There are a lot of rave reviews on the Internet about both Skadar Lake and Piva Lake. It seems that these are lakes of incredible beauty and significant world attractions. In this article I will tell you how everything really is, the real truth. And you decide whether to go here or not. After all, there are a huge number of beautiful places even other lakes of Montenegro, and the vacation is not endless and it is impossible to be in time everywhere.

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lakes in montenegro overview
Skadar Lake is quite popular with tourists, but it is not the most beautiful in Montenegro, according to the author (me)

Lakes of Montenegro: general information

Some general information:

  • Montenegro is a very small country 200 by 250 km
  • At the same time, more than 80% of the entire territory is occupied by mountains.
  • Today there are about 40 relatively large lakes in the country.
  • Most of them are mountainous. There are also artificial lakes.

Not all lakes are interesting for tourists, some do not even need to waste your time. Below is a list of the most famous and popular lakes in Montenegro.

  • Biogradsko lake. It is located in the Biogradska Gora National Park. I will rate this lake 6 out of 10. However, this is a very beautiful and peaceful place. Read the review of our last trip to the Biogradska Gora park to the lake here.
  • Black Lake in Durmitor National Park. Glacial lake surrounded by mountains. Both the lake itself and the Durmitor park are attractions from the “must see” list in Montenegro. Rating: 10 points out of 10. And you definitely need to come here. Follow the link for an overview of Durmitor Park and all its environs, including Black Lake.
Black Lake in Montenegro list of lakes
Black lake in Durmitor park
  • There is also a beautiful Plavsko lake. Unlike previous lakes, which are located in national parks, Plavsko Lake is an ordinary lake near the border with Albania. On the shore of the lake is a small and cozy town of Plav.
    • You can come here and rent a house, go fishing, swimming. Plav is good for its proximity to the Prokletije Mountains, and this place also gets 10 points out of 10. Plavsko Lake get 8 points from my subjective rating.
    • You will find more information about Plavsko Lake in the report about our visit to the Prokletije Mountains.

A must-visit is the Black Lake in Durmitor Park of these three lakes, and the rest – if you have time. But I will tell you more about Piva Lake and Skadar Lake.

Everything about Skadar Lake in Montenegro for tourists

skadar lake montenegro
This is how the shores of Skadar Lake look closer to autumn. Overgrown with water lilies

Skadar Lake is one of the few non-mountainous lakes in Montenegro. It is located on a plain, just a few kilometers from the capital Podgorica.

Interesting to know:

This is the largest freshwater lake in the entire Balkan Peninsula. Its approximate dimensions are 45 by 12 km. And it is located on the border of Montenegro and Albania. The border runs in the middle of the lake. About 60% is in Montenegro, and 40% in Albania.

A few more facts about Skadar Lake (in Albanian it is called Shkodër):

  • 6 rivers flow into the lake. The most popular river among tourists is Rijeka Crnojevića (I’ll tell you about it below).
  • And one river Buna flows out of the lake. It also flows into the Adriatic Sea. But if you look at the map, the length of the Buna River is only about 20 km.
The entire territory of Skadar Lake is a national park called Skadar. This is one of the five national parks in Montenegro, and the only one not in the mountainous region.

Skadar Lake today is a biosphere reserve and ornithological park. More than 280 species of birds live here at different times of the year. Most birds are migratory. The lake is located on the migration route of birds to Africa.

Attractions on Skadar Lake

If you look at the map, you will see that Skadar Lake is completely swamped along the perimeter. There are no villages and architectural sights. This is a nature reserve that is protected by the state and it is forbidden to develop new land areas here.

But something is available to tourists here. Below is a list of beautiful places with coordinates in the area of Skadar Lake.

  • Besac fortress in the Virpazar village. Coordinates: 42.24537839691942, 19.09301831674714
    • Entrance – 2.5 euros
    • The fortress is very small, almost its entire territory inside is occupied by a restaurant and an observation deck.
    • If you say that you are going to a restaurant, then they let you in for free.
  • Fortress Zabljak Crnojevica. Coordinates: 42.317053167058035, 19.15635726659664
    • Free admission
    • It is rather an abandoned medieval fortress-city.
    • There is a beautiful view of the Skadar Lake. There are no people here, or almost none. But there are bats.
  • Fortress Lesendro. Coordinates: 42.271690189671645, 19.119726339802785
    • Free admission
    • Abandoned fortress 400m from the parking lot along the railway. But it is the largest of the three.
    • If you go boating on the lake, almost all routes pass near this fortress.
lake in montenegro
View of the abandoned fortress of Lesendro. Free admission

Interesting place:

There is a small village of Rijeka for 100 inhabitants, a couple of kilometers from the confluence of the Rijeka Crnojevića into Skadar Lake. Coordinates: 42.35582807404609, 19.02435352900681. It’s very beautiful here. There is a small fortress, a medieval arched bridge, and a restaurant near the bridge. I recommend visiting, taking a boat ride (from 30 to 100 euros), kayak rental is available.
Rijeka Skadar Lake
Rijeka village and arch bridge, less than 100 people live here
Observation deck Skadar lake Rijeka Crnojević
View from the observation deck on the river Rijeka Crnojevića

The famous Montenegrin attraction – Lipa cave is located 10 km from Rijeka. The deepest cave in Montenegro. Overview of the Lipa cave, prices, tips on the link.

Fishing and boating on Skadar Lake

All the tourist attractions of the lake, which I described above, you can visit on your own, if you have a car. There is no public transport here. There are also two activities that attract thousands of tourists.

  • Fishing
  • Boating

What you need to know about it:

  • Skadar Lake is a national park, which means there is an entrance fee: 5 euros per person. This is usually included in the price of the boat ticket.
  • Fishing is also paid. License for 1 day – 5 euros. The cost of a fishing license in the country’s national parks varies. In Biogradsko Lake – 20 euros per day.
  • The departure center for all boats is Virpazar town. In any case, you should go here: 42.24619084308988, 19.09134481387923
  • Here you will find a boat, or rather it will find you. Travel agents will offer you their services already in the parking lot. There are many boats here.
  • Boating 1 hour – standard price 30-40 euros (per boat). Some tourists buy a ticket for 15 euros for a boat in which there will be 10-20 people with you, be careful. At the bridge you can find a boat for 30 euros, in which you will be alone.
  • Fishing here is only from the shore. You can rent fishing equipment, then you will be taken to one of dozens of places where you cannot reach from the shore, and then you will be taken back at the agreed time.
  • Everything about fishing in Montenegro: where you can fish, methods and types of bait, how much it costs, whether a license is needed, read in a separate article.
Virpazar Montenegro
View from the Besac fortress to the center of Virpazar. Here is the easiest way to find a boat on Skadar Lake

Conclusion about Lake Skadar: this attraction is highly promoted and overrated in Montenegro. The lake is beautiful, but there are more beautiful lakes in Montenegro.

All the fortresses along the coast are in an abandoned state, except for them and the monasteries there is nothing else here. You won’t be able to swim in the lake, only on Murici beach.

I give the whole lake 6 points out of 10. A tourist will be interested in boating on Skadar Lake and stopping by the romantic village of Rijeka for lunch. There is nothing more to do here. It is better to find time for Durmitor Park and its surroundings than to go here.

All about Piva lake in Montenegro

Piva lake in Montenegro
View of Piva Lake from the observation deck. The coordinates will be below.

If Skadar Lake received 6 points from me, then everything is much worse with Piva Lake. I don’t understand who tells on the Internet that this is the best lake in the country and you need to go here for the whole day. Let’s start with the general facts:

  • Piva Lake is not a lake, it is the Piva River.
  • The dam was built 50 years ago, a large area of land was flooded and now it is an artificial reservoir.
  • The length of Piva Lake is about 45 km, the width is about 300 meters, and the depth is more than 180 meters. By the way, the lake is located in the mountainous part of the country at an altitude of 700 meters above sea level.
  • The largest settlement on the lake is the Pluzine village with 1300 inhabitants. Coordinates: 43.15741830196583, 18.833706819775113

Things to do for travelers

And this is the most important part for the tourist. There is absolutely nothing to see on the lake, there are no tourist attractions here. There are no beaches, you won’t be able to swim here at all (well, if you wish, of course you can). This is definitely not a resort and a vacation spot. Look at the photo below carefully especially on the shores of the lake.

piva lake beaches
There are no beaches here. And it’s hard to get close to the water.

This is an artificial reservoir, you can’t go close to the shore here, you can’t sunbathe on the beach and swim. But in the village of Pluzine you can find a boat that will take you around the lake or rent a kayak. That’s all.

The only thing that is here is a few observation decks throughout the 45 km along the lake and a beautiful road. Here are their coordinates:

The rating of this lake is 2 points out of 10 for the beauty of the road and landscapes. Well, it’s really beautiful.

Piva lake in montenegro review
If you drive from the Sedlo pass to the coast, you will definitely pass through this bridge. Well, one more time you can look at the shore of this lake

It is important to understand:

When someone says that you should definitely come here, think carefully. There is not even a normal approach to the water. It makes no sense to go to Piva Lake purposefully. But the views of the lake are beautiful, and that’s it. And there are many other beautiful roads in Montenegro.

Travel tips

Now you know everything about the main lakes of Montenegro and have decided for yourself what you want to visit and what not. Here are some general findings:

  • Skadar Lake is a great option for a half-day excursion. It is located not far from popular coastal resorts, such as Budva. You can either come here on your own and find a boat, or buy a tour from your hotel.
  • Everything about the best excursions in Montenegro: prices, where to buy and much more.
  • If you are planning to go to the Prokletije mountains and Durmitor park, but do not have enough time, then skip Skadar Lake, it is much more interesting in the mountains and there are lakes there too.
  • Piva Lake is beautiful only from observation platforms. There is nothing more to do here.
  • Most tourists combine visiting Piva Lake with Durmitor Park. There are two roads back from Durmitor on the coast: a short straight road and a long mountain road through Piva Lake. Choose the long one, on the way you will see the Sedlo pass, the highest peak of the country, Mount Bobotov Kuk, and drive along the lake. This will be more than enough.

In conclusion: the author’s personal opinion is that the most beautiful lake in the country is Black Lake in the Durmitor park. Skadar Lake will not disappoint you either. Well, if you don’t have much time and you are sad that there is no opportunity to see Piva Lake, don’t get upset, you don’t really lose anything.


Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Montenegro

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  • Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
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  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
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