Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar: What to Do on a Day Trip from Kotor!

If you are planning a visit to Montenegro, build in a little time in your itinerary to explore the interior of the country. If you are based in Kotor, one of the best ways to do this is via a day trip to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park.

The Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic coast of Montenegro are gorgeous without a doubt. But the interior of the country is equally stunning! With massive mountains, lovely lakes, and deep green forests, the scenery in the interior of Montenegro will leave you spellbound.

A view of Lake Skadar, Montenegro

You’ll see breathtaking scenery on this day trip!

Montenegro’s national parks are places of incredible natural beauty. But they are also places where you can learn more about Montenegro’s history and culture.

DAY TRIP TO LOVCEN NATIONAL PARK AND LAKE SKADAR

Probably the easiest of Montenegro’s national parks to access from Kotor, Lovćen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park can be conveniently combined in one day trip. This is one of the most fabulous excursions you can do from Kotor.

 

Read on for the perfect itinerary for your day trip to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar!

#1 Experience the serpentine road to Njeguši

Your day begins with a spectacular drive along the switchback road that leads from Kotor to the village of Njeguši.

The entire road is about 15 miles long, with 25 numbered switchbacks. But it’s the 5-mile stretch known as the Kotor Serpentine that is the most exciting part. You can see the road zigzag on the hairpin bend stretch in the map below!

 

Along the way, you’ll be treated to sensational panoramic views. You’ll see the Bay of Kotor, with little towns and villages dotting its shore. And the mountains of Montenegro, rising up into the sky.

The Bay of Kotor from the Kotor-Njegusi Road in Montenegro

Beautiful view of the Bay of Kotor from switchback #10

As you go up further you can see way beyond the bay. Beautiful Croatia away in the distance, and the Adriatic Sea, sparkling blue on a good weather day.

View from Kotor Serpentine in Montenegro

Views for miles from the Kotor Serpentine!

Stop at designated viewing spots for photos. And to just drink in the views. In the spring and summer, enjoy the many wildflowers blooming along the road.

Wildflower blooming along the Kotor Serpentine in Montenegro

A profusion of wildflowers along the road in mid-May

You’ll know you’ve reached the top when you see the vendor stands on the side of the road. Time to take a break and your last photos of the incredible view!

Looking down at the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

The Bay of Kotor looks stunning from above!

Drive the road early in the day to avoid traffic. The road is very narrow in places and you may have to reverse to allow oncoming traffic to proceed.

#2 Taste the famous Njeguši ham and cheese

The village of Njeguši is part of Lovćen National Park. It holds great historical significance for Montenegrins. It was in this village that Petar II Petrović-Njegoš was born.

Njegusi Montenegro

Njeguši is part of Lovcen National Park

Njegoš was a poet and philosopher, and ruler of Montenegro from 1830 until 1851. He died of tuberculosis at the young age of 38. He is held in high regard by Montenegrins.

Njegoš is credited with helping to establish Montenegro as a modern nation. And his literary works are cherished by the people of Montenegro. The house where he was born is today a museum.

Birth house of Njegos in Njegusi, Montenegro

The simple stone house where Njegoš was born

Njeguši is small but very pretty. You can walk around the village and then settle down to enjoy Njeguški sir, the local cheese, and Njeguški pršut, the local ham.

Village of Njegusi in Montenegro

Njeguši is so pretty!

We didn’t have the ham but we did try the cheese. Njeguški sir gets its unique flavor and aroma from the wooden vessel in which it is made.

#3 Take in the views in Lovćen National Park

The drive from Njeguši through Lovćen National Park is gorgeous. Our guide told us that the old road from Njeguši to the Njegoš Mausoleum was difficult to drive. The new road is a breeze to drive!

Views from the road leading to the Njegos Mausoleum in Montenegro

A view from our drive through Lovćen National Park

Lovćen was designated a national park in 1952. Mount Lovćen, with its two peaks, is the centerpiece of the park. The rocky landscape is starkly beautiful.

Landscape at Lovcen NP Montenegro

The scenery along the drive is stunning

On a one day visit, you can’t see too much more of the park other than Njeguši and the mausoleum. We plan to go back for a longer visit so we can hike some trails in the park. I am sure it looks gorgeous in the fall!

#4 Visit the Njegoš Mausoleum

The Njegoš Mausoleum sits at the top of Jezerski Vrh, the lower of the two peaks of Mount Lovćen. Njegoš asked to be buried here, in a little chapel he had built before he died.

Njegos Mausoleum Lovcen National Park Montenegro

The Njegos Mausoleum sits on the summit!

Although Njegoš was buried in the chapel per his wish, his remains had to be moved when the chapel was damaged. The current mausoleum was opened in 1974, after his remains were brought back to the mountaintop.

You have to climb 461 steps to get to the mausoleum. Inside you’ll see a statue of the leader, along with his tomb. There is an entrance fee. The steps are in good shape but it’s still a tough climb if you aren’t in good shape.

Steps to Njegos Mausoleum Montenegro

You have to climb 461 steps to the mausoleum!

Behind the mausoleum is a viewing area, from where you can get panoramic views. If you can’t climb all the way to the viewing area, climb part way up the steps and you’ll still get good views.

View from Njegos Mausoleum, Montenegro

View from about 50 steps into the climb to the top

On a clear day, from the mausoleum viewing area at the top, you can see most of Montenegro and even beyond! We had tons of clouds when we visited, but even then the views were lovely.

#5 Visit Cetinje, the old Montenegrin capital

Cetinje is the historical capital of Montenegro. It is nestled among the mountains, and is fun to wander, with its historical buildings and colorful facades.

Square in Cetinje Montenegro

Cetinje is home to many beautiful buildings and squares

Start by visiting the Cetinje Monastery, originally built by Ivan Crnojevic. The 15th century structure was damaged in an Ottoman attack.

The monastery had to be rebuilt many times, because of repeated Ottoman attacks. The current structure dates from the 18th century. Visit the interior if you have the time…we thought the exterior was more impressive.

Cetinje Monastery Cetinje Montenegro

The impressive facade of the Cetinje Monastery

Interior Cetinje Monastery Cetinje Montenegro

Touring the inside of the Cetinje Monastery

Nearby is the charming Court Church on Cipur. Inside is a beautiful iconostasis and the tomb of Ivan Crnojevic. It’s a tiny church, but the setting is lovely.

Court Church on Cipur Cetinje Montenegro

The pretty Court Church sits just across from the Cetinje Monastery

Wildflower Meadow Cetinje Montenegro

The meadow across the church was full of wildflowers in mid May

Court Church on Cipur Iconostasis, Cetinje, Montenegro

The beautiful iconostasis inside the church

Spend some time walking the streets. View the old palaces and foreign embassy buildings. Stop by the monument to Ivan Crnojevic.

Statue of Ivan Crnojevic in Cetinje Montenegro

Monument to Ivan Crnojevic in Centinje

Cetinje is a great glimpse into Montenegro’s history and culture.

#6 Have a fabulous traditional lunch!

We stopped for lunch at a lovely restaurant called Belveder Nacionalni Restoran, located a couple of miles outside the Cetinje city center.

Belveder Nacionalni Restoran Cetinje Montenegro

The cozy interior of Belveder Nacionalni Restoran


 

 

The folks at the restaurant were extremely hospitable and the service was super personalized. I was served a very flavorful vegetarian soup to start. Comfort food at its best, on a slightly drizzly day! My omnivore husband tasted a spoonful and promptly ordered his own!

Vegetable Soup at Belvedere National Restaurant in Cetinje Montenegro

Yum vegetable soup starter!

I had grilled vegetables for my meal, and my husband a local lamb dish. Both were delicious. The portions were so generous we couldn’t eat everything, and the prices very reasonable.

Meat and potatoes dish Montenegro

My husband’s meat and potatoes main dish!

#7 Discover the cute village of Rijeka Crnojevića

A tiny village on the Crnojevića River near Lake Skadar, Rijeka Crnojevića is picture perfect. I was surprised to learn that at one point it was actually the capital of Montenegro!

Rijeka Crnojevica in Montenegro

The village of Rijeka Crnojevica is adorable!

Crnojevica River Montenegro

The Crnojevica River flows through the town of the same name

The double-arched stone bridge in the village makes for stunning photos, from the shore or from the water. Called Danilo’s Bridge, the bridge was built in the middle of the 19th century by Prince Danilo.

Bridge Rijeka Crnojevica Montenegro

The beautiful double-arched limestone bridge over the Rijeka Crnojevica

Danilo Bridge with the village of Rijeka Crnojevica behind it

The bridge at Rijeka Crnojevica, seen from the water, with the village behind it

You can walk over the bridge or find a nearby trail to hike. Or you can do what I did: sit at an outside table at one of the cafes along the water, watching water birds and enjoying the tranquil scenery!

#8 Do a boat tour of Lake Skadar

One of the best things to do in Rijeka Crnojevića is a boat tour of Lake Skadar. The boat tour we did was my favorite part of our day trip!

Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. Two-thirds of the lake is in Montenegro, and the remaining one-third in Albania. The Montenegrin portion was designated a National Park in 1983.

Lake Skadar in Montenegro

Lake Skadar is beautiful!

The lake is home to an incredible amount of wildlife, from birds to fish and water snakes. Over 270 species of birds have been spotted at Lake Skadar, many of them migratory.

The endangered Dalmatian pelican nests in Lake Skadar. Seeing one (or more) of these enormous birds in flight is a breathtaking experience. Remember to take binoculars or a zoom lens to Lake Skadar if you are a bird enthusiast.

Pelicans Lake Skadar Montenegro

A pair of pelicans resting on Lake Skadar

You’ll find more than 50 species of fish in the lake. Lake Skadar carp is a popular delicacy. You can also see water snakes slither through the water if you’re lucky.

Thousands of lily pads float on the surface of Lake Skadar. When we visited, we saw several gorgeous blooms in white and yellow and pink.

Lily pad meadows on Lake Skadar

Thousands of lily pads float on Lake Skadar

Water Lily Lake Skadar Montenegro

An up close look at a water lily in bloom

Along the shore and on islands, you can see the ruins of old monasteries and fortresses. The mountains encircling the lake make for dramatic reflections.

White pelican in flight at Lake Skadar in Montenegro

A white pelican in flight, reflected in the waters of Lake Skadar!

Reflections in Lake Skadar Montenegro

Beautiful reflections in Lake Skadar

A boat tour on Lake Skadar is a must-do if you are visiting the area. While we did the tour from Rijeka Crnojevica, you can also tour Lake Skadar from Virpazar.

#9 Take photos at the Pavlova Strana viewpoint

Almost as good as getting out on to Lake Skadar is seeing it from above. The Pavlova Strana viewpoint is located just 2 miles from Rijeka Crnojevica.

The Pavlova Strana viewpoint in Montenegro is a popular photo spot

The viewpoint is a pullout on a narrow road


From the viewpoint, you get a view reminiscent of Horseshoe Bend in Arizona, USA. The view is spectacular, a must if you love photography.

View from Pavlova Strana Viewpoint in Montenegro

The beautiful view from the Pavlova Strana viewpoint

View from Pavlova Strana Viewpoint in Montenegro

Lots of wildflowers in bloom when we visited in mid May!

Pavlova Strana Viewpoint Montenegro

Both sides of the horseshoe are stunning!

The road leading to the viewpoint is a one-lane narrow mountain road, so be careful if you decide to drive yourself. We did a private day tour, and our local driver was nonchalant as he drove the road. My husband and I were glad we weren’t driving!

#10 Stop for views of Budva and Sveti Stefan

On your way back, take the M2.3 highway to Kotor. On this route, you will get great views of the beaches of Budva and of the resort on Sveti Stefan on the way back to Kotor.

View of Budva Montenegro

A view of Budva and Montenegro’s Adriatic coast

If you have a clear day and a powerful zoom lens, you can get great photos of Old Town Budva. We sadly ran into rain on our way back to Kotor!

The little islet of Sveti Stefan is now home to a swanky resort. From a viewpoint along the road, you can get great views of the little island.

Sveti Stefan Viewpoint Montenegro

A view of Sveti Stefan from the road

That brings you to the end of a fabulous day trip to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park from Kotor. On this tour you have the opportunity to see some of the fabulous scenery in the interior of Montenegro.

If you have even two days in Montenegro, it is well worth doing this trip on day two of your visit. Allow about 10-12 hours to be able to do all of the things on this itinerary.

Guided tours to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar

While you can drive yourself to all the places on this day trip itinerary, it is worthwhile considering a tour, so everyone in your group can sit back and enjoy the views.The scenery is so stunning that it would be a pity to miss out because you are driving.

We splurged on a private tour and absolutely loved our day trip to Mount Lovcen and Lake Skadar! Luka navigated the narrow mountainous roads safely, and stopped umpteen times so I could take yet another set of photos. He is knowledgeable and personable and you will enjoy this day tour with him. (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 stunningly beautiful country, and you’ll be spoiled for choice on things to do in Montenegro. You can explore pretty much all of the country from your base in Kotor, after you have enjoyed the many wonderful things you can do in Old Town Kotor! Visit pretty Perast or beautiful Old Town Budva, or do a day trip to Durmitor National Park, where you can admire the gorgeous Black Lake and gaze in awe at the Tara Canyon!

Where to stay in Kotor

In the Old Town, consider Hotel Villa Duomo. This is where we stayed for five nights. We had a very enjoyable stay! Our studio apartment was spacious, and I loved the exposed stone walls and traditional appointments.

Although the hotel is in the heart of the Old Town, we had no trouble with late night noise. We visited in mid-May. If you plan to visit in high season and are concerned about noise at night, check with the hotel in advance.
Read reviews on TripAdvisor | Book a room here

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Discover the best things to do on a day trip from Kotor, Montenegro, to Lovcen National Park and Lake Skadar National Park. From hiking to boat tours and scenic drives to viewpoints, this day tour has it all!

About Dhara

Dhara's travel interests are eclectic, spanning everything from natural beauty to art and architecture. She has visited 22 countries, many more than once, plus almost all 50 states of the USA, and has amassed a hoard of cherished travel moments.

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