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How To Discover Lake Skadar Montenegro

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Post author Bram

Written by our native knowledgeable Bram

Bram was born and raised in Belgium and has traveled the Balkans & past. He’s knowledgeable freelance journey author and photographer specializing in out of doors journey with an emphasis on nationwide parks, nature, and wildlife.

Not essentially essentially the most well-known place in Europe, Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is a quite spectacular vacation spot. Surrounded by karst mountains and rocky shores, that is the biggest lake within the Balkans.

Not essentially essentially the most outstanding place in Europe, Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is a quite spectacular vacation spot. That is the biggest lake within the Balkans, surrounded by karst mountains and rocky shores. It holds a prime spot on our listing of family-friendly locations in Montenegro.

Due to its implausible variety, Lake Skadar belongs on any southern European journey itinerary, even in case you go to within the winter months. That is very true in case you love nature and the nice open air. Massive wetland areas present important habitats for birds, whereas historic cities and native meals entice vacationers.

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Lake Skadar Overview

Lake Skadar fashioned thousands and thousands of years in the past when it was previously only a bay off the Adriatic. Nevertheless, with erosion and modifications to the panorama, the previous bay reworked right into a lake, which receives most of its water from the Moraca River earlier than heading all the way down to the Adriatic. 

Lake Skadar is a phenomenal spot and the biggest of the lakes within the Balkan area. It’s additionally the biggest in Europe total. It swells in the course of the winter months, due to further rainfall, extending its span to round 530 sq. kilometers; nonetheless, in the course of the summer time months, when rain is fairly scarce, it shrinks again all the way down to a nonetheless very respectable 370 sq. kilometers. 

Two-thirds of the lake sits in Montenegrin land, and the opposite third is in Albania. It is a vastly necessary biodiversity space, particularly for birds, because it’s an necessary resting place in the course of the migration of birds from Europe to Africa.  

From a historic viewpoint, Lake Skadar was a part of the Kingdom of Zeta earlier than being conquered within the 13th century by the Ottoman Turks. Upon the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Montenegro’s borders have been confirmed in 1875, with a part of the lake inside Albanian land. 

Beneath the lake’s floor, you’ll additionally discover the Skanderbeg, a steamboat sunk throughout World Battle II, sitting round 11 meters beneath the water’s floor. 

Lake Skadar Geography

Lake Skadar Montenegro | Montenegro Travel Guides
Lake Skadar Montenegro

Named after the city of Shkoder in northern Albania, Lake Skadar straddles the Montenegro-Albania border, positioned a fast drive from Podgorica and Budva on the Adriatic Coastline. Imaginative individuals may acknowledge in its form the form of a dolphin—the tail and about two-thirds of the dolphin’s physique lie in Montenegro, whereas the top and nostril lie in Albania.

The Montenegrin a part of Lake Skadar is protected as a nationwide park, identified logically as Lake Skadar Nationwide Park. The Albanian half is a managed nature reserve.

The Morača River feeds the lake whereas the Bojana River drains it into the Adriatic Sea. Moreover, a number of underwater karstic springs present the lake.

The lake’s water ranges fluctuate significantly over the yr, although its floor space varies between 140 sq. miles (370 sq. kilometers) and 200 sq. miles (530 sq. kilometers).



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Distinctive Biodiversity

Lake Skadar Montenegro | Montenegro Travel Blogger
Lake Skadar Montenegro

The numerous fluctuation in Lake Skadar’s floor space creates intensive wetlands in sure components of its shoreline. These locations are crucial locations for migratory birds and nesting grounds for numerous wetlands and water birds.

Land animals are considerable as effectively. The dry mountains are excellent biotopes for wild tortoises, vibrantly coloured lizards, and a few snakes. Land mammals embrace wild boars and the occasional wolf. For sure, this can be a dream vacation spot for birders and different nature lovers.

Lake Skadar is house to a number of threatened animal species; Lake Skadar is completely protected as a nationwide park in Montenegro and a nature reserve in Albania. It’s a part of the Ramsar Checklist of Wetlands of Worldwide Significance and has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage standing.

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Lake Skadar Nationwide Park

A protected nationwide park since 1983, Lake Skadar additionally has the excellence of being included within the Ramsar Conference’s Checklist of Wetlands of Worldwide Significance. Lake Skadar Nationwide Park is likely one of the largest nationwide parks in Montenegro, the lake itself is the biggest lake in southern Europe.

While you ask Montenegrins what to see in Montenegro, many will say Lake Skadar first. It is a area besieged by the Turks for its sources, a favourite vacation vacation spot for the previous royal household of Montenegro, and the placement of most of the finest natural farms and wineries within the nation. There may be, in different phrases, loads of selection, making this can be a magnificent vacation spot for a variety of vacationers, from avid hikers and nature fans to foodies and historical past buffs.

It’s only pure that this space grew to become a nationwide park. The truth is, Lake Skadar is mainly a nationwide park. There’s no distinction between the lake, area, or the park itself. They’re all the identical, a area characterised by centuries-old structure, superb landscapes, a bunch of outside enjoyable, and implausible and wholesome meals.

Lake Skadar Nationwide Park encompasses crucial pure areas and the primary cities across the lake, similar to Virpazar, which is the primary vacationer middle and gateway to the park.

Issues To Do In Lake Skadar, Montenegro

Lake Skadar Montenegro

So far as lakes in Europe go, that is among the many most weak, necessary, biodiverse, and visit-worthy. 

Chicken Watching

In the event you’re questioning what to see in Lake Skadar, the reply is straightforward: birds. As an internationally necessary birdlife refuge, Lake Skadar is a implausible vacation spot for ornithologists. It’s house to the uncommon Dalmatian pelican and one of many world’s largest colonies of pygmy cormorants.

Additionally it is a nesting place for no fewer than 250 different chook species, together with seagulls and storks, egrets and herons, and eagles and falcons. The lake’s water is house to nearly 50 fish species and quite a few mollusks species, which provides an considerable meals provide to a lot of these species.

Though it’s one in every of Europe’s most necessary areas for wintering birds, the lake is great for bird-watching all yr spherical. In spring, you may witness the birds’ mating rituals, whereas in fall, you may see the migration of numerous species of birds, which may be fairly a spectacle.

Hike In The Surrounding Mountains

Surrounded by barren karst mountains, the lake can also be a wonderful base for climbing excursions. A number of climbing trails meander by way of the mountains, hills, and valleys, their locations as various as waterfalls and swimming holes, historic villages, and honey farms. The views from a mountain prime are completely magnificent.

Cycle Alongside Lake Skadar

Kayaking and climbing are extra widespread, however that doesn’t imply that biking in Lake Skadar Nationwide Park is just not implausible enjoyable. The truth is, by exploring the area on two wheels, you’ll be a lot sooner and be capable to cowl extra floor in a day. Extra exploration and nonetheless powered by your individual physique; what’s to not like about that?

Numerous biking trails meander alongside the lakeshore and throughout the encompassing countryside. So, lease a bicycle and pedal your manner by way of picturesque fishing villages, farmlands, and exquisite pure surroundings.

Lake Skadar Swimming

The comparatively heat water of Lake Skadar makes it a wonderful place for swimming, too. Though lake entry is just not out there all over the place on the lake, you’ll discover loads of seashores and waterfronts in and across the Lake Skadar villages and cities. Being lively, kayaking, climbing, and biking could also be the very best issues to do in Lake Skadar, however few individuals received’t recognize spending a day stress-free on a seashore.

One of the unimaginable seashores on Lake Skadar is Murice Seaside, the one sand seashore on Lake Skadar. It’s positioned in the midst of the lake’s southwestern shore, a brief drive southeast from Virpazar.

One other nice seashore is Pjesacac Seaside, located beneath the village of Godinje, a small and secluded seashore solely accessible by boat.

Kayak On Lake Skadar

Lake Skadar Montenegro | Montenegro Travel Guide
Peace and Quiet on Lake Skadar Montenegro

One of the widespread issues to do in Lake Skadar is kayaking. Kayaking is arguably essentially the most unimaginable factor you are able to do there, exploring the Balkans’ largest lake in excellent peace and soothing silence. Far faraway from the vacationers onshore, you’ll be capable to see wildlife from up shut and admire the lakeside villages, fortress ruins, and islet monasteries from a uniquely totally different perspective.

You possibly can lease kayaks for a few hours, go on week-long Lake Skadar kayaking adventures, or just about every part in between. Native outfitters provide quite a lot of (guided) kayaking choices.

Lake Cruises

Kayaking is one factor you are able to do on Lake Skadar, however in case you favor a extra leisurely affair, a cruise might be simply the ticket. It is a very stress-free expertise as you’re proper within the coronary heart of nature, with birds throughout you. 

Cruises can take something from an hour as much as eight hours, relying upon the kind of cruise you select. Most cruises additionally take you to the island jail of Grmozur. 

It’s additionally a good suggestion to decide on a standard cruise on a shallow-bottomed boat as these are capable of get into the shallow components of the lake, the place you’ll see extra wildlife. 

Grmozur Island

It is a former jail, and plenty of name it the Montenegrin model of Alcatraz. The jail sits on Snake/Chicken Island (identified domestically as each), and it was in-built 1843 by the Ottoman Turks. 

The jail was a spot for political prisoners who couldn’t swim, and it’s mentioned that even the guards couldn’t swim! It’s mentioned that if one of many prisoners ever escaped, the guard who was on responsibility on the time was compelled to serve the remainder of the prisoner’s sentence. 

Lesendro Fortress

Lesendro is a fortress that has fallen into wreck, however it’s nonetheless a beautiful place to go to. The fortress was initially in-built 1843 to guard towards Ottoman Turk invasions, however the island was captured in 1843 and constructed up much more. 

Nevertheless, the King needed to recapture the island and tried to reclaim it a number of instances earlier than lastly getting his manner in 1878. 

These days, the island sits on a peninsula, and there’s a bridge that you would be able to drive throughout. Nevertheless, a ship journey is finest if you wish to discover the fortress since you can’t park wherever on the bridge. 

Besac Fortress

On a hill behind Virpazar lies Besac Fortress, a Fifteenth-century stronghold constructed by the Turks that was just lately renovated. The scene of many bloody battles, this fortress additionally served as a jail in the course of the Italian occupation of Montenegro in World Battle II. You will get there by way of an ascending strolling path that’s signposted on the highway from Virpazar to Murici, simply south of the city middle.

This is likely one of the quite a few historic monuments and fortifications that make up a number of the most important Lake Skadar sights. And it’s one of the crucial accessible, too. Plus, the view of Virpazar and Lake Skadar from the fortress is implausible.


There are a number of monasteries round Lake Skadar, and initially there have been 60. Nevertheless, just a few stay at the moment. Most date to the 15th century, and plenty of are the ultimate resting locations for necessary historic figures. Among the most notable embrace Kom Monastery, Beska Monastery, Starcevo Monastery, and Moracnik Monastery. 

Go to Charming Lakeside Cities

Lake Skadar Montenegro | Montenegro Travel Blog
A Village on Lake Skadar Montenegro

Along with out of doors adventures and considerable wildlife, the cities and villages on Lake Skadar’s shores are what entice individuals to this place. There are numerous historic, genuine, and sleepy villages across the lake. Unspoiled by mass tourism and solely reachable by boat or slender, winding again roads, these villages provide a glance into the standard life-style in Montenegro.

The primary city at Lake Skadar, the gateway to the nationwide park, is Virpazar. This little city is the place most of the native tour corporations, climbing guides, and different vacationer companies are based mostly. It’s additionally the city with the very best—if not solely—public transportation connections.

Pattern Native Gastronomy

Set on the centuries-old crossroads of the West and the East and in a rural space, Lake Skadar additionally has loads to supply gastronomical vacationers.

Many herbs similar to mint, rosemary, and sage develop within the surrounding mountains’ valleys, offering a beautiful scent, whereas grapevines cowl the sun-drenched hills. Gardens are dotted with walnuts, pepper, mandarin, fig, cherry, and pomegranate timber, which, by the way, additionally line most of the climbing trails across the lake.

Domestically made merchandise embrace honey, goat cheese, home-cured smoked ham, rakija, and native liquor. The lake’s abundance of fish is mirrored on the menus of native eating places.

It is a excellent vacation spot for each meals traveler. Basically all dishes are ready with natural elements, freshly caught fish, and native merchandise.

The place To Keep In Lake Skadar Nationwide Park

As talked about earlier, the very best place to base your self when visiting Lake Skadar is Virpazar. It’s essentially the most accessible city on the lake, each by way of self-drive and public transportation choices. It has, by far, the biggest variety of amenities, tour operators, tour guides, rental corporations, and lodging at Lake Skadar. So, for that purpose, we’ll solely deal with locations in and round Virpazar within the choice of Lake Skadar motels beneath.

Ethno Lodge AB

Montenegro Travel Blog_Lake Skadar Guide_Ethno Lodge AB
Picture Credit score: Ethno Lodge AB

Situated simply over a mile from the lakeshore, Ethno Lodge AB is likely one of the top-rated locations to remain round Lake Skadar. This lovely property provides lodging in well-outfitted cabins with a kitchen, air-conditioning, a terrace, a eating space, flat-screen TV, and free WiFi. You possibly can get pleasure from a continental breakfast within the morning earlier than heading out for some kayaking, climbing, swimming, or no matter else you might have deliberate within the space.

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Condominium Vida’s Home

Montenegro Travel Blog_Lake Skadar Guide_Vida`s House
Picture Credit score: Vida’s Home

Boasting an unbeatable location within the very middle of Virpazar, a brief stroll from the Lake Skadar Nationwide Park Customer Middle, Condominium Vida’s Home has apartment-style lodging. Free WiFi is on the market, whereas all models have a kitchen, flat-screen TV, and a balcony and/or terrace with views. Moreover, you can too lease a automotive or bicycle right here, which is a implausible perk.

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Nation Home Djurisic

Montenegro Travel Blog_Lake Skadar Guide_Country House Djurisic
Picture Credit score: Nation Home Djurisic

In the event you like a ton of facilities of their lodging, you’ll discover these at Nation Home Djurisic. Its complimentary WiFi, free bicycle leases, backyard, terrace, shared lounge, playground, and barbecue amenities are why this is likely one of the finest locations to remain in Lake Skadar Nationwide Park. On prime of that, you can too bask in a vegetarian breakfast each morning. The in-house restaurant serves native specialties. Lodging is on the market in separate models, with a balcony providing lush backyard views, a stovetop, oven, and toaster, amongst different issues.

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Eco Resort Cermeniza

Montenegro Travel Blog_Lake Skadar Guide_Eco Resort Cermeniza
Picture Credit score: Eco Resort Cermeniza

One other place to remain in Virpazar that comes extremely really helpful is Eco Resort Cermeniza. This resort offers lodging in air-conditioned stone villas with free WiFi, a toilet, kitchenette, flat-screen TV, bed room, and seating space. There’s additionally a restaurant specializing in native dishes, barbecue amenities, a backyard with a solar terrace, an outside pool, and even a winery.

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Eco Villas Merak

Montenegro Travel Blog_Lake Skadar Guide_Eco Villas Merak
Picture Credit score: Eco Villas Merak

Are you in search of a Montenegro farm keep? Take a look at Eco Villas Merak, the place you may keep in stone “cabins” with a toilet, bed room, eating space, and kitchen. Shared amenities embrace a seasonal out of doors pool, free bikes, and a backyard.

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Instructions To Lake Skadar

Podgorica To Lake Skadar

Lake Skadar is likely one of the finest day journeys from Podgorica, and the E80 is essentially the most direct route; the M2.3 is essentially the most scenic. You will get to Lake Skadar by way of the E80 or the M2.3 freeway from Podgorica, connecting town with Budva on the Adriatic coast. The E80 leads straight to Virpazar on the lake’s shore, the primary gateway to the nationwide park. Alternatively, one of many facet roads of the M2.3 results in the village of Rijeka Crnojevića and the Pavlova Strana viewpoint. Ultimately, after winding its manner by way of the mountains, it additionally results in Virpazar.

Budva To Lake Skadar

You too can attain Lake Skadar from Budva on the E80 and M2.3 highways. Right here too, the E80, with a shortcut on the M2, is the shortest path to Virpazar, whereas the M2.3 provides extra fascinating mountain surroundings.

Moreover, there may be additionally a practice connection between Virpazar and Podgorica and the city of Bar on the Adriatic coast.

In the event you’re planning a southern Europe journey, contemplate visiting Lake Skadar, too. It’s a remarkably lovely, various, and underrated vacation spot.



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