Bay of Bones Ohrid – How to Visit the Museum on Water

Bay of Bones Ohrid

The Bay of Bones Ohrid (also known as the Museum on Water) is the recreation of a bronze age settlement on Lake Ohrid in Macedonia. Here you’ll find an ancient village on stilts above the crystal clear waters of the lake, which is also an important underwater archaeological site.

I visited this enchanting place on a boat trip from Ohrid to Sveti Naum while I was staying in Macedonia for an extended period in 2022. It is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen and is reminiscent of the houses on stilts you see in places like Mauritius or Vietnam.

The Bay of Bones Museum is surrounded by mountains and lush forest a few metres out on the turquoise waters of the lake and really has to be seen to be believed (although hopefully, my photos do it some justice).

Museum on Water

About the Bay of Bones Ohrid

In 1997 underwater excavations began in the Gradiste region of Macedonia. At a depth of between three and five metres Archaeologists uncovered the remains of up to 6,000 wooden piles in the lakebed. Other discoveries included stone tools, fishing implements, ceramic vessels and animal bones.

These finds have been dated to the end of the bronze age and the beginning of the iron age, so from around 1200 to 700BC. Surveys of the site taken between 1997 and 2005 concluded that the dwellings covered an area of 8,500 square metres.

These lake dwellings, which were located about ten metres from the shore on a raised platform, were inhabited by the Bryges, an ancient Macedonian tribe.

Things to See

Bay of Bones Ohrid
Bay of Bones Ohrid
Bronze Age Village
Bronze Age Village on the Water

See the Artefacts in the Museum

Inside the museum, you can see parts of the original stilts (preserved in water) as well as other items excavated such as iron and bronze age ceramic pots, ceremonial items and more. The museum occupies just one small room but is worth exploring the interesting finds on display.

Walk around the Village

Visitors are free to wander around the reconstructed village on the water and go inside the pile dwellings. As you walk around the site you’ll see the crystal clear water below you through small cracks in the floorboards.

The walkway around the village offers incredible views of the lake and surrounding mountainous countryside. In autumn the site is particularly impressive as the trees are aflame with colour.

Go Scuba Diving

Scuba Divers at the Bay of Bones
Scuba Divers at the Bay of Bones

It may be surprising that you can go scuba diving in a landlocked country! However, there is a diving and underwater archaeology centre at the museum where you can don scuba gear and discover the site beneath the lake.

Dives are run by the Amfora Dive Company and cost €40.00 per person for the whole day. You can book on their website.

Picnic on the lakeshore

This part of the lake is surrounded b gorgeous mountain countryside and there are lots of lakeside picnic benches around the museum. Buy some supplies in Ohrid and take a picnic with you. The weather is warm enough for sitting outside from April right up to November.

Go Swimming

There is a beach about 400 metres from the museum. As with most of the beaches around the lake it is rocky, however the water is exceptionally clear and perfect for a dip.

Go Hiking

There are plenty of places around this part of the lake to go hiking from Gradishte Forest to the mountains. There is a trail that leads from the museum to Gradishte, and if you keep going you will get to Orevche beach.

Ancient Houses on the Lake
Ancient Houses on the Lake

Facilities at the Museum on Water

  • Coffee Bar
  • Toilets
  • Picnic Benches
  • Tourist Information

When is the Best Time to Visit the Bay of Bones Ohrid

If you want to dive and swim, the summer months are best. Autumn is also a great time as it’s still warm (daytime temperatures well above 20 degrees Celcius), there are fewer tourists, and the autumnal colours around the lake are gorgeous.

Neolithic Roundhouse
Neolithic Roundhouse

How to get to the Bay of Bones Macedonia

The Bay of Bones is located on the shores of Lake Ohrid in the Gradihste region, close to the village of Peshtani. There are four ways to get to the Bay of Bones; bus, boat, taxi or tour.

Bus: there are a few daily buses from Ohrid to Sveti Naum that stop at the Bay of Bones. The journey from Ohrid should take under an hour, but you may be waiting a while for a bus to return the other way.

As of October 2022 there is no clear timetable and I waited for an hour at the bus stop before giving up and taking a boat tour the following day.

Boat: Some of the large boats that leave Ohrid for Sveti Naum at 10:00 am each day make a stop at the museum. Check with the ticket seller at the wharf. Smaller boats offering tours to Sveti Naum usually include the Bay of Bones, but it’s just a 30-minute stop which I felt was a little short.

I paid 1500 MKD (€25.00) for a small boat tour (8 people) which included a 30-minute stop at the Bay of Bones as well as two hours at Sveti Naum and a couple of other stops at churches and villages along the route.

Reaching the settlement by boat is also in my opinion the best way to get your first glimpse of this impressive sight.

Taxi: you can pay a taxi driver to take you to the Museum on Water plus waiting time and return. Expect to pay around €50.00.

See the location on Google maps.

Wooden Stilts
Wooden Stilts

Nearby Attractions

Sveti Naum -a beautiful monastery set on a hilltop overlooking the lake.

Black Drim’s Spring – the freshwater spring that feeds Lake Ohrid.

Ohrid – the largest town on the lake with lots of beachfront restaurants, ancient churches and a large fortress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bay of Bones?

The Bay of Bones is an underwater archaeological site and recreated bronze age village. The village is built on stilts above Lake Ohrid and has been reproduced according to archaeological discoveries.

How Old is Bay of Bones Ohrid?

The site is between 2,300 and 2,800 years old. The archaeological discoveries, including the wooden pillars, have been dated to the late bronze and early iron age (between 12,00 BC and 700BC).

How Much are tickets to the Bay of Bones Museum?

Tickets to the Bay of Bones Museum and village cost 150 MKD (€2.40). Only cash in Macedonian Dinars is accepted.

How Long Should I spend at the Museum?

As the site is not large, an hour is plenty of time to see the Bay of Bones Museum and enjoy the surrounding scenery. There are picnic benches in a pleasant park next to the lake if you want to spend longer.

Conclusion

The Bay of Bones Ohrid was one of the absolute highlights of my stay in Macedonia and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Whether you are interested in history and archaeology or not, the beautiful setting on the lake makes it one of the most photogenic and scenic spots in the whole country.



Dunhuang, Gobi Desert, China

About the author:

Steve Rohan is a writer from Essex, England. He has travelled to over 60 countries, lived in China and Hong Kong, and is now living the digital nomad life on the road.

Steve prefers “slow travel” and has covered much of Europe and Asia by train, bus and boat.

Where I am now: Turkey 🇹🇷

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