The Balkans can be an intense place to live, but what I absolutely love about the region are how many beautiful spots there are to escape for a quick recharge if need be. For good reason this part of Europe is becoming more known by the day for its natural beauty and the best part is that so much of it is still undiscovered by the masses. Take beautiful Lake Prespa, for example.
Even after having traveled extensively through Macedonia and hanging around its extremely popular neighbor Lake Ohrid a handful of times, I never thought twice about visiting “that other lake” (which is incidentally also shared with Albania and Greece) until I met a friend who lived there and recommended I pay a visit during one of my gotta get away from it all episodes. Having local homies from off-the-path places who are well-versed in public transportation options always helps so from Skopje I hopped on a bus straight to Resen which is the largest and most connected town just 14 kilometers away to finally meet this relatively uncharted territory of southern Macedonia.
Another authentic Macedonian experience available nearby for those with a penchant for pieces of Yugoslav history and urban exploration is the abandoned Hotel Europa just down the road from Lakeview Resort. There have been rumors for years of a flashy investor moving in and taking over what was one of the best holiday resorts during Tito times which would change everything, but for now it just sits empty waiting to creep out even the most avid urbexer looking for some ruins with a view.
Sitting just behind Oteševo and on the way to Ohrid is spectacular Galičica National Park which is worth a hike, bike, or at the very least a drive through with its incredible views of Lake Ohrid and/or Lake Prespa depending on where you stop. The road is quite windy but a wonderful place to take in the views while hanging out of a minivan sunroof is there ever was one.
Happy to have discovered this wonderful escape in my Balkan backyard and am pretty sure a lot of other people out there who prefer peaceful over popular might find the lake paradise they were looking for in Prespa rather than in Ohrid. While both are amazing in their own right, Prespa offers more simplicity and should be considered by anyone looking to wander slightly off-the-path during their time in Macedonia.