Travel information for Durmitor National Park, Montenegro near Žabljak
What’s the first image that comes to your mind when someone mentions Montenegro? I bet you’re visualizing the sunny Bay of Kotor with amazing beaches. After all, it is the most visited part of Montenegro.
The lovely Kotor Bay is not even the most beautiful part of Montenegro. If you like nature and heavenly paradisiacal landscapes, then you’re going to love the North Montenegrin Mountains. Go spend a few days in Durmitor National Park near Žabljak and you wouldn’t want to go back to Kotor’s crowded beaches. This fairyland will make you feel you’re in the Lord of the Rings!
Many people told me that the name Montenegro is a combination of two words – monte and negro and it means “Black Mountain”. Before the Kotor Bay achieved its fame, this little country was more known for its untouched natural beauty that was mostly in the mountain region within the Dinaric Alps.
Geographically, Montenegro is in the Balkans, sharing its border with Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Kosovo. It is a very good idea to visit one or a few of the nearby countries if you visit Montenegro. As mentioned over and over again on this website, the best way to travel with the Balkans (or the entire Europe in general) is by road. If you live in Europe already then it is easy, just drive to Montenegro. You can also fly to Montenegro or to one of the nearby countries, rent a car and drive around.Check Car Rental Prices in Montenegro
In case you don’t have a drivers permit or if you’re traveling solo, then a road trip may not make sense. Check out this guide for backpacking Montenegro.
Introducing Durmitor National Park
Durmitor National Park is Montenegro’s largest protected area and is in the North of the country. The park has deep river canyon on three different sides and the middle part consists of stunning glacier lakes. The park is stunning and as per Lonely Planet, two of the top sights in Montenegro are in Durmitor National Park.
Durmitor is a compact group of limestone mountains in North Montenegro. These mountains belong to the Dinaric Alps. There are total 48 Durmitor mountains and they are higher than 2000 meters above the sea level. The highest peak in Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk, is 2523 meters above the sea.
Durmitor National Park is massive and is spread out near and around Žabljak. Like many other national parks that I have written about, it is easier to explore this place if you have your own car.
Are you looking for more National Parks in the Dinaric Alps region? Go check out our post about Tara National Park in Serbia. Alternatively, you should also check out this amazing hike to Seealpsee in Switzerland.
Žabljak, the Town in Durmitor National Park
The main town in the middle of Durmitor National Park is Žabljak, which is a popular ski destination in winter months. Žabljak surrounded by the middle of the mountains and is beautiful.
During our Balkans road trip, Žabljak was the coldest destination and we loved every bit if it. We drove here directly after the warm Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia. Guess what, Zabljak is the highest town in the Balkans. Sadly, this adorable town Zabljak was burnt during the World War II and was rebuilt later and emerged again as a popular ski destination.
During your visit to Durmitor, you will most likely be staying in Zabljak. This little town has many wooden cabins and apartments that you can rent. The advantage of booking an entire apartment is that you can cook your own food. Zabljak is small and you can walk almost everywhere within just 20-30 minutes.
Durmitor National Park Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for Durmitor National Park is just 3 Euros per day. You can also buy a 3 day ticket which is for 6 Euros. This fee is very low if you compare it to the other National Parks in Europe. In comparison, we paid around 30 euros per person to enter Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park. Ouch!
What to See in Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
Black Lake or Crno jezero
Durmitor National Park has 18 glacier lakes that are collectively called the “Mountain Eyes” or Gorske Oči. The largest, most beautiful and the most famous one is the Black Lake, or Crno jezero. Black Lake is actually a set of two lakes that are connected by a strait. In summer, the connection dries up and the lakes get separated, resulting in Big Black Lake and Small Black Lake. This is also the reason why the count of glacier lakes in Durmitor keeps changing from 17 to 18 and back.
Black lake is under the mountain Medjed and in the middle of conifer forest. The conifer forest gives this lake its emerald green colour with unbelievable clarity. I don’t know why it is called Black Lake, instead it should be called Green Lake.
Black Lake’s surface area and depth keeps changing throughout the year. During the highest water level, the maximum length is 1.55 meters and maximum width is 810 meters.
You can go for a little walk all around the big lake and the little lake, which will take around 1 – 1.5 hours. The main walking path that goes around the lake is 3.5 Kilometers. There are many trails around the lake and interesting viewpoints. The main walking path has benches so you can sit and admire the view at many different spots.
There is a climbing park in Black Lake complex where you can spend sometime. There is a restaurant called Katun that’s near the lake. We didn’t eat here.
Black Lake is 3 KMs away from Žabljak town. You can easily walk from the main town to reach it and enjoy the excursion.
Tara River Canyon
We all know that the Grand Canyon is the biggest canyon in the world, but do you know about Tara River Canyon? It is supposed to be the second biggest canyon in the world and Europe’s deepest gorge.
The deepest point of Tara Canyon is 1300 meters and this lovely river makes the border for Montenegro , Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina – all three that we visited on a road trip through the Balkans. Tara canyon is 80 kilometers long.
If you’re wondering why the name Tara sounds familiar, it is because we visited the Tara National Park in Serbia where there is Tara Mountain and the river of course.
The easiest way to see the beauty of Tara River Canyon is by going on top of the Tara Bridge. This is where the above pictures were clicked.
If you’re a little adventurous, you can hike to other spots from where you can get a good view of the canyon. You can also do white water rafting on Tara river. The best – you can zip across the Tara River on a zip-line by Red Rock Zip Line. This is near the Tara bridge. You can scroll to the next section on this post to find information about all the adventure activities in Durmitor (including the Zipline) and how to book them.
Tara Bridge is 150 meters high and is a beautiful sight with 5 massive arches. It was destroyed in 1942 by Italian and German troops right before the WW2 and rebuilt in 1946. It is likely that you will cross Tara River Bridge when you enter or exit Durmitor National Park by road.
Walking on Tara Bridge was an experience to remember because of the views. We saw the beauty of bluish green Tara River as it snaked along the mountains and formed the deepest canyon in Europe.
Stecci are well preserved medieval tombstones in the nearby Novakovici. These tombstones are intricately decorated and carved.
They are in the middle of nowhere, giving a touch of mystery to the the surrounding landscape. It sort of looks like it is out of the Lord of the Rings.
Many people visit the Stecci sites for the view as well, not only the tombstones. The Stecci sites are not easy to reach unless you have a car of your own. This is one of the reasons why they aren’t one of the highly visited spots in Durmitor National Park.
Adventure Activities in Durmitor National Park
Tara River Rafting
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Tara River Canyon and the scenic beauty along the river is by rafting. There are day trips from Kotor and Dubrovnik (Croatia) that you can pick, based on your location.
- Tara River Rafting from Kotor: This 12 hour tour starts in Kotor old town and includes breakfast and lunch both.
- Tara River Rafting from Kotor, Budwa or Tivat: This 12 hour tour starts in Kotor, Budwa or Tivat. It includes breakfast and lunch at the riverside.
- Tara River Rafting from Dubrovnik: This is a 13 hour tour that starts from Dubrovnik. This tour also includes breakfast and lunch.
Please read the fine-print before booking your tour.
Tara River Canyoning or Nevidio Canyon
Is hiking a bit too slow paced for you? You should consider canyoning in Durmitor National Park. After all, you have multiple options – Rivers Draga, Sušica, Komarnica and Tara – all make canyons in Durmitor. You can opt for an all inclusive tour that includes not just canyoning on Tara River but also rafting. Alternatively, you can go for canyoning in Nevideo Canyon.
Hiking in Durmitor National Park
There are several hiking trains inside and around Durmitor National Park that are well marked. There is the trail of Poscenski kraj – Dolina jezera – Sedlo that takes just 4 hours. You can find more information about this hike and book it here. Additionally, you can also hike to the remote Jablan Lake.
You will find many hiking trails that start at the Black Lake complex. There is a big map next to the lake with several marked bicycle and hiking routes with information about viewpoints.
We did hike to one of the viewpoints for a kilometer but it was very cloudy that day. Just look at this picture to see what we saw. The view from here will remain a mystery to us.
If you decide to go hiking in Durmitor National Park, be sure to wear proper hiking shoes. It can rain and get slippery, so be careful. Don’t be stupid like me and hike in canvas shoes like I did.
Tara Canyon Zip-lining
The zip-line on Tara river is the craziest one that I have ever seen because Tara River canyon is very deep. You will find 3 different zip-line tours next to Tara bridge – Red Rock Zipline, Extreme Zipline Tara and Big Zipline. I visited Durmitor when I was pregnant and sadly I wasn’t allowed to do this.
The cost of a single ticket of zip line over Tara Canyon by Red Rock Zipline is only 10 EUR. They also offer group discounts. Be sure to check their website for more information.
How to Reach Durmitor National Park
The easiest way to reach Durmitor National Park is by driving. If you’re not traveling solo, then renting a car can be an economical way to explore the Balkans, especially Montenegro and around.
We drove to Žabljak from the Kotor Bay via Nikšić in just 3.5 hours. The road is very good and broadens at many viewpoints so that you can park your car without disrupting the traffic. From Žabljak, we drove to Visegrad in Bosnia & Herzegovina in barely 3 – 4 hours.
If you’re thinking of doing this trip on a van, then check out our epic post for exploring Europe on a camper van that has information about everything from cooking to sleeping and more.
If you want to reach Durmitor National park by bus, then you have to look for buses that go to Žabljak. You can reach here from some of the bigger towns – Podgorica, Nikšic, Pljevlja and Mojkovac.
Where to Eat in Zabljak and Durmitor National Park
We had our meals in a few different places in Zabljak but one place that really stood out was Zlatni Papagaj. It is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria with amazing food. The restaurant is completely wooden with a view of the mountains through the glass windows. It was completely full when we visited so they opened the outside area for us and put up a heater there.
Apart from Zlatni Papagaj in Zabljak, we also enjoyed our little snack and hot chocolate in Cafe Bar OR’O in the main town. There is also a very cute little restaurant Koliba that’s located a little outside Zabljak but is good.
Where to stay in Zabljak / Durmitor National Park
Zabljak is in the middle of Durmitor National Park and it makes total sense to find a place to stay here. This little town is surrounded by green mountains in the summer months and turns into a ski destination in winter. Hence, Zabljak has a lot of ski chalets kind of places where you can stay.
Wondering what are ski chalets? These are wooden houses with sloped tops and are mostly found in Europe’s Alpine region. Chalet apartments aren’t expensive in Zabljak. You can book an entire apartment for yourself, like we did. You can cook your own food and enjoy your own privacy.
Here are a few places to stay in Žabljak and Durmitor National Park that we suggest for you:
Apartment Presoje in Žabljak:
This apartment is located inside Žabljak town so is super convenient for those who don’t have their own car or motorbike. There’s kitchen, washing machine, fridge, a sitting area apart from a bedroom and bathroom in each apartment. Click here to book Apartment Presoje.
Apartments Baron Žabljak
Apartments Baron is in Žabljak but a little away from the centre but closer to the lakes. A walk to the centre will be around 10 minutes and 15 minutes to Javorovača Ski Lift. Black Lake or Crno Jezero Lake is 2.7 KMs away. Click here to book Apartment Baron in Zabljak.
Eco Camp Chalets Pod Gorom
These are eco friendly and sustainable chalets that are newly built. This place is in the middle of the nature and you will get to experience the beauty of Durmitor National Park right at your doorstep. Click here to book Eco Camp Chalets Pod Gorom.
Sunnyside Vacation Home (for a large group)
This place makes a lot of sense if you’re in a big group of 10 people or more. Sunnyside vacation home has 5 bedrooms and really amazing wooden interiors with all basic amenities that you’d need. Click here to book Sunnyside vacation home.
Have you visited Zabljak and Durmitor National Park already? We’d love to hear from you. Share your top tips for visiting in the comments below