Joanne Coughlan

18 February 2019

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Macedonia’s Lake Ohrid – the oldest lake in Europe

There’s often confusion when Macedonia is discussed because – depending who you talk to – there are two Macedonias. There’s Macedonia, the small independent country on the Balkan Peninsula which was part of the former Yugoslavia, and there’s Macedonia, a northern region of Greece. The issue over the naming of the country goes back a long way but even today you might see the country called FYROM on a map, an acronym for the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. Our Macedonia tour visits the former of the two.  

Macedonia – the country – is a beautiful, mountainous, land-locked nation with sophisticated cities and ancient rural villages. The fact it’s less than half the size of Tasmania means it’s easy to get around. The people are generally very friendly and happy to chat with the tourists. If you like your history, then you will not be disappointed as most of the great empires in the region came and conquered at some stage leaving their mark.  

The highlight and the most popular place for both holidaying locals and overseas tourists, is, without doubt, the stunning Lake Ohrid. This 350 square km lake is thought to be among the oldest lakes in the world. A boat trip on the deep blue surface is a must and for just a few euros, you can explore the shore around the main township.   

The main cobble-stoned street of the township seems to go on forever and is lined with restaurants, cafés and shops. Allow at least an hour to stroll, more if – like me – you like to sit and watch the world go by.    

Samuel’s Fortress in the Old Town, built in the 10th century by the Bulgarian rulers of the time, is definitely worth a visit. The town has many churches including the beautiful Church of St John, originally built in the 15th century but recently renovated. There’s also an ancient Hellenistic theatre that dates back to 200BC which even today is still used for various public performances.  

My best advice is to allow at least two days. Try and get to a cultural performance while you are there: traditional dance and song is taught to the school children and their performances are very uplifting.  

Blue Dot Travel visits Lake Ohrid on our tour of the Balkan Counties. Contact us for a detailed itinerary which includes your trip to Macedonia.

By Brett Goulston