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Ohrid is a large town in southwestern Macedonia on the shore of Lake Ohrid. A town of vast history and heritage, it was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1980. Nestled between high mountains up to 2,800 m and Lake Ohrid, it is not only a place of historic significance but also of outstanding natural beauty. Ohrid is the jewel in Macedonia's crown.
Ohrid has an international airport: St Paul the Apostle (OHD) about 7 km from city center which connects Ohrid with Amsterdam, Belgrade, Brussels, Tel Aviv and Zurich. From June 2015, Wizz Air connects Ohrid twice weekly with Basel and London. The airport is open year round but most airlines only fly during the summer, so check with your travel agent or airline for most current information.
A new bus service links the airport and the city port of Ohrid. Buses operate twice weekly (Wednesdays and Sundays) and are scheduled according to the Wizzair flights to/from Basel and London-Luton.
Transport in Ohrid is inexpensive and covers all areas of the city. Taxi drivers may try charge tourists higher rates, so insist they use a working meter, even if so, still keep an eye on the meter itself, as these devices are often "hacked" by some drivers.
The city center and the old town is compact and best seen on foot. An interesting walk that takes in the main attractions starts in the main square. The city's museums are in this area. From here, visit St.Sophia Church, the Antique Theater. Finally, walk up the hill to King Samuil's Fortress. Plaoshnik, and St John - Kaneo can be visited on the return journey.
What to see
Aside from the lake, Ohrid is most famous for its ancient churches, basilicas, and monasteries where Saints Kliment and Naum with the help of the Bulgarian king Boris I (students of Cyril and Methodus) wrote their teachings and formulated the Cyrillic alphabet used in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as neighboring countries Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro and as far as Russia, and many of the countries of the former Soviet unnion.
St.Sophia church 11th c. - Cathedral of Ohrid archbishops. Fourth basilica built on this same spot (the oldest one being a Roman basilica (courthouse)). Present church was built in 1035 by archbishop Lav, front facade with the towers and the open galleries was built in 1317 by archbishop Gregory.
St.Bogorodica Perivlepta 13th c. - The church was built and painted in 1295. It is dedicated to Virgin Mary, Perivlepta is an attribute given to her meaning "the Omnisicent and Clairvoyant".
St. John the Theologian - Kaneo church 13th c. – most known for its scenic location, standing on a cliff over Lake Ohrid. Notable about the cute architecture is Armenian influence in the zig-zag line of the roof of the dome.
St.Pantelejmon – Plaoshnik - It has been very important religious center since early Christian times, if not before. The church you see is a reconstruction of the church St.Klement built when he came here and opened the university.
Go to the beaches - Apart from sightseeing, there are a few different natural beaches, usually the further from the city center the more scenic they become, and each offers a unique beach experience. Gradište beach is known for many young people and music for instance, while others have families or tranquil atmosphere. Beaches are most crowded in July and August, and quiet the rest of the year, which is a whole different experience.
Some of the beaches to go are: Labino It's a small, stony beach that is not crowded. The water is clear and refreshing. Best time to go is in the morning.
Probably the best beach on Ohrid Lake is Ljubaništa On the South-East side of the lake near the border with Albania. The beach is long, sandy with usually clean water. There are a lot of people but you can't feel that since the beach is really big. Best time to go is after 6 PM. A sunset you won't forget.
Ohrid Summer Festival - The Ohrid Summer Festival is one of the largest and most important music and drama festivals in Macedonia. The first concert took place in 1961 in the church of St. Sophia, with its exceptional acoustics. The festival in Ohrid has a particular international flavour because of the participation of a large number of leading musicians and ensembles from the best known European and world music centers. There have been participants from 44 countries. This Festival has a solid reputation as it has gradually become part of the large family of the most famous European music festival. The Ohrid Summer Festival has its own sound conceptions, and it is able to draw up a musical program that includes artists of world renown. The Ohrid Summer Festival is held each year from July 12 to August 20.
Ohrid Swimming Marathon - Each year, in the second half of July, the swimming elite throughout the world gathers in Ohrid and, starting from the monastery St. Naum, they swim along the Lakeshore to the town harbour, approximately a 30-km route. Since 1998 the Ohrid Swimming Marathon has entered in the World Swimming Club of the 12 worldwide held marathons under the patronage of FINA-The World Swimming Association.
The Balkan Folklore Festival - Member of the UNESCO Association of The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art, and The International Organization for Folklore Art. This festival has so far presented numerous original songs and dances from folk culture for more than 30 years. About 1,200 ensembles with 42,000 members have taken part in the festival.