Where to Stop on a Macedonia Road Trip

After 2 days in Tirana, Albania my Macedonia road trip began. This was to be the start of a 1700km/1100 mile road trip through much of the Balkans. I had done a similar trip some 10 years ago taking busses and trains; which sucks as a way to travel in the region because you’re really limited to capital cities more or less when traveling between countries. Plus I just love the freedom to do whatever I want without having to be on a schedule. Thus my Macedonia road trip began!
Lake Ohrid, Ohrid, Macedonia, Macedonia Road Trip
It’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Tirana across the border to Ohrid, Macedonia. Lake Ohrid straddles the border of Macedonia and Albania but the most beautiful part is surely on the Macedonia side. The small town of Ohrid is a hidden gem if I’ve ever seen one. I was really blown away by how gorgeous Ohrid was.
Lake Ohrid, Ohrid, Macedonia
The first thing one does in Ohrid is go to see the Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo; which is immaculately set on a bluff above Lake Ohrid. The church itself has some frescoes inside but you go for the views and amazing photography. It really is a spellbinding place.
Ohrid, Macedonia, Church of Sveti Jovan at Kaneo
After you’ve explored and photographed from all angles, I highly suggest hiring a boat. There are guys at the church waiting to offer you a boat ride for only 5-10 euros for 15-30 minutes. It’s well worth it.
Lake Ohrid, Ohrid, Macedonia, Macedonia Road Trip
The lake seems to reflect the sky and the boat gives you great views of the caves and rocks under the church. It also allows you views of the relatively large town of Ohrid itself. We asked to be dropped off in town to grab some lunch on the water, walk around and then hike back to get the car. It was a great idea and I highly recommend checking out town as well.
Lake Ohrid, Ohrid, Macedonia, Macedonia Road Trip
The Macedonia road trip continued up to the capital of Skopje. Skopje is an interesting place. It seems like it’s in a perpetual state of construction but also seems like a lot has changed since my visit in 2007.
Skopje, Macedonia, Macedonia road trip
The main square in Skopje is pretty awesome to be honest. It’s big, brash and really attractive. Some parts looks like Caesars Palace meets the Venetian hotels in Las Vegas! There are a ton of statues, the vast majority are super creepy and/or imposing as you can see.
Skopje, Macedonia, Macedonia road trip, main square, statue
We stayed at the Hotel Pelister; which only has 6 or so rooms and is located perfectly in the center of the main square above a pretty good restaurant. For 70 euros the rooms were a pretty good bargain. The Balkans are super cheap so you can always find rock bottom prices at hostels or cheap guesthouses but you get what you pay for in general.
Skopje, Macedonia, Macedonia road trip, bridge
Skopje is also the birthplace of Mother Teresa and there is a free memorial house to her not far from the main square. There are also numerous museums in and around the square. Outside the main square and the immediate vicinity, Skopje is really not that appealing. In fact, it’s pretty ugly and it’s hard to determine one part from another…so stay in and around the main square especially if you’re on a quick stay like most people do in Skopje.

From Skopje, the Macedonia road trip brought us up into Kosovo…

Comments

  1. Hey Lee, great photos and account of your trip as always. I’ve been following your North Pole trip on Snapchat, it looks amazing. Good luck getting there and can’t wait to see photos and your post!

  2. I loved Macedonia! Such a beautiful country and the nicest people. Ohrid was also my favorite place and that church was spectacular. Thanks for the post and look forward to seeing your others from the road trip. So jealous!

  3. I haven’t been to Macedonia yet but it is very high on my list! Such wonderful photos!

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