Vevčani

Village in Lake Ohrid

Keeping one sleepy eye on Lake Ohrid from its mountain perch, Vevčani dates to the 9th century and is a quiet rural settlement beloved by locals for its traditional restaurants and natural springs. The old brick streets flaunt distinctive 19th-century rural architecture and the village is watched over by the Church of St Nicholas. Vevčani lies 14km north of Struga, at the northerly edge of the lake. Buses from Struga run hourly (50MKD); a taxi should cost around 400MKD.

Start at the bottom of the village and stroll upwards through the narrow lanes to see Vevčani’s higgledy-piggledy two-storey stone houses, stabilised by a bondruk system of wooden frames and finished off with stooped wooden porches. In the upper part of the village, the Vevčani Springs are a delightful, leafy retreat for strolling, picnicking and cooling off in the company of a couple of small shrines and gushing rivers. At the mouth of the spring, it's possible to see the water bubbling irrepressibly up from beneath the moss-covered rocks.

Once you've visited the springs, take the steep track just outside the site entrance to Kutmičevica restaurant for inventive traditional cuisine such as nettle pie, jufki (homemade pasta with cheese) and lukanci (homemade paprika-laced pork sausage). Its creaking wood-beamed dining room has spectacular views over the mountain – you can even stay here if you wish to spend the night in the village.

Visit in January and you will stumble upon one of the largest pagan festivals in the Balkans, the Vevčani Carnival, which is celebrated annually with elaborate costumed revelry and lots of noise.

A network of signposted mountain walking trails, set up by Balkan Hiking Adventure (www.balkanhikingadventure.com) to develop mountain tourism in the border areas between North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, also passes through Vevčani. Check online for details.

If driving, pay close attention to signposting from Struga, because it can be easy to miss; you should enter the settlement through a large stone gate in the lower village.