Zabljak is a great place to visit if you’re looking for rustic charm, adventure and a place where you can enjoy the simple life.
Do you want to get away from the coastal summer crowds?
See Montenegro's famed 'black mountains'?
Breathe fresh, mountain air?
Enjoy slow-cooked meals of hearty, mountain food?
In short, enjoy the simple life.
Then look no further than Zabljak.
At around two and a half hours’ drive from the coast, you can visit this town in Durmitor National Park in a day trip or overnight there.
I recommend staying a night or two. We’ve done both but you'll see so much more if you have a couple of full days there.
Zabljak (pronounced 'Zhablyak') is a small mountain town of around 2,000 people. It's very easy to get around, but you will need a car.
The town is the gateway to Durmitor National Park, which is why it's one of the best places to see Montenegro's 'black mountains' and raw nature. It's easier to get to than the other inland national parks - Biogradska Gora and Prokletije - so it's a great way to incorporate a visit to the mountains.
Because it's mainly a winter resort, with a modest ski field, summer is low season here. There are plenty of tourists and school groups around, but it never gets crowded the way the Montenegrin coast does.
So if you're looking for a quiet mountain retreat... this could be the perfect place for you!
The Black Lake is one of Durmitor National Park's 18 glacial lakes and it's the top attraction to see in Zabljak.
Whether you walk around the lake, go for a hike or hire a boat, time spent here is time well spent.
With your entrance to the park, you also get entrance to
the Durmitor National Park visitor’s centre which you pass on your
way to the lake. Inside, you’ll find information about the local area, flora,
fauna and you can pick up maps for the hiking trails.
Now, I know I promised you adventure. And here it is.
Just outside of Zabljak, Nevidio Canyon, is home to the most popular canyoning tours in Montenegro. You start at one entry to the canyon and slide, climb, jump and swim your way to the exit. The canyon takes anywhere from 3-5 hours to navigate and it gets rave reviews. This is a must-do for adrenaline lovers!
If you have a rental car, you might like to drive yourself to the start of the canyoning tour which is 26km from Zabljak.
Nevidio Canyon is an hour from Niksic towards Durmitor National Park. Nevidio Canyon means 'The Unseen Canyon' and it wasn't until 1965 that a team of Montenegrin Mountaineers managed to explore the canyon.
Nevidio is the most popular location for canyoning in Montenegro and in addition to the canyoning, you'll be treated to some stunning scenery as you travel up to the start point.
Tours here cover about 2km of the canyon and there's lots of swimming, climbing and jumping involved. Jumps here are up to 20m high! The canyoning tour takes around 3 1/2 hours, depending on the size and ability of a group.
Start point: Nevidio Canyon. Return transfers from your accommodation are available on request
Start time: 10am
Duration: 3 1/2 hours (depending on group size)
What's included: Lunch, snacks, 3 1/2 hours guided canyoning, all canyoning equipment
Age limit: 16 years and over
Price: €100 + €17 local tax per person
Rafting is less challenging but equally fun way to get outdoors in the mountains. White water rafting in the Tara Canyon is the most popular adventure activity in Montenegro and you can do it from Zabljak.
Tara Canyon is the deepest canyon in Europe and the second deepest in the world, after the grand canyon. We go rafting every summer and love it every time. You can read our review here.
If you want to go from Zabljak, the best tour to book is this one that takes you under the Djurdjevica Tara Bridge.
This tour starts at the Djurdjevica Bridge 23km from Zabljak.
You get suited up at the camp and start a 3 hour tour down 14km of rapids. Along the way you see Ljutica River, the shortest river in Europe.
The tour includes a photo shoot as you pass under Djurdjevica Bridge and then you finish up at Zugica Luka.
After thoroughly earning your lunch on the river, you'll head back to the camp for a well-earned lunch of roast meat or fish (vegetarian options are also available).
Start: Djurdjevica Bridge
Finish: Djurdjevica Bridge
Duration: 9am - 1.30pm
Price: €66 per person excluding lunch
The Đjurđevića Tara Bridge connects the two sides of the Tara Canyon and gives you stunning views of the canyon and Tara River.
And if you like thrills, you'll love the zipline across the canyon!
The Durmitor Ring is an 85km circular drive from Zabljak. It takes you through the heart of Durmitor National Park and includes the stunningly beautiful Sedlo Pass.
The via ferrata near Zabljak is one of only two in Montenegro. This is a fantastic way to have some fun, challenge yourself and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in Montenegro.
Stećci are an interesting phenomenon that you’ll only be able to see in certain areas of the Balkans and two of the best sites to see stećci in Montenegro are in Žabljak, near Durmitor National Park.
Stećci are medieval tombstones that are only found in certain parts of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. Stećci date back to the 12th to 16th centuries and even though they’re being studied, there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding stećci.
Durmitor National Park is a hiker's dream. There are trails all over the park and there are 18 glacier lakes in the park.
The most popular hike in Montenegro, Bobotov Kuk is here. Although people often think it's the highest peak in Montenegro, it's actually the fourth highest at 2522m. If you're interested in hiking this trail, this article is a must-read.
And if you're interested in hiking any trails in Montenegro, I highly recommend The Mountains of Montenegro which has excellent descriptions of every trail.
Zabljak is one of the most popular ski resorts in Montenegro. However, it's in need of investment and I wouldn't recommend visiting especially for a skiing or snowboarding trip.
If you're interested in skiing or snowboarding in the Balkans, our favourite place is Kopaonik in Serbia. We go every year and love it!
As Zabljak is one of two main ski resorts in Montenegro, you’ll find some great hotel options if you want to stay overnight. You'll also find good quality, but not luxury, self-catering accommodation where you'll be able to stretch out and feel at home. Most of these are log cabins.
Because it's traditionally a winter resort, the prices here are cheaper than on the coast in summer and most expensive in winter.
Hotel Soa is the nicest hotel in Zabljak. It's a modern boutique hotel with 18 rooms, just a few minutes' walk from Black Lake.
It's a lovely quiet area and it's also a 10 minute walk into the town centre.
They have single rooms, suites and family apartments. And they also have free WiFi, free onsite parking and a wellness centre.
The hotel has a very nice restaurant which has indoor seating and an outdoor terrace.
The view over the abandoned hotel opposite isn't the best in Zabljak, but we still go there every time we visit to reward ourselves with one of their chocolate souffles.
Polar Star is a comfortable and homely hotel, five minutes' drive from Zabljak town centre.
They have rooms, suites and apartments in the main building. They also have stand alone log cabins which are perfect for families.
The restaurant serves homestyle Montenegrin mountain food which goes perfectly with the surrounds. There's also a kids' playground and plenty of space for them to run around.
All stays include breakfast, WiFi and onsite parking. You can also upgrade to half or full board and use the wellness centre for a fee.
Ski Hotel is a cosy and friendly hotel close to the town centre and opposite a church and park.
Breakfast is included with all bookings and their restaurant has full size windows which make the most of the mountain scenery that surrounds the hotel.
You also have free WiFi, free parking and can make use of the wellness centre. This is a well-priced, comfortable hotel in the centre of town.
This cute and authentic hotel is around 3km from the town centre on the outskirts of town.
The rooms are modest but clean and comfortable and the restaurants serves excellent Montenegrin mountain meals like spit-roast.
There's free WiFi, free parking and a ski school if you're staying in winter.
And if you're staying outside of summer, you can't beat the restaurant's roaring fire for mountain atmosphere!
This motel has the best view in Durmitor. Overlooking the Djurdjevica Tara bridge and the surrounding mountains, this is a stunning getaway.
It's 23km to Zabljak town from here and I can't imagine a more perfect place to recharge your batteries.
There are just four rooms here and all come with free WiFi and parking. There's also an onsite restaurant with views to die for. There's no air-conditioning, but it doesn't get hot enough here to need it.
The self-catering accommodation in Zabljak is more basic than what you'll find on the coast, but at around €15 per person per night, the prices are very reasonable. It's mostly geared towards skiiers and there are a lot of log cabins for rent.
My favourite apartment accommodation here is Polar Star. The apartments and wooden bungalows are spacious and comfortable and you have an onsite restaurant and playground. Here are some more good self-catering options:
What could be more mountain-like than a log cabin?
Durmitor Bungalows is a group of Montenegrin log cabins that you can rent out.
The complex has free WiFi and a barbecue area. It's only 1km from town but is set in a classic, rural setting.
Choose from one or three bedroom cottages.
Sun Village has large bungalows that sleep up to 6 people - great for groups.
They're set just 1km from the town centre and although there's no WiFi, there's a basic gym, sauna and games room with table tennis and pool.
These are modern and comfortable apartments walking distance from the town centre.
Each apartments has two bedrooms and sleeps up to 6. There's free WiFi and free parking onsite too.
This is good basic accommodation close to town.
Chalet Dorma is in the centre of Zabljak, so everything is right on your doorstep.
The modest, comfortable rooms have kitchenettes and there are plenty of good restaurant options serving traditional Montenegrin mountain cuisine within walking distance.
The property has ski and bike equipment for hire and can arrange rafting tours.
Next to Chalet Dorma, Hostel Hiker's Den is run by the same couple.
The hostel has both dorm and private rooms, and a barbecue and outdoor seating make it a fantastic place to enjoy Zabljak's beautiful mountain atmosphere.
If you're looking for last minute accommodation here, make sure you check Booking.com's deals page.
The closer it is to the date you're booking for, the more deals there'll be but I wouldn't recommend this approach if you've got your heart set on a place - it might just get fully booked!
Still, this is great tool if you're flexible and looking for a bargain!
If you want to camp inside the national park you have to buy a camping permit from the visitor's centre for €3. If you'd like to use their campsite it costs €10.
For Montenegrin mountain food and specialties from the Durmitor region, you can't go past Restoran Koliba. This restaurant at the base of Savin Kuk ski lift is the best place for authentic Montenegrin fare - think pies, slow roasted meat, sausages, cheese, hearty soups and more. Their prices are also very reasonable at €2 for soup and meat mains from €6.
Put this place on your list!
Address: Savin Kuk bb, Durmitor National Park
Phone: +382 52 366 599
Hours: 9am - midnight
At the other end of the spectrum, there's Dvoriste. I like to call this Montenegrin fusion. A modern take on classic Montenegrin food. People call Dvoriste a hidden gem and you can tell every meal and detail has been crafted with love.
The prices here are a little higher than elsewhere in town, but restaurants are not expensive here anyway and I think it's worth paying a few extra Euros for.
Address: Jakova Ostoji, Durmitor National Park
Phone: +382 (0)69 978 437
You saw my chocolate souffle at Hotel Soa above. They also have a contemporary menu of soups, salads, pizzas and meat mains. This restaurant is more modern, where as the majority of restaurants in town are very traditional Montenegrin restaurants. So if you feel like something global, this is your place.
They also have a lounge bar which is a relaxing place to grab a drink with your significant other, sit by the fire and relax after a day's exploring.
Address: Zabljak bb, Durmitor National Park
Phone: +382 52 360 110
Hours: 7am - 11pm
There are three airports you can fly into to get to Zabljak:
Podgorica: 133km or a 2 1/2 hour drive
Tivat: 170km or a 3 hour drive
Dubrovnik: 190km or a 3 1/2 hour drive (plus border crossing)
Read More: Flights to Montenegro
If you want to visit Zabljak I recommend hiring a car and driving yourself. It's a lovely drive up there and you'll be able to explore the area under your own steam while you're there.
One way transfers start from €125.
Read More: Hire a car in Montenegro
Read More: Transfers to Zabljak
There aren't any train links to Zabljak. The only options for getting there by train would be:
There are regular bus links to Zabljak from around Montenegro. The best place to check timetables and plan your route is on Busticket4.me.