After spending a couple of days exploring Ohrid in Macedonia we decided to take a road trip around Lake Ohrid, a drive I thoroughly enjoyed. The roads were very smooth and quiet, and the windy bends and hills made it even more fun. Driving around the whole lake involves going in and out of Albania so if you are thinking of doing this you might want to check with your car rental company that you have the correct insurance and documentation. The drive itself is only approximately 60 miles and the border crossings were quick (officials just went to check your vehicle’s documents and your passport), so there is ample time to stop off at places along the way.
The first place we stopped at was the ‘Bay of Bones’, a museum on water and reconstruction of a prehistoric settlement. The remains of the settlement were discovered at this spot and excavated by an underwater team and preserved. The museum shows how people used to live on top of the water on huge wooden platforms.
We continued our way around the lake and next we stopped at the Monastery of Saint Naum and Black Drim Springs. This really was a treat as the area was so quiet and relaxing not to mention beautiful. The monastery is cross-shaped with outstanding brick work on the outside and has an amazing view of the lake with the snow capped mountains sitting in the background. Inside the monastery you will find frescos dating back to the 16th century. Once we had finished exploring we walked back towards the springs and had lunch by the crystal clear waters of the Drim River. Here you can also hire a local rowboat for a tour of this natural paradise and enjoy the emerald springs.
After leaving and making our way through the border crossing between Macedonia and Albania we shortly arrived in the relaxed city of Pogradec and parked up to take a walk around. Conscious of time we walked through the town, stopped for a quick drink by the lake, then set back off. We had seen on a map that there was a nearby viewpoint but once we got in the car and started driving up the hill the ‘road’ basically vanished. Being in a rental (and also not in a 4X4) we decided to play it safe and turn around!
Before we left and said goodbye to Albania we stopped at a tiny village called Lin, situated on a small peninsula just south of the Qafë Thanë mountain pass. There wasn’t much to see if I’m being honest but it was worth visiting for the hot drink we had by the lake and the smile on the shop keeper’s face when I left the rest of my Albanian money to him. Sometimes it’s the little things :)
After passing through the border crossing, again with ease and in no time at all, we were back in Macedonia and had now almost completed the full circuit of the lake. My friend and I were starting to get hungry at this point so decided to stop off at a town called Struga which is situated along the north shore. Here I had heard of a nice restaurant called Aquarius where we stopped for dinner, and boy it did not disappoint! The decor was rather fancy and the restaurant had a huge tree (still not sure if it was real or fake) right in the centre of the main room which I thought gave the restaurant a lot of character. The food was super yummy and even more so when compared with the price.
With our bellies full we got back in our car and made the rest of the short trip back to Ohrid. All in the entire entire trip, including stop offs, only took us several hours. I have gone on a few road trips throughout my travels but I have to say this one was among the one’s I have enjoyed the most due to the amazing scenery throughout. For people wondering about how good the roads are; if you can get used to driving on the other side of the road, they are absolutely safe to drive on and of good condition.
So instead of staying in one place, why not see some more of the surrounding countryside and take a road trip? I am sure it will be something you will enjoy and be a very memorable experience.