Muslim Traveler’s Ideal Itinerary for Macedonia

Updated: Oct 14, 2021


Why Macedonia is An Excellent Location for Muslim Travellers?


Macedonia nestles at the edge of the Balkan peninsula. Made up of around 11 countries, the Balkan region is home to places steeped in history, and surrounded by breath-taking nature. There was a time in history when this place was ruled by the Ottoman empire, which is why you’ll find mosques scattered throughout the region in the big cities as well as the small villages.


Must-Visit City of Macedonia: Ohrid


Within Macedonia, we have the UNESCO city, Ohrid, which holds great significance for many reasons. First and foremost, this North Macedonia city is home to the famous Lake Ohrid. It is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in the world. Furthermore, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site for over 30 years.

With Ohrid being perched near the Lake with its beautiful mountainous surroundings, it is slowly becoming a popular destination for many. What’s more, visitors have the chance to visit two countries in one trip as Lake Ohrid straddles between the borders of Macedonia and Eastern Albania.


What To Do in North Macedonia


There is just so much to do here! If you’re looking for an eventful halal trip where you can enjoy a city break and take advantage of a coastal setting, you must come to Ohrid. We traveled here after hearing about how the place thoughtfully catered for Muslim travelers. As the events of this place are steeped in Ottoman history, there are certain things that have since lived on; finely constructed mosques, halal food, a large Muslim population, and many historical sites. These are only some of the reasons why this place is an ideal halal travel destination.


An Ideal 6-day Halal Travel Itinerary for Ohrid


Day 1: Upon landing, we had immediately made our way to the Marina to take in the views of the famous lake. It was love at first sight! Pristine blue waters surrounded by the beautiful snow-capped mountains; it was absolutely breath-taking. The atmosphere was amicable and we saw couples and families either strolling along the marina or enjoying the captivating views whilst seated outside one of the many cafes and restaurants. Tourists also have the option to take a boat ride along the lake to fully immerse themselves amongst the spectacular surroundings.


Day 2: The following day, we made our way to the famous National Museum of Ohrid. Also known as the Robevi Family House, this was a house belonging to one of the residents of Ohrid. It has now been transformed into an archaeological museum. Originally constructed in the late 19th century, this house represents one of the finest examples of Ohrid architecture. Inside its premises, you can find artwork, carpets, clothes, household utensils and more, all of which have been finely preserved until today.


Located next door to the Robevi Family House museum, there is a small yet interesting museum where paper is made by hand. Curious visitors will be able to see a demonstration on how paper is made using Oaktree, cotton and water. This place is one of seven locations in the world which has been printing paper since the 16th century. They also have a copy of the Gutenberg press (150 years old) on which the first printed book was the Bible! There are only two copies of the Gutenberg Press in the world and one of them is right here in Ohrid.


Day 3: The next day, we audaciously ascended the symbol of the city; the Samuel Fortress. Visible from many parts of the city, it attracts an influx of visitors year-round. Strategically located overlooking the city, we had the chance to catch some of the most striking views of the city and the lake from here.


Shopping in North Macedonia


For shopping, we went to St Clementine of Ohrid. Since Macedonia has a rich and colorful history, we realized that many shops were filled with handicrafts, cultural souvenirs, and Macedonian street food. We often walked around this short yet eventful strip because it was a great place to meet locals and visitors from around the world.


Ancient Macedonia for History Lovers


Day 4: Next, it was time to take a walk-through history and devour amazing views and architecture by visiting the many churches and mosques. Visitors can climb their way towards the Church of St John at Kaneo, located right above the Kaneo Beach. This was by far, one of the most spectacularly constructed churches in the world built in one of the most magnificent of locations.


This church has a Byzantine/Armenian architectural style and was built in the honor of St. John the Theologian. The church is also right above the fisherman’s settlement which is a great place to catch a boat ride and devour some fresh fish. We later found out that this church is known to be one of the most beautiful churches in the entire Balkan region! Upon viewing it, I would say there is no doubt about that!


The Church of Saints Clement and Panteleimon is another which stands magnificently, boasting a picturesque setting. Once a church, then a mosque and then a church again, this place was supposedly the place where the first students of the Glagolitic alphabet were taught; the alphabet used to translate the bible into old church Slavonic. Both the exterior and interior were intricately designed which leaves visitors impressed and interested to find out more.


As we were walking around the compound, we made an interesting find. Within the compound, in one of the corners, you will find the graves of two Muslim Turkish men who were residents of Ohrid. The names of only one of the men is inscribed on the wall outside which reads Sinan Celebi from the year 1493.


Day 5: As well as there being 365 churches in Ohrid – one for each day of the year – there were also several mosques that we visited. As we mainly stayed in the center of the city, we had the opportunity to visit six of these mosques. As the domain of the Ottoman Empire covered Macedonia, many Mosques were constructed to accommodate the growing Muslim population. Many of these mosques remain to this day.



Incredible Historic Mosques of Ohrid


Haji Durgut Mosque is a great example. We visited this Mosque and found inscribed near the door words that suggested it was constructed in 1466. A small mosque with an attractive courtyard perfect for some relaxation, the mosque also has a very attractive minaret from which the mesmerizing Adhan can be heard five times a day.


One of the main Mosques of the city – which we did not get to visit due to it being under construction – was the Ali Pasha Mosque. It was built in the year 1573 by Sulejman Pasha and additionally served as a school. For our daily prayers, we visited either Zeynel Abidin Pasa Cami [Halveti Hayati Tekke] located on St Clement of Ohrid or the Haci Hamza Mosque located on Goce Delchev.

Both Mosques were small and conveniently had a separate area for women. Further on from these two Mosques, we discovered two more Mosques that very much looked like the Mosques of Turkey; Emin Mahmut Mosque and the Kuloglu Mosque. Many of these Mosques are small in size but their minarets can be seen from far.


Halal Food is Everywhere in Ohrid


We were pleased to learn that many halal restaurants were located conveniently located near the Haci Hamza Mosque, on Goce Delchev. One particular restaurant that had us frequenting for dinner was the famous Adana 2 restaurant. This was after we had been taken aback by their food on our first visit. Here, they were serving many traditional dishes such as Mousaka, Tavce Gravce, Kofte, Goulash, and veal soup.


We ended the meal delightfully by drinking Turkish tea. For breakfast, visitors may try some of the fresh bakeries from any of the cafes in the city. Zelnik is a traditional breakfast item which is a crispy savory pastry dish, filled with either feta cheese and/or spinach and many other fillings.


There is also the option of the Alpi Restaurant where a generous family is known as Cenan, his son and wife will serve up some delicious breakfast. Comprising of fresh Halal food, this is one of the best places in Ohrid that serves traditional and continental breakfast. For lunch, make sure to try Falafel and hummus.


Although not a traditional Macedonian dish, Dr. Falafel is known for having one of the best falafel and hummus platters. Served with salad, bread, and a drink, the platter also consists of 6 falafel, hummus, tahini sauce, chickpeas, olives, cabbage, beetroot, red onions, lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots.


This is a great place for vegetarians as well as vegans! If you’re not hungry but just need to quench your thirst, you are able to drink from some of the street fountain taps scattered through the city center. After seeing many locals doing this, we enquired about it and learned that the taps provide some of the freshest water in the country.


A Boat Tour on The Lake Ohrid


Day 6: Towards the end of our trip, we made our way back to the Marina for a quick boat ride. Whilst we took a quick tour around the lake, the owner of the boat lowered a cup into the lake and drew out some water. He drank from the cup, then washed out the vessel, filling it up again. This time, he offered us the water. Upon tasting the water, we realized something.


That the locals were right, and it was true what they had said,


Lake Ohrid serves the most-fresh tasting water in the world!’.


It was indeed by far the most pure and sweet tasting water we had ever had to drink, and an agreeable way to end our adventurous trip.


There are so many opportunities and things to do in Macedonia. And Ohrid is a great choice for Muslim solo travelers and Muslim family travelers with kids. Whether you are seeking a historical tour or outdoor activity, Ohrid of Macedonia just covers you. The best time to visit Ohrid is generally between the summer months of June to August. Macedonia’s daily budget is not expensive in comparison to other Balkan and European cities. If you plan a visit to Macedonia, explore what it offers along with its Muslim-friendly hotels, tours, and activities.




@jub.ahmed

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