Lake Skadar – the Balkans’ largest lake

The Montenegrin Skadarsko jezero goes by many names: Skadar (from the Montenegrin), Shkodër (from the Albanian) and Scutari (from the time when it was an Italian protectorate). It’s the  largest lake in the Balkans – part of the lake is in Montenegro and part in neighboring Albania.

The lake itself is well known for its biodiversity. The region is one of the largest bird preserves in Europe, and  is very popular with birdwatchers.

There are 34 native species of fish in the lake, including lake eel, one of the regional culinary specialties.

The land around Skadar Lake is extremely  lush, with plenty of wild fig and pomegranate trees growing along the roads.

It’s also the country’s most important wine-growing region, where Montenegro’s strong red wine, Vranac, is produced. The small vineyards are picturesque, and fruit and wine are sold roadside around the region.

At Lake Skadar, we spent a day Virpazar – a small fishing village, and had lunch there. This is a popular place for boat trips and people start approaching you right away to sign up for their trips. Take your time and check on the prices. We were able to get better offers than the initial proposals we received.

The 2-hour boat trip was really beautiful and we stopped for a swim along the way. The lake is dotted with the ruins of island churches and lovely fishing villages.

Enjoying a lunch of Skadar eel

There’s a winding road that leads around the lake. We started on this road and it really is wonderfully panoramic, but I chickened out and demanded that we got back at a certain point.

The road has lots of steep hairpin turns and lots of sheer drops. The fact that it seems wide enough only for one-way traffic, but all the cars coming along from the other side appeared to be aspiring Formula 1 drivers didn’t help.

Swimming break!

I saw some hikers walking on the side of this road. This might be the safest way to enjoy the view!

Careful with the driving – and enjoy your visit to the Balkan’s biggest lake.

Take a look at my other Montenegrin travel tips for the coastal town of Perast and the rugged beauty of the Durmitor National Park.


  1. Catherine on October 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I love swimming in lakes! I don’t know why. Perhaps as an Australian I have an inbuilt fear of sharks in the sea (even in Corsica I am never really at ease!) and I spent years swimming in dangerous rivers as a kid. Sounds like a lovely trip apart from the terrifying driving!

  2. kimberlysullivan on October 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I understand, Catherine. I’m exactly the same. I love swimming in the sea, but I never go out too deep (probably saw Jaws when I was too young), but I love swimming out in the middle of lakes. BTW, having a great time reading your book. I don’t think Marilyn and I travelled in the same circles in Milan. Whatever was I doing with my time? : )

  3. Julia on October 10, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Wow, Kimberly! Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip. Those landscapes are gorgeous.

  4. kimberlysullivan on October 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Thanks, Julia! It really is a lovely place.. I just hope that it won’t become too overdeveloped. They have a wonderful opportunity to promote ecotourism here and some of the old fishing villages and their pretty stone homes are being renovated now.

  5. […] Be sure to enjoy wandering around Stari Bar on your visit to Montenegro. And take a look at some of my earlier posts on places to visit in Montenegro, including the seaside town of Perast, the Durmitor National Park and the Balkans’  largest lake, Skadarsko jezero. […]

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