish local dishes.
Hiking isn’t a first choice for most people when they go on a vacation, but doing it through the trails of lake Ohrid’s surrounding mountains will reward you with beautiful sights at every turn, lots of fresh air and a chance to enjoy the lake’s splendor from angles most tourists never would. The most famous hiking trails near the lake are paths leading to the Vevchani springs and the Galicica National Park’s forest paths (located between lake Ohrid and lake Prespa).
Paraglide over the lake
Speaking of angles most tourists haven’t seen, you can paraglide over the lake, the city of Ohrid and its numerous colorful villages. The easiest way is to book a flight from the Cuba Libre beach bar on the lake’s shores, but other companies also offer these services. Plunging into the skies with a paraglider isn’t for the faintest of hearts out there, but if you can brave the fear of heights, it will be a life-changing experience and will leave you with exciting memories for the rest of your lifetime. Just keep in mind that you need to plan it beforehand and not contact paragliding services in the last minute.
Rent a kayak
If paragliding isn’t your thing and you’re not keen on overcrowded boat tours, a great alternative would be to rent a kayak boat. The kayaks are pretty cheap and if you rent them for a day instead of by the hour you can spend as much time gliding through the lake’s surface as your heart desires. Single and duo boats are available everywhere and you don’t need any Olympic rowing skills in order to successfully navigate your way through the waters.
Visit the church of St. John
Dating back to the 13th century the church of Saint John at Kaneo was once the main feature of a monastery that was ruined by Ottoman invasion. Legend has it, Bulgarian ruler Ivan Asen II held one of his marriages here and the gate from which he exited was immediately sealed after his departure. Legends and customs left aside, nowadays the small church is a lovely example of Slavic medieval architecture and offers magnificent views of the lake.