The region of Skadar/Scadar/Scutari Lake is an area the visitors and tourist to Montenegro must come to see to believe that such a place of natural beauty indeed exists. It is a very attractive destination because of its natural richness, ease of access both from land and sea, and because the conditions are here to meet all types of tourism throughout the entire year: bird watching, excursions to visit cultural-historical monuments, speleologist research, sport-recreational, events and festival, cruising and many more. The sea, the lake and mountains are all located in a circumference of 150km, and offer a variety that can accommodate the tastes and wishes of all guest and tourist.
The area around the lake is very desirable for a vacation spend in peace and quiet. It is a fact that the search for places in which nature is preserved or at least somewhat preserved is greater every year, the number of people visiting Lake Skadar has grown every year. Surrounding the lake are many, many villages where the authentic architecture, from stone and wood with large terraces that offer grand views of the lake, mountains and islands, is still preserved. If you choose to stay with one of the locals in these villages, one will be able to taste many specialties of the local cuisine such as smoked carp (very popular in the Italian cuisine of the last few centuries), as well as bleak only available in Skadar/Scadar/Scutari lake. Of course, a guest must try the well renowned Crmnic wine of quality that has surpassed many guests’ expectations.
The warm waters of the lake are great for swimming, and of course the many beaches offer time for relaxation and sunbathing. One of the most popular beaches is the beach in Murice, located very closely to the boarder with Albania. This is, however, the only sand beach on the Coast of Lake Skadar. To get to this beach it is the best if one takes the road Podgorica-Bar and take the exit for the town called Virpazar, over the railroad tracks and the old bridge over Virpazar. Following this bridge the road splits, one goes left and uphill and the right goes downhill. The left road will take the traveler to the beach with signs posted for the small town of Murici. Travelers are encouraged to ask the locals for anything if needed. The beach is exceptionally wide with a great restaurant, but you should come and see it.
There is another beach that is very popular but accessible only by sea. It is the hidden beach called Pjesacac in the heart of the lake. It is often frequented while by organized cruises on the lake. With a good tourist agency, it is easy to create a booking at the hotel “13 jul” in the town of Virpazar, where the hotel prepares a local seafood specialty (such as the bleak, carp, or maybe eel) that will be served to you right on this beach by the hotel, following the cruise of the lake. During the summer months this beach does have a great authentic restaurant available, equipped with details such as traditional Montenegrin architecture made of rock and wood.
If the cruise of starts in Virpazar, which is most often the case, most tourist are fascinated with the view of the railroad tracks that divide the lake in two. The view of a passing train from the vantage point of the cruise ship trough the quiet lake it is fascinating.
Another place that deserves the travelers’ attention is Karuc. To get to the town, one can take the Podgorica-Cetinje road and turn left at the same exit for the town of Rijeka Crnojevic. Once the exit is cleared just follow the clearly marked signs to this beautify, small and ancient fishing town on the lake. The road is very narrow here and deserves the drivers’ full attention during the 30 to 40 minute drive to town. Along the way a wooden dock with steps of stone have been placed to the shore, and depending upon the water level a small barbeque area is available along the right side of the shore. Upon arrival at the shore the visitor is encouraged to take a little walk up the hill and turn left down the pathway trough the thick brush and rocks, upon which a clearing can be seen popularly used for barbequing and family time. Behind this clearing, thru some more rocks, the ruins of the old buildings are located, from which breathtaking view of the lake should not be missed. During the summer months a restaurant serving local seafood specialties and homemade wine, is open. There is another, smaller restaurant open year around also all in stone and wood where the staff is very helpful and friendly, and can tell a few legends of the people of this region.
An unavoidable town for any tourist to visit is the former Montenegro metropolis, Rijeka Crnojevic. Both the Podgorica-Cetinje road and the Podgorica-Bar road will lead to this town. The pathways after the main exit are very narrow and curvy and drivers are advised to drive with caution. It is one of the most stunning towns of Montenegro. From the small nearby place called Pavlov side (Pavlova strana) the view of the fjord of Rijeka Crnojevic is the sight for calendars, postcards and atlases. The old bridge, almost renovated, is can clearly be seen. Over the bridge at the top of the hill is the location for the first printing house of the southern Slavs, the place the first book in the Cyrillic alphabet on the southern Slav territory was printed. In the middle of town a church and small room is located in which Saint Peter of Cetinje (Sveti Petar Cetinjski) spend the winters.
Virpazar is the town from which most of the ships take of all over Lake Skadar, especially cruise ships. Virpazar, a town called Vir in the past, that was the traffic and trade center of the Crmnica region. Vir was erected at the mouth of the rivers Crmica and Orahovistica, with the villages of Vranjine, Ceklina, Zeta and Krajina in the backdrop. In the summer months the town is well visited by tourist especially for the well renowned local festival. The festival of wine and bleak last for three days, both served for free during the festival, and locals and foreigners have a fantastic time. The fish is grilled right in front of everyone and with the view of the lake it gives the whole festival a comfortable, home-like, family thermosphere. The festival is in the month of January, so in case the visitor is in Montenegro at this time, please do not miss this event.
The spectacular village of Dodosi is also a place worth visiting and it is right on the road to Rijeka Crnojevic and Karuc. It is characteristic by its houses that lean on each other. It is the village the famous Montenegro director Zivko Nikolic filmed scene of his movie “Unseen Wonder” (“Cudo nevidjeno”). Continuing from here by boat the village Prevlaka is splendid to visit, but if a boat is not available to you traveling to the village of Rvas is a viable alternative.
A small village called Vranjina, or more popularly called small Venecia (Venecija u malom) should not be forgotten by travelers to the Skadar area. It is one of the most fascinating and beautiful small villages.
In case one chooses to take a cruise of the lake the island Grmozur should not be forgotten, an island that is the topic of many legends and myths, which used to be a prison during the time of rule of the Austro-Hungarian empire but that is currently abandoned.
On almost every island on Lake Skadar there are monasteries and fortresses that stand as witness to the turbulent history of Montenegro, its rules and conquerors. Accompanied by a competent guide, a visit the islands during the cruise will simply fascinate the traveler. There is a legend that has not been validated yet that this territory contains ruins of an ancient Trojan town. Maybe an undiscovered ruin in the thick growth of the forests with traces of a chapel can complete the chapters of this legend.
For the tourist interested in a more physical challenge such as hiking and speleology (i.e. the scientific study of caves), specialty tours full of historic and monument exploration of Lake Skadar are available. A number of hiking tours are readily available, and a fact that all hiking trails are well marked can assure any visitor. One of these trails goes starts from the village of Vranjina up the mountain of the carrying the same name, about 1 hour walk. From the top of the mountain the view is breath taking. A part of the trail passes by the monastery of Vranjina dating back to the XV century. Another trail is the Eko or Obod trail. This trail passes by the 1st printing house of the south Slavs, and finishes at the Obod cave. It is about 2 hours long. There is also a little harder, rockier trail called Rumija. Its destination is the top of mountain Rumija, about 1597 meters above sea level with the Adriatic Sea at its view. Four hours are needed for this trail. There is one botanical trail that starts at the village Karuc and follows swamp vegetation to Rijeka Crnojevic. Eight hours is needed here.
An unavoidable segment of the tourist attraction of Lake Skadar is the possibility for fishing and hunting. In Montenegro there is a large number of sports fisherman, and among the numerous fishing competitions the most visited are the International competition “Trophy of Skadar Lake” (Trofej Skadarsko jezero) held in July, and “May meets” (Majski susreti). In case you are one of these passionate fisherman or hunters, a license as well as more information can be obtained in the National park building in Vranjine. The center is open from 8am until 8pm until the end of the season, September 1st, with all sorts of information for tourist and different interests, as well as other literature related to the national park. A boat or ship can also be rented at this location with price information.
Lake Skadar has horseback riding club Montenegro that is open during the summer and where passionate lovers of horseback riding can enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Rowing and sailing should also not be forgotten since Lake Skadar is very suitable for both of these sports, as well as biking the trail that passes Podgorica-Carev laz-Rijeka Crnojevic-Komarno-Virpazar-Golubovic-Pogorica. When one arrives at the village Kokoti, from this vantage point one can take in the view of all the mountains surrounding it. Some of these are: Komovi, Maganik, Kamenik, Zijevo and Prokletije.
Speleological tours are very popular here, especially to the caves of Lipa and Obod where the richness in stalagmites and stalactites can be taken in. This tour alone is usually an eight hour tour. In the area surrounding the village of Trnove there are another three caves: Grbocica, Bobosuta and Ispila.
The great varieties of birds in Lake Skadar as well as towers and platforms that have been build in specific locations such as Manastirska tapija, Grmozur, Omerova gorica, Crni zar and Pancevo oko made the recreation of bird watching possible. In these locations professionals can be seen tirelessly watching and studying the birds that inhabit Lake Skadar, both the temporary and local variety, but there are also a lot of amateurs that are not in the study of bird watching but just enjoy the viewing of the birds.
In conclusion, Lake Skadar is a place that will simply take your breath away, a place that demands your total attention so you could completely enjoy it richness. It is a special and priceless pearl of nature and of exceptional tourist potential for Montenegro.