Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 1
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Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours

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Greetings Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to to best Tirana to Ohrid day trip. I think the Balkans in general and Tirana, Albania specifically are quite underrated.

One of the best things about visiting Tirana is that it’s so close to many other beautiful destinations. In my non-Albanian opinion, the best day trip you can take is this beautiful experience to Lake Ohrid.

If you’re doing a little tour of the Balkans, the stunning Lake Ohrid is the perfect stop in between Tirana and Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip

#1 TOP PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OHRID DAY TRIP
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️Experience stunning nature

#2 PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 3

TIRANA COOKING CLASS
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 4

ALL OTHER TIRANA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

tirana to ohrid day trip.

Unfortunately, the transportation in this region isn’t always optimal, so I don’t recommend doing this trip by bus. (As far as I could tell, Albania doesn’t yet have working trains.) What you should do is book a tour from Tirana, so you can visit Lake Ohrid as a day trip. That will be the most convenient and relaxing way to see the lake.

I suggest booking this tour right here.

It will last you the whole day, and you’ll get back to Tirana in time for dinner.

If you’re not coming from Tirana, you can explore other Ohrid tours right here.

tirana to ohrid day trip

If you’d rather spend the night in Ohrid or Skopje, North Macedonia, you can find a tour that will help you do that as well. This way you’ll have an affordable yet private driver take you on your Tirana to Ohrid day trip.

Your driver can drop you off in Skopje after the stop in Ohrid, or you can spend the night in Ohrid. To be honest, Ohrid is so pretty, you could spend several days there and not get bored. Feel free to create the itinerary that works best for you!

tirana to ohrid day trip

Morning: Elbasan

When I took this tour, I could choose places to stop along the way on your Tirana to Ohrid trip. I chose Elbasan because it’s the third largest city in Albania. As an American, I wanted to see if it was anything like our 3rd largest city, Chicago. (Spoiler alert! It is not!)

But even if Elbasan isn’t quite as big as Chicago, there’s still enough here for me to give you…

Three Fun Facts: Elbasan

tirana to ohrid trip

1) Elbasan is Rather Elderly

One of the many ways Elbasan is not like Chicago is that Elbasan is incredibly old. (I’m pretty sure Chicago was founded in the 1920s by Al Capone, but that might not be accurate.) Elbasan, on the other hand, dates back to the 3rd-4th century AD, although back then it wasn’t called Elbasan. A lot of places in the Balkans have changed names numerous times, depending on who was in charge.

Elbasan was also an important city for the spread of Christianity on the Balkan Peninsula. (Religion is a complicated subject in Albania, just like politics, rakia, and which Belushi brother is funnier.) I didn’t see any churches when I was in Elbasan. Rather, the tour focused on a different sort of religious institution.

tirana to ohrid day trip

2) Don’t Miss the King Mosque

The King Mosque is the most famous attraction in Elbasan. This part of Albania was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th century, and they created the fortified city you see today. (They also named the city Elbasan, which means conquered country.)

I suppose this was the Ottoman way of taunting their main rival, the Albanian military leader Skanderbeg. It’s one of the oldest mosques in Albania, so definitely don’t miss it when you are in Elbasan.

Any Ottoman Turkish city needed three things, and one of them was a mosque. (Another was a bazaar, and we’ll get to the third in a second.) I wasn’t able to go inside the King Mosque, so I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to visit either.

But even if you just get to see the outside, I’m sure you’ll appreciate getting a glimpse at this fascinating part of history. I mean, back home in the United States, I don’t think we have even one building from the Ottoman Empire.

tirana to ohrid day trip

3) No Watch? No Problem!

You can tell the time anywhere in Elbasan by looking up at the Sahati Clock Tower. It is attached to the third thing every Ottoman city needed: a fab-tastic castle. Unfortunately, not much of the castle remains. I say unfortunately because it’s always fun to explore a castle, not because I am pining for the return of the Ottoman Empire.

I’m not sure exactly what happened to it, but Albania was a Communist country for decades, and Communists generally aren’t big on castles. But at least the most useful part of the castle, a giant clock, is still standing.

tirana to ohrid day trip

Afternoon: Lake Ohrid

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tirana to Ohrid day trip without Lake Ohrid. That’s just science. This stunning summer vacation spot is probably the most famous and popular destination in North Macedonia. No trip to North Macedonia is complete without a stop here,

(Remember, North Macedonia is a different country from Albania, and neither one is yet a member of the EU, so be sure to have your passport handy when you cross the border.)

Check rates and availability of the tour right here.

I’m sure your guide will remind you of all the border regulations, which is just one reason that it’s better to have a guide for your Tirana to Ohrid day trip. Also be sure to have your camera handy, so you can take oodles of photos of…

Approximately Top 5: Lake Ohrid

tirana to ohrid day trip

1) Samuel’s Fortress

Are you ready for some crazy complicated Balkan history on this Tirana to Ohrid day trip? Excellent! Then you’re in the right blog. But before we enter Samuel’s Fortress, you’re going to need some cold, hard, Macedonian dinar. They don’t take Albanian currency.

I suggest asking your tour guide to help you stop at an ATM before you get to the Fortress. I was lucky and got a Macedonian guide, so he could communicate perfectly with everyone for me.

Most people in Ohrid speak English because they deal with so many tourists, but not everyone. That’s why I thanked my lucky stars that I was on the tour and not by myself.

tirana to ohrid day trip

This fortress used to be the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire back in the 11th century. What’s that you say? You thought we were in North Macedonia, not Bulgaria? Well, there’s a big dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria about whether or not North Macedonia is basically Bulgaria.

North Macedonia has bounced back and forth between Bulgaria and Serbia for a long time. It was part of Yugoslavia and only got its independence in the early 90s, thankfully without the bloodshed we saw in Croatia and Bosnia.

I met Bulgarians who insisted that Macedonian and Bulgarian were basically the same language and Macedonians who insisted that they weren’t. What answer is correct?

Well, the first rule of Balkan politics is: do not talk about Balkan politics. The second rule of Balkan politics is also do not talk about Balkan politics. This goes double if you are a tourist.

tirana to ohrid day trip

Be sure to wear comfy shoes because walking the walls of the fortress can be treacherous. There’s also other people climbing around the fortress, so you need to be prepared to side step them. But it’s all worth it for these spectacular views of Lake Ohrid!

tirana to ohrid day trip

2) Church of Saints Clement and Pantalaimon

If there’s one thing North Macedonians know, it’s Orthodox churches. You’ll have an opportunity to see some real stunners here. If you are a woman, be sure to carry a head covering like a scarf around if you are visiting Orthodox churches, though it’s not always required, especially for tourists.

However, you can’t count on the churches at Lake Ohrid having a spare scarf around for you.

tirana to ohrid day trip

Saint Clement, pictured dead and above, is a very important saint for North Macedonians. He was sent by his most gracious sovereign, King Boris I of Bulgaria, to teach the Cyrillic alphabet to the locals.

Very important point! Never refer to this alphabet as the “Russian” alphabet in either North Macedonia or Bulgaria. It was Bulgarian before it was Russian. And we haven’t even begun to cover the many things that count as controversial topics in the Balkans.

tirana to ohrid day trip

3) Church of Saint Sophia

Yet another gorgeous church on our Tirana to Ohrid day trip! This one is the church of Saint Sophia. This church also costs a small admission fee to enter, but I didn’t have small Macedonian bills, so my guide/driver talked the ticket taker into letting me in for free. I can’t guarantee the same will happen for you though!

Photo taking is not allowed inside the church, so I’ll just have to paint you a picture with my words. The interior of this church is really something special. It’s covered in Byzantine paintings that date back to the Middle Ages.

As an American, my favorite part of visiting Europe is getting to experience relics from the past like this. Fun Fact! In my hometown of New York City, our oldest building is actually a Duane Reade that dates back to 1972.

tirana to ohrid day trip

4) Stuff Your Face!

It will be about time on our Tirana to Ohrid day trip for lunch. My guide/driver told me that pretty much all the restaurants by the lake were “about the same” in terms of quality, but we stopped at Restaurant Cun.

Pick one with tables outside so you can admire the lake. It was summertime, so I suggest starting with a salad made from seasonal, fresh, local tomatoes.

tirana to ohrid day trip

For the main course, I picked the Ohrid meat pot, because I always eat anything that has the city’s name in the dish’s name. It was definitely a satisfying and hearty peasant meal.

If you don’t eat meat, there’s always the famous Ohrid trout to consider. It can be a little difficult to find strictly vegetarian food in the Balkans. (I’m not a vegetarian, but I did notice that meat eating is a big part of the culture here.)

If you imbibe, I suggest getting a small glass of rakija, the famous fruit brandy from the Balkans. Each country claims their rakija is the best, so the only way to know for sure is to have a glass in each country. After all, you’re not the one who is driving!

tirana to ohrid day trip

5) Enjoy the lake!

There won’t be enough time on this trip to get into or onto the water, but be sure to admire its stunning color and clarity. It’s so gorgeous, I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that George Clooney has a secret lake house here. Actually, let’s try to get that rumor started. It might increase tourism to North Macedonia.

We will also have time to do a little shopping, so if your guide knows where the reputable stores are, buy some famous Ohrid pearl jewelry. The prices are insanely affordable, but only shop at a place that gives you a certificate of authenticity. Apparently Ohrid has a counterfeit pearl problem just like we have a problem with people selling Chamel or Versase knockoff bags in NYC.

Those are all the secrets of this Tirana to Ohrid day trip that I can share with you for now. If you want to be able to find the beautiful spots in gorgeous Lake Ohrid, you’ll have to go ahead and book this tour for yourself.

Check rates and availability of the tour right here.

Stella’s Top 3 Picks: Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip

#1 TOP PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 2

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OHRID DAY TRIP
✔️ Expert local guide
✔️Experience stunning nature

#2 PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 3

TIRANA COOKING CLASS
✔️ Delicious local treats
✔️ Surprisingly affordable

#3 PICK

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 4

ALL OTHER TIRANA TOURS
✔️ Find your favorite!
✔️ Get the best deals

tirana to ohrid day trip

Evening: Dinner in Skopje!

Since we’ve made it all the way from Albania today, I suggest continuing to Skopje and spending the night there in the capital of North Macedonia.

We’ve been traveling all day, so if you’re anything like me, you won’t want an elaborate dinner. Stop for a quick snack instead at Fast Food 7. I link to their website just in case, but if you don’t read the Cyrillic alphabet and you don’t know what a PECTOPAH is, the website won’t be much help to you.

This restaurant has been around since the 80s, and it has the feel of a Soviet’s idea of what an American burger joint would be like. Why do they put fries on the burger? Why is there mayo on top of ketchup? The world may never know, but I found it pretty tasty nevertheless.

tirana to ohrid day trip

You’re not really going to want to sit and eat in Fast Food 7, so take your burger with you and enjoy the bright lights of Skopje as the sun sets. There’s a reason they call it the Las Vegas of the Balkans! But more about that next time…

tirana to ohrid day trip

Where to Stay

Tirana definitely attracts plenty of budget travelers because the prices are still so affordable. And for an insanely low price, I was able to afford a stay at the Prime Hotel.

It’s small, but centrally located, and the staff is very helpful. Look at how sweetly they set up my sheets! That’s four-star service on a one-star budget!

tirana to ohrid day trip

And look at this huge breakfast they provided me with every morning! There was a sandwich, a pastry, yogurt, fruit…truly no one could eat all of it. I was spoiled for choice. The one thing I will say is that the coffee isn’t super high-quality, but it’s drinkable. Albania is not yet famous for its coffee plantations.

If you’re looking for a crazy good deal on this hotel, go here.

And if you’d rather explore deals on tons of even more affordable hotels in Tirana, visit here.

I’m sure you’ll find something in your budget. This search engine will help you find the perfect place to stay during your Tirana to Ohrid day trip. With hundreds of options to choose from, I’m sure you’ll find something for your schedule and budget.

tirana to ohrid day trip

That’s a Perfect Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip!

What would you do on a Tirana to Ohrid day trip? What is the first rule of Balkan politics? And are there any vegetarians in North Macedonia? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com and let me know!

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Ohrid.

Enjoy a one day in Tirana walking tour. Experience a day of what to do in Tirana Albania. Explore the Tirana best hotels. Find out what to do in Skopje North Macedonia. You can add the best things to do in Kosovo. Locate the best Skopje hotels city centre.

Tirana to Ohrid Day Trip 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 8

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