In Montenegro’s vast national parks, winding dirt tracks snake up into the mountains. Stony trails lead through lush hillsides. Out-of-the-way beauty spots lie hidden, known only to the locals. Discovering the secrets of Europe’s last great wilderness isn’t something you can do easily or comfortably by public transport – but a 4×4 can navigate the rocky terrain without a problem. And you won’t want anything to get in your way when it comes to uncovering all of Montenegro’s hidden gems – here majestic mountains, deep valleys and serene forests conceal mysterious lakes left behind after glaciers carved their way through the landscape; ancient churches built into sheer rock faces perch high above the plains; opalescent rivers cut their way through canyon floors – explore all this and more on a fascinating jeep adventure to some of the most spectacularly unspoilt scenes in Europe.
Built into the side of a cliff, the Ostrog Monastery looks almost as though it was there first and the rocks grew around it. From its perch overlooking the Zeta River valley it commands incredible views, but it isn’t just the photo opportunities that compel people to make the hike. Here lies the enshrined body of Saint Basil, and up to a million visitors yearly make the pilgrimage to pray for healing and blessings.
Durmitor National Park
Formed by glaciers, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Durmitor National Park owes much of its beauty to the glimmering glacial lakes that nestle at the foot of craggy mountains. The most well-known is Crno Lake (Black Lake); surrounded by deep pine forest, you can find several well marked and maintained trails that will take you on an easy loop of the lake, allowing you to enjoy several incredible views of its mirror-like surface.
Tara River Canyon
Second only to the Grand Canyon in terms of how deep it is, Tara River Canyon is strikingly beautiful, with rocky walls covered in greenery towering above the crystal-clear blue waters of the river snaking below. Here you’ll find a remarkable amount of waterfalls; so many that at certain times you can even hear the roar of the falling water from the edge of the canyon.
Biogradska Gora National Park
One of the last three rainforests in Europe and founded in 1878, Biogradska Gora is the oldest of Montenegro’s National Parks. It boasts a huge variety of microclimates and there are plenty of birds and wildlife to look out for. The glacial lake, Lake Biograd, is picture-perfect – the crystal-clear waters reflect the green mountains, the blue sky and the fluffy white clouds with startling intensity.
Skadar Lake National Park
Boasting water so fresh that it’s used as drinking water, Lake Skadar marks the boundary between Montenegro and Albania. The air here is filled with the scent of herbs, and you’ll find wild orchids growing amongst fruit and nut trees. Unsurprisingly for such a fertile area, this is Montenegro’s wine country, with over 30 commercial boutique wineries calling the region home.