Ohrid North Macedonia: How to spend in one day

Ohrid's Ancient Theater

Ohrid did not come as a surprise with its fantastic architecture and the beautiful lake, a hidden gem in the Balkans. The city owes a status to its location and is worth a trip, even just for one day. Certainly put Ohrid on the itinerary when you visit North Macedonia. Where is Ohrid? I understand if you’re not familiar with this city. It is, in fact, a well-favored place compared to the capital city of North Macedonia, Skopje.

Was it worth a day trip? Definitely worth it! Although, it takes an effort to get there, I managed and enjoyed my trip so much. So if you scroll down to this blog, you will find out how to get there and what you can do with a limited time. I’m pretty sure that you have a memorable trip to North Macedonia.

The roof of Ohrid city

How do you get to Ohrid?

Hmm, I see these questions coming. The first thing everyone searches on the internet. I have been reading blogs and watching videos just to find out how to get there efficiently. I even went to forums inquiring about the easiest way if I only got one day.

Some suggest staying overnight, which sounds good, but I do not have the luxury of time. My flight leaves in the morning, so I must be in Skopje the night before. Anyway, there are different ways to get to Ohrid, which is alluded to in this blog.

Buses are cheap, but it takes longer

If you are looking for less expensive, the buses cost 15 euros, but it takes three hours, also, you are bounded by their schedule, mainly on a return trip to Skopje. There are buses every hour: the last service departs from Ohrid at 7:00 pm. Check the bus schedule HERE

Well, I have my reason for not taking the bus. First, I was concerned about my flight back home. Secondly, I don’t want to be agitated and keep watching the time. Third, what will happen if I miss the bus? It’s a long way from Ohrid to Skopje. But that is just me, although it never happens that I missed my ride.

How about the Taxi?

Uh, the taxi. To wherever the place in the world, we know they are the most expensive transport. I inquired for the price, and they quoted me hundred euros, which is way out of my budget! However, this option is convenient and hassle-free! Just sit back and relax. But be aware that surcharges like toll fees and waiting time are not included in the price.

Another option is booking a tour

If you search for a seamless trip booking a tour would be agreeable. Athough not the cheapest option but you have the transport, local guide, entrance fees, and maybe the meals. I am not into guided tours, except if there is no other way. If you eager to know the prices, I used this company HERE. You can decide what is best for you.

The view from Samuel's Fortress

Rent a car and Self-driving

The latter is to rent a car and not necessarily expensive. I pay 51 euros with all the necessary insurance, it took me some time to decide. But after going back and forth to the above option, I considered renting a vehicle. However, as a lone traveler, my dubiety took me some extra work searching for what is like driving in North Macedonia. And to share my driving experience during this trip, read my separate blog about renting a car and driving in the country.

How easy: Rent a car and drive in North Macedonia

Getting around in Ohrid 

Even if you have a car, you won’t be driving around that’s the problem if going by car to Ohrid. The parking is difficult, especially during the weekend. However, to make this easy, set up your navigation to the upper gate, where you can park for free. 

In addition, Ohrid is a pleasant city divided into two parts, the new and the old town. However, it is safer to leave your car at the parking and walk. The new modern center has excellent shops and I think you will concentrate on the old town like most people do. I suggest wearing good walking shoes when visiting Ohrid because you have some climbing walk in some parts of the city.

Is one day enough for Ohrid?

One day is not enough, but if that is all you have make it a memorable trip. I manage to see the highlights in one day. It was exhausting because I was continuously on the go, but a fulfilling journey. As you can see below, things I have done in Ohrid from the beginning to the last. I repeat you will do a lot of walking and climbing, Ohrid is not entirely flat.

Church of St. John Kaneo

Tsar Samuel’s Fortress

Samuel's Fortress

Samuel Fortress has been standing for more than a thousand years, which is the historical importance of Ohrid. There’s a small entrance fee of 120 denar (2 euros). Remember the fort is open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and closed on Monday. Owing to its highest position, getting there is a heavy walk. If you come to Ohrid by car and park at the upper gate it is just a 10-minutes amble.

I suggest visiting Samuel Fortress first, at that point is a less heavy walk. But if you are coming from the city center, it is climbing up. However, there isn’t much to see inside, only the walls and some older foundations you can walk along. Due to its highest location, this is in fact, the best place for photographers with a panoramic of 360 degrees over Ohrid and its surroundings.

Saints Clement and Panteleimon

Saints Clement and Panteleimon

Lots of churches in Ohrid, and this should be in your top three to target. The church stands high above the old town on Plaosnik Hill, midway between St. Jovan Kaneo and the fortress. So it makes a convenient place to break your hike. This is one of those structures that catches the eye and it is difficult not to keep looking at it. A fine example of a red-brick building with so many details in a magnificent location with Lake Ohrid as a backdrop. A must-visit place nice complex with rich historic value dating back to the 9th century.

The Ancient Theater of Ohrid 

Ohrid Ancient Theater

I have seen some ancient theaters during my trip, but this one in Ohrid lies in a perfect spot with a gorgeous view. Just one thing to be reminded about this site is the location. But if coming from the fortress, the theater is on the way down. So it’s good news, but if advent from the center, it’s a mount walk.

Since 1980, Ohrid Amphitheater has also been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful setting can recollect the manifest in the old days. However, the current theater is about half of the original one. The second ring has been gone over the centuries, but I find the surrounding views were more interesting than what’s missing. It’s free to visit, and you can walk around it, so it is worth a peek. Currently, the Theater is still used for some city events during the summer months.

Sveti Sofia Church

Saint Sofia Church

Ohrid is such a remarkable city in North Macedonia, a religious center with 365 churches. Therefore got its nickname the Jerusalem of the Balkans. Too many religious houses to see, but you have to choose which one has most of your interest. Some of these sanctuary are afield and may take your time.

Not far from Amphitheater is the attractive building of Saint Sofia, beautifully surrounded by gardens in the heart of the old town. This is the oldest Byzantine church in North Macedonia, that represents one of the most essential sights due to its medieval architecture. The beautiful interior has some old paintings and frescoes, which are remarkably well-preserved. However, there’s a small fee if going inside and it’s worth to pay for 1.50 euros.

Board Walk by the Lake Ohrid

A boardwalk in Ohrid

The town of Ohrid sits on the lake. A focal point for tourists with its crystal clear turquoise water, charming bays, and rolling green mountains. You could fall in love with this city, a place to be in North Macedonia. The boardwalk is a must, don’t skip this part, or you will regret it.

This is a pleasing walk on a wooden board that runs beautifully over the lake along the rocky cliff through Potpesh Beach. Sometimes it can get crowded but enough room to walk for more people. It is also a way to the famous church Saint John Kaneo. You just follow the wooden board till you arrive at a stair flight. A great experience to be close to nature and its surroundings.

Church of St. John Kaneo

Church of St. John Kaneo

This is the icon of Ohrid, the most photographed place in town because of its location. The bad news is, you can only get there on foot. I don’t want to put you off, it is really a climbing walk. But believe me the endeavor will be awarded when you made it to the top. The stunning position of St. John Kaneo offers breathtaking views over the lake. The vista you see anywhere on Ohrid, even on the postcard.

The interior of this church is minor, but if you like to see inside, there’s a small fee of 100 denars. Unfortunately, you can’t get photos inside. The exterior was much more worthwhile than what you see inside. Most people just came to walk around taking pictures and going, some will stay for sunset. If you have a car, it would be possible to wait for the sunset. I wasn’t interested because I did not want to drive back to Skopje in pitch dark.

Strolling the Old Town

The old town of Ohrid

Ohrid’s historic center offers a mesmerizing glimpse into a world of exotic North Macedonian antiquity. And should be done in no hurry, the only way to enjoy the surrounding. The old cobbled streets are characterized by real old houses in white with black accents. You will be surprised by what you see around and it gives the image of life in the Balkans as it used to be.

Lake excursions

Ohrid Lake

With no excuses, you will have time to take a boat ride, one of the best things to do in Ohrid. Beware, there are different boat excursions offered in town. For day trippers, you can go on a boat trip without reservation in advance. Just walk to the pier, some local people will approach you, if you want a lake tour. These are small colorful boats privately owned, and they are cheaper than those larger companies you’ve seen in town. I pay 3.00 euros for 30 minutes in May, I don’t know the price for other months…there were just fewer visitors during my trip.

Is one day worth it to Ohrid?

A gratifying trip, but if you can stay for one night, that will be more of a pleasure, because you don’t feel in a hurry. And hiring a car was a good idea, but there are advantages and disadvantages. The benefit of having a vehicle you don’t have to depend on buses. And you don’t need to go to the terminal and all the waiting time at the bus station.

It is a two-hour and half drive by car to Ohrid, while a bus can take up to more than three hours sometimes. The only problem when you arrive in Ohrid is finding parking. That said, as mentioned above, set up your navigation to Upper Gate and park your vehicle for as long as you want for free.

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