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There are a few different ways to get from Sofia to Lake Ohrid.
I just made the trip between the capital city of Bulgaria and the lakeside town in Macedonia, and figuring out the logistics was a bit tough. Because of that, I’m going to lay out your options here so you can get from Sofia to Lake Ohrid without any extra hassle 🙂
How to Get From Sofia to Lake Ohrid by Direct Bus
There is only one direct bus line from Sofia to Lake Ohrid and it’s at just about the most inconvenient time you could imagine.
The direct bus from Sofia to Lake Ohrid runs every other day at 7 pm. It takes 9 hours and arrives in Lake Ohrid at 4 am, which is obviously not ideal. The cost is 48 lev / 29 usd per person.
The company it’s run through is called Matpu and their office is in the International Bus Station.
Instead of going to the Central Bus Station in Sofia, you have to buy tickets at the international booths, which are outside on the left side of the Central Bus Station. Walk up to them and the Matpu office is on the left in the very first set of offices… don’t continue into the maze in front of you or you will be lost forever.
Buy your direct bus ticket a day or two ahead of time. Then, just show up 10 to 15 minutes early and hop on the 7 pm direct bus to Lake Ohrid right in front of the office.
Riding a boat through the freshwater springs in Lake Ohrid
How to Get From Sofia to Lake Ohrid Through Skopje
If the direct bus from Sofia to Lake Ohrid isn’t running the night you want to go, don’t worry.
There are more buses running from Sofia to Lake Ohrid through Skopje. We opted for this route and it wasn’t too bad. I mean, our bus did break down and we were stuck on the side of the road for four hours but besides that…
Once again, you can use Matpu, which has buses from Sofia to Skopje every day at 9:30 am, 4 pm, and 7 pm – click here to see the timetable. The trip is about five hours and there is a one-hour time change between Sofia and Skopje.
If these departures don’t work for you, I’m about 99% certain there are other bus companies that run from Sofia to Skopje daily as well.
Your best bet is to go to the International Bus Station and ask around the offices to find one that you like. Then, once you arrive in Skopje, it’s easy to connect to Ohrid.
Walk inside the Skopje Bus Station and there will be an info booth in front of you in the line of offices. The booth that sells tickets to Lake Ohrid is directly on the right of the info booth.
Tickets from Skopje to Lake Ohrid cost 520 denars / 10 usd and the buses run often (see the timetable here). We only had to wait 30 minutes for the next one out and the trip to Lake Ohrid takes a little over three hours.
Lake Ohrid from our hotel balcony
Bonus: Where to Stay in Lake Ohrid
There are two main places to stay in Lake Ohrid: In the downtown central area on the water or in the Old Town which rises up into the hills around the lake.
The downtown area is more convenient and close to everything, but the Old Town is quieter, more historical, and has better views. They are both in walking distance of everything, so either section is a nice place to stay on your vacation.
Villa Varosh and Apartments Tomic are two of the top-rated accomodation options on the lake while for a more budget-friendly stay, Homestay Zana House offers double rooms for $16 per night. For solo travelers, the Old Town Hostel Ohrid has dorm beds for $9 per night as well.
How to Get From Sofia to Lake Ohrid
The two different options to get from Sofia to Lake Ohrid are by a direct overnight bus or by going through Skopje. Whichever you choose depends completely on your schedule.
I dislike traveling overnight so we took the route through Skopje, which would have been totally fine besides the breakdown. Beyond that, the roads were good and the connection couldn’t have been easier.
It’s a long day for sure to get from Sofia to Lake Ohrid by bus but once you arrive at the lake it’s totally worth it!
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Skopje and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay at Lake Ohrid.
This article is part of the Mesmerizing Macedonia series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Macedonia series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.