A Day Trip to Durmitor National Park from Kotor, Montenegro

Boasting some of Montenegro’s wildest and most beautiful scenery, Durmitor National Park definitely deserves a place on your Montenegro itinerary, especially if you love natural beauty. Read on to discover what to do on a day trip to Durmitor National Park from Kotor.

The only one of Montenegro’s national parks to be accorded the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage site, Durmitor National Park really deserves a couple of days. This is especially so if you want to do a reasonably long hike (one of the best things to do in the park), or if you wish to participate in adventure sports.

Black Lake in Durmitor NP in NW Montenegro

Black Lake is a must-visit in Durmitor National Park

But if your time in Montenegro does not allow for 2 days to explore the northern part of the country, a day trip is the next best option. While you will have a long day and a lot of it will unfortunately be spent in the car, Durmitor National Park is beautiful enough to warrant the effort.

WHAT TO DO ON A DAY TRIP TO DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK

With 23 mountain peaks that are over 7,500 feet tall, and bounded by the Tara and the Piva rivers, Durmitor National Park is nestled in the picturesque Dinara Alps. The Tara River Canyon is part of the park, and there are more than a dozen glacial lakes in the park. The park is also home to diverse flora and fauna.

Tara River Canyon Montenegro

Looking down into the Tara River from the bridge

The area has historical importance as well. A major World War II battle took place near Žabljak, and there are archaeological digs in the region. Durmitor was designated a National Park in 1952.

So here are the best things to do on a day trip to Durmitor National Park!

#1 Visit the Ostrog Monastery

The Ostrog Monastery is not part of Durmitor National Park, but it was definitely worth the detour to us. When you look at the dazzling white Upper Monastery from the road below, it seems impossible that a building could indeed be built in that spot.

Ostrog Monastery Montenegro

Can you see the white shrine in the vertical cliff?

Located in the cliff face almost 3,000 feet from the valley floor, the Ostrog Monastery is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog, who is believed to have performed several healing miracles. Make sure you look up when you pass through the gate: the inside of the arch is painted.

Gateway to Upper Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro

The beautiful gateway to the shrines at Ostrog

The site is of immense importance to Orthodox Christians in Montenegro, and over a million people visit the monastery each year. Some pilgrims even walk barefoot from the Lower Monastery to the main shrine at the top.

St. Stanko Church Lower Monastery at Ostrog Montenegro

The Saint Stanko Church in the Lower Ostrog Monastery complex

Upper Ostrog Monastery Montenegro

One of the two buildings at the Upper Ostrog Monastery

Upper Monastery Shrine Ostrog Montenegro

The main shrine at the Ostrog Monastery

From the grounds of the Upper Monastery, you get spectacular panoramas of the valley below. You can see vendors selling shawls and other souvenirs at stalls on the grounds. Pilgrims buy shawls and other necessities for the monks in the monastery.

A view from the Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro

Sweeping views from the Ostrog Monastery

There are frescoes in the caved shrine, but it’s fairly dark. If you are claustrophobic, you might find it close inside, especially if there are lots of other folks inside when you visit. Photos are not permitted inside.

The Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro

The shrine is built into the face of the cliff

It’s a steep climb from the parking lot to the Upper Monastery, with many many steep stone steps, or a long walk up the paved road. Tour buses go right up to the entrance though. There is also accessible parking at the top.

Walk to Upper Monastery at Ostrog in Montenegro

Preparing to trek up to the Upper Monastery

We started out with climbing the steps but switched to the road after a bit because it was less punishing on our knees. Plus we got to enjoy the views along the way.

Road to Upper Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro

Walking up the road at Ostrog

You’ll need to be appropriately attired to enter the shrine, with knees and shoulders covered.

#2 Take in the views at Durmitor National Park

Driving through the Durmitor National Park, you’ll be awestruck by the breathtaking vistas all around you. With alpine meadows, many mountain peaks, and deep green forests, the landscape is both wild and dramatic.

Durmitor National Park Montenegro

Dramatic landscapes abound at Durmitor National Park

Durmitor NP Landscape Montenegro

Beautiful Durmitor National Park at Zabljak

Bobotov Kuk is the tallest peak in the park. You can hike to the peak if you are an experienced hiker, but the shortest route is about 3 hours one way, so the hike unfortunately can’t be attempted on a day trip.

#3 Take a walk at Black Lake

On a day trip to Durmitor National Park, Black Lake (Crno Jezero) is the ideal place to stop and stretch your legs. Considered the most beautiful alpine lake in the country, Black Lake is one of the most visited attractions in Montenegro.

Black Lake Durmitor National Park Montenegro

Beautiful Black Lake is a must-visit on your day trip!

The dark brooding waters that give the Black Lake its name are created by the shadow of the mighty Meded Peak. Beautiful pine forests edge the lake, and are reflected beautifully in the waters when the light is right. We didn’t have perfect photo conditions on the day of our trip, sadly.

Meded Peak Montenegro

The formidable Meded Peak, rising above Black Lake

Beautiful Black Lake Durmitor National Park Montenegro

The dark waters are caused by the shadow of the mountain

Landscape at Black Lake Montenegro

No reflections, alas, but the water was lovely!

A pathway goes around the entire lake, and is about 2 miles in length. We walked a little bit along the path, but it was quite wet and muddy when we visited and we had to turn back because our shoes were not waterproof.

Walking Path Black Lake Montenegro

You can walk all around Black Lake!

In the summer, you can swim in the crystal clear waters, or take a boat out on to the water. There are benches from which to drink in the view, if you visit on a nice weather day!

Black Lake Durmitor National Park Montenegro

The sun came out briefly when we were at Black Lake!

Even the pathway from the parking lot to the water is picturesque, lined as it is with a mysterious dark pine forest along one side. As we walked back to our car after our visit, we saw a couple of other visitors heading off into the trees to explore!

Pine Forest Black Lake Montenegro

Dark pine forest at Black Lake

Path to Black Lake Durmitor NP Montenegro

Walking back from Black Lake to the parking lot

Landscape at Black Lake Montenegro

Pretty landscape at the water’s edge at Black Lake

#4 Eat lunch at the Katun Restaurant

You can eat in the town of Žabljak, of course, but our driver recommended the Katun Restaurant on the shore of Black Lake, and we were glad we took his advice! The food was delicious: some of the best we had in Montenegro.

I had an assortment of grilled vegetables and Swiss chard with potatoes, and my husband had meat and potatoes. We were both very impressed with our meals.

Grilled Veggies Restaurant at Black Lake Montenegro

My vegetables were perfectly grilled!

Meat and French Fries Katun Restaurant

My husband loved his meat and potatoes!

It was a little cold and drizzly when we visited in mid May, and there was a blazing fire inside the restaurant, which made us feel very welcome. I noticed they have a large patio right over the lake. That patio would be a lovely place to have lunch in the summer!

Patio at Katun Restaurant Black Lake Montenegro

That patio must be heaven in the summer!

#5 Walk the Tara Canyon Bridge

Walking the Tara Canyon Bridge is a must-do when you are in Durmitor National Park. The Durdevića Tara Bridge is an amazing arched bridge that spans one of the deepest gorges in the world. At its deepest, the canyon is about 4,300 feet deep!

Bridge Over Tara Canyon Montenegro

The concrete multi-arched bridge looks spectacular!

Tara Bridge from Viewpoint in Montenegro

Viewpoint at Tara Canyon Bridge

The beautiful concrete bridge was built between 1937 and 1940. With five arches, the bridge is close to 1,200 feet long. The bridge is open to vehicular traffic, but raised sidewalks on both sides make it possible to safely walk it from one end to the other and back.

Tara Canyon Bridge Montenegro

You can walk along the raised sidewalks on either side of the bridge

Walking Tara Canyon Bridge in Durmitor National Park Montenegro

Walking the Tara Bridge is a must-do on your day trip to Durmitor National Park!

The sides of the canyon are clothed in brilliant green forests. You can see the river streak like a blue thread far below you. The Tara River Bridge and the Tara Canyon are among the most photogenic places we saw in Montenegro.

View from the Tara Bridge Montenegro

The views from the bridge are so beautiful!

Durdevica Bridge over the Tara Canyon in Montenegro

Posing against some of the most beautiful scenery in Montenegro!

During World War II, the area came under the occupation of Italy. Yugoslav partisans blew up the bridge with the help of Lazar Jauković, one of the engineers that had helped construct the bridge. But sadly, the Italians captured Jauković and executed him.

The bridge was rebuilt after the war and today it is one of Montenegro’s most popular tourist attractions. If you enjoy adventure sports, you can zipline over the Tara Canyon or go river rafting along the Tara River.

Ziplining over the Tara Canyon in Montenegro

You can zipline over the Tara Canyon if you are feeling adventurous!

After your walk, stop by the vendor stalls at the end of the bridge and pick up some honey infused with dried fruit and nuts, a local specialty!

Honey with Dried Fruit Tara Bridge Montenegro

Tasty sweet treats at a roadside stall at the bridge

#6 Drive back via the Kotor Serpentine

If you visit when daylight hours are long, and you are an experienced mountain driver, you may want to consider driving back to Kotor via the switchback road that includes the Kotor Serpentine.

The views over the Bay of Kotor and beyond to Croatia and the Adriatic Sea are indescribably gorgeous any time of day. But if you drive it at sunset, it’s even more special.

View from Kotor Serpentine at Sunset

We reached the top of the switchback road just after sunset!

If you prefer navigating the winding narrow road during the day, you could use this route to head to the Ostrog Monastery in the morning. If you start early enough (which you should, since it’s a long day), you will not encounter much traffic.

Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

A view of the gorgeous Bay of Kotor during the day

We had hired a car and driver for the day trip to Durmitor National Park from Kotor, and when the driver asked us if we would like to return via the switchback road, which we had previously driven during the day, we jumped at it.

It started turning dark just as we started down the road, and lights had begun coming on in the towns around the Bay of Kotor. It looked like the bay was wearing a necklace of sparkling diamonds. An absolutely divine sight!

A view of the Bay of Kotor from the switchback road in Montenegro

The bay looks beautiful in the dark!

Tips for your day trip to Durmitor National Park

We like our trips to be an eclectic mix of soft adventure, natural beauty, and culture and history, so the itinerary detailed above worked perfectly for us. We did two walks during the day, neither of which was too long or too taxing, and the climb up the hill at Ostrog Monastery.

If your preference is to focus on Durmitor National Park, and you are traveling independently, you may wish to skip the Ostrog Monastery. Beautiful as it is, it does take up a good three hours, especially if you have to climb to the Upper Monastery. That will free up some time if you wish to do ziplining at the Tara Canyon Bridge, or go boating at Black Lake, or even squeeze in a short hike.

If you wish to go river rafting on the Tara River, you should pick a tour that will take you to the starting point of the activity. Check out  this highly rated full day river rafting tour from Kotor.

Start as early as you can, if you are planning to travel on your own. The drive is long and starting early will allow you to take your time at each stop.

Guided tours to Durmitor National Park

You can, of course, do the trip independently if you have a car. Although the roads are narrow and sometimes winding, they were in good condition when we visited. Speed limits are low, so the journey takes a while.

 

Looking for a car rental for your Montenegro trip? Consider Auto Europe: they have provided the best deals for us on our Europe car rentals.

If you don’t have a car, or do not wish to drive, a guided tour is a great option. Check out this highly rated tour that takes you to Black Lake, Tara Canyon Bridge, and the Ostrog Monastery. It is a long day though, at 13 hours.

We hired a car and driver for the day, so that my husband and I could both view the scenery and take photos when we wished. Luka from My Montenegro Tours did a stellar job with the three tours we did with him in Montenegro. (This is not a sponsored link or compensated in any way. We just had such a wonderful time that I want to share!)

*****

Planning a trip to Montenegro? It is a gorgeous country! Check out my suggestions for things to do in Montenegro, things you absolutely must not miss when you visit! And Kotor makes for a fabulous base from which to explore most of the country. Of course, there are many unmissable things to do in Kotor as well.

Two other fabulous day trips from Kotor to add to your Montenegro itinerary: a visit to the little town of Perast (its little island church is one of Montenegro’s most visited attractions), and a fabulous day trip to Mount Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park.

And finally, if you are looking for accommodation in Kotor, I recommend staying in the atmospheric Old Town, so you can enjoy it in the early mornings and late evenings.

We stayed in Hotel Villa Duomo, which is just a 5-minute walk from the town main gate. Our room was super spacious, and featured exposed stone walls and traditional furnishings.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here

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MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MONTENEGRO

Things to Do: 25 Exciting Things to Do in Montenegro
Old Town Kotor: 15 Fun Things to Do in Kotor
Perast: Visiting Perast on a Day Trip from Kotor
Mount Lovcen and Lake Skadar: What to Do on a Day Trip to Mount Lovcen and Lake Skadar

VISITING NEARBY COUNTRIES?

Lake Bled, Slovenia: 10 Fun Things to Do in Lake Bled
Zadar, Croatia: What to Do in Zadar in One Day
Zagreb, Croatia: The Best Things to Do in Zagreb
Ljubljana, Slovenia: The Ultimate Guide to Ljubljana
Piran, Slovenia: 10 Fun Things to Do in Piran

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Discover the best things to do on a day trip to Durmitor National Park from Kotor, Montenegro! Visit the Ostrog Monastery, admire Black Lake, and walk on the Tara Canyon Bridge!

 

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