Lovćen National Park
Directly behind Kotor is Mt Lovćen (1749m, pronounced ‘lov·chen’), the black mountain that gave Crna Gora (Montenegro) its name (crna/negro means ‘black’, gora/monte means ‘mountain’ in Montenegrin and Italian respectively). This locale occupies a special place in the hearts of all Montenegrins.
Resting in a cliff face 900m above the Zeta valley, the gleaming white Ostrog Monastery (Manastir Ostrog) is the most important site in Montenegro for Orthodox Christians, attracting up to a million visitors annually. Even with its numerous pilgrims, tourists and trashy souvenir stands, it’s a strangely affecting place.
Biogradska Gora National Park
Nestled within the Bjelasica mountain range, this pretty national park has as its heart 1600 hectares of virgin woodland – one of Europe’s last three remaining primeval forests. King Nikola is to thank for its survival; on a visit in 1878 he was so taken by the beauty of Lake Biograd (Biogradsko jezero) that the locals gifted him the land and he ordered it to be preserved.
Lake Skadar National Park
The Balkans’ largest lake, dolphin-shaped Skadar has its tail and two-thirds of its body in Montenegro and its nose in Albania. Covering between 370 and 550 sq km (depending on the time of year), it’s one of the most important reserves for wetland birds in Europe.
Morača Canyon & Monastery
Heading north from Podgorica it doesn’t take long before the scenery becomes breathtaking. The highway gets progressively more precarious as it follows the Morača River into a nearly perpendicular canyon, 300m to 400m deep. If you’re driving, pull over into one of the viewing areas to enjoy it properly as this is an extremely busy and unforgiving stretch of road.
Durmitor National Park
Magnificent scenery ratchets up to stupendous in this national park, where ice and water have carved a dramatic landscape from the limestone. Forty-eight peaks soar to over 2000m in altitude, with the highest, Bobotov Kuk, reaching 2523m. From December to March Durmitor is a major ski resort, while in summer it’s a popular place for hiking, rafting and other active pursuits.