Macedonia’s main tourist attraction is without doubt the picturesque Lake Ohrid, located about 3 hours from Skopje. Shared by Macedonia and Albania, the lake is of tectonic origin and is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe. It is protected as a UNESCO site because of its unique aquatic ecosystem, and holds around 200 endemic species, including two types of trout which cannot be seen elsewhere.
The eastern (Macedonian) shore is famous for its well-preserved monasteries and churches and the historic town of Ohrid, which is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The mountainous area north of the lake is famous for its medieval cave churches as well, most of which are from the 13th – 15th centuries. Few still have parts of the original frescoes that adorned the monastic cells and chapels carved directly into the rock.
The most popular of these churches, and with probably the best-preserved frescoes, is near the village of Kalista, dedicated to St. Athanasius. Cut high in the rock above the lake, the church is only accessible by climbing the stone steps leading to the entrance. The vivid frescoes inside depict religious holidays, portraits of saints, and biblical scenes. A little further north, another cave church dedicated to the Holy Virgin was built in the 15th century and is now part of a monastery complex including accommodations and a newer church built in the traditional style.
For custom luxury travel and tours to Ohrid, please contact one of our travel experts, or read on below for more information about where to go and when, along with our Insider's Guide.