‘I visited one of Europe’s prettiest hidden gems and it was incredibly cheap’ | Travel News | Travel

According to TravelSupermarket, the average price of a package holiday in Spain has soared by over 20 percent.

But while it might seem tricky to find a cheap summer break this year, thinking outside the box can save money.

This July, I visited one of Europe’s prettiest hidden gems and spent far less than I would have done travelling to a similar destination in Italy, Greece or Spain.

Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes and it’s also one of its most breathtaking. Earlier this year, travel expert Simon Calder described the spot as “the all time bargain destination” and he was absolutely right.

With lakeside cappuccinos for just £1.55, gelato for 99p and dinner with wine for just £14 per person, Lake Ohrid shouldn’t be missed.

What to do

It might not be as famous as Lake Como or Lake Geneva, but Lake Ohrid is equally breathtaking. I joined a six hour boat trip to see some of the lake’s top attractions which cost just 25 euros per person (£21.70) and included unlimited soft drinks. The small boat had just eight tourists onboard and we visited a gorgeous beach and several top attractions including Saint Naum Monastery and the Bay of Bones. At the Bay of Bones, tourists can explore a reconstructed Iron Age Village and learn about the area’s ancient history. Our guide was happy to stop the boat at any point for a quick dip in the lake.

Aside from swimming, diving and boat trips, tourists can also visit some of Ohrid’s incredible monasteries, churches and Roman amphitheatre. Ohrid actually has 365 churches, one for every day of the year. The most famous of these is Saint John at Kaneo, where I enjoyed incredible sunset views over the lake. Some of the churches are free to visit while others cost around £1-£2.

Ohrid has plenty of lakeside beach spots and we found it easy to find a secluded spot to hit the water.

Eating and drinking

Unsurprisingly fish is high on the menu in many of Ohrid’s restaurants. My favourite restaurant was Kaj Kanveche which is right on the shore of the lake in the old town and the perfect sunset watching spot. We spent around 2,000 MKD (£28.21) on a huge meal for two with salads, mains and a bottle of wine.

A coffee on the lakeshore cost around 110 MKD (£1.55) in the town while a scoop of gelato was just 70MKD (90p). Eating in is another cheap option and we picked up four savoury pastries at a bakery for just 160 MKD (£2.22).

Where to stay

I stayed at an Airbnb in Ohrid’s Old Town with a private balcony overlooking the lake, a private bathroom and access to a shared kitchen for £117.53 for two people for three nights. Ohrid is very walkable, (although hilly).

If a hotel is more your style, why not check out one of TUI’s package deals with seven nights bed and breakfast with flights on offer for just £402 per person?

Even a luxury stay at the Aleksandar Villa and Spa is on offer for just £607 per person for seven nights bed and breakfast with flights.

North Macedonia uses Macedonian Denar although it is possible to pay using euros at some venues. Although some restaurants take card payments, this isn’t possible at every outlet.

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