Located about 14 kilometers North-west from Struga, the village of Vevcani is home to one of the biggest natural attractions in Macedonia and the Balkans- the Vevcani springs. Right at the foot of Jablanica Mountain, it rests at an altitude that isolates this picturesque village, making it a one place stop for many outdoor activities. The only thing better is the food and the famous annual Vevcani carnival.
With villages being relatively small in Macedonia, Vevcani easily stands out with a population of over 2400 people. Easygoing and hospitable, they win your affections right away. For visitors, it seems, are an integral part of Vevcani for decades. They come to see the springs, taste the food, enjoy the carnival and explore the scenic surroundings that offer hiking trails, glacial lakes, and monasteries that are centuries old.
What is distinctly noticeable the moment you enter Vevcani, is its topographical setting. It is as if you are entering a forest that continues to stretch in each direction.
Though it enjoys a very close proximity to both Ohrid and Struga, the nature in Vevchani is distinctively different. Lush greenery to the left and right and continual noise emanating from the running water make this place one of the most interesting nature settings in Macedonia. A park forest more than anything else, Vevchani is a great transition between the towns of Ohrid and struga. Peaceful and serene, it is where many Macedonians go for a weekend gateway.
Places to visit
Before you go and spend a day on the springs, hiking the trails that take you up the mountain slopes, you can visit some of the churches and monasteries. This being Macedonia, there is a number of them in a very close proximity to the center of the village.The monastery of Saint Spas is on the slopes of Jablanica mountain, and worth taking the walk, while the lower church of Saint Spas and the church of Saint Barbara are within a walking distance.
All are unique in their own way, especially the monastery of Saint Spas that is built on the side of a very large rock, as a substitute for one of the walls.
Stretching from the village to an altitude of 2000 meters up in the mountains, the springs run with a combined water flow of 400 gallons per second. The largest one is located at the opening of one of the many caves that you can find in the region. Below, there are ten other minor springs that converge in their flow.
If you follow the upward hike, you will see Jankov Kamen, the most notable of the springs located at about 1200 meters, and up the mountain at 1600 meters, another one, named Mala Livada which has a distinct flavor and color. The highest is Golina, at about 2000 meters.
The springs, all of them that are within the village, create a very unique setting that will have your cameras snapping pictures without a stop. Isolated by a very dense forest from the sides, with wooden bridges over a very rocky terrain where the water flows… The pictures do no justice. And not to mention the sound which is mesmerizing and quite powerful.
Humid and fresh air, and Zen like settings, the springs are especially beautiful to visit during the summer. A quite relaxing surrounding and temperature, that you will definitely enjoy after a mountain hike under the July sun.
Many of them scattered around, not so high in the mountains, within small valleys, filled with crystal clear water. Lokva, located the highest, is the main provider of water to the Galina spring. So make sure to plan a hike up the mountain slopes, and see the lake. Most visitors say that the climb is well worth it.
If you are into mountain biking, and like to overcome somewhat rougher trails, this is a great tour to take. The surroundings are beautiful within themselves, and even if you go out for a hike, without any particular destination in mind, you will find yourself enjoying it.
Things to do – Taste traditional Macedonian food
Not really sure how to communicate this through, for most Macedonian places are famous for delicious traditional food, but you’d regret a lot missing out on Vevcani. Not only that the food is delicious and traditionally prepared, but the setting of most restaurants is quite traditional as well.
A cliché to write this- but no matter what food you end up ordering you will be delighted. The restaurant of Kutmicevica is your best pick, but you can also try Domakinska Kuka. Food in Vevcani speaks volumes about the Macedonian gourmet experience.
Attend the Vevcani Carnival
Added to the federation of world carnival cities, the streets of Vevcani are an attraction within itself every 12-14 January. Marking and celebrating the beginning of the New Year according to the old calendar, the carnival is a centuries old festivity with pagan rituals that are now slightly transformed and given a more contemporary face.
The atmosphere is surreal, with people ranging from young to old wearing masks, most of them handmade, and changing each year.
Rural and slightly pagan, it creates a very distinct atmosphere that is vibrant and somewhat intense. Traditional music is played while people dance in costumes of demons and other mythical creatures. Noisy as the music is being played, it is only but a part of the avalanche of sounds – most people add to the spectacle by making noise using pots, belts, and plain noise with whatever else is to be find.
Take a hike
From the village, pass the springs, and up the mountain… There is a sign with information about two trails that go to the village of Gorna Belica, and the peak of Crn Kamen respectively.
You can take another one as well, going to Gorna Belica, and then towards the peak of Crn kamen, lake Lokva, and back again to Vevcani. One of the best hikes you will ever take in Macedonia.
There is another trail that goes from peak Crn Kamen to the village of Labunishta as well. Expect to cover a lot of mileage, through what seems a moderate to difficult hike grade. With surroundings being picturesque as they are, you are hardly to notice the miles adding up though.
The village of Vevcani is a great one site stop for combining multiple unique Macedonian experiences. Many people are known to visit exclusively for the Vevcani carnival, mapping this place for another mid-summer tour as well. The Vevcani springs, glacial lakes, mountain slopes and scenery quickly add to one of the most colorful outdoor experiences. Close to Ohrid and Struga, this is a place that you must schedule on your next tour.