9 Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe [that aren’t Grada or Bled or Camo]

9 Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe [that aren’t Grada or Bled or Camo]

Ever seen a list of the most visited destinations in the world? Most of them in the top 10 are in Europe. Yep, Europe is one of the most touristy continents. Why do I even mention it? Read on.

When a destination becomes even mildly famous in Europe, it kind of turns into Disneyland. It is not just with destinations that have been famous for decades – such as Amsterdam, Paris or Prague – but also newly famous destinations thanks to the power of Instagram such as Bucharest.

Same happened with the most famous lakes in Europe too. Yes, I’m talking about the ever famous Lake Grada of Italy, Lake Bled of Slovenia and Lake Camo of Italy again. Yes, they are definitely lovely but it is hard to enjoy the raw natural beauty of these lakes when the area all around is so developed and busy.

If you’re anything like me, then you seek peace and raw natural beauty of a lake destination instead of the hustle bustle of an overly developed town. Moreover, you would want to see the lake without too many boats in or around it.

For me, a stunning lake is the one that’s in the wilderness – or even better mountains. It is not surrounded by developed towns but you can only see empty areas if you sit next to the water. An absence of commercial boats is definitely an added advantage because it adds to the peace element. Calm and clear water so that you can see inside. Yes, that’s what it takes for a lake to be truly stunning.

Maybe I sound like a nature snob, but the thing is exploring natural landscapes is our thing. San and I are living in Germany and we often travel within the Europe on our campervan. We avoid big cities and instead head to National Parks. And guess what, some of the most beautiful lakes in Europe are found in National Parks. Yes, we have seem many European lakes and we’d like to tell you about the most beautiful ones.

The easiest way to reach most of these lakes is by car. If you live in Europe, then you can drive your own car to these destination. Alternatively, you can fly to the nearby destination and rent a car. Traveling by car is usually cheaper and more convenient in Europe.

Check Car Rental Prices in Europe

Click the above button to see a comparison of car or van rental prices for your preferred destination from many different providers.

Europe’s Most beautiful Lakes

1) Lake Bohinj, Slovenia (Triglav National Park)

The spectacular Bohinjsko jezero - Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

The spectacular Bohinjsko jezero – Lake Bohinj in Slovenia

Slovenian’s Lake Bled gets all the attention, but Lake Bohinj is the one that will truly take your breath away. This lake has all it takes to be on top of our list. Bohinj is the highlight of Triglav National Park so you can rest assured that the natural beauty of the area around the lake is preserved. 

So what makes Lake Bohinj so special? The water is insanely clear, it is away from the main towns and is surrounded by big mountains.  Mount Triglav is the highest peak of the Julien Alps. Yep, so Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Alps. Bonus point – Lake Bohinj has some ridiculously stunning beaches.  

Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches - Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

Mountains, clear lake and pretty beaches – Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

You can not just sit on the side of Lake Bohinj on one of its beaches and not get stunned by the jaw dropping beauty of the mountains around it. They are so high! I wasn’t even able to capture the complete height of the mountains even with a wide angle camera except only at one spot where I walked way far back.

One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj - Bohinjsko Jezero - Slovenia

One of the many beaches along Lake Bohinj – Bohinjsko Jezero – Slovenia

There are definitely many stunning lakes around the world but not many that you can camp right next to. Yes, you can actually put up your tent or park your camper van next to the lake in  Camp Zlatorog Bohinj. For all these reasons, Lake Bohinj is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.

For more information, read my post about Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj.

2) Black Lake, Montenegro (Durmitor National Park)

Black Lake - Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Black Lake – Durmitor National Park near Žabljak, Montenegro

Many visit Montenegro for its beaches but in our experience this country’s mountains is so much better. Montenegro’s Durmitor Mountain range within the Dinaric Alps is a destination that will wow you over.

Within the Dinaric Alps, there’s a protected area called Durmitor National Park which has many glacier lakes. One of the most famous glacier lakes here is called Crno jezero (the Black Lake) near Zabljak, which should actually be called the Blue Lake. The water is extremely clear and is blue-green in color. 

Crno jezero or Black Lake entry area, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Crno jezero or Black Lake entry area, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

Black Lake is actually a set of twin lakes that is joined by strait. There are trees and mountains around most of the lake so the resulting landscape is super stunning. There is also a walking path around the twin lakes with many benches. You can walk around both the lakes in 1,5 hours if you make a few resting stops.

You can’t swim in the Black Lake or Camp right next to it. For more information on Black Lake, read my post about Durmitor National Park.

3) Lake Zaovine, Serbia (Tara National Park) 

I was 4 to 5 months pregnant when San and I went to Serbia

Swimming in Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Serbia

A lot of the lakes in this list are surrounded by high mountains and pine trees but Serbia’s Lake Zaovine is a bit different. Yes, there are mountains but they aren’t as high on all the sides and we definitely did not see pine trees. As a result, there is a high visibility of the landscape around Lake Zaovine. 

Lake Zaovine is in Serbia’s Tara National Park, which is literally on the border of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is situated in Tara National Park which is known for its mind-blowing viewpoints. 

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Talking about touristy, this place definitely isn’t. It is perhaps the least touristy destinations that are mentioned on this list. As a result, you can have the gorgeousness of this lake to yourself like we did. You can swim in it, spend a few hours around it, click endless photos without bothering about other tourists. For us, Zaovine is one of the best lakes in Europe for swimming.

For more information about Lake Zaovine, read my post about Tara National Park, Serbia.

4) Lago di Tovel, Italy

Lago di Tovel in Trentino, Italy

Lago di Tovel in Trentino, Italy

Yes, Italy’s lakes are super famous and touristy, but Lago di Tovel isn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t gorgeous. It has the bluest water and was semi frozen when we visited in spring. It is surrounded by snowy mountains and has everything you imagine in a typical alpine lake. The best part, you can usually see a reflection of the snowy mountains on the surface. 

Lake Tovel is in Italy’s Trentino region which is known for the Dolomites. As with most of the lakes on this list, it is in a protected area – Adamello-Brenta nature park. As per the legends, this lake was once red in color. Spooky!

Lago do Tovel - the stunning lake in Val di Non, Trentino - Italy

Lago do Tovel – the stunning lake in Val di Non, Trentino – Italy

It is possible to walk al around Lago di Tovel in 1.5 – 2 hours to discovered other scenic spots. We couldn’t because I was pregnant when we visited and I wasn’t in a mood for so much exercise. The lake is triangular in shape. No, you can not swim in Lake Tovel.

In order to get to Lago di Tovel, you need to visit Italy’s Trentino region. Stay in Val di Non to enjoy its romantic beauty and drive to Lago di Tovel. 

For more information about Lake Tovel, read my post – Lago di Tovel, Italy or read about Val di Non.

5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia (Plitvice Lakes National Park)

Crystal Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

How can I write a post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe and not mention the Plitvice Lakes? It is a National Park in Croatia with 16 lakes that are formed on different levels that are interconnected. They are on different levels and as a result there are waterfalls and cascades. These lakes are stunning with insanely clear water.  This area is truly a natural wonderland.

The 16 lakes of the Plitvice Lakes complex are divided in two segments – the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. Some of the lakes are really big but in my experience the smaller lakes were better than the bigger ones because you could really see the clarity. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park has 7 hiking routes that vary in length. Because of the size of the national park, not all trails cover all the lakes but just 1 of them does. That’s the hiking route we took but it took us all day and we ended up walking for 15-20 kilometers in total. You can also pick one of the smaller trails. I mention all of the Plitvice Lakes’ hiking routes in detail in my post. Be sure to read it before you go. 

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Maybe you were only looking for Europe’s most beautiful lakes but for me it is an added bonus when you get to enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls too. Yes, you will find a lot of them in this national park.

Sadly you can not swim in the Plitvice Lakes but it is really a good thing because that’s how the water is so clean and the biodiversity is truly protected. These lakes collectively are some of the cleanest lakes in Europe. The water is so clean that you can actually see the bottom of the smaller lakes.

Perhaps the Plitvice Lakes are the most touristy lakes on this list and the crowd peaks in the months of August and July. But you can visit them in other months and that will help you avoid crowds.

For more information, read my post about the Plitvice Lakes where I also mention how to avoid crowds.

6) Seealpsee, Switzerland

Recommended by Continent Hop

Seealpsee Switzerland - Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe

Seealpsee Switzerland – Most Beautiful Lakes in Europe

Switzerland’s Seealpsee that’s sat at an altitude of 1141 meters above sea level, is one of the prettiest lakes in Europe. The lake is located amongst the Appenzell Alps in Switzerland and reflects the nearby surroundings like a glass mirror.

To add to the magic, this alpine lake doesn’t get a lot of visitors. The only ones to be found here are ones that head off on the Wasserauen -Seealpsee hike.

You could take a picnic here and in summer possibly go for a boat ride; however, the postcard-perfect location is best enjoyed by taking a walk around it and admiring the dense trees and the glass reflections in the lake while the cows lazily graze around. On some days, the clouds almost descend on the lake, making it look unbelievably stunning.

There’s numerous options for stay here if you’d rather not spend just a single day at the lake.

 

7) Xhema’s Lake, Valbonë, Albania

Valbona Lake in Albania - Travel the Balkans - by Robert Figgen

Xhema’s Lake in Valbona, Albania – Travel the Balkans – by Robert Figgen

Albania’s Valbonë River and the Albanian Alps create a stunning natural landscape in Valbonë Valley National Park. The most famous lake in national park is Shkodër (Lake Skadar) and that’s massive. But there is a smaller lake in Valbonë village called Xhema’s Lake which is stunning. 

It is easy to reach Xhema’s Lake from Valbona village. You will see the signboards in the village itself and from there it is a 30 minute walk. The lake is super clear and blue. The water is icy cold. It is surrounded by limestone cliffs that adds to a strange rugged beauty to this spot.

Please keep in mind that Xhema’s Lake dries up in late summer heat and it is a better idea to see it in spring or early summer. The above picture was clicked in late June. The locals say that the lake is at it’s best in spring because that’s when the winter ice freshly melts and as a result the water is clear blue.

Here’s more information about Valbona Valley National Park.

 

8) Eibsee, Bavaria, Germany

Recommended by Happy to Wander

Eibsee =, Bavaria, Germany by Happy to Wander

Eibsee, Bavaria, Germany by Happy to Wander

When it comes to lakes, Germany doesn’t have a shortage of them and some of the best ones are in Bavaria. While Bavaria’s Königssee is definitely a more famous one, we’d like to mention Eibsee on this list, which is smaller.

Eibsee is special because not only it has crystal clear water but you can also see the Zugspitze (the highest mountain peak in Germany). It is said to be one of the purest and most beautiful lakes in Bavarian Alps.

You can visit Eibsee in all the seasons, each has something unique to offer. This lovely alpine lake freezes in winter and the water starts melting in spring. Summer is a very good time to visit with a family because the weather is warm. Bonus: you can swim in Eibsee in summer. Autumn can be a really interesting time to visit because of the contrast of warm red leaves against the cold blue water. 

Autumn Foliage around Eibsee, Germany

Autumn Foliage around Eibsee, Germany [Pixabay]

The landscape around Eibsee is rocky and you should take some time out to walk around the lake. You can reach Eibsee from Munich. We suggest you read Bayern Ticket Guide by Germany’s travel specialist – Happy to Wander.

 

9) Lago di Braies, Italy

Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies in north Italy

Lago di Braies or The Pragser Wildsee, or Lake Prags, Lake Braies in North Italy

Did we save the best for the last? Maybe. Yes, it is the second one from Italy on our list and totally deserves to be here because Lago di Braies is one of most beautiful lakes in the Alps. It is also called the Pragser Wildsee.  

Lago di Braies is often called the “pearl among the Dolomite lakes”. As with most of the alpine lakes on this list, you can enjoy a surreal landscape of mountains too.

Lago di Braies suddenly became extremely famous because of Instagram. This resulted in a massive spike of visitors and traffic jams. Thankfully there is now a restriction on the number of visitors from 10 am to 3 pm. If you arrive by car, you can only visit if you get a parking place in one of the valley car parks in Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. Another way of visiting would be by booking a bus ticket to the lake in advance from Dobbiaco or Monguelfo. Another option would be to hike from Ferrara to the lake.

During your visit to Lago di Braies, you can take some time out to walk around the lake. The walking path is 4 kms and this way you can get to enjoy the surreal beauty of this lake from different perspectives.

Did something catch your eye? Let us know which one of the above mentioned European lakes you have visited already or are planning on visiting next. Comment and let us know.

Drvengrad – A {Little} Wooden Village in Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad – A {Little} Wooden Village in Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad – Serbia’s famous wooden village that we happened to visit by accident.

Back in June 2018, San and I had to pick a travel destination and it was tied between two.

Should we go to Serbia or Greece?

We picked Serbia. Why? Well, because we had not heard any travel stories about this country. We have a lot of traveler friends but hardly anyone of them had visited Serbia. For us, it was a country of mysteries!

The select few that had visited Serbia, mentioned Belgrade and Novi Sad. One also mentioned “Serbia’s wooden village” but no one ever mentioned the name of this wooden Village. Neither did we have any idea and it wasn’t even a part of our plan.

We reached Mokra Gora at the beginning of our Balkans road trip where our love affair with this country began. We spent our time here gazing at the mountainous landscape and enjoying the Sargan steam train ride.

San inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

San inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

At the end of our train journey in Mokra Gora, we noticed a little area with wooden houses and decided to visit it. To our surprise, it was an entire village that was entirely wooden, even the lamp post. Yep, this is Drvengrad, a.k.a. Küstendorf, the famous wooden village of Serbia.

Introducing Drvengrad – the wooden village near Mokra Gora

Mokra Gora in Serbia is an idyllic mountain destination and the nearby Drvengrad is truly magical. If you like hills and elevated viewpoints, you’re going to love both these places. The best about Drvengrad is that it is surrounded by the unbelievable landscape that connects Mount Tara and Mount Zlatibor.

The church inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

The church inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

I particularly enjoyed the view of this tiny church in an elevated part of Drvengrad. The clouds behind the church make it appear as if it is floating in the air. So holy and light. (hehe) On a serious note, this St. Sava Church is perhaps the loveliest Church that I have ever seen.

A vintage car in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

A vintage car in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

The name Drvengrad means “timber town” in Serbian Cyrillic. It has so many names! It is also called Küstendorf (where Dorf means village in German), Mecavnik and also Kusturica.

Why was Drvengrad Built?

Mokra Gora wooden village, Serbia

Mokra Gora wooden village, Serbia

A little research told us that Drvengrad was initially built for a movie Life is a Miracle, by Emir Kusturica. After the movie was shot, the village remained here. It is now a (not so touristy) destination.

You will be interested to know that Drvengrad isn’t the only village that was created for an Emir Kusturica movie, there’s the stone town called Andrićgrad in Visegrad, which is a lovely riverside town in the nearby Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was featured in the “The River on the Drina” book and is just 27 KMs away and is totally worth a visit.  

Küstendorf Film and Music Festival

Drvengrad wooden village, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad wooden village, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad was initially built for a film but in 2008 it hosted the Küstendorf Film and Music Festival. It is an annual film festival that was even visited by Johnny Depp in 2010!

Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Our visit to Drvengrad was not during the music festival (thank God) because the prices hike up almost 10 times. Even though Johnny Depp visited this place, it is STILL offbeat. Look at our pictures, there are just a couple of people around.

How to reach Drvengrad

Mokra Gora train station, Serbia

Mokra Gora train station, Serbia

You can reach Drvengrad from Mokra Gora train station, it is a short walk from there.

What to See in Drvengrad

Inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Walk around and you will cover the entire village in 15 – 20 minutes. If you’re here with your family, they will love exploring Drvengrad with you.

A playground in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

A playground in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

See the wooden playground, eat in the wooden restaurant, spend time in Ivo Andrić Library, see the Stanley Kubrick Cinema and enjoy the artwork.

Inside a Restaurant in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, SerbiaYou can get a room in the nearby Mokra Gora or Drvengrad itself. Yes, you can rent a wooden room here and enjoy Drvengrad’s swimming pool, sauna and the gym.

Drvengrad Hotel Information

We stayed in two different places in Mokra Gora – Apartment Mateja and Apartment Matogi. They are not just rooms but cottages with kitchen, living room apart from the en suite bedroom. Apartment Matogi is closer to Mokra Gora train station, so pretty close to Drvengrad. Apartment Mateja is a little further away and it makes sense to book this place if you have your own car. 

If you want to stay inside Drvengrad, then check out Mecavnik Resort. It is super fancy and has its own spa, swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, fitness centre, 

Our Final Thoughts about Drvengrad

Drvengrad is arty and lovely but in noway as amazing as the nearby destinations – Mokra Gora and Tara National Park. Don’t just drive all the way to Mokra Gora and leave just after seeing Drvengrad as many others do. Go ride the Sargan steam train if you have time. Drive to Tara National Park and check out the scenic viewpoints. Spend time in Zlatibor mountains.

Deliblato Sands, Serbia – the Forgotten Nature Reserve & Europe’s Last Desert

Deliblato Sands, Serbia – the Forgotten Nature Reserve & Europe’s Last Desert

Deliblato Sands, Serbia – a.k.a. Deliblatska Peščara – the largest sandy terrain in Europe.

While observing photographs of Serbia most commonly circulating the Internet, you might come to the conclusion that this country is nothing but the towering mountains [Tara National Park] covered in lush forests of evergreen trees that spread as far as the eye can see. Although you would not be totally wrong to assume so, the truth about this Balkans country is that it has the most varied landscapes imaginable.

Among these, in the northern province of Vojvodina, there’s even a veritable desert claiming more than a small chunk of territory. It’s known as Deliblato Sands (or Deliblatska Peščara as the locals call it) and it tells the story of its own.

Introducing Deliblato Sands, the European Sahara

As the title suggests, the sheer magnitude and composition of Deliblato Sands have earned it a most magnificent title of ‘European Sahara’. Otherwise offbeat, Deliblatska Peščara enjoyed a little attention because of the Yugoslav movie – “Who’s Singin’ Other There?“. 

Deliblato Sands is the single largest sand desert in entire Europe, spanning an incredible area of 300 square kilometers. Taking on the form of an ellipse, the ‘dunes’ of this unique desert range from 70 to 200 meters in height. What’s so unique about it is the incredible abundance of both animal and plant life that has continuously evolved and multiplied since prehistoric ages. Surrounding this massive field of sand is soil that’s as fertile as it gets, partially in thanks to the mighty Danube flowing past the desert’s southeastern end on its epic journey to the Black Sea.

The Trees in Deliblato Sands, Serbia

The Trees in Deliblato Sands, Serbia

It might come off as curious, even mystical, how a desert came to be in what’s well-known as Serbia’s most fertile region. The plains of Vojvodina are almost entirely covered in farms, except for this bad apple. The main culprit of this unusual relief arrangement is, as usual, the wind. Powerful winds blowing from the east have layered sand over a breathtakingly long period of time, creating the landscape that so awkwardly sits among farms, forests, and areas otherwise blessed with high levels of precipitation.

A lesson in geography’s all well and good, but what does all of this mean for potential visitors?

The Sights in Deliblato Sands, Serbia

Diverse Flora + Blooming Orchids in Spring

There are more than 900 species of plants in the area, some of them, such as Banat peony, even endemic to this part of the world. Having 20 different kinds of orchids might as well be a world record for a desert! All of these life forms have rendered Deliblato a special nature reserve, bound to enrich the lives of those who visit it.

The Stunning Birds of Deliblato Sands

If you’re an avid birdwatcher, you won’t be leaving Deliblato anytime soon. Imperial eagles and Banat falcons are just some of the birds that thrive in the region. Their land cousins include gerbils, mole rats, skunks and plenty of other creatures often found in the steppes.

Animals in Deliblato Sands

Besides taking in all the beauty of a forgotten desert complimented by the continental climate, observing the multitude of inhabitants calling Delibato Sands their home is another thing you can do.

Considering the abundance of large mammals such as deer, wild boars and even some last vestiges of wolves in Serbia, you can probably guess at what is yet another popular pastime in the desert. Yes, hunters come from all over the world to Deliblato Sands to partake in their ‘sport’, an activity that is often frowned upon, but existent none the less.

The Stunning Geology

Deliblato Hills - Deliblato Sands, Serbia

Deliblato Hills – Deliblato Sands, Serbia

It doesn’t matter what walk of life you yourself might be coming from, Deliblato Sands won’t disappoint you. This lovely nature reserve has ellipsoid shaped sand masses that are 15 KMs in length. This entire desert originated from the Panonian Sea and was created by winds that brought the sand here.

The aforementioned abundance of life is not just interesting to those of more scientific persuasions. While geographers, geologists, and biologists are going to have their hands full with lessons that this desert has to teach, a visitor less versed in these sciences is going to be equally satisfied.

The unusual circumstances of the desert’s creation and its location resulted in a place so beautiful and charming, it’s impossible to resist. What most visitors notice at first is that it seems as if the desert is locked in a constant struggle with life coming out of its every spore. You simply don’t see various trees, flowers, and birds flourishing in Sahara!

Getting to Deliblato Sands

Deliblato Sands are about a hundred kilometers from the capital city, Belgrade. You can catch a bus from Belgrade to Bela Crkva, which is a town close to the border with Romania, and right next to the desert. If you’re driving, take the Pančevo-Kovin-Bela Crkva road and you’ll be there in no time.

Visiting Deliblato Sands means partaking in ecotourism of the best kind. You’ll see one of the last real wilderness areas and the oldest European desert all in one go.

 

Tara National Park – Travel Guide for Visiting the Lungs of Serbia

Tara National Park – Travel Guide for Visiting the Lungs of Serbia

Mountains, deep gorges, clear lakes, and spectacular viewpoints – this is Tara National Park

An unexpected natural paradise, Tara National Park was the highlight of our Balkans Road Trip. It was our second stop in Serbia after the nearby village, Mokra Gora. With scarce online information and just a handful of pictures on Instagram about Tara National Park, we didn’t know what to expect here. We were stunned by the remote natural beauty and variety of sights that we encountered here.

Tara National Park is in the west of Serbia and touches the border of Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is the location of the Tara Mountain of the Dinarides, the internal Dinaric Alps. The River Drina that originates in Montenegro creates breathtaking gorges here.

River Drina viewpoint in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

River Drina viewpoint in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

The best part about Tara National park is that it is heavily forested. In fact, 83.5% of the area in Tara is forested and for this reason, it is also known as the lungs of Serbia. With many mountains, hiking trails, rivers, meadows, lakes, waterfalls and forest – there is a lot to see in Tara National Park.

If you enjoy hiking, then you’d be happy to know that Tara National park has many trails. The most popular hiking trail is a 2-day hike that starts at Mitrovac, then goes to Predov, Krst and again back to Mitrovac. If you get a chance, then spend a week up in the mountains and explore the nature trails. You can also rent a cabin and stay inside.

Tara National Park is heavily forested and is called the Lungs of Serbia

Tara National Park is heavily forested and is called the Lungs of Serbia

The best way to experience this natural paradise is by renting a car and driving around – but literally, every signboard is in Cyrillic. I’d recommend you pick up the park brochures from the tourist office and have them mark important landmarks for you on the map. That’s what we did after being lost for a few hours because even Google Maps showed us the directions in Cyrillic.

Most of the signboards are in Cyrillic in Tara National Park in Serbia

Most of the signboards are in Cyrillic in Tara National Park in Serbia

This park is massive in size. You will see a few villages with traditional houses inside the Tara National Park. Koziji rid on Crni vrh at 1591 meters about the sea level is the highest point here. This post will guide you so that you can figure out what to see there and how

What to see in Tara National Park

Zaovine Lake

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Zaovine Lake is on the border of Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. The Zaovine village is next to it and one can even rent a place to stay here.

Zaovine Lake is massive and we drove around it for a while as we tried to figure out how to get close to it. It took us a while, but we eventually figured out a way to walk to the edge of this lake. We saw a few locals swimming inside and one even had a little boat. That’s all the encouragement we needed before jumping inside the blue water.

Swimming in Zaovine Lake, Tara National Park, Serbia

Swimming in Zaovine Lake, Tara National Park, Serbia

Swimming in Zaovine lake was the best thing that we did in Tara National Park. It was a hot summer day and the water helped us cool down. We also saw one boat here and some people fishing. 

Swimming in Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Swimming in Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Banjska Stena Viewpoint

Banjska Stena is the most visited spot in Tara National Park and there’s a reason for it. It is breathtaking and is just 6 KMs away from Mitrovac so is easy to reach.

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

At 1065 meters above the sea level, Banjska Stena is a panoramic viewpoint from where you can see the canyon of Drina River, Perucac Lake, and steep cliffs. You can also see the beginning of the nearby Bosnia.

In order to reach Banjsta Stena, you have to first arrive at Mitrovac. From here, you can drive straight for 2 KMs and you will see signboards for Banjska Stena. Thankfully here the signboards were in English. You can either take your car very close to the top or just hike to the top. The hike will take you around 1.5 hours to reach up.

Banjska Stena Viewpoint in Tara National Park, Serbia

Banjska Stena Viewpoint in Tara National Park, Serbia

When you reach the top, you will see an area to sit with a few wooden benches. We had heard that this spot is usually crowded but San and I were alone when we went. We were here just before the sunset and loved the tranquil spectacle of nature.

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park, Serbia

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park, Serbia

We could see the bend of the river Drina in the middle of the mountains and the steep canyon. It looked even better as the color changed when the sun began to set.

Suggested: Durmitor National Park, Montenegro – Tara River Canyon + Black Lake 

There are many other viewpoints in Tara National Park and the tourist board mentions 4 other panoramic viewpoints – Crnjeskovo, Osluša, Vidikovac Sjenič and Bilješka Stena. We didn’t go to the other 4 but if you go, please show us your photos!

Carpet Meadow

San on the path to Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

San on the path to Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

Carpet Meadow is not just a place to see, but an experience that’s unique to Tara National park. It is a part of the park’s natural reserve Red Creek and is not far from Banjska Stena.

Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

This meadow is airy and it gives a feeling of walking on a soft carpet because the feet slightly sink in. It literally just breathes under the feet as you walk on it. It happens so because of water preserved under the first layer of soil and many peat layers.

Info about Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

Info about Carpet Meadow, Tara National Park, Serbia

Do not disturb the Carpet Meadow by digging the ground or poking a stick inside. It took years to reach its current state. It is easy to reach Carpet Meadow from Mitrovac. It is at the entry of Nature Reserve Red Creek and is an educational trail.

Suggested: Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia & Herzegovina – Spectacular Natural Paradise 

Perućac Lake

Perućac lake and Dam in Tara National Park, Serbia

Perućac lake and Dam in Tara National Park, Serbia

There is a dam that’s created on Drina River where it bends and the result is Perućac lake. You can see this river from the famous Banjska Stena viewpoint. However, in this point, I’m talking about another viewpoint where you can see the Perućac lake on one side and Drina curving like a snake on the other.

Perucac lake in Tara National Park, Serbia

Perućac lake in Tara National Park, Serbia

This spot on the picture is an unmarked viewpoint on the road that goes towards Mitrovac from the river Vrelo. The road here was broader than the normal, so it was easy to stop here to admire the view.

Rača monastery and Hiking Trail

Rača monastery is 7KMs away from Bajina Bašta town in Tara National Park. This medieval monastery was built in 1282. There is a 2KMs long hiking trail that starts from here, it is called Raca hiking trail.

Raca hiking trail goes up Raca river and ends at Ladevac thermal springs and Racanska Sljivovica preserve. 

Suggested: Drvengrad – a Wooden Ethno Village in Serbia near Mokra Gora 

Lonely House on River Drina

Tara National Park's Lonely House on River Drina near Bajina Basta, Serbia

Tara National Park’s Lonely House on River Drina near Bajina Basta, Serbia

The Lonely House on river Drina is one of the most photographed spot in Tara National Park. It is near Bajina Basta and is also called the Drina house. It gained popularity after it was featured on the National Geographic in 2012 as the photo of the month. There is a restaurant that overlooks the Drina River House where you can enjoy a meal. 

This house was once a spot where a few boys took a rest from their swim. They enjoyed the spot so much that they built a house here the year after. 

You can book a tour of Western Serbia that starts from Belgrade and includes Mokra Gora and the Drina River house. Click here for more information about this tour.

River Vrelo – the Shortest River

River Vrelo - the Shortest river - Tara National Park, Serbia

River Vrelo – the Shortest river – Tara National Park, Serbia

The Vrelo is called “the shortest river”, I’m not sure if it is the shortest in Serbia or the world. It certainly did not look like a river to us, but more like a stream. Rover Vrelo’s length is only 365 meters because of which, it is also called Godina (the Year).

Information about Vrelo River, Serbia

Information about Vrelo River, Serbia

There is a lovely waterfall at the end of this river that goes into the Drina river. Sadly the natural beauty of this 26 feet high waterfall has been spoiled by a restaurant that’s on top. It is called Restoran Vrelo and it is literally on top of the waterfall.

You can experience Tara National Park in many ways – driving, cycling, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and even canyoning. Tara National Park has 25 different hiking trails as per their website. These hiking trails cover 220 KMs in total. You need to visit one of the tourist information offices in Mitrovac or Bajina Bašta to pick up a hiking map. The E7, European long distance path for hiking also goes through the park.

Entrance Fee for Tara National Park

San on top of a cliff in Tara National Park, Serbia

San on top of a cliff in Tara National Park, Serbia

We did not see even a single spot which could have been the official entrance. We never had to pay anything anywhere, except when we drove from Tara National Park to Mokra Gora and then to Bosnia border. At that moment we paid a small fee that was less than 1 euro per person.

How to Reach Tara National Park

Us in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Us in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

If you’re driving to Tara National Park by car from Belgrade, the journey will take you 3 – 4 hours, depending on the traffic. You will have to cross Uzice, Zlatibor and then you can stay in the nearby Mokra Gora for a night or two. You can also reach Tara National Park from Montenegro or Visegrad in Bosnia & Herzegovina very easily. This park is literally on the border.

If you’re not renting a car, then you can also get on the train that goes from Belgrade to Bar. The nearest station to Tara National Park is Braneško Polje. Unless you’re very adventurous, don’t mind getting lost and have a lot of days on your hand – I’d recommend a rental car. Renting a car in Serbia isn’t expensive. You can find the car rental costs here for your needs. If you’re thinking of doing this trip on your camper van, then be sure to read our guide to exploring Europe on a van.

Don’t make the same mistake that we made if you’re driving there. Instead of looking for Tara National Park on Google Maps, look for Bajina Bašta town or Mitrovac. These two places are inside the national park.

Important Info and Safety Tips

Tara National Park is one of those places where I highly recommend you visit the tourist information center as soon as you enter. It is so because most of the signboards are in Cyrillic and it is very important to pick up the updated information when you’re in the wild. They will help you book a place to stay inside if you need one. The tourist office closes at 5 pm, so arrive before that.

Brown Bear Warning in Tara National Park, Serbia

Brown Bear Warning in Tara National Park, Serbia

As a general rule of thumb, be careful of your surroundings when you’re hiking. Don’t hike when it is dark because of the brown bear sightings in Tara National Park.

Green pupavka, the most dangerous mushroom in Europe is found inside Tara National Park. The scientific name is Amanita phalloides and is also called the Death Cap. Just half of it is enough to kill an adult human. Be careful.

Where to Stay in Tara National Park

Here are some top rated places to stay in Tara National park:

Mitrovac:

Bajina Basta:

Zaovine:

Most of the listings above are full fledged apartments with kitchen, living room and toilets. One of our favorite things about traveling in Serbia was that it was very easy (and affordable) to find full apartments for a day or two, instead of just regular rooms. Because of this, we always had the flexibility of making our own meals instead of eating every meal outside.

Mokra Gora – Serbia’s SECRET Mountain Paradise Destination

Mokra Gora – Serbia’s SECRET Mountain Paradise Destination

Small mountains, old school train journey and a wooden village – this is Mokra Gora in Western Serbia.

In a mood for a digital detox, we searched for a scenic destination in the middle of nowhere when we found Mokra Gora. We knew we had found a special place when Google maps completely threw us off. Oh and we had to use the Translate app to communicate with the locals. It was exactly the kind of escape we wanted after Belgrade’s busy vibe.

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park in Serbia, near Mokra Gora

Mokra Gora is a small and picturesque destination that’s surrounded by the Dinaric Alps towards the west part of Serbia. It is close to Tara National Park where there’s the Tara Mountain.

If you’re road tripping through the Balkans, then including Mokra Gora in Serbia makes a lot of sense because of its location. Just a 30 minutes drive ahead of Mokra Gora is Visegrad in Bosnia & Herzegovina and a bit more further is Montenegro. 

Mokra Gora Travel Guide

Mokra Gora’s Narnia like landscape totally won our hearts.

There were little green hills, fairy tale-ish wooden cottages, simple village life and a vibe that was still unaffected by tourism. Using simple hand gestures to communicate with the locals somehow made our experience even more special.

Us in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Us in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Mokra Gora is one of those places that we’d like to keep to just ourselves as a secret destination. But I changed my mind considering how it is not easy to reach here by public transport. So I think it will be years before it gets ruined by mass tourism.

How to Reach Mokra Gora from Belgrade

The nearest big towns near Mokra Gora are Zlatibor and Užice. We arrived here on a rented card from Belgrade. The journey on the road takes around 3 – 4 hours but we spent 9 hours to reach. It was because of a traffic jam that was caused due to the road repair work.

The Beauty of Driving Around in the Balkans - around Zlatibor in Serbia

The Beauty of Driving Around in the Balkans – around Zlatibor in Serbia

Reaching Mokra Gora on a rented car is the easiest way to arrive here from Belgrade. It is an economical option if you’re traveling in a group of 2 or more. Moreover, Western Serbia’s countryside is spectacular and you’ll enjoy the flexibility of stopping where you want to while you’re driving.

Suggested: the Dramatic and Spectacular Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

There is no direct train or bus from Belgrade to Mokra Gora. If you want to do this journey by public transport, then you need to take a train from Belgrade to Užice and find a local bus for Mokra Gora. Alternatively, you can also get on a bus from Belgrade to Lajkovac. There is a train that runs from Lajkovac to Zlatibor, a town that’s close to Mokra Gora. From Zlatibor, a taxi will take you to Mokra Gora for around €15.

Things to do in Mokra Gora, Serbia

Mokra Gora Train – Šargan Eight steam train

Sargan Eight Train Journey in Mokra Gora, Serbia

Sargan Eight Train Journey in Mokra Gora, Serbia

Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory isn’t the only one who loves trains, I do too! Even more so when the journey is old-school style. Not only can you enjoy the view of the surroundings on a train, but you can also get a glimpse of the culture.

Sargan train tunnel, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Sargan train tunnel, Mokra Gora, Serbia

One of the best things we did in Mokra Gora was Sargan train journey. This train route originally connected Belgrade to Sarajevo when these places were a part of Yugoslavia. Today a smaller part of this heritage train track runs as Nostalgia Express.

Šargan Eight steam train is supposed to be one of the most beautiful train routes in Europe. This train track is narrow gauge and because of that, it felt like we were on a toy train.

Inside Sargan Train, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside Sargan Train, Mokra Gora, Serbia

The mountainous landscape around Mokra Gora is spectacular enough to make a train journey here epic. The train goes really slow and stops a few times. You can get out and walk around to enjoy the view. It goes in a circular track.

While you’re on this train, I recommend you walk from coach to coach from one end of the train to another – they’re all a little different.

Tickets for Šargan Eight Train Journey at Mokra Gora can be bought just on the spot at Mokra Gora train station before boarding the train. The cost per person is €5 or 600 Serbian Dinar.

Drvengrad Bamboo Village [Küstendorf]

San inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

San inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

I did mention how Mokra Gora is off the radar but it does enjoy a little fame because of a wooden village. This little village is called Drvengrad (a.k.a. Küstendorf). Yes, almost everything here is wooden, even the lamp posts!

Inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad was actually built for a film by Emir Kusturica called Life is a Miracle, but was left as it is after the movie ended. The Küstendorf Film and Music Festival is organized here annually, which does attract visitors to the otherwise offbeat Mokra Gora. Drvengrad is often the location for cinema workshops too. Love Johnny Depp, well he visited Drvengrad too! [and so did Monica Bellucci].

Drvengrad wooden village, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad wooden village, Mokra Gora, Serbia

During the month of Küstendorf Film and Music Festival the prices of rooms go up tenfolds in Mokra Gora. Even Lonely Planet mentions Drvengrad and this Cinema festival.

The church inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

The church inside Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Drvengrad is right above to Mokra Gora train station and is worth a visit. Walk around here, see the wooden church, eat in the wooden restaurant to make your visit epic. Some parts of Drvengrad are covered with artwork. You can even rent a room in Drvengrad and stay for a few days.

Inside a Restaurant in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside a Restaurant in Drvengrad, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Family travelers will especially love will love Drvengrad because there’s a wooden playground, Ivo Andrić Library, Stanley Kubrick Cinema, and even a sauna and a swimming pool.

Drvengrad isn’t the only “old town” village that was created by Emir Kusturica. There’s Andrićgrad too which is across the border in Višegrad (Bosnia). You can read more about this place in this article’s Višegrad section. For more information, check our post about Drvengrad – Serbia’s timber village.

Tara National Park

Inside Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

San and I love nature and we make it a point to visit as many National Parks as possible. While in Mokra Gora, we visited the nearby Tara National Park. This hardly-known paradise completely exceeded our expectations.

Suggested: Zabljak + Durmitor National Park, Montenegro 

Mount Tara is a part of the internal Dinaric Alps (the Dinarides) and is a part of Tara National Park. The Drina river makes spectacular gorges here. As a result, the park has many dramatic viewpoints, that look over the river gorges.

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park, Serbia

Banjska Stena, Tara National Park, Serbia

Banjska Stena is the most popular viewpoint in Tara National Park and is near Mitrovac. It is one of the first places that you will see when you search for images of this National Park. Reaching here was quite easy because this place also has English signboards.

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Lake Zaovine in Tara National Park, Mokra Gora, Serbia

The best part of the park, in my opinion, is the Zaovine Lake, which is close to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. As soon as we saw Zaovine Lake, we wanted to swim in it.

We drove around the lake for a long time but couldn’t see any place from where we could go closer to the shore. Just when we were about to give up, we saw a steep pathway and a few locals swimming in the water. San and I also went in. We swam in this lake for a long time, which was really amazing and we felt refreshed.

Swimming in Zaovine Lake, Tara National Park, Serbia

Swimming in Zaovine Lake, Tara National Park, Serbia

Zaovine lake is also connected with the river Drina. It is the same river that we later drove along in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I’d love to return to Serbia and stay for a few days in Zaovine village next to the lake.

Tara National Park's Lonely House on River Drina near Bajina Basta, Serbia

Tara National Park’s Lonely House on River Drina near Bajina Basta, Serbia

Another famous place in Tara National Park is the lonely house on River Drina near Bajina Basta. You can also see Vrelo – the shortest river. I don’t know if it is the shortest river in Serbia or the world – the signs were everywhere but they didn’t specify. There is also a lovely waterfall next to River Vrelo. Sadly there is a restaurant here that spoils the natural beauty of the waterfall.

San on top of a hill in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

San on top of a hill in Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Many people spend days hiking inside Tara National Park but the easiest way to experience it is by car. Navigating inside can be challenging because most of the signboards were in Serbian. Even Google Maps showed us names in Serbian and again threw us off the road. We got lost here many times but it was worth it. It is such a beautiful place but hardly any people visit it, not even the locals!

Check out our detailed post about Tara National Park for more information

Zlatibor

Zlatibor's green hills and empty spaces, Serbia

Zlatibor’s green hills and empty spaces, Serbia

Zlatibor is Mokra Gora’s more popular neighbor and it totally deserves the attention because it is lovely. It is one of the most popular destinations in Serbia for rural tourism.

Mokra Gora Travel Guide - Zlatibor , Serbia

Mokra Gora Travel Guide – Zlatibor , Serbia

Little green hills and flowery meadows surround Mount Zlatibor. As you move away from the village, you will see vast empty spaces and sometimes just a single cottage on some of the surrounding little hills.

Drive Between Mokra Gora and Zlatibor, Serbia

Drive Between Mokra Gora and Zlatibor, Serbia

There is also a busy town centre in Zlatibor with many interesting places to eat but the real beauty is outside the town. If you get bored of the limited eating options in Mokra Gora, then you will enjoy the options in Zlatibor town. Take out some time and head to the Gostilje waterfall and Stopica Caves, which are nearby.

Stopica Cave

River Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora, Serbia

River Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora, Serbia

Stopica Cave is near Mountain Zlatibor and is really beautiful from inside. There is a metallic walkway inside the cave and several parts are lit by colorful lights. These lights create a dramatic reflection of stalagmites and stalactites against the cave walls.

San and I Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora, Serbia

San and I Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora, Serbia

There is a river inside this cave – how cool is that! Also, this river creates a waterfall inside the Stopica Cave which is 10 meters high.

We also saw layers of cascading limestone pools, which was one of the most spectacular sights inside. There was no water inside these pools at the time we visited. If you visit after it rains, then you will see a mesmerizing sight of water in these pools instead of lights. Here’s a picture that I found on the internet where these pools have water in them.

Cascading limestone pools in Stopica Cave near Zlatibor, Serbia

Cascading limestone pools in Stopica Cave near Zlatibor, Serbia

But here’s what we saw instead because there was no water.

Limestone Pools Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora

Limestone Pools Inside Stopica Cave near Zlatibor and Mokra Gora, Serbia

The entry is 250 Serbian Dinars, which is a little more than 2 EUR per person. Parking is not free but the price was very low.

Višegrad, Bosnia

the Bridge over the Drina in Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina - travel the Balkans

the Bridge over the Drina in Visegrad, Bosnia & Herzegovina – travel the Balkans

Višegrad is near Mokra Gora bus is not in Serbia, it is in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After Sarajevo and Mostar, Višegrad is the most famous destination in the country because of the Ottoman style bridge – Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge. This bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and looks absolutely stunning.

Višegrad was also made famous by the historical novel – the Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andrić, a Nobel Prize winner. Višegrad also has a mini town Andrićgrad, which is dedicated to this novelist. Just like Drvengrad wooden village, even Andrićgrad village that was created by Emir Kusturica.

Even though Višegrad is close to Mokra Gora, there is a complete change of scene, vibe, and culture here. Many locals spoke good English here which helped us in navigating. I spent half of my birthday here and enjoyed Višegrad a lot.

One of the locals suggested a riverside restaurant called Anika where we had the best meal of our Balkans trip. The meal was so good that we came back here from Montenegro just so that we could eat here.

Unlike my other travel guides, this post doesn’t really have a super long list of places to visit. It is so because the beauty of Mokra Gora is not just the landscape but also the relaxed atmosphere. Make the most of this by doing as little as possible and just spending most of your time sitting in a scenic spot.

Where to Stay in Mokra Gora and Zlatibor

Apartment Mateja, Mokra Gora

Apartment Mateja, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Apartment Mateja, Mokra Gora, Serbia

This is the first place where we stayed in Mokra Gora and loved it. There was a little water stream that was near this apartment and a lot of greenery. The surrounding area was village-like and yet the apartment was modern from the inside.

Click here to book Apartment Mateja in Mokra Gora

Apartment Mateja had everything – a big living room, kitchen, toilet and a bedroom that was upstairs. The interiors were wooden, because of which it looked very cozy.

Inside Aparment Mateja, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Inside Aparment Mateja, Mokra Gora, Serbia

 

Apartment Matogi

View from Apartment Matogi, Mokra Gora, Serbia

View from Apartment Matogi, Mokra Gora, Serbia

Apartment Matogi was the second place where we stayed in Mokra Gora. It was right next to the train station so the location is perfect for those who do not have their own transport.

Click here to book Apartment Matogi in Mokra Gora

 

Küstendorf Film and Music Festival 2019

The Küstendorf Film and Music Festival will begin on 11 January 2019 and will end on 16 January 2019. Serbian music band Kal is scheduled to perform at the festival on January 14, 2019. Check the festival website and Facebook page for more info.

Traveling to Serbia?

Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Tara National Park near Mokra Gora, Serbia

Mokra Gora is just one of the many lovely places to visit in Serbia. This country is still unexplored and there is so much more we’d love to see and we can’t wait to go back. We also want to see Zlatar and Uvac that are in the same region.

Is getting lost in a new country where the signboards are in another language and not many locals speak English not your cup of tea? If it is the first time that you’re traveling to Serbia, then a guided tour may make more sense for you. Or, you can start your time in Serbia with a tour and later on travel on your own. Check out the below options that we have handpicked for you.

Subscribe to drifter planet

Want More Fun? Join Our Monthly Newsletter.

Even though we send out very few emails, they are sure to make you smile. :) For information about how we handle your data, please read our privacy policy / Impressum.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest