There are plenty of reasons why many consider Montenegro to be the most beautiful country in the Balkans, and Durmitor National Park sits front and centre of those. Whether you’re interested in adrenaline-heavy activities or simply appreciating the aesthetics, Durmitor is somewhere you absolutely must visit.
The abundance of hikers heading to Durmitor National Park means the trails are very well labelled, but experienced strollers can still find plenty of challenges. Bobotov Kuk is the highest peak in the country, a majestic mountain 2,523m in the air and found in the heart of the park. There are a number of paths that lead up to the peak, each tailored for hikers of different experience. The views from the top will impress both amateurs and pros alike.
The Tara river is one of the most engrossing waterways in the Balkans, and there is no better way to experience it than by diving right into its heart. By ‘diving’ we mean ‘rafting’, and it’s easy to see why this is the most popular activity in the country. You don’t need to be a rafting expert to enjoy it either, although the rapids can get a little heady in spring.
Durmitor isn’t all about putting the pedal to the metal. The white-water rapids and thrilling canyons feel a long way away when you get to Dobrilovina, a Serbian Orthodox monastery on the edge of the park. There isn’t a huge amount to see here (the frescoes inside the church are definitely worth seeking out, however), but you’ll struggle to find a more scenic setting for some deep thinking.
On the list of gorges around the world, only the Grand Canyon can claim to drop deeper than the Tara River Canyon. It sinks 1,300m from the tips of the cliffs to the water, and the views are as inspiring from the bottom as they are majestic from the top. Waterfalls, caves and cascades abound as nature well and truly shows off. This is Montenegro’s most incredible attraction.
The Balkans is full of elegant bridges, but few are as awe-inspiring as the Đurđevića Tara Bridge. This overpass crosses the Tara river, passing 365m from start to end and surrounded by the most verdant nature in the park. Completed in 1940 (just in time for World War II to put it in real jeopardy), this was the longest concrete arched vehicular bridge in the continent at the time, and remains its most beautiful.
Durmitor National Park is home to 18 glacial lakes, many of which are located in truly stunning settings. The forebodingly-named Black Lake (Crno jezero) is the highlight, the most-visited spot in the entire park and one that deserves every single visitor it gets. The name comes from the shadow created by the ominous Međed Peak, but there is no fear to be found at this magical spot.
Scattered across the entire Balkan region, the mysterious stone monuments called stećci are largely associated with Herzegovina. A few can be found in Durmitor National Park however, two of which represent some of the most significant of them all. The Greek Graveyard (Grčko groblje) and Bare Žugića are different in size but similar in importance, cemeteries full of intricately-designed tombstones that are unique to this part of the world.
For four months of the year, Durmitor offers some of the best skiing in the entire Balkans. A number of ski centres can be found on these magnificent slopes, and the prices will cause many seasoned slalom supporters to rub their eyes in disbelief. Most of the slopes up here are on the most relaxed side, but those in search of a challenge will find plenty to keep them on their toes.
Durmitor isn’t just a magnet for eager tourists – it’s also home to hundreds of different birds, mammals and more. More than 160 of the former are found here, along with what is believed to be Europe’s biggest variety of butterflies. Small amphibians and large mammals are also found, although you are unlikely to encounter any bears or wolves. Well, fingers crossed anyway!
Not one for the inexperienced. Durmitor’s Nevidio Canyon is another enchantingly alluring spot in the national park, but this cat has claws. The clue is in the name (Nevidio literally means ‘invisible’), and this 2.7km long canyon is defined by its difficult nature. This is one for experienced explorers only, but those with history in the sport are advised to head here in the heart of summer for something truly special.