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Best Little Known Beach - Is Part of an Eastern European Lake

Imagine a lake that combines the look of the Riviera by the beach with a "Game of Thrones" setting in town, surrounded by mountains, history, culture, and romantic restaurants with glorious sunsets. Impossible, you think?


No, it's just that you've probably never heard of this place. It's called Lake Ohrid, and it is located in the Republic of Macedonia in Southeastern Europe.

I first came to this small country, tucked in between Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, on an international economic conference, sponsored by the World Bank, in the mid-1990s. Macedonia had just broken away from Yugoslavia peacefully. Unlike some of its neighbors, the nation was relatively stable.

But you couldn't help falling in love with the country and its greatest treasure: Lake Ohrid. Here's what this lake and its beaches have that not a lot of other places around the world can boast owning.

1) Beaches Like No Other. Sure every beach has water and a shore. Since it's a lake, there's not much in the way of waves and surfing. But it has some of the cleanest and clearest water you'll ever find, thanks to Lake Ohrid being fed by underground springs. Though very cold, residents and tourists don't seem to mind, as evidenced by the number of summer swimmers. There are no less than 10 beach spots around Lake Ohrid, ranging from those with beach amenities and crowds (Trpejca, Slavija, Lagadin) to the ones a little quieter for those who want to have a more peaceful getaway (like Gorica).

2) Amazing Culture. The history of the place, a mix of Orthodox Christian monasteries and Turkish regional influence make exploring the town something for the historian or amateur architecture fan. The place looks a lot like Dubrovnik in Croatia, where they film the hit HBO television series "Game of Thrones."

Even tourists love hiking the winding narrow streets to the amazing hills, including "Samuel's Fortress" which overlooks the town and the lake. There are museums, churches, art, and shopping, especially for jewelry featuring pearls from the lake for you to enjoy. In fact, the area was designated a "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO in 1980.

3) Great Nightlife. Like Mexico and many Mediterranean Sea locations, there's an afternoon rest period. But that's so Macedonians and tourists can stay up later into the night at restaurants, bars and clubs. Be prepared to sleep in during the mornings if you go. 4) Great Nature Options. Lake Ohrid has plants and animals you won't find anywhere else, as well as relics of rare creatures from long ago. There are camping options. And for the fit traveler, there are plenty of locations to hike for even more picturesque views. And the sunrises and sunsets are stunning. 5) A Nice Place To Stay. I recommend the Metropol Lake Resort as a spot to stay. Other lake hotels (like Gorica, Hotel Tino and Villa Dea) are good, as are the options in the town itself. You can also take a "water taxi" between the two, or a standard cab.