National park Lake Skadar is the most visited of the 5 national parks in Montenegro. As the name indicates, the main part of the national park is a lake, the Skadar lake which is a ~400-500 km2 (varies during the year) fresh water lake on the border between Montenegro and Albania. Approximately 2/3 of the lake are in Montenegro and the last 1/3 is in Albania. The Montenegrin part of Lake Skadar and the surrounding wetlands were declared national park in 1983. Also the Albanian part of the lake is a protected nature area.
How to get to National park Lake Skadar?
If you are going to visit the national park and e.g take a boat trip of the lakes, the place you should go to is Virpazar which is just 800 metres from the main national park entrance and the visitors centre. Another place you could consider exploring is in Vranjine or Rijeka Crnojevica, but the best one is for sure Virpazar where you have most options in relation to exploring the national park.
By car: if you have a car available, driving to the national park Skadar is probably the easiest way of getting there, although moving around in the Montenegrin traffic can be a bit adventurous. Here are the approximate distances and driving times from the most popular holiday destination to the national park entrance in Virpazar:
- Virpazar (NP Entrance) – Podgorica – 29 km – 30-35 minutes
- Virpazar (NP Entrance) – Budva – 42 km – 50-60 minutes
- Virpazar (NP Entrance) – Kotor – 65 km – 1 hour 15 minutes
- Virpazar (NP Entrance) – Bar – 24 km – 30 minutes
- Virpazar (NP Entrance) – Ulcinj – 50 km – 1 hour
Parking is possible within the walking distance of the entrance.
By train: Train connection to the station in Virpazar is available from Podgorica, Podgorica airport, Bar and Sutomore. From all 3 towns there are between 5 and 10 daily departures, tickets are inexpensive and cost just a few euros. The train station in Virpazar is located about 800 meters from the national park entrance, so going there by train is for sure an option to consider.
By bus: reaching the national park Skadar lake by public bus if for sure possible. What you need to buy is a ticket to Virpazar, do not ask for a ticket to Skadar as they might misunderstand you and think you wish to travel to Shkodër in Albania 🙂 TIP: once on the bus, notify the driver that you are going to National park Skadar and ask if he could let you out close to the entrance which will save you the 800 metre walk from Virpazar.
- Bus from Podgorica to lake Skadar: daily there are around 10 buses driving from Podgorica and Virpazar. The bus travel time is around 30-40 minutes; tickets which can be bought at the bus station in Podgorica or on the bus cost around 2-3 Euro.
- Bus from Budva to lake Skadar: all buses which drive from Budva to Pogorica via Petrovac also pass Virpazar. Usually there is at least a handful of buses driving this route. Alternatively, take one of the very frequent buses from Budva to Petrovac and then catch a bus from there on to Virpazar. The bus travel time from Budva to Skadar is between 45 minutes and 1 hour 15 minutes with the bus change in Petrovac.
- Bus from Kotor to lake Skadar: take a bus from Kotor to Petrovac and change to a bus from Petrovac to Podgorica. Travel time by bus is between 1 hour 30 minutes and 2 hours; tickets can be bought at the bus station in Kotor or on the bus.
From other popular holiday tows like Ulcinj, Bar, Sutomore you also have direct buses to Skadar (Virpazar). From northern towns like Tivat, Herceg Novi you should travel via Petrovac.
Day trips / excursion to National park Lake Skadar:
From more or less all of the popular holiday destinations you have some kind of tour to the national park Skadar lake. Typically, the tours include sailing on the lake and some lunch with local specialities. Alternatively to a pre-arranged tour, you can also hire a guide to take you around the national park.
Practical information for your visit to Skadar
Entrance ticket price is like in national park Durmitor very modest, for NP Skadar it costs 4 € per person and includes entrance to the visitors centre in Virpazar and Vranjine.
If you wish to go on the lake by kayak, you have to pay a 2 € licence fee; kayaks can be rented on hourly basis from the national park.
Camping, fishing as well as berry picking also require a licence which can be bought at the entrance; licence fees are very modest.
Hiking is of course very popular in the national park; there are about 10 marked hiking trails and a detailed hiking map can be purchased by the entrance.
Bikes are available for rent by the entrance; in the national park there are 5 marked bike trails and two mountain bike trails.
Boat excursions in traditional wooden boats are available from Vranjina, Virpazar and Plavnica. Most tours are available from Virpazar; boat tours can be joined as a single person and for groups up to 5 persons it is possible to get a “private” boat tour.
Also good to know when visiting National park Skadar lake
Around Lake Skadar there are more than 250 known bird species. The park has special allocated areas for bird watching (small fee applies)
With around 30 different fish species, there is an option to catch your own dinner fish plate :-). The most popular fish which is also mainly used in the traditional dishes is carp.
You are allowed to swim in the lake, so bring your swimming suit.
One of the largest vineyards in this part of Europe, Plantaže, is located just 20 minutes from the national park, so you could make a combined trip.
In Virpazar there is a larger hotel, private apartments for rent are available in several locations around the lake.
Make sure to have your passport if you continue to the Albanian side of the lake 🙂