Ohrid is renowned for its historical significance and natural beauty, attracting visitors to explore its UNESCO World Heritage sites and tranquil lakeside scenery.
During the Christmas and New Year period, the city hosts its annual Christmas Lights in the city centre, where you can experience the festive atmosphere and discover a variety of local crafts and traditional foods.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you’ll need to know for a winter visit to Ohrid in 2023.
Christmas in Ohrid is marked by festive decorations and traditional celebrations. The local community observes the holiday with religious ceremonies, family gatherings, and the preparation of special dishes.
Ohrid Christmas Market 2023
With a modest array of around 10 Christmas stalls, the Christmas market in Ohrid may be small, but it radiates warmth and tradition.
The historic town streets sparkle with light decorations, and a grand Christmas tree stands as a centrepiece, its lights shimmering against the snow, adding to the scenic charm.
The small city is alive with New Year celebrations, embracing the occasion with enthusiasm evident in the numerous parties and dinners hosted in local restaurants.
Contemporary Christmas lights and decorations adorn houses, contributing a modern touch to the historic surroundings.
The real Christmas festivities commence as the calendar turns to January 7th, marking Christmas Day in North Macedonia.
Despite its quaint size, Ohrid promises a unique New Year’s experience with its picturesque location by Lake Ohrid.
For those seeking a different market experience, a short drive to Pogradec Christmas Market in nearby Albania presents a lively market atmosphere, complementing the peaceful Ohrid Christmas celebrations.
Dates and Location
Ohrid Christmas Market dates: December 2023.
Location: Ohrid City Square and by the waterfront.
Reason to visit: Peaceful lakeside location, New Year celebrations.
Recommended tour: Panoramic Old Town boat cruise.
Specialities: Macedonian pastries, burek, baklava.
Where to stay: Villa Sofija is a fantastic hotel, located in the heart of the Old Town.
Hotels near Ohrid Christmas Market
Staying in the Old Town in Ohrid ensures convenient access to the markets and Christmas lights. This area is also close to historical sites like the Church of Saint John and the fortress.
I recommend Villa Sofija, a highly rated hotel well situated near Ohrid’s winter attractions.
Location of Ohrid Christmas Market
Recommended Walking and Food Tours
A city tour of Ohrid provides an excellent opportunity to dive deep into the city’s profound history and vibrant culture.
Ohrid’s old town, its stunning churches, and the intricate designs of its structures make it an intriguing destination, even during the cooler months. It’s by far my favourite destination in North Macedonia, and the lake is incredibly peaceful.
I suggest this panoramic boat and city tour of Ohrid for a comprehensive look at the city’s standout features, guided by a knowledgeable local. It’s a particularly suitable choice for those new to Ohrid.
You’ll be introduced to some of Ohrid’s most significant landmarks during a city tour.
Key sites include the 9th-century Church of Saint Sophia, the picturesque fishermen settlement Kaneo, and the iconic Church of Saint John at Kaneo, renowned for its breathtaking cliffside position overlooking Lake Ohrid.
Christmas in Ohrid
Christmas Specialties in Ohrid
Sogan-dolma (Stuffed Onions): Sogan-dolma, a dish comprised of onions stuffed with minced meat, rice, and various herbs and spices, is a warm and comforting treat. Find this hearty meal at the market, where it’s prepared with care, reflecting the rich culinary traditions of North Macedonia.
Burek: Another typical food you’ll find is burek, a delicious pastry filled with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Baked to golden perfection, it provides a crunchy and satisfying snack as you explore the various stalls and attractions at the Ohrid Christmas Market.
Ajvar: At Ohrid’s market, one culinary delight you’ll encounter is ajvar, a rich red pepper-based condiment. Originating from the Balkans, ajvar is a staple spread or side dish renowned for its balanced sweet and savoury flavours, making it a perfect accompaniment for various dishes.
Tavče gravče (Baked Beans): Enjoy tavče gravče, a traditional Macedonian dish, while exploring the market. Consisting of beans baked in a rich tomato sauce with various spices, this dish offers a warm and hearty respite from the winter chill.
Rakija (Brandy): Warm yourself with a glass of rakija, a potent fruit brandy popular in North Macedonia. Available at the Ohrid Christmas Market, it’s a popular local drink known for its warmth and rich flavours, perfect for sipping on a cold winter’s evening.
Medovina (Honey Wine): Indulge in a glass of medovina, a delightful honey wine that’s both sweet and robust. This traditional drink at the Ohrid Christmas Market is a testament to the region’s beekeeping heritage, offering a unique taste of North Macedonian culture.
Grilled Fish: Savour grilled fish from Lake Ohrid at the market. Fresh and locally sourced, the fish is expertly prepared and served, allowing you to enjoy the natural flavours of one of the region’s most notable resources.
Tulumbi: A deep-fried dessert soaked in syrup, Tulumbi is a sweet delight often found in Macedonian celebrations, including the Christmas bazaar in Ohrid.
Kebapi: Minced meat skewers, typically made of beef or pork. Kebapi is a popular street food item served with bread and onions.
Christmas Gifts and Stocking Fillers
Filigree Jewellery: In Ohrid, admire the intricate filigree jewellery, a centuries-old craft local to North Macedonia. Artisans meticulously twist, curl, and plait silver threads to craft intricate designs such as earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Each piece you’ll find is unique and showcases the exceptional skill and creativity of the local craftspeople.
Wooden Carvings: Discover beautifully hand-crafted wooden carvings at the market stalls. Craftspeople from Ohrid are known for their exquisite woodwork, which includes detailed icons, figurines, and ornaments, reflecting the city’s historical and religious significance.
Rakija Glasses: As you explore the market, you’ll come across specially designed rakija glasses, perfect for enjoying the traditional Macedonian brandy. These glasses are often adorned with intricate designs and patterns, making them a functional yet attractive addition to your glassware collection or a thoughtful gift for friends and family back home.
Handwoven Textiles: Explore stalls brimming with handwoven textiles, including traditional rugs, scarves, and tablecloths. Each handwoven item reflects the vibrant patterns and colours traditional to North Macedonian culture.
Homemade Jams and Preserves: Indulge in the vast selection of homemade jams and preserves. Made from locally grown fruits, these products capture the natural, sweet flavours of the Ohrid region.
For additional information on things to do and the latest events in the city, you can visit the Macedonia Timeless, the country’s official website.
Sustainable Christmas Tips
Here are a few tips on how you can travel more responsibly in Ohrid at Christmas:
Eco-friendly Accommodation: Choose to stay in hotels that prioritise environmental sustainability. Many establishments in Ohrid are committed to using renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. Opting for such accommodations can greatly reduce your travel footprint and contribute to the local effort to preserve the environment.
Reducing Food Waste at Markets: While enjoying the various local delicacies at Ohrid’s Christmas bazaar, consider ordering smaller portions to minimise waste. Food vendors often provide options that cater to different appetites. By selecting what you can comfortably consume, you help reduce unnecessary food waste, aligning with the community’s efforts to manage waste efficiently.
Ethical Consumption: Ohrid’s bazaar is filled with unique handmade products. When shopping, consider buying only what you truly need or can use. By being mindful of your purchases, you support local artisans without contributing to overconsumption, reflecting the city’s ethos of sustainable living.
Sustainable Diets: Many restaurants and stalls in Ohrid focus on sourcing ingredients locally. Look for menu items that highlight seasonal and regional produce. By choosing these options, you contribute to the local economy and reduce the carbon footprint associated with transporting food over long distances.
Sustainable Transport: Ohrid has various eco-friendly transport options, including bike rental services. You can explore the scenic town on a bicycle or take advantage of public transportation. These alternatives cut down on emissions and offer you a chance to experience Ohrid in a way that aligns with the city’s commitment to environmental stewardship.
The Ohrid Christmas Market and decorations take place across December in 2023.
You’ll find the Christmas Market in Ohrid’s Old City Square, a central location easily accessible from various parts of the city.
Winter in Ohrid can be quite chilly, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Snow is common, so it’s advisable to pack warm clothing and appropriate footwear for a comfortable visit.
If you would like to leave a review of Ohrid Xmas Market, comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Ohrid, North Macedonia. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.