A UNESCO world heritage site, Durmitor National Park is one of five national parks in Montenegro. Though second in size to Skadar Lake National Park, Durmitor is immediately the most visually stunning with its geological diversity. Ranging from canyons and gorges to jutting mountain peaks, the land rises and falls dramatically over and over again.
Durmitor National Park Nature
Durmitor weather nurtures long winters, good summers, and brilliant flashes of spring and fall in-between. With the long winters come snow and all sorts of winter sports including all types of skiing and snowboarding. You may have the opportunity to wear your snow shoes up and your skis on the way down. While there is a lift for the normal runs, the adrenaline lovers explore a bit further from the path.
The other seasons provide plenty of hiking opportunities. Depending on your vantage point, the views range from way better than average to unbelievably spectacular.
The snow eventually melts into 18 glacier lakes in the Durmitor park area. These lakes are also called the mountain eyes. The best known of these lakes is Crno Jezero or the Black Lake (pictured below).
Inside the national park area, some villagers keep sheep. The sheep in the foreground with more peaks in the background provide another iconic image of Montenegro.
Some locals joke that it seems God made a deal with Montenegrins. He gave them one of the most beautiful habitats on the planet and for that they had to take all of the leftover rock. Some small percentage of that rock is Durmitor. This over-abundance of rock gives the country a unique, jagged beauty.
Durmitor is a massif with 48 peaks reaching above 2000 meters. The highest peak in the national park, Bobotov Kuk, crests at 2,523 m or 8,278 feet. This collection of peaks form amazing canyons and gorges making Durmitor ideal for hiking, mountaineering, mountain biking, canyoning, and rafting. It is also a haven for photographers looking to capture stunning, diverse views.
Durmitor Fees and Access
Located close to the village of Žabljak there is an official park entry point. Here there is parking and an entry fee of 3 euros per person (and per car). This fee is also to be enacted in other places in the park and will be tacked on to white water rafting adventures that are in the Durmitor and Tara Canyon area.
Black Lake is easily accessible. A well-maintained walking path circles the lake. Because of its proximity, maintained walking path, diverse flora, and impressive mountain peak backdrops, Black Lake offers a great setting for a family-friendly hike and picnic. The other lakes can be hiked with more time and effort. Several of the glacial lakes are accessible with short hikes on the road from Durmitor to Piva Canyon.
From the main entry point, Black Lake is easily accessible as well as a number of trails and an MTB bike rental. Travelers should note that traffic to Durmitor and especially Black Lake have increased significantly in the 2017-2019 with many travelers making Black Lake their destination point. We recommend that you not stop too long at the first shore view of the lake so that you can find a spot where you can hear the nature instead of all the people.
Adventures in Durmitor
There are a number of adventures available in Durmitor. These include hiking, mountain biking, road biking, rafting, ziplining, and since 2019, fly fishing in the glacial lakes.
HIKING – A well-maintained walking path circles Black Lake with the massif in the background providing some great photo opportunities. Because of its proximity, maintained walking path, diverse flora, and impressive mountain peak backdrops, Black Lake offers a great setting for a family-friendly hike and picnic. The other lakes can be hiked with more time and effort. Other hikes that are still very accessible include shorter hikes like the Curevac Lookout (Vidikovac) and the ancient cemetary recently discovered by Riblje Jezero. A longer easy hike is the Three Lakes Hike. More challenging hikes can include a number of routes including Savin Kuk, Planinica, and the ice cave. Advanced hikers can try for the highest peak in Durmitor, Bobotov Kuk but research and a good deal of planning should go into this one (and possibly a guide as well).
BIKING & MTB – Black Lake is touted as a great MTB route. We’re not sold on that one if we’re honest. Though the lake seems like it should offer some good MTB on the single-track around the two lakes, there are a number of stone stairs and rough spots that are not for the average rider. Family biking in the Black Lake area will require lots of bike carrying. However, there are good places here for road biking and MTB enthusiasts. (Note that many see Durmitor as THE national park to visit. We love it for sure. But it is, we believe, in 3rd or 4th place in the country for MTB enthusiasts.)
One route to consider for MTB is the Ring Road route. The Dobri Do Trail is also a great ride. And the ride from Zabljak to Pluzine is spectacular for an MTB or X-country bike.
Fly Fishing – for fly fishing enthusiasts, usually the Tara River turns up as a possibility. While it is possible, it is not something that we recommend at this time for a number of reasons. For current info on that, see our Guide to Fly Fishing in Montenegro. We will be looking for better days for fly fishing in the Tara soon. Till then, though, we are excited about fly fishing that is now online in the Riblje, Vrazje, and Zminicko Lakes. We have a lot of pics and more info available along with guide possiblities for fly fishing in Durmitor.
Snaking through Durmitor and far beyond is the Tara Canyon (also referred to as the Tara River Gorge). The deepest river canyon in Europe, it dips down some 1300 meters (more than 4,250 feet). Tara Canyon is a possible consideration for future UNESCO world heritage sites as well. Spanning the canyon is the Djurdjevica Tara Bridge. At the time of its completion in 1940, it was the largest bridge of its type in all of Europe. The bridge offers a great place for bungee jumping and rope jumping.
The Tara Canyon runs throughout the Durmitor National Park and beyond. It provides quality rafting options from April through the summer. In the months of April and May, the rafting conditions can reach level IV rapid conditions. June and beyond offers more family-friendly rafting possibilities. Also across the canyon are zip line possibilities. The longest and fastest zip line in the country is here and you definitely should plan to experience it. (Book the fastest zip line here and receive a 20% discount.)
This UNESCO world heritage site has so much to offer in wild beauty and adventure travel. Camping, hiking, canyoning, mountain biking, bicycle touring, rafting, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, and kite skiing are all available in Durmitor, a wonderfully unnatural nature spot.
Where to Stay When Visiting Durmitor
Visitors to Durmitor have been increasing steadily in the last several years. There are also increasing numbers of lodging options including hotels and the Hiker’s Hut hostel in Zabljak. Our preferred places to stay are farm stays in the area where you can interact with locals and taste the amazing organic foods. Undoubtedly it is the healthiest way to travel and we believe it is the best for experiencing the nature and culture of this unique place. While we continue to grow our partner base, we currently have these farm stay partners that we are glad to work with inside and near the national park.
- Above the Mountains Katun – located in the heart of Durmitor National Park
- Tara Canyon Estate – located across the Tara Canyon facing the Djurdjevic Most (Tara Canyon Bridge)
- Kljajevica Orchard – located across the Tara Canyon just above the Djurdjevic Most
- Mitric Farm Stay – at Piva Canyon, near the start of the #1 scenic road in Montenegro that winds through Durmitor