Dolphin-shaped Lake Skadar (Скадарско Језеро), the Balkans’ largest, has its tail and two-thirds of its body in Montenegro and its nose in Albania. On the Montenegrin side, an area of 400 sq km has been protected by a national park since 1983; today, Skadar is renowned as one of Europe’s top bird habitats. It’s a blissfully pretty area encompassing steep mountains, island monasteries, clear waters, and floating meadows of water lilies. The main – albeit tiny – towns here are Virpazar and Vranjina, though if you’ve got wheels, you can easily explore the timeless villages sprinkled along the shore.
Lake Skadar is a popular escape for nature lovers, outdoor-activity aficionados and locals fleeing the heat of Podgorica. Legend has it that the lake was created by the tears of a pixie; that may be fanciful, but after one look at magical Skadar, you may find yourself believing in fairy tales too.