Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Macedonia, Travel Tips

The Staggering Beauty of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

If you’re not yet familiar with Lake Ohrid, Macedonia then prepare yourself, because today you’re in for a real treat. Technically, Lake Ohrid is actually on the border of Macedonia and Albania, but the majority of its mass lies within Macedonia, as does the city by the same name.

Ohrid was my next stop after a surprising few days spent in the nation’s capital city of Skopje.  It had been recommended to me by friends time and time again, and especially when your travel schedule is as flexible as mine, you just don’t ignore that kind of sign.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

My first encounter with Lake Ohrid

Leaving Skopje, our bus plugged along in a southwesterly direction into a more remote region of the Balkan peninsula, just south of a mountain range referred to colloquially as the “Albanian Alps.”  I could already envision myself relaxing on the shores of a pristine mountain lake before the lights of the city had even begun fading into the distance.  I was ready to detach from society and sightseeing and recharge my batteries for a few weeks, and Lake Ohrid (one of the oldest, deepest, and cleanest lakes in Europe) was to be my accomplice.

My plan was to first explore the city of Ohrid itself, you know, to maintain my self-designated title of “good tourist;” then, once I’d had enough of the ancient monasteries and modern conveniences of Ohrid, I’d retreat to a hillside hostel situated about 20 minutes away by bus called Robinson Sunset House.  The latter, located in the village of Lagadin, came strongly recommended from the hostel staff in Skopje, and once again I just couldn’t ignore such conviction.

The City of Ohrid

Before heading to my mountain retreat, I had to explore the cobblestone streets of Ohrid, one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Well, at least attempt to explore them.  You see–and this may come as a shock to you–at times, I find basic tasks like map reading a bit too complex for my travel-worn brain.  In this particular instance, I just couldn’t be bothered to navigate the narrow, hilly streets well enough to find all the ancient Byzantine treasures of Ohrid’s old town.  I’m sure telling you this will tarnish my aforementioned self-designated title, but hey, we’re all about transparency around here.

The City of Ohrid, Macedonia

The City of Ohrid–hillier than expected

What I did manage to stumble upon was this: the Church of St. John at Kaneo, arguably the most picturesque of all of Ohrid’s ancient buildings.  I mean, just look at that view!

Church of St. John at Kaneo, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

The Church of St. John at Kaneo

Map reading incompetence aside, I found plenty of ways to enjoy the city of Ohrid without putting so much strain on my noggin.  Wandering along the hillside and creeping on unsuspecting bathers people watching, strolling down the lakeside promenade–day or night–for some good old fashioned exercise, or even just popping into a local shop for a glass of wine and a personal pizza cup of tea.Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Drinking tea in Ohrid, Macedonia

At the end of three days, I was eager to move on to my next destination, and I think you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

Robinson Sunset House – The Gem of Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Lake views lake views lake views!  As soon as I heard of a hostel with gorgeous lake views that was slightly removed from the city, I just couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  I had to have those lake views.  I had to have that seclusion.  I had to recharge and get work done free from distractions.  And man, did Robinson Sunset House deliver.

Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Sometimes I pretended to work during sunset

And the name “sunset house” is no mistake.  The sky over Lake Ohrid put on a nightly show that would rival some of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen–and having just come from Greece, I know a thing or two about incredible sunsets.

Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Robinson Sunset House lives up to its name

I will admit, though–this place probably isn’t for everyone.  Hell, it probably wouldn’t have been the place for me under different circumstances.  But some of the quirkiest parts of Robinson Sunset House are some of the reasons I loved it so.  Take, for instance, the fact that the only way to eat was to cook for yourself.  Normally I’m far too lazy for this, but this particular week, it felt so necessary and comforting.

Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

By “cook” I obviously meant “make sandwiches and instant coffee”

Likewise, the fact that it took a bit of time to get to the city should you want to eat at a restaurant or have a night out normally might have pushed my buttons.  This time, I relished the intimate nightly dinners at the hostel drinking wine with other guests–something about this hostel attracted one kind soul after another.  And the early-to-bed-early-to-rise routine I fell right into?  Perfection.

Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

And if you don’t like furry friends, this hostel might not be for you!

Daytime recreation wasn’t hard to come by–the only thing standing between the hostel and a perfect beach for swimming and canoeing was a 5-minute downhill walk (so, basically, the will to put one foot in front of the other).

Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

The beach in front of Robinson Sunset House

The one evening I ventured out in the canoe armed with my GoPro, a beer, and two strapping young gents from the UK, the sky decided to really show off.  Couple an incredible setting sun with a lake as smooth as glass, and you get the following jealousy-inducing photos.  Sorry I’m not sorry for including so many, I couldn’t exactly pick favorites.Canoeing on Lake Ohrid, MacedoniaLake Ohrid, MacedoniaCanoeing on Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Canoeing on Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Canoeing on Lake Ohrid, Macedonia Canoeing on Lake Ohrid, MacedoniaCanoeing on Lake Ohrid, MacedoniaLake Ohrid, Macedonia Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Additionally, for the adventurous hiker types, you can always head uphill instead of down.  Rumor has it there’s a (mostly) abandoned old city at the top of the hill–in addition to the insane lake views, of course.  And while I make it sound like a pain getting into Ohrid from Robinson Sunset House, the local buses actually pass quite frequently (every 15-20 minutes) and only costs around 50 Macedonian denar (less than a dollar).  I took the ride into town once or twice to meander down the pedestrian walking street in search of clothes I didn’t need and a shiny new addition to my face.Robinson Sunset House, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

When all was said and done, my stay in Lake Ohrid, Macedonia stretched from 3 days into 11.  I was able to accomplish so much during my 8 days at Robinson Sunset House, in large part because I had the peace of mind of knowing where I would be sleeping for a good chunk of time, whereas previously I’d been focused more on figuring out where the &$%! I was going next.

And did I mention that Robinson Sunset is family-owned?  They’ll even cook you traditional Macedonian meals if you request them ahead of time (for an extra charge) but I was often offered extra food (and rakia) any time they happened to be cooking.  A bed in a dorm will cost you just 10 euros per night.  Now you know why it was so hard to leave!

Finally, to sum up all of this incoherent blabbering, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia deserves a spot on your travel to-do list.  If you find yourself in the Balkans, this pristine natural beauty should not be missed.

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia is a stunning must-visit beauty in the Balkans! Don't miss it!

Have you ever seen a lake so beautiful?  Are you booking your flights yet?!

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  • Reply Nick October 14, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Heading there tomorrow, very excited!

    And the bazaar was bumping in Skopje today – were you there during Ramadan?
    Nick recently posted…We’re Going to the Balkans…Day after Tomorrow!My Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 14, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Ahh wonderful! I actually was in Skopje during Ramadan! How’d you knowww? Enjoy Ohrid!

      • Reply Nick October 14, 2015 at 10:22 pm

        It makes sense now! That must be why the bazaar was so quiet while you were here! 🙂
        Nick recently posted…Miles of Aisles at the Riga CentraltirgusMy Profile

        • Reply Leah Davis October 14, 2015 at 10:25 pm

          Ahh I hadn’t thought of that! It wasn’t so quiet every day, maybe it was the end of Ramadan. Can’t really remember now!

  • Reply Bob Bales October 14, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Loved Lake Ohrid. I spent the weekend there a couple of years ago. I stayed in the home of some very nice people and had a blast visiting the various sites around town and also the nearby monastery. The old town is beautiful and the people were very friendly.
    Bob Bales recently posted…6 Reasons to visit the Woodlands Resort and Conference CenterMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 14, 2015 at 9:36 pm

      Couldn’t agree more! I’m glad your experience was as lovely as mine, I look forward to returning one day 🙂

  • Reply Shannon October 15, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I love how the boys are doing all the work and your drinking a beer on the kayak like a queen! Go girl ; )

    • Reply Leah Davis October 17, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Ha! That was pretty much everyone’s comment when I posted this to Instagram. I know how to work it, what can I say 😉

  • Reply Caroline October 15, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Gorgeous photos! Especially the ones of you on the canoe! Never thought about visiting Macedonia, but that guesthouse seems like the perfect antidote for a weary traveler.

    Question, sorry if you’ve answered this thousands of times, but what camera do you use for your perfect selfies? You always get the perfect shot that showcases the amazing surrounding you’re in. Is it a GoPro with a strategically placed selfie stick? One of the downsides of solo travel (for me), is I can never capture a good selfie haha.
    Caroline recently posted…10 Movies That Will Make You Want To TravelMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 17, 2015 at 9:45 pm

      Thanks Caroline! Macedonia is lovely, I hope you go one day. My favorite selfies are done with my GoPro, but believe it or not, I don’t use an attachment of any kind (no selfie stick or extension)…I basically just hold the mount and because of the extreme wide angle it captures my surroundings with ease! I’ve even found that if I hold it too far from my face it gets too much arm in the shot, so I hold it maybe a foot and a half from my face/body. Travel selfies are an art! 🙂

  • Reply Raphael Alexander Zoren October 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Kayak sunsets and sunrises are always the best ones in my opinion!!!! I was in Macedonia last year (Skopje) but sadly I didn’t get the chance to visit Lake Ohrid, definitely next time!
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  • Reply Rachel October 16, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    I love ALL the photos! (But hey, I tend to photo vomit as I’m bad at culling.) Thanks for including each of them. GoPro? They’re fantastic. God, I love cooking for myself, but I don’t know when the next time I do that will be… And I hear ya on knowing where you’re gonna sleep. I HATE packing up. I’m bad at it and I feel like it takes me forever. I’d rather stay somewhere for a solid 5 days than move.
    Rachel recently posted…I LOVE Arepas! And Other Street Food Adventures in CartagenaMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      They are GoPro indeed! I didn’t want to risk taking one of my real cameras, that canoe was NOT very stable (and the GoPro is in a waterproof case). Haven’t you found any hostels with kitchens on your travels? That’s the thing to look for!

  • Reply Amanda | Lesson Plans and Layovers October 17, 2015 at 4:04 am

    Macedonia looks so stunning! Great GoPro shots – I love using GoPros, aren’t they great?! 🙂
    Amanda | Lesson Plans and Layovers recently posted…Thistle Do For A Night: Places to Stay in ScotlandMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis October 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Yup! I absolutely love my GoPro! 🙂

  • Reply Francesca @onegrloneworld October 17, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Looks incredible!!
    Francesca @onegrloneworld recently posted…Why I Want To Completely Delete My Instagram!My Profile

  • Reply Lavi October 23, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Ahhh these photos are incredible! The water! Those colors! Ok brb I’m going to Lake Ohrid.
    Lavi recently posted…Why Sometimes Long-Term Travel SucksMy Profile

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