EuropeNorth MacedoniaOhrid

Ohrid Travel Guide: The Pearl of Macedonia

Ohrid is one of the most beautiful cities in the Balkans, and they don’t call it the pearl of the Balkans or even the pearl of Macedonia for nothing. It is as precious, bright, and significant as a pearl. With its deep-rooted history and natural beauties, it is quite rare. In fact, the city is on the UNESCO World Heritage List! First, in 1979, Lake Ohrid, one of Ohrid’s greatest symbols, was added to the list. Later, the historical and natural texture of Ohrid ensured the entire city’s protection under UNESCO.

In this article, we have listed the must visit places in Ohrid for you. But before we start, let’s remind you: Don’t forget to download the Piri Guide mobile app to explore Ohrid step by step with your personal tour guide! 😊

Where is Ohrid?

Ohrid is known as the eighth-largest city in North Macedonia. It is also quite close to the border with Albania, approximately half an hour away. The city is about a three-hour drive from Skopje. It takes its name from the enchanting Lake Ohrid, which is considered one of the most stunning lakes in North Macedonia. Many tourists from landlocked countries without access to the sea, such as Kosovo and Serbia, choose this city region for their vacations.

When to Visit Ohrid?

For those who wish to visit Ohrid, the most suitable period is considered to be April and May. Especially during this time, the heavy rainfall comes to an end, and the temperatures are not excessively high. The festivals organized in these months may also catch your interest. For travelers who do not enjoy crowds and hot weather, visiting Ohrid in September and October, following August, is a more suitable option. The city also attracts attention with winter tourism opportunities. In January, which experiences the coldest temperatures in Ohrid, the average temperature varies between -2 degrees to 5 degrees. Therefore, it is advisable to be prepared when visiting during winter.

The Pearl of Ohrid

One of the most important cultural heritages of this city is its pearl. Over 200 species in the ecosystem of Lake Ohrid are endemic, meaning they exist only in this region. Out of 17 fish species, 10 are found exclusively in Lake Ohrid, with Letnica and belvica being the most famous. However, there is one fish that stands out—the plasica, used in the production of Ohrid pearl. When thinking of Ohrid pearl, don’t immediately picture the pearl that comes from the oyster. Ohrid pearl is made from a fish called plasica. The technology used in the production of this pearl is a family secret, known only to two families in Ohrid: the Filevi family and the Talevi family. A special liquid solution is made from the scales of the plasica fish in Lake Ohrid. This secret liquid solution is considered the key ingredient in the production of the Ohrid pearl.

Places to Visit in Ohrid

We’ve made a list of must-visit places in Ohrid. Yet, we should remind you that you can find more on the Piri Guide mobile app. Piri Guide detects your location, offers you the best travel routes, and starts telling you the hidden stories of wherever you are. All you have to do is to get your headphones or earbuds and follow the path at your own pace. Then, don’t set out for your trip before downloading the digital travel guide! 😊

Saints Clement and Panteleimon Church

This is the church where the Cyrillic alphabet was born! Let’s explain right away: Saints Clement and Naum were Byzantine brothers and students of Cyril and Methodius. Cyril and Methodius are known today as the “Leaders of the Slavs.” They are the two most important figures who spread Christianity among the Slavs. They developed the Glagolitic alphabet to write the Old Slavic language. The Cyrillic alphabet was later developed based on the Glagolitic alphabet. Glagolitic is a Slavic alphabet believed to be used by the Bulgarian Slavs living in the Ohrid region. Initially, it was a liturgical script, later used as a cryptographic language or code. Finally, the familiar Cyrillic alphabet emerged.

Saint Clement used the newly built Church of Panteleimon to teach his students Old Church Slavonic and the Glagolitic alphabet. Research indicates that Ohrid native Clement and Naum of Preslav developed the Cyrillic alphabet. After developing the alphabet, Clement named it after his teacher Cyril, and he established the Ohrid Literary School.

After Clement’s death in the 10th century, he was buried inside this church. You can see his tomb inside the church.

Handmade Paper Workshop

The workshop was opened in 2002. Ohrid has been producing paper since the 16th century, following the ancient Chinese tradition of papermaking. The Chinese papermaking tradition reached Europe in the 13th century. They use the essence of the tree in the papermaking process, and in some cases, cotton can be added. For decoration, they utilize natural materials such as flowers, leaves, tobacco, and coffee.

Everything in this small workshop has been produced on a Gutenberg printing press. There are only two copies of the Gutenberg print in Europe, one in Slovenia and the other in Ohrid, where we are exploring today. Inside the workshop, they demonstrate how handmade paper is produced live. Additionally, you can purchase original handmade products.

The Lake Ohrid

Ohrid is known as the “City of Fish,” and it owes its abundance of fish to Lake Ohrid. The nearly 5 million-year-old Lake Ohrid is the oldest and deepest lake in the Balkans. Fifty percent of it is fed by underground springs. The water of Lake Ohrid is very clear, and the locals liken it to tears. They even call it the “Tear of the Eye Lake.” Just as tears cleanse and moisturize the eyes, the lake holds great importance for the people of the city. Throughout history, the waters of this lake have nourished and sustained them.

The Old Bazaar

The Old Bazaar starts from Ohrid city square and the harbor. This bazaar dates back to the Ottoman era, so you can find Turkish restaurants and brands both inside the bazaar and throughout the city. The street within the bazaar is also known as the Turkish Bazaar. There used to be a significant Turkish presence here, but it has decreased over time.

Throughout the bazaar, there are many cafes and restaurants. You can choose one with a view of the lake. Additionally, boutiques, bookstores, and souvenir shops are lined along this bazaar. Those who want to buy gifts for their loved ones should definitely check out the shops in the Old Bazaar.

Bay of the Bones Museum

The Bone Museum, also known as the Bay or Water Museum, is an archaeological complex located along the shore of Ohrid near Gradishte and Ploca Micov Kamen excavation sites. Its history dates back to 1200 to 700 BC. The Ohrid Lake, which is quite shallow at this point, has led to the emergence of a large wooden water museum.

Many consider the Bone Museum to be one of the largest prehistoric pile dwellings. Pile dwellings are simply houses built on the lake. There is a reason why it is called the Bay and the Museum of Bones. Many animal remains have been found at the excavation site. Some were in a fragmented state, but others have been preserved in containers and have reached the present day.

If you’re thinking of seeing Skopje while you’re there, be sure to check out our Skopje travel guide.

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