As we started exploring the beautiful lake Ohrid we came up with 7 fun things to do with our kids to make our time here more special.
Yes, because we realize that often just touring a place the traditional way might not be enough for a child to actually feel the magic of the location. So if we can find some original ways of experiencing it, we will be able to make it unforgettable for them for sure!
Once we arrived on Lake Ohrid we came up with a couple of cool ideas. After all, we are a world schooling family, so we know very well that we learn daily from the experiences we do. Why not do some learning in a more fun and original way?
1. Paragliding over Lake Ohrid
On our first day, as we were going for a bike ride we saw a bunch of paragliders coming down the mountain. Of course Mass stopped to check them out. We soon realized that they were all tandems. That is when we came up with the crazy idea to go all paragliding together! Mass could go with his wing and the 4 of us on tandems! After all the kids had been begging us to do it for months.
Cosimo and Emma already tried 2 years before in Salt Lake City, however Luca at the time didn’t feel brave enough for it so he skipped. This was going to be the very first time for him and he was finally thrilled about it! In fact, in the past month every time Mass went paragliding, he wanted to go too. We knew he was finally ready!
Here on Lake Ohrid, we found the perfect place and at a reasonable price! We booked our flight with Fly Ohrid. They charged us about Euros 50 per person and gave us videos and photos from each flight. One of the pilots called us just a few minutes before the flight telling us there was availability if we were ready right away. Of course, we made sure we were! With paragliding, you don’t want to be too picky with your time because you have to deal with the wind. One moment the conditions might be perfect, and the next it isn’t flyable anymore. So you just have to go!
We drove up to Galichica mountain, which is about 1100 mt high and looks over the Lake. As we hopped out of the car, the pilots got us geared up and in less than 15 minutes we were all out in the sky! Each flight was about 15/20 minutes long, which is enough when you are not the pilot. In fact, after a while, most people get restless just sitting there. However, the view is so amazing that it will keep you mesmerized for most of the time. Plus all 3 kids did a 360 coming down which made the whole experience a bit more exciting!
Remember when I mentioned the weather? Especially how the wind can change on you from one moment to the other? Well, it did! When Mass was finally ready to get out, it wasn’t good anymore. He waited about 90 minutes to fly down. So technically we didn’t all get to be in the sky at the same time, but we did paraglide all together on the same day and from the same place. I think we managed to achieve our goal and it was a great adventure for our little family of 5! Check out the video to get the full experience!
2. Scuba Diving in Lake Ohrid
Cosimo, Emma, and I just got our Padi certification a few months ago, check out our post Our PADI Open Water Certification experience to learn more about the whole process. Now, all we want to do is dive every time we can! When we realized that it could be an option here in Lake Ohrid we decided to look into it!
Of course, there are no tropical fish or coral reefs in the deepest and most ancient lake in Europe. In fact, it is between 4 and 10 million years old, and therefore the oldest on the European continent. Its surface is 358.2 km. It is a very different environment from the ones we explored in the past but it can still be an experience worth doing.
We were given 2 options: exploring a couple of relics or going to see a spring. In fact, lake Ohrid is characterized by underwater springs located along the eastern and southern coasts, so the water is incredibly clear. Transparency in some places reaches even 22 meters! We opted for the spring. It was going to be a shore dive which was something we wanted to try.
What was cool about it? When we started diving the water was at a temperature of 22°C, but once we arrived over the area of the spring it went down to 7°C! I could barely keep the GoPro in my hands! I had never felt such a fast water temperature change in the same environment and we were not too deep!
What about Luca and daddy? Well, being a shore dive meant that there was no boat ride involved, so Luca swam around waiting for us to come back.
Keep in mind that Lake Ohrid is also rich in relics and archeological sites that are still being discovered. In fact, there is an underwater archaeological site in the Bay of Bones that we will have to explore next time we go!
3. Sailing on Lake Ohrid
Once we got out of the water from our dive, instead of going back to the campsite by car, we thought it would be fun to sail back. Mass booked a sailboat ride around the lake. We thought this would also give Luca an option to have some fun too!
Our captain, George was extremely friendly and told us a lot about the history of the lake. We also did a little detour to visit the Monastery of Kališta. In this church, they have a very special icon in which the Holy Mother of God is painted with a Black face and holding in her hands the Black Jesus. Here you can also visit the oldest part of the monastery which is a cave church, deep into the rock, built in the 13th century.
Once we got back on the boat, unfortunately, there wasn’t much wind so we couldn’t do any sailing. This didn’t limit our fun though! In fact, as we were heading back, we stopped for a dip into the water, in an area where they were still doing more archaeological excavations. While we were there we were able to dive down and see the wooden stomps of what were probably remains of dwelling settlements thousands of years ago.
4. Jumping off a bridge in Struga
As we were walking around town, we noticed a lot of locals in a bathing suits on the side of the river Drim. At one point a few of them went up to the bridge, climbed over it, and jumped in the water!!! Luca was so excited to see this. Of course, at that point, he wanted to do it too.
My mother instinct said NO immediately! For a moment all kinds of thoughts went through my head. Mainly of course, that it was a reckless thing to do. But as I sat there observing kids of every age doing it, I realized that my fears were pointless. What was I so afraid of? It wasn’t too high and they were going straight in the water. I should actually be proud that he wasn’t afraid but actually thrilled to do it!
Shortly after Luca grabbed Cosimo and Emma by the hand, who both wanted to do it too but did not dare to tell me. All 3 climbed over the bridge, counted 1-2-3, and jumped!!! They were so exhilarated by this! I think if we let them, they would have done it all day!
5. Biking around town
If you are traveling with bikes, like we are, then it is a great way to go around the center of Ohrid as well as Struga. You will find flat surfaces everywhere and at times bike routes as well when cars aren’t parked on them 😂. We always love locations where we can park our campervan and easily move around on our two wheels!
In Ohrid, we were staying at a campsite close to the downtown. You could easily reach it by taking the bike route. We really enjoyed the ride! On the way, we also found a couple of playgrounds and of course the landing spot for paragliders! There was plenty of entertainment along the way.
6. Learning how to make handmade paper
When in Ohrid you cannot miss visiting the National Workshop for handmade paper. It is famous for being a place where you can still see how they hand-make paper and old-fashioned print. In fact, the workshop’s printer is a replica of Guttenberg’s printing press from the 15th century. It’s only one of two in the world. Ohrid has been printing paper since the 16thcentury and has kept the old traditional Chinese way for the paper-making process originating from the 2nd century BC.
Once you enter the shop one of the staff will happily demonstrate the papermaking and printing methods. Our kids were fascinated by the whole process! It definitely made them think more in-depth about the process of making paper. The demonstration is free but they do appreciate it if you purchase something while there. Of course, we did! Now all the prints we purchased on handmade paper are hanging in our campervan!
7. Buying the unique pearls of Ohrid
We were in Oghrid around my birthday. So I decided to make myself and Emma a gift: buy an Ohrid pearl!
It is a handmade pearl and the whole story behind it is pretty fascinating! In the 1920s a Russian immigrant introduced the technique to the Talevs and the Filevs, two local families. Since then, they have only passed down the secret production process verbally from father to son.
The plasica fish, an endemic fish species in Lake Ohrid is the key ingredient of the pearls. In fact, an emulsion is created using the secret formula from the fish scales and then used to cover the surface in layers of Ohrid Pearl which is made from ground shells. The emulsion creates a beautiful and elegant pearl, rich in color and shine.
What makes them also so special is the fact that while natural pearls last 150 years, Ohrid pearls last forever. Another interesting fact is that you can find them only here, so we had to take advantage of our visit to buy one.