Lake Ohrid, Albania & Macedonia

Lake Locations:

Albania - Korce - Macedonia - Western Macedonia -

Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes, with estimates placing its age between four and ten million years old. Lake Ohrid spans about 88,500 acres between Albania and Macedonia. The lake is tectonic in origin (shifting of the Earth’s crust). It is incredibly deep, over 948 feet in some places. Lake Ohrid’s depth is one factor that accounts for its existence — most lakes of its kind fill up with sediment after about 100,000 years. The depth of the lake, combined with low sediment in the inflow to the lake, has saved Lake Ohrid from a similar fate.

UNESCO declared Lake Ohrid and the city of Ohrid in Macedonia a World Heritage Site in 1979. The Ohrid Region is considered the cradle of Slavonic culture. Human settlement dates back to the third century BC, with archeological remains that are 5,000 years old. Built between the 7th and 19th centuries, the city of Ohrid contains more than 800 Byzantine-style icons and the oldest Slav monastery, St. Pantelejmon. Pilgrims and tourists are drawn to the lake’s clear waters and the city’s ancient, inspiring architecture.

Lake Ohrid is fed primarily by springs, but there are also several rivers feeding the lake, including the Sateska, Koselska, and Corava Rivers. Lake Ohrid also receives water from nearby Lake Prespa through underground springs. The Black Drim River is the lake’s outflow. Lake Ohrid’s 88,513 acres stretch across the Albanian-Macedonian border with about two thirds of the lake in the Republic of Macedonia and the remaining third in the Republic of Albania. The lake is bordered by Mount Galicica to the east and by Mount Mokra and Mount Jablanica on the Albanian side.

Considered a “Museum of Living Fossils,” Lake Ohrid is home to a wide variety of plants, animals, and fish, some of which only exist in the lake. The Ohrid trout is unique to the lake and widely sought by anglers. There are also belvica, European eels, and freshwater shells, crabs, and sponges. Almost half of the fish caught in Lake Ohrid are trout or eels, earning the lake the nickname “Trout Lake.” The Plasica is also endemic to Lake Ohrid. Its scales are the key component in the creation of Ohrid pearls. Using a secret recipe passed down through generations of a family, layers of the fish scale emulsion create the world-famous pearls.

In addition to fishing, there is more than enough water on Lake Ohrid for paddling in canoes and kayaks, as well as boating. Every year the lake plays host to a swimming marathon. Established in 1958, the Galicica National Park includes 56,093 acres in Macedonia between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa. One of the main reasons it was made a national park is because of the spectacular views from the limestone ridge of the mountains over the lakes. Visitors can hike and climb to see the gorgeous view and, in places, paragliding is even allowed. Several villages are scattered across the park, and there are hotels and vacation rentals within its boundaries.

People have been living on the shores of Lake Ohrid for thousands of years. Tucked away in the mountains around the lake are several surviving cave churches. What started out as simple monk cells have been expanded and covered with frescoes. Religious pilgrims and history and art lovers are all drawn to Lake Ohrid for the icons, frescoes and magnificent architecture. The countryside is dotted with mountain villages, and there are restaurants serving local Macedonian food. Accommodations range from hotels, resorts and private rentals to campgrounds. For those that fall in love with the area, there is real estate available for sale.

Today, Lake Orhid’s visitors are likely to be tourists and pilgrams, but the lake’s lure is as strong as it was thousands of years ago when it called settlers to its shores. Considered one of Europe’s great biological reserves and home to ancient churches, monasteries and art from the middle ages, Lake Ohrid promises an experience as rich as its history.

Things to do at Lake Ohrid

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Lake Ohrid

  • Belvica
  • Eel
  • Ohrid Trout
  • Trout

Lake Ohrid Photo Gallery

  • SONY DSC

Lake Ohrid Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 88,513 acres

Shoreline Length: 54 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,280 feet

Average Depth: 538 feet

Maximum Depth: 948 feet

Water Volume: 44,913,511 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 83.6 years

Drainage Area: 1,000 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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