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Digital Nomad Guide to Living in Ohrid, North Macedonia

In this digital nomad guide to Ohrid, you’ll find out all you need to know about remote working and living in the gorgeous city of Ohrid in North Macedonia. Being a digital nomad here is a hugely rewarding experience thanks to its location on beautiful Lake Ohrid.

There are lots of cafes and restaurants around the old town and along the waterfront that are perfect for working, and taking in some incredible views. I spent a couple of months working and living as a digital nomad in North Macedonia last year and spent most of my time based in Ohrid.

In addition to the excellent cafes (that thankfully feature fast WiFi) there are a couple of co-working spaces in the town if you’re looking for somewhere with fewer distractions (it’s particularly easy to become distracted by the gorgeous mountain and lake views). It’s also a very cheap place to live with accommodation and food costing a lot less than elsewhere in Europe.

About Ohrid

Ohrid is a city located in the southwest of North Macedonia on the shores of Lake Ohrid. Although a city in name, it feels much more like a town. It’s very small and has a population of just 42,000 people (making it one of the smallest cities in Europe).

It has a rich history including time as part of many different empires from Hellenic to Ottoman and later Yugoslavia. Evidence of this is on display everywhere across the city from the Hellenic amphitheater to the mosques, monasteries, and churches dotted around the old town and beyond.

There are lots of wonderful things to do in Ohid from walking along the boardwalk to sipping drinks on the lakeshore, swimming at one of the many beaches, or hitting one of the gorgeous hiking trails. There are boat trips that depart from the center of town to nearby places of interest like Sveti Naum and the Bay of Bones.

Living in Ohrid As a Digital Nomad

Living in Ohrid as a digital nomad is easy as there’s excellent infrastructure, fast and reliable WiFi (though 5G is yet to be rolled out across the region), and plenty of excellent cafes where you can sit and work with a cup or two of the local Turkish-style coffee (or a Frapamochacino if you prefer).

Coworking isn’t really a huge thing in this part of the world yet, however, there are two coworking spaces in Ohrid so if you prefer to work in a more formal setting, this is certainly possible (see below for more info). Personally, I prefer to work in the citys’ cafes, as outside of lunchtime and evenings, it’s easy to find a quiet table.

Young digital nomad in cafe working on laptop

After your work day is finished, there’s plenty to keep you occupied as an Ohrid digital nomad. You can hit the beaches nearby for a swim, hike, or jog along the clifftop paths, or sit back and enjoy fabulous Macedonian cuisine at one of the many restaurants around the town.

The cost of living in Ohrid is comparatively low compared to northern and western Europe, which is one of my main concerns when choosing somewhere to live and work remotely. As such it’s a fantastic place to live as going out to eat or drink is inexpensive. The same can be said for transport costs, museum entries, and other incidentals.

Is Ohrid Safe?

Ohrid (and North Macedonia in general) is incredibly safe for visitors. Crime levels are low compared to cities in Western Europe or the USA. Corruption exists, but this isn’t something that affects tourists or people coming to live short term. Provided you have the relevant visa (more on that below) you don’t have reason to worry.

There aren’t any areas of Ohrid to avoid generally, but you should apply common sense and avoid venturing off in the dark into places you’re not familiar with. Once the sun has set, avoid footpaths through the forest and instead use the paths along the shore and through the town.

Provided you use the same precautions as with traveling anywhere such as not flashing cash and valuables, keeping doors locked and not exploring after dark, life in Ohrid is a hassle-free affair. Having lived here for over two months, I never experienced any problems with crime or corruption.

Best Places to Live in Ohrid

Ohrid is a very small city and everywhere is reachable on foot (though for those that don’t like to walk too far, nowhere is more than a ten-minute taxi ride away). The best area to live is in the old town and around the lakeshore, and accommodation here is surprisingly affordable.

I lived in the old town, a two-minute walk from the main shopping street, and had a lakefront property with lake and mountain views from my balcony. I paid just €300 Euros per month for a large room with a kitchenette and private bathroom. Below, you’ll find some of the best areas to live in the city.

1. Varosh/Old Town

Samuil's Fortress in Ohrid cityscape Macedonia

The old town stretches from the lakeshore up the hill to Samuil’s Fortress. It’s one of the most charming old towns in Europe and is lined with cobbled streets and winding alleyways that lead down to the shore. You’ll find the streets dotted with churches and small monasteries clinging to the hillside and overlooking the azure blue waters of the lake.

This area is packed with shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants serving local specialties from sarma (stuffed vine leaves) to stuffed peppers, freshly caught fish, and some mouthwatering meat dishes. Prices are very reasonable and you can enjoy a good meal for under €10 Euros.

This is also where you’ll find most of the best cafes to set up and work from. Prices are reasonable, the WiFi is free and fast, and you can enjoy stunning views over the old town, lake, and nearby mountains while you beaver away. This is where I lived and worked from, and where I will return to when I am next in North Macedonia.

2. Center

Center is a neighborhood to the southeast of the old town and can be reached within a five-minute walk. This is an area with a large promenade along the lake and lots of lakefront restaurants. There’s also a large selection of hotels and places to stay in Center making it a great option for nomads and travelers alike.

There are a couple of supermarkets and cafes here and other amenities are within walking distance. This is a great place for being a digital nomad in Ohrid as it’s central, with all you need on the doorstep; the stunning views of the old town, lake, and mountains are bonuses.

The Center is also the perfect place to be for nightlife with some of the best bars in the city here (such as the Octava Lounge Bar). It’s also a great spot for swimming. Although there aren’t any beaches in this part of town, there are steps leading into the crystal-clear waters for easy access to the lake.

3. Koshishta

The Koshishta suburb is located on the other side of the hill from Samuil’s Fortress and is more of a residential area. There are plenty of apartments here, as well as supermarkets, pharmacies, and other amenities. You won’t find much in the way of cafes and restaurants in Koshishta, but the old town is still within walking distance.

This area is slightly cheaper to stay in than the old town and Center but is still within easy reach of the lake and all the attractions, bars, and restaurants in town; making it an excellent option for digital nomads in Ohrid.

4. Voska

Voska is a small neighborhood adjoining Koshishta, but this area has the added bonus of having its own beach. In the summer there are beach parties here which can get pretty wild, so if you’re looking for a quiet suburb, this is possibly a place to steer clear of.

There are plenty of accommodation options here from hotel rooms to apartments and guest houses. There are a couple of small supermarkets, but you’ll have to walk into town which takes around ten minutes if you want anything other than basic supplies.

5. 7th November

Bitola Macedonia

The neighborhood known as 7th November is located in the north of the city close to the main Ohrid bus station (go here for buses to Bitola, not Skopje). It’s around a thirty-minute walk from the center and old town or five minutes in a taxi. This is a quiet, residential area with lots of Soviet-style apartment buildings.

You’ll find Ohrid’s best co-working space here at CoWorkOhrid, so if you prefer to work in a more formal setting rather than in cafes or your own apartment, this is a good option. Here, you’ll find a large supermarket, multiple convenience stores, a bakery, and other amenities so it’s a convenient place to stay, despite it not being super central.

How to Find Accommodation in Ohrid

There’s no secret to finding good accommodation in Ohrid and the number of places on offer around the town means that prices are still relatively low. Below are three ways to find a good place to stay in Ohrid:

1. Airbnb. I found my excellent room on Airbnb and there are lots of budget options for long-term stays of a month or more.

2. Booking.com. This popular hotel website is another great way to find accommodation in Ohrid.

3. Hostelworld. On my first visit to Ohrid in 2019 I stayed at the Sunny Lake Hostel which I found through Hostelworld.

Cost of Living for a Digital Nomad in Ohrid

Living as a digital nomad in Ohrid can be very cheap compared to living in many other countries around the world. Accommodation, food, and even going out costs are all about as affordable as it’s possible to find in Europe, along with places like Albania and Bulgaria.

visit the stunning Lake Ohrid from a day trip in Tirana

Restaurants and Groceries

Ohrid has lots of excellent eateries ranging from cheapish fast food and pizza places to more upmarket restaurants along the waterfront and around the old town. My favorite place for a cheap meal is Leonardo Pizzaria. They make an excellent chicken cutlet in cream and mushroom sauce for 350 MKD (€5.70 Euros). Pizzas cost between 350 and 700 (€5.70-€11.40 Euros).

Directly opposite Leonardo is Restaurant Antico, a traditional Macedonian restaurant that serves up rustic dishes of sarma, stuffed peppers, grilled fish, and more. I paid under €10 Euros for a main and glass of the homemade house wine (which was delicious).

Higher-end restaurants down on the lakeshore are predictably more expensive but the quality doesn’t always match the price. Resatuarnat Cun is a popular spot on the water’s edge. The food is good, but the portion sizes are a little stingy and the wine is overpriced. Expect to pay €20-€30 Euros for a meal and wine.

There are plenty of supermarkets in the town center (I used Top and Ramstore) where everyday cooking items are cheap in comparison to back home (and to Armenia where I’ve been living for the last four months).

Accommodation Costs

Being a digital nomad in Ohrid is great because accommodation costs are still low. I paid just €300 Euros per month for my large, self-contained room overlooking the lake (you’d pay almost double for something similar in nearby Croatia or Greece).

If you’re looking for a basic room in shared accommodation you can expect to pay under €200 Euros per month. If you’d rather have an entire apartment to yourself then expect to pay between €400 and €600 Euros a month for a one or two-bedroom place with a central or lakeside location.

Transportation Costs in Ohrid

Everything there is to see in Ohrid is easily reachable on foot. Nearby attractions and places of interest such as Sveti Naum and the Bay of Bones can be reached by boat, bus, and taxi, with buses (or rather marshrutkas – minibusses with fixed routes), and you won’t pay more than a couple of Euros per journey.

There are daily buses to other towns and cities around North Macedonia like Bitola and Skopje, and these also offer a very cheap way of getting around the country. Expect to pay around €12 to €15 Euros for the bus to Skopje (you can book online with Get by Bus), and can buy tickets at the bus station for Bitola.

Taxis are inexpensive but always make sure to agree on the fare first to avoid any unpleasant surprises. I paid 300 MKD (€4.90 Euros) for a taxi for the 9.5 miles (15 km) from Struga to Ohrid. Unfortunately, there aren’t currently any ride-sharing apps like Uber in Nort Macedonia.

SIM Cards and Data

Although my UK data plan worked in Croatia because it’s EU, as North Macedonia isn’t, I had to buy a SIM card to carry on working remotely (though in practicality, with excellent WiFi in my apartment and at all the cafes, you can get away without needing one if circumstances allow).

There are several telecom networks in North Macedonia including A1, Lycamobile, Makadonski Telecom, and T-Mobile. A1 has the best coverage in Ohrid so I recommend going with them. You can buy a SIM at any mobile phone shop, at airports, and at many convenience stores, as well as online.

You don’t need any ID to purchase a SIM in North Macedonia. A1 has a range of pricing options and one of the best deals is the 10GB monthly bundle for 299 MKD (€4.85 Euros). Click here to find out more.

Money Saving Tips for Ohrid

  • Food is cheap in supermarkets (and even cheaper at the markets) so cook meals at home.
  • Eating and drinking at restaurants on the lakeshore is more expensive than at inland establishments.
  • Don’t order wine in the restaurants as they mark it up heavily (even though it’s locally made).
  • Buy food and wine from the supermarket for a picnic on the beach.
  • Book boat tours online in advance as its cheaper than paying at the dock.
  • Use Airbnb for long-term accommodation.

Coworking Spaces in Ohrid and WiFi Speed

co-working space in Ohrid

On each visit to Ohrid, and throughout my time living there, I was impressed by the fast WiFi which enabled me to work without issue, browse the web, and stream videos on YouTube. I didn’t experience any outages in my entire time in the city which is rare when on the road.

The average download speed in Ohrid is 28.86 MBpS with an average upload speed of 26.62 MBpS and a latency of 16. Click here for more info and up-to-date speeds.

Although working remotely in Ohrid is an excellent option thanks to fast WiFI, great cafes, and cheap living costs, there isn’t a large co-working scene here. There are only two co-working spaces in the city, and neither is particularly central.

  1. CoWorkOhrid: This is definitely the best co-working space in the city (they offer free coffee too!) and is popular with young remote workers, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs. 799 MKD (€12.95 Euros) per day or 3,099 MKD (€50.25 Euros) per week. Click here for directions.
  2. Kasarna Hub: This is a community space for freelancers, remote workers, and other entrepreneurs that’s located in an old army barracks in the north of the city. 500 MKD (€8 Euros) per day or 2,000 MKD (€32 Euros) per week. Click here for directions.

Activities and Things To Do in Lake Ohrid

One of the best things about life in Ohrid is that there’s so much to see and do. From exploring the gorgeous old town to dining on the waterfront, swimming, boating, and hiking, there’s plenty to keep digital nomads entertained during downtime in Ohrid.

ancient theater of Ohrid

1. Explore the Old Town

Ohrid has one of the most charming old towns I’ve visited with lots of narrow lanes to explore and wooded footpaths that lead down to the lake. If you’re a history lover like me then you’re in for a real treat. See the Hellenic (pre-Roman) amphitheater that’s been remarkably well preserved.

Explore picturesque monasteries and Eastern Orthodox churches, browse boutique shops selling souvenirs and Macedonian handicrafts (I bought a couple of nice paintings of the town and lake to take home), and relax at one of the many streetside cafes, bars, or restaurants.

From the old town, there are paths and trails up to Samuil’s Fortress (see below) and down to the lake. I strolled around the old town and down to the lake every day while living on Lake Ohrid. One of the best ways to experience the old town and learn about its fascinating history is to take a tour. Click here to find out more.

2. Walk to the Church of St. John the Theologian

The Church of St John the Theologian is one of the most iconic images of North Macedonia and seeing this gorgeous monastery above the lake inspired me to visit for the first time back in 2019 (and it absolutely lived up to expectations).

The church dates back to the 13th Century and is made of the red-brick and terracotta roofing typical of the region. The church sits on a promontory overlooking the lake with a backdrop of pine forest. It’s one of the most serene spots in Ohrid and is the perfect place to sit and gather your thoughts.

St John’s is located at Kaneo which is a ten to fifteen-minute walk from the old town either along the wooden boardwalk above the lake or through the forest. There are a couple of small (and stony) beaches at Kaneo as well as some beachside bars and restaurants, so this is a great place to spend a day.

3. Hike up to Samuil’s Fortress

Samuil’s Fortress (also called Samuel’s Fortress) is an 11th Century fort at the top of the town and named after Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria (Ohrid was once the capital of the first Bulgarian Empire). The fortress underwent massive restoration work in 2003 which replaced many of the walls that had fallen into disrepair.

The views from the Samuil’s Fortress are phenomenal and you can see all the way across the lake to Albania with a backdrop of mountains. You can climb the restored walls and battlements for panoramic views of the entire old town and the lake beyond. It’s an excellent place for photographers.

The fortress is a short ten minutes from the old town and many roads and paths lead to the top – bear in mind it’s all uphill but there are fortunately plenty of places to stop for a rest and take in the views. The fortress is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm and costs 125 MKD (€2 Euros) to enter.

4. Have a Meal on the Lakeshore

One of the most pleasant things to do in Ohrid is to enjoy a meal or a glass of wine at one of the many bars and restaurants on the lakeshore. One of my favorites is the Noa Lounge Bar which sits on a wooden platform above the lake offering stunning views of Kaneo and St John the Theologian.

Most of the restaurants are open for breakfast and morning coffee and this is something I took advantage of almost daily (even in late October it was warm enough to sit outside). Other excellent options include Liquid, Alexandrija, and Kak Kanevche at nearby Kaneo.

Just take a walk anywhere from Center all the way to Kaneo and you’ll pass plenty of excellent options for eating and drinking. Whether you fancy a coffee, a beer, a glass of wine, or a full meal, there are many great places to choose from, all with fantastic views out across the lake.

5. Take a Boat Trip

view from Ohrid Lake

You can’t come to Ohrid and not spend time out on the water. Taking a boat trip is a great way to get a different vantage point of the town and see sights like St John the Theologian and Samuil’s Fortress from a different angle. There are also daily boat trips to nearby attractions like the must-visit Bay of Bones.

You’ll see lots of people advertising boat trips down at the water’s edge and around the dock. There’s a daily ferry service to Sveti Naum on a large boat, or you can opt for a smaller speedboat (usually with drinks included and more stops to smaller bays).

There’s a range of tours you can book online like this excellent cruise around the old town where you’ll get to see the Church of Saint Sophia, the Church of Saint Clement, St John the Theologian the Caves of Love, and a lot more, all from the comfort of a private vessel with your own captain. Click here to book.

Weather in Ohrid

The best time to visit Ohrid is in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. On my first visit, I was there in April and had warm, sunny days every day. On my recent return, I was there in September and October and the weather was gorgeous and still warm enough for a swim.

Summer is long and hot, and Ohrid can get quite busy with tourists during this time, so it’s best avoided if you want relative peace and quiet for work. Winter runs from November to March and this is the coldest period with temperatures between 27 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pros and Cons of Living in Ohrid

As with anywhere in the world, there are both pros and cons of living in Ohrid:

pros and cons of living in Ohrid

Pros of Living in Ohrid

  • Beautiful – Ohrid is one of the most charming cities in Europe. It’s still relatively off the beaten path so doesn’t get too crowded, there’s lots to see and do, and sitting in one of the lakeside cafes is one of life’s simple pleasures.
  • Lots of cafes – If like me you like to find a nice cafe to work in with fast WiFi, good coffee, and tasty snacks, then you won’t have to look far at all for one in Ohrid.
  • Cheap – Prices are still a lot cheaper than the rest of Europe here which makes being a digital nomad in Ohrid an excellent option. Accommodation, food, and transport are all very affordable.
  • Good WiFi – I’ve always found the WiFi everywhere in Ohrid to be very fast with no interruptions. This is true of the cafes, hostels, and hotels.
  • Easy to explore nearby places – Ohrid makes a great base for exploring nearby places of interest from the Bronze Age village on the lake at the Bay of Bones to the Roman ruins at Heraclea Lyncestis.

Cons of Living in Ohrid

  • English isn’t widely spoken – When living as a digital nomad in Macedonia you’ll notice they use the Cyrillic script rather than Roman, and most people don’t speak English (with the exception of some younger generations).
  • It can be crowded in summer – In summer in particular, Ohrid can become busy and you’ll have to fight for space on the town’s small beaches. Opt instead for autumn which is a fantastic time to visit.
  • Public transport isn’t great – Getting around North Macedonia isn’t as easy as elsewhere in Europe. Most people use marshrutkas but there aren’t timetables and it can be difficult to plan things using public transport alone.

Digital Nomad Visa for Ohrid

digital nomad visa application

At the time of writing (May 2023) North Macedonia does not have a digital nomad visa, though they have been talking about implementing one since 2021. As a British passport holder, I’m able to stay in North Macedonia visa-free for up to 90 days. This is the same for all EU citizens, as well as those from Canada and the USA.

As many nationalities can stay for up to three months without a visa, North Macedonia is a fantastic place for digital nomads looking for a short to medium-term stay. If you wish to stay longer (which is entirely plausible after spending time in beautiful Ohrid), you’ll need to talk to your nearest Macedonian embassy about long-term stays.

In Conclusion

Now you know all about how to be a digital nomad in Ohrid, I highly recommend this incredible city as a place to work remotely for a few months. I loved every minute of living here and look forward to returning very soon. With fast WiFi, plentiful cafes, modern co-working spaces, and lots to see and do, this is the perfect place to live your best nomad life in beautiful surroundings.

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