Once part of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro is not the most well-known country in Europe. Lake Skadar which straddles the Montenegro-Albanian border is a spectacular and pretty much unspoilt destination. Surrounded by karst mountains and rocky shores, it is the largest freshwater lake in the Balkan region.
The Montenegrin side of the Lake Skadar has National Park status and is an important habitat for birds and wildlife. It is one of the largest bird reserves in Europe. The area of the lake fluctuates throughout the year and is between 370 and 530 square kilometres in area. The depth also varies between 4.7 and 9.8 metres above sea level. This large fluctuation creates vast areas of wetlands and is home to the rare and endangered Dalmatian pelican (I didn’t get to see one). There are also many other species of bird such as eagles, ibises, herons and falcons. On land, you’ll find lizards and snakes enjoying the sun, and in the winter you might be able to see a wolf or wild boar.
Aside from nature, Skadar Lake also has historical importance and was once part of the Ottoman Empire. In the village of Virpazar, there’s a monument paying tribute to its citizen’s bravery during a Partisan uprising in World War II.
For food lovers, there’s an abundance of fresh fish caught from the lake, several vineyards. Homemade cheese, honey, yoghurt and homegrown fruit and vegetables are readily available.
How To Get To Lake Skadar
I flew from Manchester, England into Tivat, Montenegro and then took a taxi across the country to Virpazar. This is not the best way to reach the lake, and it was only because I decided to go and visit at the last-minute that I took this route.
A better way would be to fly into Podgorica, and then take a bus or train to Virpazar. There’s also a train from Virpazar to Bar and a ticket for that journey costs 1 Euro.
A visit to Lake Skadar is a must before it inevitably becomes spoilt by over-tourism.