The Durmitor National Park encompasses the mountain massif of the same name in northern Montenegro. The breathtaking landscape with the highest peak in the country, the deepest gorge in Europe and numerous sapphire-blue mountain lakes inspires hikers and winter sports enthusiasts alike.
The Durmitor is an impressive mountain massif in the north of Montenegro, a good 120 kilometres north of the capital Podgorica. The Durmitor National Park was founded around the Durmitor in 1952. Due to its breathtaking landscape, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980. It is also on our list of the top 10 sights of Montenegro.
Covering an area of almost 400 square kilometres, Durmitor National Park includes spectacular gorges, sapphire-blue mountain lakes and 48 rugged 2,000-metre peaks. The highest peak of the massif is the 2,523-metre Bobotov Kuk, often referred to as the highest mountain in Montenegro (although two higher mountains exist in Prokletije National Park ).
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PICTURES: Durmitor National Park
Journey to Durmitor National Park
The Durmitor National Park is best reached by car or bus from Podgorica. It takes a good two hours by car to reach Žabljak. At just under 1,500 metres above sea level, this is the highest town in the Balkans and the tourist centre of the Durmitor National Park.
Best time to visit Durmitor National Park
The national park is very popular with visitors all year round. In winter, the lower regions of the mighty Durmitor are transformed from hiking areas into dreamy ski slopes, because due to the collision of the warm air from the Adriatic Sea with the cold air from the mainland, 3 metres of snow and more are nothing unusual for northern Montenegro.
In summer, the national park attracts visitors with its numerous hiking trails and mountaineering routes through the fascinating mountain landscape. Due to the high altitude of the Durmitor National Park, it is quite bearable in its mountains even in midsummer, with an average temperature of 15°C.
Tip: The mountain can be treacherous and quite a few hikers have already been surprised by snowfall in July! Therefore, be prepared for any weather.
Sights in Durmitor National Park
The special mixture of Mediterranean and alpine climate allows a fascinating flora and fauna to flourish in the Durmitor National Park. One of the last original pine forests in Europe grows here alongside pine, beech, birch and juniper. Eagles, brown bears, wild boars, wolves, chamois, wildcats, capercaillies, black grouse and rock partridges roam the natural forests and rocky plateaus.
Bobotov Kuk - "highest mountain in Montenegro
It is not really the highest mountain in the country. In the Prokletije National Park there are two higher mountains, Zla Kolata (2,534m) and Maja Rosit (2,528m), right on the border with Albania.
Nevertheless, the ascent of the 2,523m high Bobotov Kuk is considered the supreme discipline of Montenegrin mountain tours and its summit the roof of Montenegro. No wonder, because with crystal-clear glacial lakes, pristine meadows and well-marked trails, the rugged mountains around Bobotov Kuk offer one of the most beautiful hiking areas in Europe.
PICTURES: Bobotov Kuk in Durmitor National Park
Ascent of Bobotov Kuk
Without exaggeration, the ascent of Bobotov Kuk is considered the most spectacular tour in Durmitor National Park. If you are free from giddiness and have some experience in mountain hiking, you can climb to the top of Bobotov Kuk on a 7-9 hour tour.
Tip: There are no huts on Bobotov Kuk, so bring food and water for the entire hike. Depending on the length of the breaks, you should plan on a daily hike of 8-10 hours. Be sure to bring warm clothes, even in high summer, as it is often below 10°C on the windy summit!
The two ascent options start either in Žabljak, the tourist centre of the Durmitor Mountains, or at a car park on the other side of the mountain. The paths are excellently maintained and signposted and initially lead through green meadows, which are quickly replaced by karst fields and jagged rocks.
After about 4 hours of walking, you reach the base of the peak. This is the end of the steep but still comfortable ascent, as you need to be sure-footed and fully concentrated when climbing over the sometimes large rocks and loose scree. Fear of heights is out of place here, because often a rock wall right next to the path falls up to several hundred metres into the depths.
Summit arrival and descent
Once at the summit, the whole of Montenegro lies at the hiker's feet and the sensational view over the rugged mountain ranges and valleys of the Durmitor Mountains is worth every effort on the ascent!
The way back is either the same way down again, or on the other side of the mountain. Those who have started from the car park should, if possible, tackle the descent in the direction of Žabljak, where some of the picturesque, quiet glacial lakes of the Durmitor National Park are located.
Tara Gorge - longest and deepest gorge in Europe
One of the special highlights of the national park is the Tara Gorge, possibly the most pristine river valley in all of Europe. The breathtaking Tara Gorge at the lower end of the Tara River is 78 kilometres long and over 1,300 metres deep. This makes it not only the longest and deepest gorge in Europe, but also one of the largest gorges in the world.
At 140 kilometres, the river of the same name is the longest river in Montenegro and has carved a deep channel in the rock over the millennia. The crystal-clear river is extremely popular for rafting due to its up to 60-metre-high waterfalls, numerous rapids and cascades.
Crno Jezero - Montenegro's Black Lake
Also a scenic gem are the 18 glacial lakes of the Durmitor National Park. Due to their breathtaking colour and mirror-like surface, they are also called "Gorske Oči", "Eyes of the Mountain".
The picturesque Crno Jezero, the Black Lake, is the largest and one of the most famous of the glacial lakes in Durmitor National Park. It is also an ideal starting point for hikes to other lakes in its vicinity.
When the deep green spruces, firs and pines on its shores cast dark shadows on the mirror-smooth surface, it becomes clear where the picturesque lake gets its name. But Crno Jezero can also shimmer in deep blue or intense shades of green, depending on the amount of precipitation and sunlight.
The Black Lake is divided into the 26m-deep Great Lake (Veliko Jezero) and the 50m-deep Small Lake (Malo Jezero), which together cover an area of around 500 hectares. The two lakes are connected by a waterway, which sometimes dries up completely in hot summers.
PICTURES: Black Lake in Durmitor National Park
Around the entire lake runs a circular path of around 3.6 kilometres through the dense forests on the shore, along which Crno Jezero can be discovered in all its glory.
Tip: In the early morning you won't meet a soul at the Black Lake of Durmitor - the perfect place for pure relaxation!
Hiking at the Black Lake of Durmitor
Only 3km from Žabljak, the tourist centre of the national park, Crno Jezero is one of the most popular day trips in the Durmitor region. The lake lies at an altitude of around 1,400 metres and often presents itself covered in deep snow in winter.
In summer, the water in the Black Lake warms up to 20 degrees and offers welcome refreshment after a strenuous hike. Most tourists, however, enjoy the beauty of the lake in a canoe or kayak. Catering is provided in the immediate vicinity of Crno Jezero. A small restaurant serves traditional Montenegrin food.
Sights around the Black Lake
A wonderful hiking destination in itself, Black Lake is also the starting point for further hikes through the breathtaking landscape of Durmitor National Park and to smaller lakes in its surroundings. The Zminje Jezero (Snake Lake), for example, is particularly beautiful, hidden even deeper in the forest - also ideal for picnics!
Behind the quiet water surface, a round stone massif is visible amidst dense forests. Mount Međed ("Bear") reaches a height of 2,287 metres and rises about 25 metres above Crn Jezero. In spring, meltwater flows from its summit into the depths. The waterfalls, up to 15 metres high, announce themselves with a loud roar.