Žabljak is small town in northern Montenegro, and is the centre of Montenegro's winter tourism. The town of Žabljak and the whole municipality (including Durmitor, Sinjavina, and the Tara Canyon) offer breathtaking mountain landscapes and plenty of opportunities for both winter and summer sports.
Žabljak is the largest town around the Durmitor, a high mountain in northern Montenegro (2,522 m) and the Durmitor National Park. Žabljak is the town with the highest elevation in the Balkans at 1,450 m above sea level.
The town, which has about 1,700 inhabitants (2011), offers a handful of restaurants and cafes. A one day visit to Žabljak might be enough for moderate outdoor enthusiasts who simply want to see the Tara Canyon and Black Lake, while enthiusiasts of trekking, hiking, rafting, canyoning, and skiing will enjoy longer stays.
Podgorica, and its international airport, are some 170 km away, 2 hr 15 min. There are several daily flights from Belgrade. There are regular flights from Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Milan, Vienna and Istanbul.
Another airport you might consider is Dubrovnik, across the border with Croatia.
Travelers can hire a direct taxi transfer from Podgorica airport to Žabljak for €70. Travel time is approximately two hours and can be reserved in advance through taxi companies such as Taxi Montenegro. A taxi is a wise option for travel groups of 2 or more since bus timetables are not always convenient.
- 1 Bus Station (Autobuska stanica), Vuka Karadžića st., ☏ +382 52 61 318. Buses from Nikšić, Podgorica, Pljevlja, Belgrade, Novi Sad-Sombor and Kotor.
You can get to Žabljak either by departing the road from the coast to Serbia at 2 Mojkovac or take the route Podgorica - 3 Šavnik - Žabljak, the first route being the higher quality road. Finally, the scenic mountain road crossing Durmitor National Park, 4 R16 (also named P14) from Plužine is available for enthusiast drivers. Either way, those are curvy, mountainous roads that do not permit high speeds and require additional caution. During the winter, when whole area is covered with snow. Those unfamiliar with local roads should let someone more experienced drive them to Žabljak.
The nearest railway station is in Mojkovac 71 km from Zabljak, and it's on the Belgrade-Bar railway line. A taxi from there costs €70 (2022-08-01). There is no bus connection to from Mojkovac to Zabljak.
Other nearby train stations: Nikšić, Podgorica, Prijepolje (Serbia).
Žabljak is a very small town, so everything is within walking distance. You can get to some of the lakes around the town only by foot. However, some chairlifts, skiing pistes, etc., are reachable only by car.
- Eyes of the Mountain - any of the 18 glacier lakes on Durmitor mountain.
- 1 Black lake (Crno Jezero). The biggest, most beautiful lake in the area, and the closest to Žabljak.
- Tara Canyon - deepest canyon in Europe, second deepest in the world, right after Arizona's Grand Canyon. It figures on UNESCO World Heritage List. Some 20 km east of town.
- Skiing - Durmitor's snow cover lasts 120 days per year and its best slopes are Savin kuk, Štuoc and Javorovača. Savin kuk has two chairlifts, a ski lift, nursery lift and a ski service. Savin kuk slope is 3,500 m long. Štuoc is somewhat shorter (2,600 m) but very exciting, and Javorovača's 800 m are perfect for those preferring short runs. The Nordic skiing tracks are 3 to 12 km long.
- Snowboarding is popular, and many enthusiast gatherings and competitions are being held at Durmitor.
- Rafting - 1.3 km deep Tara river canyon offers unforgettable rafting experience. You can go rafting by boat or a wooden raft down the 100 km of the most beautiful and exciting part of Tara. The usual route is from Splavište down to Šćepan Polje, and in between you can see Ljutice Falls, the 165-m-high magnificent Tara bridge, an old Roman road, and Lever Tara. The scenery at Tepački bukovi, Sušica canyon, Bailove sige, and Brstanovića bukovi is breathtaking. During the river trip, either dinner or lunch is served in natural scenery on the river banks. Rafting tours can also start at Radovan luka or Brstanovica. There is a couple of travel agencies offering rafting tours. Half-day tour costs €40-50, you it is strongly suggested to book the tour one day ahead. Full day is €100, and you must have a group of at least 4 people.
- Mountaineering - Durmitor has perfect conditions for this sport, as cliffs and slopes are abundant. There are many well marked routes taking you high in to the mountains.
- Cycling - from the lake to Žabljak and numerous other paths are great for this type of recreation. Paths around the Crno Jezero (Black Lake) can also be done but they are not well suited to this due the hilly terrain and the rocky surface of the trails. A one-day mountain bicycle rental costs ~€10. However, the bicycles are not always in the best condition. It is best to check the bicycle before biking away from the shop.
- Hiking anywhere around the town, exploring the wilderness.
- The usual and the most visited one is to go around the Crno Jezero and then Malo Jezero adjacent to it. Allow 1.5 hr for leisurely walk.
- There are a few trails starting at Crno Jezero that leads to several other lakes. Beware that anywhere except summer time it can be covered with snow so you'd need a proper shoes. As an example there is a hike to Zmijino Jezero which is about 1.5 hr one way on easy paths (some roots and rocks but nothing to worry about). Also there are a few paths going there so no need to return the same way.
- A few peaks can be conquered, and those are pretty exhausting although rewarding hikes. E.g. hike to Bobatov Kuk Peak which can take up to a full day (at least 5-6 hr one way). It's possible to get to the peak from the village of Sedlo, and it's a much easier option as the starting point is much higher than Crno Jezero, after traversing the mountain go down to Crno Jezero.
- A few climbing routes available which would require special gear.
- One of the forks from Crno Jezero is a hike to Ice Cave (Ledena Pecina). Starting at the western part of the lake, it can take up to 4 hr steep climbing one way. It's all melted during summer time.
- You can cross the ridge between Mala Međed and Veliki Međed in a circle hike, starting at one side of Crno Jezero and ending at the other. The most accesible point for the crossing is Velika previja. The way is well marked on the northern side and ok on the southern side (red circle around a white center). Account for at least 6 hr for the full hike.
- A 2-hr, one-way hike from Crno Jezero (on the way to Bubatov Kuk) brings you to Katun Lokvice a large plateu surrounded by stunning mountains. In summer a shepard sells soft drinks and beer there for prices that account for the fact that someone carried the drinks to there.
Žabljak is not really a shopping resort. It is, however, the right place to buy genuine Montenegrin food.
Žabljak has some excellent local cuisine restaurants. Notably, there is "Katun" restaurant on the very shore of Crno Jezero (temporarily closed in 2014), "MB" motel-restaurant, and "Momčilov grad" on the Štuoc.
Cold hors d'oeuvres include the famous njeguški pršut (smoked ham) and njeguški cheese, pljevaljski cheese, mushrooms, fried pastry and dried bleak. The main courses specific for the northern mountainous region are boiled lamb, lamb cooked in milk, cicvara in fresh milk cream (creamy buttered polenta), boiled potatoes with kajmak (local fresh cream cheese).
It might be a good idea to make an order and reserve seats a few hours in advance, as restaurants are small, may be crowded, and it might take some time to prepare the courses.
- 1 Hotel Zabljak Restaurant. Fancy upscale restaurant with some excellent food, including some special local cuisine. entrees €2-8; mains €4-15.
- 2 Konoba "Luna", 2 Njegoševa st, ☏ +382 68 431 808. Fine family restaurant popular with locals. Offers some tasty local delicacies. Do not order the Cevapi here; it is not home-made. entrees €1-5; mains €2-12.
- Lupo Verde. Good breakfast foods (omelettes; breads and jam), but espressos are not very good.
- Restaurant Durmitor. Excellent Durmitor local dishes at fair prices. Homemade Cevapi, soup, and lamb dishes are very tasty.
Montenegrin quality wine is a must-try. The best known Montenegrin wines are the premium "Vranac", "Pro Corde", "Krstač", "Cabernet", "Chardonnay" and the famous home made Crmničko red wine.
Grape brandy (rakija) "Montenegrin loza", "Prvijenac", "Kruna" or home made grape brandy (lozova rakija, lozovaca) is also great.
There are three major hotels in Žabljak: Planinka, Žabljak, and Durmitor. Besides these, there are many small motels (MB, Bjeloor, etc.) in and around town, not to mention that almost every local resident is willing to rent a room at affordable price. Just look for "Rooms, Sobe" sign; however take into account that not all owners are available right on spot and so you might need to call them to see the property (phone numbers are usually mentioned on their property signs).
Accommodation in Žabljak is abundant, except around New Year's Eve, when the place is packed.
- Durmitor National Park
- Podgorica — the capital and biggest city in Montenegro.
- Nikšić — the second largest city in Montenegro and economically important, not of the big interest though.
- Biogradska Gora National Park — some of the last remaining untouched forests in Europe.
- Mount Ostrog — the amazing monastery situated on the almost vertical cliff of Mount Ostrog.
- Prijepolje - small town in neighboring Serbia, housing Mileseva Monastery.