Durmitor National Park – a highlight of northern Montenegro
The Durmitor National Park (Montenegro) is a huge eco-reserve with a unique landscape, reminiscent of a vivid fairy tale. The untouched nature of the majestic mountains, pine forests and lakes with the clearest water is only a few things you can see on the territory of the national park. Durmitor is the heart of the north of Montenegro and if you come here, you will see a completely different country. In this article I will tell you about the main locations of the national park and make a detailed map.
History of the National Park Durmitor
According to one version, the name of the Montenegrin massif, after which the national park was named, comes from “dru-mi-tor” (Celtic), which means “water from the mountains”. According to another legend, the Roman legionaries in these places prayed to the gods for the tranquility of the mountains, so that they would not be hindered. Thus, the word “Dormir” (Italian), translated as “sleep”, appeared.
For the first time the King of Montenegro Nikola I Petrovic thought about the value of the Durmitor lands. In 1907 he issued a decree on the special status of these territories, and provided protection by the state.
Status of the Montenegrin National Park Durmitor received in 1952. At that time the first bases for skiers were laid out here.
In the late 70s of the XX century, the rapid development of the resort began. Tourist routes to glacial lakes and conquering of mountain peaks appeared. And in 1978 the territory of the park was joined by the canyon of the Tara River.
In 1980 the reserve was inscribed on the UNESCO list under No. 100. The recognition as a World Heritage Site spurred the interest of European tourists.
National park Durmitor today
Durmitor National Park is the largest mountain range in Montenegro. At more than 2,000 meters rise 48 mountain peaks. Bobotov Cook – the highest of them (2523 m). The limestone plateau is dissected by deep gorges. Are preserved coniferous and deciduous forests, alpine meadows, about 750 springs and 18 glacial lakes.
There grow relict plants, there are more than 300 varieties of animals, 170 species of birds and about 150 types of butterflies. Along the Tara River stretches untouched forests of unique black pine.
The park has 7 ecosystems. The local climate is formed due to the sharp differences in elevation. The long winters attract fans of downhill skiing to the Montenegrin National Park Durmitor.
- Komarnitsa Plateau.
- The rivers Draga and Sushitsa.
- Canyon of the Tara River.
- High mountain massif of Durmitor.
- Black and other mountain lakes.
The total area of the national park Durmitor is almost 400 square kilometers.
For recreation in the summer period are designed hiking trails through the forests, meadows, and mountain trails. In summer you can pick forest berries, in the fall – mushrooms.
Durmitor National Park is a paradise for climbers. You can also go horseback riding in the alpine meadows. Serious rafting awaits the extreme on the Tare River in the spring, or come here in the summer and choose a leisurely swim.
Main points and locations in the national park
Surely there are places in the national park Durmitor where no man has set a foot. But we are not going to tempt fate, and will follow the well-trodden paths.
Durmitor National Park is famous for its unique lakes. The black glacial lake is one of the brightest symbols of the reserve. It is formed by two reservoirs. In summer, they partially dry up, forming isthmuses, and fill up in spring.
People call them “mountain eyes” because they look like two large eyes from above. Everything here is thought out for a comfortable holiday and tourism activities.
In winter there are open ski slopes, and in summer there are hiking trails to conquer the peaks. The way one way will take about 4 hours.
If you want to save your energy, you can take a cable car. It climbs to the top of the mountain and begins near the village of Virak. The reward is a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding valleys of the national park of Montenegro – Durmitor.
Motor vehicle bridge built in the first half of XX century, reaches a height of approximately 180 m. The monumental structure is breathtaking, and sensitive people should not look down from it at all. It is among the highest bridges in Europe. It is a great place for juicy pictures. Daredevils can take a ride on one of the zip-lines.
Tara River Canyon
Length is 80 km, the gorge in some places up to 1.3 km deep. The canyon is considered the second most important on the planet. The river with a mountainous temperament Tara attracts thrill-seekers for rafting.
The main attractions of the north of Montenegro are its nature and the Sedlo Pass is a vivid example of this. Another planet, extraordinary landscapes, 360 degree panoramas are just a few epithets to describe these places. There are tours, but it is better to come on your own by car. The way from Zabljak will take 30 minutes.
An intangible museum of ice sculptures is located at an altitude of more than 2 km. The cave is 100 m long and is filled with incredible reliefs of stalagmites made of shimmering ice. Nature acted as a surrealist artist. Even in the heat of summer, all this beauty does not melt. But without special equipment and training to penetrate into its bowels is not worth it.
There are historical sites in the park as well:
- Ancient Roman burials (Novakoviči village).
- Dovolja Monastery.
- The Church of St. Michael the Archangel.
- Dobrilovina Monastery with the church of St. George.
Prices in the Durmitor Park
Entrance and entrance fees to the National Park Durmitor. The prices are as follows.
- The ticket for a day – 3 euros.
- For 3 days it is 6 euros.
- Weekly ticket – 12 euros.
- For 20 days 20 euros.
- Parking € 2.
Be sure to keep your ticket after you buy it!
I know of only one ticket office, open from morning till evening. It’s the one by the road to the Black Lake. There is also a small parking lot, for which you have to pay. From Zabljak to the ticket office is about 2 km, 25 minutes on foot. Also in the season employees check tickets at the parking lot, from which begins the ascent to the peak Curevac (at the beginning of October there were none).
The ticket office can be bypassed, the blessing of the trails leading to the same Black Lake, in the woods a few. BUT! If you are on the territory of the national park, in theory, you must have an entrance ticket. I didn’t believe in the checking park employees until I was personally stopped at Snake Lake with the words “Control Ticket” and asked to see it. And then another acquaintance told me how they were walking along the trail near the village of Ivan Do in the direction of the Black Lake and met a park employee in uniform. They had to buy a ticket from him.
However, after three days of driving and hiking in the Durmitor National Park, I did not buy a ticket. Not because I don’t have any money, but because I don’t want to pay for hiking trails. After all, there is no other infrastructure on the territory of the national park besides trails and benches.
I don’t like the Montenegrins’ policy in this regard at all. They either use what nature gave them or what they built long ago. Got an old olive tree? Yeah, let’s put a fence around it and charge money for the entrance. And they do not want to hear about infrastructure development, investment in tourism, development and implementation of some chips in Montenegro…
Given the fact that before visiting Montenegro I spent two nights in the Tara National Park in Serbia and one night in the Triglav National Park in Slovenia, where there is no charge for the entrance, I did not want to buy a ticket in Durmitor.
Map of the National Park Durmitor in the Russian language
I made for you the most detailed map of the National Park Durmitor in Russian. But my advice is not to use Google Maps, where I made the map, but the application Maps.me. And it is not even the fact that it works in offline mode, because cell phone service in Montenegro costs a penny. The main advantage of Maps.me is that there you will find almost all the trails in the National Park Durmitor. The download of the markers is very simple – you click on the three points and save them in kml format.
In addition, all the markers on the map are divided into two groups.
- Blue locations that I visited personally. There are separate articles about them and links to them in this post you either already met or will meet below. I’ll also leave the links in the tag descriptions.
- The red locations are places I haven’t gotten to yet.
How to get to the national park
The main ways to get to Durmitor National Park (Montenegro) are three.
- By own/rented car.
- By public transport.
- With a tour.
I will describe each of these ways in detail, but jumping ahead to say that the first is the best. Only by traveling by car you can see all the beauty of northern Montenegro and the National Park Durmitor. I went there from the coast for three nights, but it was so cool that I extended the accommodation for one more night. And if it wasn’t for the weather forecast, I would have happily stayed a couple more days.
The end point of the trip to the National Park Durmitor I suggest to make Zabljak – there is the most accommodation. Although there is enough of it in the vicinity.
In the national park by car
I went to the National Park Durmitor by car. If you come to Montenegro, rather than travel by car, I recommend you to rent a car. And you should approach this matter sensibly, thoughtfully, with consideration. I have written a large article on this subject.
How to get by car from the coast to the north of Montenegro? It all depends on how much time you allocate for the National Park Durmitor. The ideal, in my opinion, is this. It is designed for 2-3 days.
- We drive from Budva or any other seaside resort to Piva Lake (on the way we stop at the Piva Monastery). One of the coolest attractions in Montenegro is already on your list.
- This afternoon we reach the place where we rented accommodation – Zabljak and the surrounding area. We drive either through the Sedlo Pass or through the Mala Crna Gora and the canyon of the Susica River. We check in.
- The next day we spend hiking – Black Lake, Snake Lake, climbing Savin Kuk, driving to Poplar Lake and Cape Churevac.
- If already a couple to the sea, we return to the coast through the bridge Djurdjevic, the canyon of the Tara River and the canyon of the Moraca River. If we still have time, we choose an activity to our hearts’ content – a trip around the circle of Durmitor, conquering Bobotov Kuk, a hike to the Ice Cave.
But the trip to the National Park Durmitor via Lake Pivskoe is not the easiest and fastest way. Do you want to get to Zabljak as fast as possible? Go through Podgorica, Niksic and Shavnik. Serpentines are present, but not with deep gorges, as when driving along the canyon of the river Moraca or to Ostrog monastery. The quality of the roadway is good.
Of all the places that I described, paid parking only in one – at the ticket office of National park Durmitor. And that is on condition that your car will be noticed by the cashier.
Time is short and you want to visit the National Park Durmitor in one day? In that case, I advise you to book an excursion. So at least you will not have to watch the road and see more interesting things.
To the national park by bus
There are no direct buses from Montenegro to Zabljak. You have to change by bus. For example, from Budva to Zabljak, you first travel to Podgorica, then to Zabljak. A one way ticket with change costs 13 euros: 5 to Podgorica and 8 to Zabljak. From other resorts to the north of Montenegro is similar. Another option is to transfer in Niksic. You can plan to walk around the city for an hour.
See the current schedule on busticket4.me.
The main disadvantage of this method is the loss of time. Even if you leave Budva at 6 am, you will arrive in Zabljak only in the afternoon.
The bus is very doubtful alternative to the rented car. Even in terms of finances. If there are two of you, then on a return ticket you will spend at least 52 euros. For this money you can rent a car for a day and fill up with gasoline, which is enough for the road to Durmitor.
In the national park with a tour.
Very long thought about how to tell about the excursions to the National Park Durmitor. Because on the one hand I am against the trip to the north of Montenegro in one day. You will not understand all the charm and the whole charm of these places. Here 30 minutes, here 45, here 60, and all at a gallop, everywhere driving. On the other hand, I understand very well that many people come here for 7-10 days and such tourists physically cannot spare 1 or 2 nights in the National park Durmitor. Not to mention three or four nights.
Therefore, if you want to visit the north of Montenegro in one day and get the maximum experience, order a customized tour. If the budget is limited, then your choice is a group tour. I recommend one of the best organizers of such trips. The guys from Olimpus value their reputation and try to ensure that their customers are always satisfied. And the vast majority of positive reviews confirm my words.
Individual tours to the National Park Durmitor
Group tours to the north of Montenegro
Canyons excursion is one of the most popular excursions in Montenegro. days of the excursion depend on the month, so look at the site. All day tour. Starts early in the morning, you come back after dark. You will see a lot during the day: the canyon of the river Moraca and the monastery with the same name, the canyon of the river Tara, Djuradjevica bridge, National park Durmitor, Black lake, Zabljak, Sedlo pass and other mountains of the north of Montenegro. The tour is very rich.
For the price it may be a little more expensive than they sell on the streets of your resort. But follow the link and you will find many REAL reviews. And there’s nowhere to read reviews about the tours on the streets.
Grand Canyons tour by minibus – this outing costs a little more, but you don’t go on a big bus, but on a minibus. In a group of up to 20 people. You will visit all of the attractions listed above plus Beer Lake.
Brief conclusions and tips
Theses about the National Park Durmitor
- I do not recommend planning a trip to the north of Montenegro in advance. Better 2-4 days in advance to see the weather forecast. I spent four nights in the mountains and on departure I felt sorry for the Poles who had just arrived and were taking their luggage out of the car in the rain. Always check the weather forecast!
- Even if the forecast says 20 degrees and sunny – take warm clothes. This is the mountains and that says it all. It is better to dress in layers and take off a jacket or sweatshirt if it gets hot, than freeze in one T-shirt. I left the coast at +26, and after four hours I was parking in front of my apartment near Zabljak and the thermometer showed +17. And this is not the maximum temperature difference.
- Comfortable shoes – the key to a good experience in the mountains. Especially if you’re going to walk a lot and especially if you want to conquer one of the tops of the national park. I noticed that all European tourists come to the park Durmitor prepared. Almost everyone I met on the trails had hiking boots on their feet. Russian tourists, including me, walk in sneakers at most. Although I met people in sandals too . Even a simple ascent to Cape Curevac in sneakers is not quite comfortable.
- Download Maps.me, an indispensable app for hikers. There are almost all the trails, and the maps also mark lookouts, water sources, and benches. Another app I recommend is Nacionalni parkovi CG (National Parks of Montenegro). It has maps with routes and other useful information about the national parks of Durmitor, Lovcen, Biogradska Gora, Prokletije and Lake Skadar. But only two languages – Serbian and English.
And finally. Durmitor National Park in Montenegro is a place that is timeless. A corner of unspoiled nature for those who are tired of the crowds of tourists on the coast. Be sure to come here and see that only mountains can be better than mountains .