Prokletije National Park is Montenegro’s newest national park. Because of its remote location in Montenegro’s east, it is one of the least-visited mountain areas in Europe and an unspoiled gem.
Known as the ‘Accursed Mountains’, the Prokletije Mountains form a natural border between Montenegro and Albania. The jagged peaks and glacier lakes offer some of the most dramatic scenery and best hiking you’ll find in this region.
As well as world-class hiking, Prokletije offers other outdoor activities like rock climbing and cycling. It also offers cultural experiences like the Old Imperial Mosque, lakes and waterfalls, and the kind of authentic hospitality you can only find in undiscovered destinations like Prokletije.
Discover all this stunning region has to offer in this guide to the best things to see and do in Prokletije National Park.
National Park Prokletije, established in 2009, covers about 16,630 hectares of the Prokletije massif. The park borders Kosovo and Albania, and these countries also protect their parts of the massif with national parks (National Park Bjeshkët e Nemuna and Valbona Valley National Park respectively).
In Prokletije National Park, you'll find a rich variety of plant life, including over 1,500 plant species, 50 of which are endemic to the region. The plant species found here account for fully 20% of all Balkan flora and over 100 species are used for medicinal purposes.
The park is also home to a range of wildlife, such as bears, wolves, chamois, and lynx. The critically endangered Balkan lynx is also found in the park. It is estimated there are less than 50 of this species left on Earth.
As well as mammals, Prokletije is a haven for insects, lizards, and snakes. It has the highest butterfly diversity in Europe, with over 150 species. You’ll also find the Prokletije rock lizard and venomous horned viper here.
Cave drawings found in Gusinje have shown that people have been living in this area since at least 800 B.C. One drawing shows a deer hunting scene, another shows a man and woman fighting against a wolf that has attacked a child.
The park's importance lies in its biodiversity and its role in preserving unique ecosystems. It's part of the larger Dinaric Alps and offers stunning landscapes, including rugged mountains, deep valleys, and clear glacial lakes.
This park is not just a natural wonder but also a crucial area for conservation and a paradise for hikers.
Lake Plav is the largest glacial lake in Montenegro. Located at an altitude of 906 meters, between the Prokletije and Visitor mountain ranges, this picturesque lake, formed about 10,000 years ago, is renowned for its crystal-clear, turquoise waters and is surrounded by green hills and towering mountains.
Located in the small town of Plav, Lake Plav is a popular spot for swimming and kayaking in summer. The lake’s water is completely replaced every 3-4 days, so it never warms up and is only 12°C (53°F) year-round.
Be ready for a refreshing dip if you swim here!
Ali Pasha's Springs, located just outside Gusinje and at the foothills of the Prokletije mountains, is a remarkable natural attraction. The springs are named after Ali Pasha of Gusinje, a historical 18th-century Albanian commander.
The karst springs bubble up from the ground to create numerous pools that merge into a large stream. Known for their mineral-rich water, which many believe to have health benefits, these springs are not only a scenic spot but also a place for wellness.
Ali Pasha's Springs has become increasingly popular among tourists, and the water here is so clean that you can drink directly from the springs.
This tranquil location, surrounded by stunning mountain landscapes, is an ideal picnic spot and a must-see in Prokletije National Park.
The springs are just a 5-minute drive or a 25-minute hike south of Gusinje.
Hrid Lake, also known as Hridsko Jezero, is a hidden gem located at an altitude of 1,970 meters in the northwestern part of Prokletije National Park, near Plav in Montenegro.
This glacial lake, measuring 300 meters in length and 160 meters in width with a depth of around 5-6 meters, is one of the highest lakes in the country.
Surrounded by high pine and spruce trees and set against a backdrop of craggy mountain peaks like Mali (small) and Veliki (big) Hrid, the lake is a stunning place that remains untouched by humans.
Known as the "Lake of Happiness," local legends say that Hrid Lake was a bathing spot for fairies, and swimming here is believed to bring health and luck, especially in marriage. Visitors often throw coins or jewelry into the lake to make wishes.
You can get to Lake Hrid via a challenging 4x4 road to Veliki Hrid and it’s a 10-minute walk from there. Alternatively, you can drive to Bajrovića Katun and it is a 1-1.5-hour walk from there.
Oko Skakavice, also known as the Blue Eye or Eye of the River Skakavica (not Eye of the Grasshopper as many mistakenly translate), is a stunning turquoise mountain lake in the Ropojana Valley, formed by a karst spring.
Located 1,000 meters above sea level, this natural spring is about 25 meters wide and 70 meters deep, surrounded by limestone rocks. It's one of the strongest water sources in the Prokletije region, with water flowing from a funnel-shaped spring.
The clarity of the water allows you to see right to the bottom, even at its deepest point. The spring feeds the Skakavica River, which eventually joins Ali Pasha Springs near Gusinje.
The spring is fullest in late spring and early summer, fed by multiple waterfalls. The water here is very cold, around 5 °C at the surface, due to melting snow from the Prokletije mountains.
To get here it is a 1.7-kilometer walk from Vusanje. You can also drive to the lake, but the road is unpaved and best done with a 4x4.
Grlja Waterfall, located in Vusanje near the entrance to Ropojana Valley, is another spectacular natural attraction in Prokletije National Park.
This waterfall, fed by water from the Blue Eye spring and fresh snowmelt from the surrounding Accursed Mountains, plunges 12 meters (about 39 feet) into a deep canyon. It's a powerful display of nature's force, especially in late spring and early summer when it's gushing with snowmelt.
To reach Grlja Waterfall, park in the large open field in Vusanje and follow the sound of the water. It's also a point of interest on the Peaks of the Balkans Trail, so if you're hiking from Vusanje to Theth, you'll pass right by it.
Nearby, there's a restaurant where you can enjoy traditional cuisine and refreshments. The area around the waterfall is picturesque, with newly planted trees along the river and several gazebos for quiet relaxation.
Be cautious near the waterfall's edge, as only a small section is fenced!
Redžepagić Tower, the oldest preserved building in Plav, Montenegro, is a significant piece of defensive architecture and a protected cultural monument.
Built in 1671 by Hasan-beg Redžepagić, though some legends suggest it dates back to the 15th century, this tower stands as a testament to the region's history.
Originally constructed with two floors of thick, over one-meter walls, gun holes, and watchtowers, a third floor was added later. The tower's design, with stone and wood construction, reflects the unique architectural style of the area, known for its stone houses and towers built for defense.
The tower's ground floor served as a stable and warehouse, while the upper floors were living spaces with rooms for sitting, sleeping, and eating. It features wooden indoor stairs and covered wooden balconies.
Strategically located near a medieval fortress, the tower provided a commanding view and control over the surroundings. It was part of a larger complex, including a courtyard with smaller houses, utility buildings, and a bakery, all enclosed by a high wall.
Today, the Redžepagić Tower hosts a local ethnographic collection, and you can tour the museum for €1 per person.
St. Trinity Monastery in Brezojevice, just three kilometers north of Plav, is a serene and historically rich site. This Orthodox monastery, located at the foot of Gradac Hill and beside the River Lim, is believed to have been built in the 13th century.
Despite being destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, it remains a central spiritual and cultural hub for the region's Orthodox community. The current structure of the Holy Trinity Church was constructed in the 16th century on 13th-century foundations.
It features Byzantine-style architecture and houses some of the most exquisite 16th-century wall paintings in the Polimlje Region.
The church, resembling old coastal churches, is a single-nave stone structure. Interestingly, its bell tower is located on Gradac Hill, rather than next to the church, to facilitate faster communication with the people.
During World War II, the monastery was damaged and fell into decay, being used primarily for funerals. However, recent years have seen efforts to restore it, albeit slowly.
Inside, you can still see the faded remains of original frescoes, including the Dormition of the Mother of God. To visit, you can inquire at the Plav Tourist Organization or try your luck at the monastery, where someone is often available to let visitors in.
The Emperor's Mosque, dating back to the 15th century, is the oldest and most significant religious structure in Plav, Montenegro.
It's believed to be the first mosque built in the region, originally constructed in 1471. Financed by Abdul Hamid, this mosque showcases a unique architectural style, blending stone and wood, and is adorned with intricate carvings, arabesques, and galleries.
The mosque's wooden minaret, simple carvings, and a ceiling decorated with a rosette are notable features. The mosque’s doors, which are engraved in a style characteristic of this area, also have particular artistic value.
The Emperor's Mosque, also known as Carska Djamija, was initially built for Turkish soldiers and is part of a larger complex, including sleeping quarters and weapon storage. It also houses a library and reading room, which is the oldest in the area. Originally, the mosque was encircled by 3-5 m high walls.
Although much of the original structure has not survived over the centuries, it was rebuilt in the 18th century to mirror the original design and underwent further renovations in the 1980s. Today, it is a protected national heritage site and is still open for daily prayers.
Most visitors to Prokletije National Park come for the incredible hiking trails. Hiking here offers diverse landscapes, from rugged peaks to serene glacial lakes.
The trails vary in difficulty, catering to both seasoned hikers and beginners. Many, like Zla Kolata, have steep slopes so a reasonable degree of fitness is required.
The Prokletije Mountains offer 77 peaks above 2,000 meters and three above 2,500 meters. The best time to hike in Prokletije is from June to the end of October.
While hiking here, staying in local guesthouses and katuns also offers you the opportunity to experience the genuine warm hospitality and authentic experiences that you can only find in places untouched by mass tourism.
Most trails begin from the Branko Kotlajić mountain hut in the Grebaje Valley, near Gusinje. Some trails begin in Vusanje, and some in the town of Plav.
Grebaje Valley - Volušnica (1,879) and Popadija (also called Talijanka, 2,057 m): 5 hrs. This is the most scenic and most popular hike in Prokletije. From Volušnica you’ll getting stunning views of the famed Karanfili Peaks. You can do this as a self-guided hike or book a guided tour from Podgorica.
Vusanje - Zla Kolata (2,534 m): 8 hrs. This trail takes you to Montenegro's highest peak.
Bajrovića Katun - Lake Hrid: 2 - 3 hrs. This is a relatively easy hike through pine forest to beautiful Lake Hrid.
Grebaje Valley: 1 hr. This is an easy walk through Grebaje Valley that will show you some of the area’s stunning scenery. It is ideal for families or if you can’t take on a more strenuous hike.
Grebaje Valley - Krosnja: 6 hrs. This is where you can see the famous “Kissing Cats” arch (Šuplja Vrata).
Peaks of the Balkans: a 192 km circular trail through Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo that takes 10 days. You can walk this trail on your own or take a guided tour.
If walking it on your own, The Peaks of the Balkans Trail by Rudolph Abraham is a must-have guide to this trail.
You can also find Peaks of the Balkans tours of different lengths which just cover part of the trail. Some of these are guided and some are self-guided, but a local tour operator makes bookings for your transport and accommodation arrangements.
These are a great option because the operator organizes things like transfers, accommodation, cross-border passes (you need this for the border crossings between the three countries), etc.
Here are some of the most popular options:
Peaks of the Balkans Tour in 10 Days: Join the "Peaks of the Balkans Tour in 10 Days – Choose Balkans Route" for an exciting hiking and trekking experience. This 10-day tour begins in Tirana, Albania, and guides you through six other European destinations. The package includes comfortable accommodation, guidance from an expert, meals, transportation, and more.
Peaks of the Balkans - Hike Beyond Borders in Albania and Montenegro (8 Days): The "Peaks of the Balkans - Hike Beyond Borders in Albania & Montenegro" is an 8-day hiking and trekking tour. This package takes you from Shkoder, Albania to nine other exciting destinations in Europe. Over these 8 days, you'll enjoy comfortable hotel stays, guidance from an expert, meals, transportation, and more. This tour offers a complete adventure package for exploring the best of Albania and Montenegro.
Peaks of the Balkans Tour: Theth, Valbona, and Koman Lake in 5 Days: This 5-day tour starts in Tirana, Albania, and takes you to four additional destinations within the country. Enjoy comfortable accommodation, expert guidance, meals, and transportation throughout your journey. This tour is your ticket to exploring the natural beauty of Theth, Valbona, and Koman Lake in just five days.
Prokletije is a hidden gem of the rock climbing world, and offers some of the most challenging climbing in the world.
Grebaje Valley and Ropojana Valley offer more than 100 sectors specifically set up for rock climbing. The majority of these routes are situated near Ali Pasha’s Springs.
Climbing conditions are optimal from May through October. Thanks to the diverse orientations of these sectors, climbers can enjoy climbing here even during the hottest days of summer. However, visiting climbers often complain that the routes and paths are not well-kept.
You can find climbing routes at:
You’ll find several MTB routes in Prokletije offering challenging ascents and stunning scenery. The mountain bike trails and cross-country riding wind through villages, farms, and mountains.
Although Montenegro has some fantastic riding that has attracted riders like downhill world champion, Greg Minnaar, and Santa Cruz owner Rob Roskopp, Montenegro’s MTB routes are still being developed. Not all of the trails are well marked, so GPS is essential here.
There are routes of varying distances and difficulty levels. Here are some of the cycling routes in the area:
You can find detailed descriptions and directions of the Prokletije biking routes here and at the visitor’s center in Plav.
Ski Tour Fest, the only event of its kind in the Balkans, gives you have the chance to ski on some of Europe's most stunning yet lesser-known mountains.
This festival not only offers great skiing experiences but also fosters cultural exchanges between you and the many locals involved.
It spans across four mountains - Hajla, Bogićevica, and Prokletije - and three countries: Montenegro, Albania, and Kosovo. Each location is unique, vast, and leaves plenty of unexplored terrain for future visits.
Ski Tour Fest is a small non-commercial event that aims to build genuine connections with all participants.
There are two groups on Ski Tour Fest: Pro and Expert, and Beginner and Intermediate, and there are only 30 participants in each group.
You can find more information about the tours, current dates, and registration on the Ski Tour Fest website.
If you are planning to do a lot of hiking in Prokletije and want basic accommodation near the trailheads, the best places to stay are Gusinje and Vusanje. You’ll find a few stores in Gusinje where you can buy food, but there are none in Vusanje.
For an authentic experience you can stay in a katun or ethno village, which is based on traditional shepherd’s huts in Montenegro. These are usually made up of a group of bungalows in a rural setting and offer traditional hospitality and food at good-value prices.
If you prefer to have more amenities nearby, like restaurants and grocery stores, it’s better to stay in the town of Plav. You’ll find many comfortable holiday homes, apartments, and bungalows here.
Here are some of my top picks for places to stay in Prokletije National Park.
RATING: 9.8/10 | LOCATION: Plav | BOOK NOW
Run by my friend Admir, a local mountaineering guide, and his wife, 1060 Meet Eat Hike & Tour is a 3-bedroom house that sleeps up to 8 people. The fantastic hosts are professional mountain guides and cooks and offer an unforgettable and authentic experience in this stunning location.
The house is located just outside Plav, offering tranquil rural scenery. It has 3 modern bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen, outdoor dining, and a garden.
RATING: 9.9/10 | LOCATION: Plav | BOOK NOW
Just an 8-minute walk from Lake Plav, Guest House Blue Views offers that rare combination of complete tranquility while still having amenities within walking distance. And it comes with stunning lake views!
The house itself is a warm modern home with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It also has a full kitchen, outdoor dining and living area, Wi-Fi, a washing machine, and a fireplace.
There’s plenty of free onsite parking for your rental car, but you can also use the free bicycles. It’s a true home away from home and the perfect base for exploring Prokletije.
RATING: 9.8/10 | LOCATION: Gusinje | BOOK NOW
This beautiful ethno village is a great base for hiking and exploring Prokletije National Park.
The complex is made up of cute chalets around a central courtyard and garden area. The chalets sleep up to 4 people in each and have private bathrooms and outdoor seating areas.
With farmyard animals like rabbits and chickens, this an ideal place for families as well as hikers and couples.
There is shared kitchen, barbecue facilities, and you can find restaurants in nearby Gusinje. Some of the chalets have a kitchenette, dining area, and lounge.
You can get to Prokletije National Park in Montenegro by car or bus. It’s best to hire a car (I recommend Localrent for the best deals and service) to get here because you can only get as far as Plav on public transport and taxis can be hard to find.
Hiring a 4x4 is best if you plan to drive any of the gravel roads, eg. to Oko Skakavice Lake.
If you don’t have a rental car, you’ll be forced to walk or hitchhike wherever you want to go.
If you're traveling by air, the nearest major airport is Podgorica airport, in the Montenegro's capital city.
From Podgorica, you can rent a car or take a bus to reach the park. The drive from Podgorica to Prokletije takes about three hours.
The best time to visit Prokletije National Park in Montenegro is during the summer months, from June to September.
During this period, the weather is generally warm and stable, making it ideal for hiking and exploring the park's natural beauty. The temperatures are comfortable for outdoor activities, and the trails are in their best condition.
In summer, you can fully enjoy the park's highlights, like the stunning glacial lakes and the majestic peaks of the Accursed Mountains. This is also the time when the park's flora is in full bloom and you’ll find bushes full of wild blueberries covering the hills.
Prokletije National Park never gets very busy because of its remote location, so you don’t need to worry about crowds.
However, as the Peaks of the Balkans trail get more popular, the limited accommodation available can fill up, so I recommend booking a tour or booking your accommodation early.
Also, keep in mind that there can be snow year-round in Prokletije mountains, especially at higher altitudes.