Hiking in Sutjeska National Park: Trnovačko Lake

by Kathi Daniela

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"Close your eyes," says Dejan, "lie down and just do - nothing!" I find a comfortable spot on the grass and lie down, the sun warming my face. And then I close my eyes and do... nothing. Around me nothing but silence, I feel a little uncomfortable, want to move, fidget, but force myself to stay still.

And after a while - I hear it.

The soft rustle of the wind in the yellow grass burnt by the sun. The gurgling of the waves on the small pebbles on the shore of Lake Trnovačko. The voices of the walkers on the other side of the lake, a low murmur resounding across the water. But unlike in the city, the sounds here are not static. On the contrary, they are so quiet that I only hear them when I really listen. Quieter than my own heartbeat, even.

Selbst wenn wir versuchen, unser Leben entschleunigt zu gestalten, denke ich, ist es so laut, so geschäftig, dass es uns kaum gelingen kann, wirklich kleine Momente der Ruhe zu finden. Doch hier, irgendwo zwischen Bosnien-Herzegowina und Montenegro, kommt mein Kopf zur Ruhe und meine Gedanken werden so leise wie das Rauschen des Windes in den Blättern …

The most beautiful hikes in the Sutjeska National Park

I spent two days in Sutjeska National Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina's oldest national park, scouting out the most beautiful viewpoints and trying out the most popular hikes in the park. And what can I say: this national park is really a paradise on earth!

  • Impressive views? Check! ✔️
  • Digital Detox? Check! There are hardly any telephone connections here. ✔️ ✔️
  • Well-marked hiking trails? Check! ✔️ ✔️
  • Loneliness and nature? Double check! Most of the time we hiked all alone. ✔️ ✔️

I did the walks in the park with a walking guide and guide and found it really added value. Where possible, I have also linked to the AllTrails routes in case you want to go yourself.

So here it is: one of the most beautiful hikes in the Sutjeska National Park: the hike to Lake Trnovačko!

Hike to Trnovačko Jezero: Specifications

  • Length: 10.5 kilometers
  • Height difference around 1.000 meters in total
  • Difficulty moderate
  • Route: We did the easy route from the Prijevor viewpoint, not the route via Maglić. If you want to replicate our route, you can find it here on AllTrails - you simply do the return leg of this route as the outward leg as well.
  • Keep in mind: The entrance fee to the lake is one euro, and if you are coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina, you will also cross the border to Montenegro, which means that you must have a valid identification document with you (identity card or passport).

Hiking to Trnovačko Lake

At nine o'clock in the morning we meet our hiking guide Dejan to set off for Lake Trnovačko - one of the most famous hiking destinations in the Sutjeska National Park. To the starting point of the hike, at the foot of Bosnia-Herzegovina's highest mountain, Maglić, it takes almost another hour by car over gravel roads from our meeting point. But we don't see a soul when we park our car next to a British and a German campervan.

October is definitely the best time for a hike here," says Dejan, "It's not as crowded - and it's not too hot either. We might even get lucky and encounter wildlife on the way.".“

Not today - but during our two-day stay we should still be lucky! Today, however, we first have a 10-kilometre hike to the glacier lake Trnovačko on the agenda.

The path leads us past scree fields and deep slopes, all with dreamlike views of the surrounding, karstic mountains.The start of the hike is rather leisurely, we stop at a dead tree that tells us: Now we're going to Montenegro! Just like that, crossing the border, without border control, without queuing, without a passport.

Sutjeska National Park

Sutjeska National Park is the oldest national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina, founded in 1962.

It takes about 2.5 hours to get to the 175 km² area from Sarajevo - so a hike here can also be a day trip from the capital.

Sometimes called the Yosemite of the Balkans , the Sutjeska National Park is home to some very special sights: Maglić, the highest peak in the country at 2,386 metres, is located in the park, as is the Perućica primeval forest, one of the last primeval forests in Europe and home to endemic flora and fauna.

The rugged, karstic mountain world is home to trees over 300 years old, lush meadows, crystal-clear mountain lakes, deep gorges and waterfalls.

Mountain goats, brown bears, wolves and deer call the national park home - it is the ideal retreat for them, as the Sutjeska - despite its impressive nature - is still hardly crowded. With a bit of luck, you can experience something on your hikes that is a rarity elsewhere in Europe: you are all alone with nature!

Hi, Montenegro!

We leave the Sutjeska National Park and enter the Piva National Park, the path leads us through sparse coniferous forests, above us a sky stretches out so deep blue as if one could dive into it.And when, after the descent, the view opens onto a mountain meadow surrounded by peaks up to 2,000 metres high, I feel like I've been transported to a fairy tale.

The last part of the hike is a bit more challenging: from the mountain meadow, situated at around 1,200 metres, we have to go up again: 1,517 metres above sea level lies Lake Trnovačko. Finally we see it glistening between the trees - and step out of the forest.

We have still only met one other group of hikers and the only other tourists we see at the lake are two German hikers who have just paid their entrance fee. The entrance to the lake costs one euro. It is paid at the mountaineering association, which also checks the passports here. We buy cold beer, homemade juice and settle down on one of the benches at the lakeside.

Isn't this paradise?"asks Dejan, our hiking guide, and sighs."And now - close your eyes, lie down and just do nothing for five minutes!

After a short rest, we eat the packed lunch that Dejan has prepared and packed for us and enjoy the silence of the lake for a while.In summer, you can swim here very well, but now, at the beginning of October, it is already a bit too cool. But the water can get up to 22 degrees in the summer months.

And then, unfortunately, it's already time to return. The days are slowly getting shorter and the sun is quickly sinking behind the mountains. Then it gets cold. 

So we set off - back through the forest, across the enchanted meadow, back onto Bosnian-Herzegovinian soil.

We arrive at the Prijevor viewpoint just in time: The sun sinks behind the mountains and bathes Maglić in magical orange light. We can't get enough of the spectacle. And although it gets icy cold as soon as the sun sinks behind the mountains, I'm not quite ready to get back in the car and head back down to everyday life ... luckily we have a second day ahead of us tomorrow!

Prijevor view point

The Prijevor view point is the starting point of the hike to Lake Trnovačko and the peak of Maglić.It is also a popular camping spot, which means that in summer it can get a bit crowded here for the sunset.

Looking for more hikes in Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Here you can find numerous hikes in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as many more insider travel tips and entire itineraries in an interactive map!


I was a guest of Active Holidays Bosnia but, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Have you ever been hiking in the Sutjeska National Park? If so, how did you like it? Do you have any additional tips or experiences? I look forward to reading about it in the comments!

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