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.

Panorama from Otesevo on Lake Prespa, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

Peace and quiet on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

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.

While there are a couple more “developed” spots around the Macedonian shores of Lake Prespa, I ended up in the tiny village of Oteševo which has a permanent population of around two people, four dogs, and two cats these days (contrary to Wikipedia’s claim that it is abandoned) at a lil’ rustic, Yugoslav-era hideaway called Lakeview Resort. Purchased in 2012 by a Macedonian-American family who wanted to move back and invest in their birthplace, you can’t get more heart and hospitality than this nor help admire their very brave endeavor as trying to run a respectable business in the Balkans is no walk in the park.
Lakeview Resort on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy
In comparison to Lake Ohrid, Macedonia’s Prom Queen who is used to getting all of the attention, Lake Prespa is the low-maintenance, quiet beauty in the back of the class. Equally as attractive when you take a closer look, but more natural and less jaded from popularity. Prespa is where you go for uninterrupted peace and a more authentic Macedonia experience.
Canoes on Lake Prespa, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

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.

Driving up to the abandoned Hotel Europa on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

Entrance to the abandoned Hotel Europa on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

Ruins of one of the most popular lake resorts during Tito times on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

View towards Prespa National Park from abandoned Hotel Europa on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

The ultimate urbex experience with a view on Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

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.

St George lookout point in Galichica National Park, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

View of Lake Ohrid from St George in Galichica National Park, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

Spring is a lovely time to visit when peaks are still capped with snow and wildflowers in full bloom, though in summer is when you can utilize Prespa’s full potential. In addition to serenity and a superb urbex site, there is also an island (Golem Grad) you can explore by boat and for the bird watchers/nature lovers quite an impressive showing of flora and fauna which is why in 2014 it became a part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Wildflowers and snow capped mountains at Lake Prespa in Otesevo, Macedonia © The Blonde Gypsy

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.