Europe, Montenegro

Montenegro for Outdoor Enthusiasts – Gallop Around The Globe

September 18, 2017

I recently took a 7-day road trip around Montenegro, and whilst many may argue that’s barely enough time to even scratch the surface, I believe that it gave me a great little taster of everything this incredible country has to offer.

Although Montenegro is primarily known for its coastal cities (namely Kotor and Budva), this little European gem that’s sandwiched between Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania has a whole lot more to offer than beaches and bars.

It contains some of the most rugged mountain ranges in Europe (averaging more than 2000 metres (6600 feet) in elevation), as well as one of the deepest canyons, making it the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

Here are just a few of the outdoor activities you can enjoy in Montenegro.

Skiing in the Durmitor National Park

Formed by glaciers and traversed by rivers and underground streams, the Durmitor Nacionalni Park is located in the north of the country, close to the border of Bosnia and Hercegovina.  The quaintly ramshackle town of Žabljak (pronounced “Jablak”) transforms into a lively ski resort in the winter months.

Whilst Durmitor is pretty small when compared to some of its western counterparts, like many of the Balkan ski resorts it offers great value for money and has some beautiful gladed off-piste runs and masses of powder.


Photo by Luigi Torreggiani via Flickr Creative Commons licence

Where to stay in Durmitor National Park: We stayed at Hotel Soa on the outskirts of Žabljak.  Its rooms and on-site restaurant overlook the ski slopes, and guests even get complimentary use of the hotel’s sauna – the perfect way to relax after an action packed day of skiing and snowboarding.

Rafting or kayaking on the Tara River

The Tara River Canyon is 82 kilometres long and 1300 metres at its deepest, making it the deepest river canyon in Europe.  It forms part of the Durmitor National Park, and is protected under UNESCO World Heritage status.

Wild, but also stunningly pristine, with waters the colour of rich malachite, the Tara River makes the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

The most popular one-day rafting route sees travellers begin their journey in Brstanovica and continue down an 18-kilometre stretch, through 21 of the river’s 50 rapids, as far as Sćepan Pole on the Montenegro/Bosnia and Herzegovina border.

Rafting on the Tara River

Zip-lining across the Tara Canyon

If you’d rather view the canyon from above then you can always take a walk across the Tara Bridge – a 365-metre long structure that stands 150 metres above the Tara River.  The bridge was completed in 1940, and at the time it was the largest concrete arched vehicular bridge in Europe.

If walking isn’t quite satisfying enough for all you adrenalin junkies out there then how about flying? A couple of zip-line outfits have set up shop close to the bridge and will send you soaring high above the valley floor at speeds of up to 50 kilometres per hour.

Zip-lining across the Tara River

Hiking in the Biogradska Gora National Park

There are a number of areas that you can go hiking in Montenegro – the Black Lake in Durmitor National Park, the Coastal Mountain Traversal in Lovcen National Park, and the Peaks of the Balkans trail in the Prokletije Mountains – but for a truly authentic experience and a large dose of mountain hospitality, head to the Biogradska Gora National Park and stay in one of the traditional wooden chalets that are scattered around this part of Montenegro.

Wooden chalet, Eko Katun Stavna

Here you’ll find roaring open fires, cosy woollen blankets, hearty home-cooked food, and complimentary shots of the local plum brandy to warm your bones after long days of hiking and mountain biking through primeval forests, and to high-altitude glacial lakes.

Where we stayed: Eko Katun Stavna, situated at the foot of Komovi Mountain, 1800 metres above sea level.  It’s a real off-the-beaten path experience, and on a clear day the views from here are absolutely incredible.

Bird-watching on Lake Skadar

If you’d rather spend your time outdoors floating on the calm waters of the Balkan’s largest lake then absolutely do not miss a visit to Skadar. Lake Skadar – two thirds of which lies in Montenegro and the remaining third in Albania – is renowned as one of Europe’s top bird habitats, and is home to approximately 270 different species.

Lake Skadar

A protected National Park since 1983, Lake Skadar is a blissfully pretty area surrounded by dramatic Karst mountains.  You’ll find traditional fishing villages, and pristine beaches dotted around its shoreline, and an overwhelming number of enthusiastic boat-owners eager to take your money and show you around.

Lake Skadar

Where we stayed near Lake Skadar: Cetinje is an easy 30-minute drive from Vipazar (on the shores of the lake) and is the country’s old capital.  Not many people visit Cetinje because it’s so small and there’s not a lot to do there, but it’s a lovely little city, and makes a great base from which to explore the surrounding areas.  I can recommend these apartments.  Not only were they incredible value for money (just €20 / £17 per night), but our hosts were the kindest people we met in the whole of Montenegro.

Have you visited Montenegro and tried your hand at any of the above experiences? Tell me about it in the comments below!

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Montenegro for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Montenegro for Outdoor Enthusiasts-3

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  • Reply Zara September 23, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    Wowzers! Just look at that scenery. The ultimate outdoorsy place. So need to go to Montenegro, I know I’d love it!

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:47 AM

      “Wowsers!” haha, that reminds me of the Inspector Gadget cartoons I used to watch as a kid! But yes, the scenery in Montenegro is totally worthy of that exclamation 😉

  • Reply Lina September 23, 2017 at 12:52 PM

    Really looks like you explored a lot in that time!
    I would love to do some birdwatching in Skadar.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:48 AM

      Considering that we had just 7 days in the country, I think we managed to fit a lot in too. I’d love to return to do some more hiking though 🙂

  • Reply This Epic World September 23, 2017 at 1:25 PM

    That Ziplining though! Absolutely terrifying and beautiful :O

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:51 AM

      Zip-lining isn’t actually as terrifying as it looks. I remember the first time I did it, head first and over the jungle in Bolivia. I was so frightened I almost backed out. So glad I didn’t, it was just like flying high above the jungle canopy – totally and utterly incredible!

  • Reply Nicola September 23, 2017 at 2:42 PM

    I heard so many great things about Montenegro. I love your list of activities, especially the zip line and the rafting tour.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:52 AM

      If you love the great outdoors and you’re a sucker for beautiful landscapes, you NEED to make it to Montenegro!

  • Reply Carmelatte September 23, 2017 at 8:13 PM

    Montenegro <3 so popular lately! It's also on my list, looks like a great country!


    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:52 AM

      It really is! I hope you make it there soon 🙂

  • Reply Bryony September 23, 2017 at 11:17 PM

    My boyfriend was in Montenegro a couple of years ago whilst I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia and I had planned to go meet him but it didn’t work out. A massive regret for me to be honest because I’ve read so many amazing things on Montenegro including your post. I love that you’ve gone for an active and outdoor element because that part of South Eastern Europe doesn’t get enough credit for how naturally beautiful it is. Great tips and really informative post. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:55 AM

      Gutted you didn’t make it there, but Croatia is a beautiful country too, albeit a little more ‘discovered’! I loved the Plitvice Lakes and touring around Korcula and Hvar by motorcycle 🙂

  • Reply Caroline September 24, 2017 at 10:15 AM

    Oh my, that shot from the bridge! STUNNING. And all the water lilies! Beautiful. Glad you are back blogging 🙂

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 10:56 AM

      I’m glad I am too! I feel so much happier when I’m writing 🙂

  • Reply Brianna September 24, 2017 at 12:51 PM

    Someone was just telling me the other day that Montenegro is the most beautiful place they’ve visited. I would want to kayak on that beautiful river! It looks so clear and cool. They also mentioned something about a monastery in the mountains that couldn’t be missed too…

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 1:04 PM

      Yes, the monastery is definitely worth visiting – as much for the setting and the incredible panoramic views as for the monastery itself. It’s called Ostrog and I’ll be writing a post on it very soon 🙂

  • Reply Lena September 24, 2017 at 2:56 PM

    Montenegro, the gem of Balkans. I always wanted to visit, heard it is a beautiful place and from what I can read in your article, it is true 🙂

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 24, 2017 at 3:35 PM

      It’s certainly a beautiful place, and still largely unspoilt too 🙂

  • Reply Jon Dunn September 26, 2017 at 8:04 AM

    Great piece! 🙂
    I never made it to Durmitor or Biogradska Gora and instead spent my week based in Kotor and Bar.
    Amazing country throughout, I spent time in Herceg Novi, Perast, Budva and explored Kotor from top to bottom and adored it.
    Bar is pretty much a modern port town but really handy for Virpazar, on lake Skadar and also Stari Bar, the old mainly Ottoman city now abandoned and mainly in ruins, complete with aqueduct.
    Took a 3 hour boat trip on the lake (from a guy like you mentioned in your blog) and it was the most magical thing ever. We got up really close to a pair of Dalmatian pelicans and saw loads of other stuff .
    Highly recommended for anyone who wants to chill out in peace and nature for a few hours.

    • Reply Kiara Gallop September 26, 2017 at 6:35 PM

      We were really hoping to make it to Stari Bar, but in the end it was just too far out the way for the time we had available at the end of our trip, and also considering that we had to stay longer in Cetinje than we’d planned in order to get our passports back (long story; all explained in my Roadtripping Montenegro post!)

      I agree though, Kotor was stunning and lived up to all expectations, and Perast and Lake Skadar were beautiful too 🙂

  • Reply Makmudul Hassan June 9, 2021 at 12:30 PM

    I heard so many great things about Montenegro. I love your list of activities, especially the zip line and the rafting tour.

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