The town of Ohrid and its namesake lake are renowned for their beauty, but even knowing that I was still stunned when I got there and saw it with my own eyes. It’s one of the most photogenic cities in the Balkans, full of wonderful hidden photography spots. While we’ve selected our picks for the most Instagrammable places in Ohrid, know that this is a town that rewards the photographer who gives themselves enough time to wander and explore.
On the Lake Shore
If you’ve come to Lake Ohrid, you simply must come down to the town’s lakeshore. There are tons of great photography options here, but the classic shot is to get the houses going up the hill in the background (or as the subject),
The town is lined with cafes. Some are located right on the shoreline, while others have waterside tables. Either way, this is a great opportunity to photograph the lake with some beautiful and interesting framing. Alternatively, the cafes themselves offer opportunities for photography, especially the ones that jut out above the water.
The Church of St. John at Kaneo
Possibly the most iconic photo spot in all of the Balkans, the Church of St. John at Kaneo is positioned beautifully above the lake. The best place to get a photo with the lake in the background is to climb the steps above the church. Make sure to show respect here, as the church is not just a great Ohrid photography spot. It’s one of the most important religious sites in the country.
The tenth-century fortress sits on the hill above the city. It served as the former capital of the Bulgarian Empire when the empire was centered at Ohrid. Tsar Samuel was a tsar of the Bulgarian Empire, so it’s common to run into places named after him in Sofia as well.
Today the fortress is a popular tourist attraction in Ohrid. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes since getting to the top is a bit of a hike!
Boats on Lake Ohrid
There are many boats on the lake which tourists hire for trips out to the different sites. My personal favorite is to go in one at sunset because sunsets on Lake Ohrid are truly spectacular. However, I love taking the time to photograph the boats on their own, especially when they’re void of tourists and you can capture a candid moment of the boat’s captain at rest.
This picturesque boardwalk is how you walk to St. John at Kaneo from the shoreline. However, give yourself extra time before you head to the church to capture this interesting architectural feature along the lake.
Streets of Old Town
Full of Ottoman houses and stone streets, the Old Town is incredibly charming. My favorite views are the corners where you find beautiful flowers juxtaposed with centuries-old stone doorways and windows. Give yourself time to wander around and see what you find that’s all your own.
Ohrid is famous for its beautiful traditional Orthodox houses that line the hill above the lake between the shoreline and the fortress. While you more than likely will have some of these houses in other shots, I love pictures where the houses are the subject and not just the background or part of the landscape. Its a great reminder of the mixed heritage of Macedonia, where different empires and nations controlled it for thousands of years before it finally achieved its own independence in the last few decades.
This gorgeous (and sadly seasonal) flower arch is basically Instagram bait. So if this is your kind of thing, pack a red maxi dress and a white floppy hat and get under these arches.
The fishing village of Trpejca is a boat ride away from Lake Ohrid, but it is worth the trip. This town has become a popular summer resort town, and it is easy to see why. When I first saw the gorgeous picks of Trpejca, I thought I must be looking at pictures of beaches in the Philippines or Halong Bay in Vietnam. But nope, this gorgeous place is on Lake Ohrid!
There are a few popular photography spots here, including a tree that’s out in the water and this beautiful boulder that sits in the lake.
Finally, Don’t Go without Travel Insurance!
Make sure you always travel to Macedonia and the Balkans with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Pin This Ohrid Instagram Guide for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.