- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
With 18 lakes, the deepest gorge in Europe and beautiful landscapes, the Montenegrin mountain resort of Durmitor offers opportunities for relaxation and adventure.
Durmitor is about 400 kilometres from Belgrade and easily accessible by car, train or bus. While the bus ride takes about ten hours, driving a car down the E-763 motorway will get you there in six.
The Durmitor National Park, established in 1952, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980.
The area of the park covers 39,000 hectares and includes Durmitor’s massif, the canyons of the Tara, Susica and Draga rivers, and a part of the canyon plateau of the River Komarnica.
In the middle of the park, at the base of several peaks, is the town of Zabljak – the best starting point for discovering the mountains. At 1,450 metres above sea level, this is also the highest town in the Balkans and the centre of Montenegro’s winter tourism industry.
Zabljak is not particularly scenic itself, but does offer decent facilities for visitors. There are several good hotels, although none offer luxury treatment.
In recent years local residents have also begun renting out rooms to tourists in their homes and mountain cottages.
The cottages built furthest from the town’s centre are best for a relaxed break in a natural setting, allowing you to wake up to the sound of mountain wildlife.
The Black Lake, one of Durmitor’s best-known sights, is located less than three kilometres from the town’s centre. During the winter, the lake freezes over and you can even walk on its surface – provided your guide says it is safe to do so.
The lake got its name from the dark colours of the forest that are reflected on its surface. It is encircled by a 3.5 kilometre-long path and one of the best restaurants in the area is on its shore.
The Black Lake is the largest and deepest of 18 glacial lakes on the mountain, all of them more than 1,500 metres above sea level. Locals refer to these lakes as the “gorske oci” – “mountain’s eyes”.
Some, such as Srablje and Zminje, are supposed to have healing powers. Fish Lake is popular among fishermen, as its name suggests. The fish here are said to be large and plentiful and are often caught as trophies.
Durmitor’s dozens of peaks provide numerous trails for professional and amateur hikers. All routes are marked and mountain guides are also available.
A trek to the peak of Medjed, whose forests are reflected in the waters of the Black Lake, takes about four hours. It is not a hard trail but amateurs should watch their step.
Durmitor’s highest peak, Bobotov kuk, is located 2,523 metres above sea level. The strenuous journey to the summit takes more than five hours.
However, the view from the top is worth it, stretching for hundreds of miles and taking in Serbia’s Mount Rudnik to the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south.
Mountaineers are also drawn to the peaks of Bezimeni vrhat and Minin bogaz, which are 2,487 and 2,387 metres above sea level respectively. The altitude and the rocky terrain make both treks tiring.
The three-hour walk to Prutas peak is the gentler alternative to these treks. The views are beautiful, if not as breathtaking as the one from Bobotov kuk.
Tara Canyon forms part of Durmitor National Park, but it is also an attraction in its own right. The gorge is 93 kilometres long and 1,300 metres deep, with terraces, sandy beaches and more than 80 caves.
The Djurdevica Bridge, some 172 metres above the river, is worth a look. It was Europe’s biggest concrete arch bridge for vehicles at the time of its construction in the 1930s.
The cuisine from the region is rich in calories. Most products are homemade and high in fat. In other words, they’re ideal food after a day on the mountain. Traditional dishes include lamb cooked in milk, corn porridge with milk and potatoes with kajmak (milk curd).
Donors spent hundreds of thousands of euro building a new museum in Gjirokastra - but the results were questionable and it ultimately closed over an ideological dispute.