Located in the south western region of the country and lying on the shore of Lake Ohrid, Struga is another town that enriches the unique Macedonian experience. Lots of places to visit, culture to absorb, and scenery to enjoy. Followed by traditional food, nice and relaxing coffee shops and restaurants, offering a beautiful view of the lake. Struga will make for the perfect weekend trip.
Described as vivid and vibrant by merchants and travelers throughout the centuries, Struga haven’t lost any of its charm. Home to old architecture and number of churches that date far back, there is quite a lot to see around.
The town is small in terms of absolute size, and home to about 16, 000 people. Ethnically colorful, it is a place where you can experience the full scope of Macedonian culture. Visited only during the summer, Struga can house up to 17, 000 visitors at a time, which translates into lots of foreigners, and great atmosphere that changes shape each following year.
What gives Struga its recognizable face though is the river Black Drin that flows from the lake and through the city. Along the river bed, is what you’d consider the center of the town. A nice place where you can have your coffee, and very enjoyable evening walks. The bridges along the river only add towards the poetic scenery.
The Lake shore offers a lot of beach space, and you have three main beaches: Galeb, Male, and Female beach (don’t mind the names though). Others you can have access to only if you are staying at some of the hotels. The Lake is crystal clear, and the water temperature pleasant and somewhat warmer than that in Ohrid. Though in the shadow of Ohrid when it comes to cultural sites and city architecture overall, Struga offers beaches that can compete with any.
Places to visit
Aside the lake shore and beach bars and restaurants, you can take a walk around and see the old bazar. Everything in Struga is within walking distance, so you will also cover the city center, and the beautiful river flow. Also visit the church of Saint George that is built on top of Samuel’s church dating back as far as the 14th century.
The monastery of Kalishta is located a few kilometers away from the center, lying at the shore of Lake Ohrid- a trip worth taking. You can even catch the boat and enjoy the lake while at it.
Another rock church is in the neighboring village of Radozda with frescoes that also date back to the 13th and 14th century. The architecture takes you back all the way to the Middle Ages. Same goes for the church of Sveta Bogorodica in Vranishta, where it is believed that Tsar Samuel was crowned.
Absorbing the other culture influence in Struga, you will want to visit the Halveti Teke – a Muslim monastery, and representative example of ottoman architecture.
Things to do
Taking the boat and visiting the nearby villages and churches is an adventure in itself. One that is worth discovering.
You can enjoy the town center too, and take a walk through the bazar and along the river, ending up at some of the beachfront restaurants and bars. Macedonian food is best tasted by the side of the lake.
There is also this very attractive opportunity to eat your breakfast on a raft that floats further in the lake, from where you can see the whole coast and experience something that takes tons of money to do elsewhere.
Struga, as everything else in Macedonia, is kind on the budget, allowing you to have fun, taste a lot of Macedonian cuisine, and enjoy fun things as those described above for a price that makes you think that you somehow misunderstood the price tag.
Struga poetry evenings
Later in August, somewhere by the end of it, you should visit the Struga Poetry evenings. A festival consisting of few separate events, featuring poetry readings by various international poets; multimedia artistic events featuring experimental forms of poetic presentations, which can also include other arts like music and video art; an event devoted to the year’s main award recipient traditionally held in the church of St. Sofia in the nearby city of Ohrid usually accompanied by classical music, opera or domestic or foreign ethnic music performance.
The closing ceremony held at the Bridge of Poetry on the river Drim in Struga includes poetry readings and the awarding ceremony. Other events include workshops, round-table discussions on various social topics and their influence on poetry.
The main award, a golden wrench, is regarded with a very high status in literature and poetry circles. Nobel Prize for literature winners have attended throughout the years and as a point of particular interest it is worth noting that many authors who were considered dissidents in their own countries were often given awards as well. If you are interested in the world of literature, this is a spot worth putting on your map- the Struga poetry evenings is an event unmatched by any other in its niche.
Struga is a place where natural beauty meets centuries old tradition, and where you can experience a very diverse cultural offer, combined with relaxing beaches and traditional Macedonian cuisine. About 14km near Ohrid, it is a place worth visiting and spending a day or two at the exchange of discovering a palate of unforgettable and unique experiences. Discovering Macedonia is impossible without spending at least one day in Struga.