If you are planning to visit Macedonia you must have Skopje and Ohrid on your list for sure. The cities themselves are filled with attractions worthy of your attention, but they also offer a rich periphery with plenty of places that you can visit as well.
Most of the tourists visit Skopje first because the capital of the country has the best travel connections, so it is most likely that you will land at Skopje’s airport and continue your trip from there. While you are visiting Skopje, there are many things you can do, and some would argue that the capital is sufficient on its own. However, Ohrid has its own magic that everyone needs to experience, especially in the period between May and October.
The best thing about Macedonia is that it is a small country and every place you want to visit is in close proximity to one another. For example, it takes around two and a half hour to get from Skopje to Ohrid with a car, or perhaps even less if you are not making stops. The interesting thing to note is that Skopje and Ohrid are almost as far from one another as the northern and southern border on the map, so it is safe to say that this is the longest distance you will have to travel if you are discovering Macedonia.
Even if you are visiting this country for a few days you can still plan a Skopje to Ohrid day trip and enjoy the view of the beautiful Ohrid Lake. In the rest of the article you will find everything you need to know in order to make a trip from the capital all the way down to the Macedonian pearl, as we Macedonians like to call Ohrid.
Distance between the cities
As we mentioned earlier in the text it will take you approximately two and a half hours to reach your destination. The distance from Skopje to Ohrid is around 180 kilometers if you take the route via A2 and continue the trip via E65. This is the shortest and the most commonly used way to reach Ohrid if you are traveling from Skopje by car or bus.
Skopje to Ohrid (in kilometers) – 180
There is another road to get to Ohrid, but the trip is longer and will take you three and a half hours to reach the city. You need to take the route via E75 and continue via A1 and A3. If you choose this way the distance is 240 km, but you will also see Bitola because the road takes you near the city. Here is how to get from Skopje to Ohrid…
Skopje to Ohrid by bus
There is a regular bus line from Skopje to Ohrid at intervals of one hour. The first bus is at 5:30 am and the last one starts its trip at 7.30 pm. The ticket costs 9 euros if you are going one way, and if you want to get a return ticket it will cost you 14 euros. The bus trip takes around three hours and you are likely to make a few stops as the bus picks up passengers from other stations along the road. There is only one longer break where you can rest your legs and visit the restroom, and it is located at the tallest point of the road, named Straza.
Skopje to Ohrid by train
Unfortunately, there is no direct train line from Skopje to Ohrid. The last train that transited between these two cites was called “teapot” and its last trip was in 1966. The maximum speed was 30 km/h and the trip lasted for 22 hours. Talking about the prehistoric era, right?
But if you insist to travel by train to Ohrid, you can make a compromise by taking a train to Bitola and then taking a short bus ride to Ohrid. The train ticket to Bitola will cost you around 6 euros and you will need three hours to reach the city. The bus lines from Bitola to Ohrid are regular (there are buses at every hour) and the one-way ticket will cost you 3-4 euros depending on the company you will choose to travel with. The distance between Bitola and Ohrid is around 75 km.
Skopje to Ohrid with taxi
You can always catch a taxi from Skopje to Ohrid. The price depends on the taxi company and more often than not your negotiation skills, but it will cost you around 65 to 80 euros in one direction.
Skopje to Ohrid flights
Although both cities have an airport there is no direct flight from Skopje to Ohrid. As I remember, there has never been one, but you can check if there is a direct flight from your home town to Ohrid. You can, though, arrange a private flight from Skopje to Ohrid but that will cost you a fortune.
Driving from Skopje to Ohrid and back
If you rent a car, or perhaps arrived in Macedonia with your own, the drive to Ohrid from Skopje will be a great experience for you and your family. Starting from the capital, you will have to head straight to Gostivar and you will be driving on one of the best highways in the country. Afterwards, you will start a slow but persistent ascend until you reach the rest point called Straza. Here you can rest, drink coffee, refill petrol and eat the famous mekici.
Mekici is a traditional dough recipe that Macedonians love as an alternative to fast food. It is basically deep-fried dough that goes nicely with yogurt and cottage cheese (or most dairy products to be frank). After your rest, you will continue your trip through a few villages and then you will reach the city of Kichevo.
At this point, the Macedonian government is overseeing the construction of an expressway from Kichevo to Ohrid, but it is still unfinished. So, from Kichevo to Ohrid you will drive on a regional road next to the expressway that is in construction, but there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the surrounding scenery. As far as pay tolls go, you will pay a total of 2.5 euros divided across 4 pay tools from Skopje to ohrid.
When you plan to get back to Skopje plan your trip around 7 pm so you can enjoy the lovely sunset during your trip. The return from Ohrid to Skopje follows the same road so it is rather straightforward to get back.
Skopje to Ohrid day trip
The distance is forgiving enough to take twice in a single day, which means that you can get from Skopje to Ohrid in the late morning, spend your afternoon there, and head back in the early evening after a lunch by the lake. If you are not comfortable making this trip with a car, you can always catch the last bus heading back from Ohrid to Skopje.