Nestled within the Dinaric Alps, lies Mount Lovćen National Park, a national park in Montenegro based around the iconic Mt. Lovćen. This distinctive peak holds great significance to the Montenegrin people, as the place where their beloved hero, Petar II Petrović Njegoš, is laid to rest. Though it is in the southern part of the country, Lovćen National Park (LOV-chen) is the heart of Montenegro. The country derives its name from this mountain.
Lovćen has the iconic setting that a majority of websites and tourists use for the idyllic picture of Montenegro. The scene encompasses a walkway out to a guvno (also referred to as a gumno) or a threshing floor. This terrace provides an epic lookout over the black mountains in the background. Locals share that you can see the whole country from this revered spot.
Mount Lovćen as the Heart of the Country
The greatest hero of the Montenegrin people, Petar Petrovic Njegoš, lived in the Cetinje area (1813-1851). Today, he is celebrated as statesman, bishop, and the conscience of the people. He not only negotiated to keep most of Montenegro from succumbing to Turkish attacks, he also wrote the national masterpieces of poetry and literature.
During his lifetime, Njegoš picked Mount Lovćen as the place where he wanted to be buried. It took a while for his wishes to be granted due to historical events after his death, but in 1925 his remains were moved to the mountain. During World War II, the Italian army tried to blast his tomb with artillery, but never managed a hit. Decades later, the world’s tallest mausoleum (1660 meters above sea level) was finished in 1974 to honour Njegoš.
The sculptor tasked with designing the mausoleum, Ivan Mestrovic, sought to design the structure to honour the man and his main themes of “justice, freedom, and the dignity of Man and nations.” Upon submitting his design, Mestrovic refused compensation “except for a piece of cheese and the shoulder of a ram.” Today, Njegoš is still revered by much of the local population.
Lovcen National Park
Today this area is Lovćen National Park. It is a day retreat and vacation get-away spot for Montenegrins. It has much to offer for the whole family. In addition to an adventure park, there is a large area where families and friends can enjoy a cookout. Fixed tables and a grilling area make this a good getaway spot. Public toilets are available as well. You can even set up camp and stay a few days and enjoy the nature and cooler summer mountain weather.
Close to the mountain, are other places of interest, such as Kotor, a quaint coastal city; Cetinje, the former capital of the country; and Njeguši, a small village where some of the local meats and cheeses for export to the whole country are prepared. There is a designated spot partway up the mountain for primitive camping.
Lovćen is a great spot to spend the day or several exploring the beauty and enjoying time together with friends and family in a quiet nature retreat.
Biodiversity in Lovćen National Park
The combination of continental and mediterranean climates allows for several unique habitats and a great deal of biodiversity within the boundaries of Lovcen National Park. 1158 distinct species of plant can be found inside the park, 4 of which are endemic. Some plants can be used medicinally, as well as contain essential oils (learn more here.) Bird lovers will have opportunities to see as many as 200 different bird species which make their home in the park. Lovćen also contains several large and small mammals, including the endemic Montenegrin vole, a small rodent which, unlike most animal species, has different chromosome numbers for the male and female members of the species.
Adventures in the Park
With rocky peaks and grassy plains, imagining adventure in the area is easy to do. Besides scrambles up the peaks another big adventure in the area is a day-long hike from the peak of Lovcen down to the Old Town of Kotor.
Great adventure with less impact include trails of different lengths in the area. A good range of 3 to 7 km can be found through the local signage or maps. These routes are idea for hiking or mountain biking.
Directions to Lovcen National Park
The park can be reached via Cetinski Put, through Cetinje, or through the serpentine road that begins at the Bay of Kotor. During peak season, visitors will be asked to pay an entrance fee into the park of 2 euros per person.
Visitors will encounter unmatched views within the park, ranging from the drive to the Njegoš mausoleum, to the drive through Ivana Korita where an overlook to the Bay of Kotor will take one’s breath away. Be sure to stop at the Hotel Ivanov Konak on the way and purchase the Njeguši sandwich–a hearty sandwich made with fresh “domaći” or homemade bread and filled with Njeguši pršut (proscuitto) and cheese.
You will drive through a beautiful forest before reaching a plateau with scattered private homes, some having been there for generations. The road will turn into gravel when you reach the ideal spot, and you will have to exit the car and hike through rocks the rest of the way. You will be blown away by the majestic view of the Bay of Kotor. Sit for a while and enjoy your picnic and let the surroundings take you in.
Attractions in Lovcen National Park
Besides the mausoleum and gumno on top of the peak, there are a number of other things worth checking out and doing. These features include:
- Bike and ATV rentals
- Open fields for sport activities
- Countless walking and hiking trails
- Picnic areas for relaxing
Also, there is an annual run, the Lovćen Marathon, in the park which takes place in the Spring.
Best Places to Stay Near Lovcen National Park
Inside Lovćen, there are bungalows for up to 20 people and a couple of hotel options. These include Hotel Monte Rosa and Hotel Ivanov Konak. For people wanting to spend more time in the park, these are possibilities.
Additionally, a range of lodging options exist at the foot of the mountain in the town of Cetinje.
Our favourite overnight lodging category, the village or farm stay option, has several possibilities between Cetinje and Podgorica.