Montenegro is more than just beaches and Kotor Bay. Though the coastal part of the country gets flooded with tourists during the summer, the mountainous north stays rather quiet. If you love the mountains and outdoor adventure, look into Durmitor National Park hiking. This beautiful park in the North is the right place for that. In fact, the Durmitor mountains in Montenegro are one of the most impressive places in the country to go trekking.
When I lived in Montenegro, I visited Durmitor many times, explored different trails, lakes and climbed many peaks. Every time the scenery was impressing me so much that I kept returning.
I believe every trip to Montenegro should include a little bit of hiking in Durmitor National Park or hiking in Montenegro in general. Durmitor, in particular, is incredibly beautiful, peaceful, with fewer tourists, good markings, the cleanest air and lots of, lots of lakes. The majority of the hikes mentioned below will get you to the lake in one way or another.
Here is the list of my favorite Durmitor National Park hiking trails for those who want to experience more than the coast. They are less known and visited by tourists (except for one hike.) And I know you will enjoy them as well.
Psst: I recommend downloading maps.me app before you go hiking in Durmitor or pretty much anywhere else. It shows all hiking trails, viewpoints, parking lots, sources of water, camping sites, roads and more. Once you download a map of a region, you’ll be able to use it anywhere regardless of the Internet and cell reception. Google Maps won’t show even half of those places I am mentioning below. Maps.me, by contrast, has them all.
For the Durmitor National Park map, I recommend stopping by the Visitor Center in Zabljak to get one. It is located in the very center across the VOLI grocery store.
Best Time to Go Hiking in Durmitor National Park
The best time to visit Durmitor National Park is July, August, September, and early October. During these months you can go hiking, boating, rafting, and just enjoy walks in comfortable weather.
In early autumn, the park is very beautiful, but the weather is unstable. September is still very nice although leaves start changing colors really quickly and it can rain often. October is that month when it can be snowing and most hiking trails will be inaccessible.
In winter it is worth coming only if you are going to ski or snowboard. And spring is very unpredictable.
From December until the end of May, there is a lot of snow, and the Sadlo mountain pass is CLOSED until Jule. No one cleans it from snow or debris. Then you need to go to Zabljak through Krnovo and Šavnik or through the canyons of the rivers past Kolasin, Mojkovac, and Đurđevića bridge.
When planning a hiking trip to Durmitor, plan it from the end of June to September. At this time, you will take all the best from Montenegro – the trails will be free of snow, nearby Tara river has its best rafting season, the sun shines brightly, and the days are warm. The high season in Durmitor ends at mid-September and prices for everything plummet.
However, keep in mind – June-July sees thunderstorms and in August when it can be hot, many reservoirs dry up (even high-mountain lakes and springs). But don’t let it scare you. Just prepare thoroughly and take time to select the right equipment if you plan to hike far or camp.
How to Reach Durmitor National Park
If the main goal to visit Durmitor National Park mountains is hiking, then joining an organized excursion is not an option. The best and the most convenient way would be to rent a car and the second option is to use public transportation.
For car rental, I personally use and recommend LocalRent (former MyRentaCar) or DiscoverCars. The first company finds the best deals among the local companies and has no deposit. The second company is great in that way that it has newer cars and works with big international car rentals. Also, it is good for long-term car hire in Montenegro. I just recommend you compare prices and see who has better deals at the moment.
An alternative to a car is public transportation. Regular buses run from Budva or Kotor in the direction of the park, but they are rare. Plus, when leaving from anywhere on the coast, you need to transfer in Podgorica. The disadvantage of traveling in this part of Montenegro on your own by bus is a long journey (4-6 hours one way).
If you have a driver’s license and budget allows, better rent a car. In this way, you’ll have the freedom to choose a route you want and stop along the way.
My Top Travel Tips Before You Plan a Trip to Durmitor
1) If you want to travel from the Montenegro coast to the river canyons and to the Durmitor National Park, my advice for you is to book at least 2 days and an overnight stay in the town of Zabljak or in the mountains nearby.
In one day you will not have time to enjoy the trip. You will get very tired of long serpentines that are 450 – 500 km (round trip). Besides hiking, you can do other things in Durmitor like rent a boat and ride on the Black lake, ride horses, bicycles, and ATVs, pick berries or mushrooms in the forest, go walking to the foot of the mountains, drive to panoramic vistas in the Tara River canyon or the Ice Cave, and look for ancient necropolises and villages.
Doing even half of these activities will take time. There is no way to see everything in one trip when you need to spend 3 hours minimum in a car going in one direction.
Thus if you can, book at least one night in Durmitor. For a more fulfilling experience, two nights would be much better. At the end of the article, I also mention a few places where we stayed and places that we liked a lot.
2) Another piece of advice – take warm clothes, even if traveling in July or August. The temperature difference with the sea coast is 10-15 degrees! And when traveling in the fall, do not forget a raincoat, it may come in handy.
And now let’s talk about the hikes.
8 Stunning Durmitor National Park Hiking Trails:
HIKING IN DURMITOR TO ZMIJINJE JEZERO (SNAKE LAKE)
Length: 1.3 miles (2 km) one way, takes a few hours.
The surface of this lake looks like a snake’s skin but the color of the water is bright green. By legend, many, many years ago this part of Durmitor was full of snakes but with cold winters they all died out. So no snakes today. You can relax and enjoy the moment.
The lake is hidden deep in the forest and anywhere around it is very calm and quiet. There are some benches from where you get a whopping view.
Most of the tourists usually go to nearby Crno Lake (always super mega crowded) not knowing about this place which is perfect for a picnic or a bit of meditation.
Hike to Zmijinje jezero is very easy and short unless you decide to hike all the way from the Black Lake area. It reminds more of a walk in the dense forest than a hike that’s supposed to challenge you.
The best way is to drive to Bosaca village and park your car in the forest closer to the trailhead. In this case, you also don’t pay an entrance fee (for one of the most touristy places) and can hike to the Black Lake if you wish.
JABLAN JEZERO (OR JABLAN LAKE) HIKE
Difficulty: From easy to moderate
Length: 1.8 miles (3 km) or more
Jablan Lake or as locals call it Small Lake is beautifully sitting at the foot of the mountain Crvena Greda in the northern part of Durmitor National Park. The location is right in the same direction as Zmijinje Jezero mentioned above.
The reason I say difficulty can be from easy to moderate is that it depends on whether you consider combining this trek with a previous one, making it half a day hike. Or, make it as a loop and add a visit to Crvena Greda mount. In this case, you would hike straight to this lake, continue to Crvena Greda peak from where you get a view of the lake from above, and on the way back take a path towards Zmijinje (Snake) Lake.
Jablan lake is small indeed but deeper than many other lakes in Durmitor. Although some people say it used to be bigger. Locals love having picnics there, so will you. Don’t forget to take lunch, a hiking blanket, and your travel mug for a mid-day tea if you are ok to walk with it. You’ll be tempted to stay longer and enjoy the view of rocky cliffs and high peaks.
The bright green color and cleanness of the water (it is cold though) are so inviting that some people even swim in this lake during the summer.
The trek is mostly flat, going through the forest and pastures and accompanied by birds singing. In summer, flowers and wild plants serve as a beautiful carpet which makes it even more impressive.
This part of Durmitor is very quiet. Most likely you will be the only (or one of a few people) on the entire path.
HIKE AROUND THE BLACK LAKE
Length: 2.2 miles (3.5km) loop
In the beginning, I didn’t want to include this Durmitor hiking trail on the list at all. Black Lake in Montenegro is one of the most touristy places and it always gets crowded. I feel everyone knows about it anyways. A lot of visitors, when visiting Durmitor, mainly go to this one place, missing out on so many other wonderful spots around. Still, I decided to mention it and put my two cents.
If you plan on staying overnight in Zabljak and spending at least 2 full days in the area, I definitely recommend going see Black Lake and, if possible, hike around it. If you have only one day, do not spend it hiking around this lake. Check it out quickly and better drive on one of the most spectacular roads in Montenegro Sedlo pass (which goes through the park) and do another trek from this list.
A path that goes around the lake is flat and it takes around an hour and a half to make a loop. For a better view and fewer people come in the morning.
Length: 1.2 km (0.7 miles) one way, 2 hours hike
At the north end of Durmitor, Curevac trek introduces visitors to the second largest canyon in the world Tara Canyon. If you don’t have a lot of time in the park and wonder what are the best things to do, make sure to include this hike.
The get to the trail you need to drive north from Zabljak towards Tepca. The road winds through a forest and is a bit bumpy, so it usually takes between 30 and 40 minutes to get to a trailhead.
Once you are on a trail, the beginning is a bit steep, later it is mainly flat but twisty and mostly on rocks. Although the path is rocky and slows you down, the trek is easy and can be completed within a 1.5-2 hours roundtrip. It’s actually one of the easiest hikes in Durmitor National Park. But going on it will let you walk on the edge of Europe’s largest and deepest canyon.
It is advisable to go during the first part of the day, especially if you are hiking in summer. The reason for that is sunlight. Overlooking Tara Canyon during the sunset from the Curevak trail is not the best idea. Sunlight blocks the view and it is very difficult to see the vastness of the gorge.
HIKE TO SUSICKO LAKE
Length: From half a day to a full day
The best time to go on this hike is spring through mid-summer. Susicko lake is one of the periodical lakes in Montenegro and it generally dries out in August. Going to hike at that time or later will open up only canyon views (which are magnificent too.)
Hike here starts in the North-Western part of Durmitor and is one of the least visited places in Montenegro. The scenery is very different from what you find anywhere else in Durmitor. High cliffs and old pine forest surround the lake on both sides. Trekking through this canyon, even when the lake is not there, is an absolutely unforgettable experience.
You would need to drive to the small town of Nedajno (or Mala Crna Gora if coming from Zabljak) where you can park a car and start a hike.
Technically, there is a narrow asphalt road that starts from Nadejno town and goes all the way into the mountains passing by Susicko Lake. But to be honest, that road is so narrow, with so many curves and dropoffs that driving there will take all joy away. I recommend hiking that distance instead.
We’ve been driving on similar roads many times and every time had stressed out immensely. Usually, only one car can fit on the road, so if another vehicle is coming from the opposite direction (which is rare in that area but still possible,) it is very difficult to pass each other. One of the drivers should be skillful enough to back up and find a spot to pull aside.
Walking or hiking this road, on the contrary, is a wonderful way to enjoy the views and have a relaxing time. The road to the lake is around 5 miles long (8 km) one way with some descent into the canyon, so it shouldn’t take a lot of time to get there.
An alternative would be to go to Mala Crna Gora village. There, in the southern part, you’ll find a trail that descends into the Susica Canyon and reaches Susicko Lake. From there the hike is a bit shorter – 3.5 miles (5.5 miles) one way.
SAVIN KUK HIKE
Difficulty: From easy to medium, depending on how you do it
Length: Depends – from a few hours to 8 hours
Savin Kuk is probably the most visited peak in Durmitor National Park because of the ski center at its foothill and chairlift that goes through it to the summit. There are two options on how to get to the peak.
The first one, the easy one: you can ride a skylift and from the last stop hike around 0.7 miles (1 km) to the summit. The 1-kilometer hike sounds very easy but in reality, for some people, it may be challenging due to wind gusts and rocky twisty trail. Mark and I were there in October when the weather was sunny and relatively warm but, oh my gosh, how crazily windy it was on the top. A few times we had to stop and almost lay down because the wind was that strong. I think overall it took us 30 minutes to cover that short distance.
On the way back we met a local and he told us that winds are very common in this area during any time of the year. So just be aware of that.
The second option is to hike the entire distance instead of taking a chairlift. If you opt to hike then expect to sweat and cry but also get incredible scenery. You should definitely be in good shape to handle the elevation gain of more than 2 km. Also, don’t forget the proper clothing and shoes! We decided to go with this second option, wearing jeans and sneakers, and on the way back I barely made it, seriously. The views and the entire ascent were absolutely magical though.
Taking a lift saves time and eases the process of getting to the summit but a hike guarantees unforgettable moments and a really good workout.
The trailhead to Savin Kuk starts near the restaurant ‘KOLIBA’ and Ski Center in Virak.
PRUTAS PEAK HIKE
Length: Half a day
This hike offers some of the most dramatic views in Durmitor National Park. Prutas is one of the largest peaks in this park and the view you get from the viewpoint reminds a lot of Alps peaks. Not only the view though. The entire trail looks very similar to one of the trails in the Alps of Austria or South Tyrol (just on a smaller scale.)
The landscape changes a few times throughout this hike – from limestone rocks to green grassy valleys and meadows with flowers (if hiking in spring and summer.)
If you are deciding between a hike to Bobotov Kuk or this one to Prutas Peak, choose Prutas. Yes, Bobotov Kuk is the highest peak in Durmitor but it doesn’t offer as impressive scenery as Prutas does. And it’s more challenging. Plus, on top of Prutas you get to see Bobotov Kuk peak in all its beauty.
The time it takes to do this hike and the intensity depends on where you start. There are 4 or even 5 different trails leading to the peak, but from our experience, the best way is to start either at Sarban water spring (or Dobri Do) or Pistet water spring (Todorov Do.)
The hike that starts at Todorov Do is really intense. The first third of a trail is very steep and you basically climb the mountain for the first hour or so. Do not attempt it if it has been raining or snowing. It gets very, very slippery and you can easily slip down, especially on the way back.
Distance-wise, this hike is shorter than the one from Dobri Do, but if you are not an experienced hiker it may take more time to get to the top. This hike is great for those who love a challenge. The view will be their reward after putting an effort into a steep ascent.
HIKING DURMITOR SKRCKA LAKES VALLEY
Length: From half a day to the entire day
To get to Skrcka Lakes Valley to be able to see two beautiful lakes you would need to start hiking at the same spot from where you hike to Prutas Peak. Actually, from Prutas viewpoint you can see these lakes in a distance. And if you keep hiking for the next 1.5 miles (2.4 km) you’ll get to Skrcka Lakes. The farther away you go from Prutas Peak the more pristine the landscape is going to be.
In the valley between the lakes, there is a little hut where visitors can stay overnight and dine. It is mainly open during the summer months only, so keep that in mind and don’t forget to pack snacks and water for the hike.
Hike to Skrcka Lakes Valley can be a solid one day trip. Technically it is possible to cover everything during 5-6 hours (round trip,) but why would you be in a rush? Take your time, enjoy the scenery and beautiful day in the wilderness.
If you decide to start at Dobri Do, you can always skip Prutas Peak and go straight to the lakes. It will save you some time. If starting at Todorov Do, the trail passes by Prutas, so you get a chance to see the peak and the lakes. This is our favorite option. In my opinion, the views are more impressive and the hike is shorter. But you should be comfortable and prepared to take this trail.
WHERE TO STAY: THE BEST DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK ACCOMMODATION
If you have more time in Montenegro, I highly encourage you to spend at least one night in Durmitor National Park or anywhere near it. There is just so much to do and see that one day will not be enough. Plan at least two days.
Zabljak, a village at the foot of Durmitor, is small and you won’t find tons of options where to stay. During all our visits we personally stayed in three types of accommodation. Check below if any of them can be a good option for you too:
MOUNTAIN COTTAGE – beautiful, luxurious, quiet, and simply the best place to stay in Zabljak if your budget allows. I think it was one of the best places where we stayed in Montenegro on all our visits. I’ll let you see the photos and read many excellent reviews of others to get inspired.
SOA HOTEL – a lovely hotel located within walking distance from Black Lake. We stayed there one night and had a very pleasant experience. Mark and I have been working for Marriott sometime ago and thought that Soa looked very similar to Courtyard in Kentucky where we used to live, just on a smaller scale. A comfortable lobby, courteous staff, delicious breakfast, and cozy room awaited us in this hotel.
The rooms are not big but comfortable. My main demand for any place where we stay is its cleanness and high level of comfort. Even if the accommodation is simple, it still should be clean and deliver a certain level of comfort. Soa hotel met that requirement.
No matter what type of room you book, breakfast is included as well as one hour in the sauna. Breakfast comes in the form of a buffet with plenty of various foods on the table. The building is new and modern. Rooms are clean, food is delicious, service is great and Durmitor National park is within walking distance only.
Check prices and availability for SOA Hotel on Booking.com
POLAR STAR – another good choice that can suit various types of travelers. Those who love spacious rooms when traveling in a small company and others who travel with children or a few friends.
Every room here doesn’t even look like a hotel room. It reminds me more of an apartment with a full-size kitchen. You can cook as you wish and feel almost at home. Although bringing your own spices, salt and oil is a good idea. There are none in the room.
We stayed in a one-bedroom suite with a separate bedroom and living room where we could work and watch TV. Our room was one of the smallest. So if you come with family or friends, there will be enough room for everyone. Breakfast is included in the rate, comes as a buffet and there are a lot of items to choose from.
Even though the property is located near a major road, it is quiet and peaceful.
This hotel is only 10 minutes away from the Zabljak city center in a picturesque setting. If you have a car, driving to and from Polar Star will not be a problem.
Check prices and availability for Polar Star on Booking.com
Are you convinced yet to do some of Durmitor National Park hiking?
More Montenegro Inspiration
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- 6 Easy Scenic Walking Trails Along the Montenegro Coast
- Best Day Trips From Kotor
- Car Hire & Driving in Montenegro – Things to Know