Skadar lake National Park – discover the giant of Southern Europe

Did you know that Skadar lake National Park in Montenegro includes the largest lake in Southern Europe and it is considered to be one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in the Balkan peninsula? Have you ever experienced the wild and wonderful nature of that area?

Whether you’ve already been there or you are planning to pay a visit, there are things worth knowing about this inspiring, Montenegrin natural beauty. Skadar National Park is located on the border of Montenegro and Albania. The overall surface of the lake is 369,7 km², while the Montenegrin part is about 221,8 km².

It is a karst lake, between 4 and 6 km deep, with many isles containing traces of the rich historical and cultural heritage of Montenegro. The shores of the lake are rich in numerous capes and bays, overgrown with reeds that give the National park its’ special and authentic look.

Skadar was declared a National Park in 1983. and since then it represents one of the most visited sights in Montenegro. In order to really get to know Skadar lake National, it is important to go all the way back in history.

History of Skadar National park – rich cultural and historical heritage

Skadar lake National Park was once a part of north-western Zeta – ancient royal lands based in Montenegro. In the 13th century, the Skadar lake fell under the governance of the Ottomans and was ruled by them for the majority of its history.

The vast period between the 13th and 19th century was largely impacted by the Ottoman Empire. Turks built fortresses such as Besac in the village of Virpazar, and Lessendro in the village of Vranjina, the two most visited sights in Skadar National Park.

The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the independence of Montenegro

After the Ottoman Empire fall, Skadar was still incorporated into Albanian administration (as lake Shkoder) but when the Montenegrins finally obtained their complete independence, by the early 20th century, king Nikola Petrovic had set up his court in the town of Rijeka Crnojevica, located at the shore of Skadar lake Montenegro.

On the lake’s surface, the remains of the city of Obod can be frequently seen. The establishment was once a printing dome, famous for the first printed book in Southern Europe, called “Oktoih”.

Today, tourists can enjoy many interesting forts, medieval churches, monasteries, archaeological sites and traditional, rural architecture.


The enchanting natural beauty of the Skadar National Park

When it comes to Skadar lake National park, these parts of our country truly stand out for their magnificent and rich fauna and flora. Numerous animal and plant species can be seen and admired.

The authentic animal species of Skadar National Park

With more than 290 bird species, Skadar National Park is known to be a real paradise for birds. The significant majority are endangered and rare one like moorhens, wild ducks, grebes, curly pelicans, yellow, white, and grey herons, and many more.

In the Skadar lake basin, there are more than 48 fish species such as flathead mullet, mullet, eel, etc. You can find numerous species of amphibians, as well. The most important ones are green, big and tree-toad, Skadar green toad, smooth newt, etc.

Skadar National park is a home for reptiles too. Some of the most important of them are garter snake, house gecko, brown, rock and Karst lizards, and many others.

The vegetation and floristic diversity of Skadar lake Montenegro

The ecosystem of Skadar National Park is very diverse. When you include most of the floral species, you can say that the ecosystem is of a sub-Mediterranean type with wetland biotopes and freshwater.

In Skadar lake National Park Montenegro harbours and cultivates many medicinal, aromatic, melliferous and endemic floral species including Dalmatian greenweed, rosemary, saffron, gentle snake’s head, wild yellow tulip, moon carrot, laurel, fritillary, pea-tree, etc.

In floodable areas, there are many different species of willows. In the northern part of the land, you can find trees like Skadar oak – protected as endangered.


The classical karst terrains of Skadar Lake Montenegro basin

As a part of Dinariedes mountain chain, known for karst terrains, Skadar lake National Park includes large underground caves, landforms and conduits.

Most interesting facts about this area are its hydrological phenomenons such as swallow holes, typical karst and intermittent springs. During summertime, many of these springs dry up for the Skadar lake to retain a huge amount of freshwater.

Skadar lake tour – enjoy your trip to the fullest

Besides its miraculously beautiful nature, if you are a true adventurer who’d love to explore this area from a different point of view, here are some of the most interesting things to do while on the Skadar lake tour!

Skadar lake boat trip – explore the area from the first hand

Skadar lake boat trip, known also as the Skadar lake cruise, is one of the most popular attractions in this part of Montenegro. It usually lasts about 2 or 3 hours, and it is conducted by a highly skilled team of professionals.

You can start your Skadar lake boat trip from the village called Virpazar which happens to be the main gateway to the lake. The best route for Skadar lake cruise is passing by Lessendro fortress, built in the year of 1843.

Passing by the fortress, you can enjoy the wonderful, untouched nature with many authentic animal and plant species of the Skadar lake National Park. Many local organizations offer their traditional cheese, homemade brandy and domestic wine, completing the overall impression of this amazing attraction.

Skadar lake hiking and fishing – favourite activities for visitors

Besides the boat for enjoying the Skadar Lake National Park Montenegro offers you interesting hiking routes, to explore the shore.

Karuc is a picturesque fishing village on the shore of Skadar lake where you can start your walk across ancient villages, trying out delicious domestic honey and wine, straight from the local producers. Walking back to Cetinje, you can enjoy the breath-taking view on Rijeka Crnojevica bridge over the lake.

Fishing is probably one of the most popular activities around here, especially among local fishermen. When it comes to Montenegro Skadar lake is known to have numerous species of fish such as carp, eel and bleak and fishing for rare and fresh-water types of fish is very popular among tourists as well.

Visiting Skadar lake from Porto Montenegro bay – the fastest route

If you are staying in Porto Montenegro, one of the most luxurious marinas on the Adriatic coast, you can get to Skadar lake National Park driving through KotorBudva or Cetinje to Rijeka Crnojevica.

The route is 28,3 kilometres long and shouldn’t last longer than 1h and 44 minutes, by car. There is the option of travelling by bus or a taxi as well, it is up to you to decide.

Skadar lake Montenegro is definitely one of the most interesting attractions to visit since it is the largest lake in the Balkans, and one one of Europe’s top bird habitats, blessed with untouched nature, island monasteries, clear waters, and beautiful ancient villages worthy of your time!