For some crazy reason Mrtvica Canyon didn’t even warrant a mention in our guidebook, but after discovering this spectacular valley of forests, turquoise water and soaring white cliffs, were convinced it’s one of the best places to go hiking in Montenegro and should be firmly placed on every nature lover’s itinerary.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro

We first became interested in Mrtvica Canyon after seeing photographs of the old Yugoslav military trail blown into the rocky cliff of the canyon wall. After further investigation we knew we had to go here.

We just couldn’t quite figure out how.

Mrtvica Canyon Hike

The tourist office in Kolašin offered tours at exorbitant prices and were reluctant to give any information about hiking the trail independently. The woman in charge, who admitted she had never actually done the walk, even went as far as to say it could be ‘dangerous’ if we went without a guide.

After pulling off the hike without a hitch, sans guide, and seeing several other people on the trail, none of which were with an escort, we are here to tell you it is entirely possible, and not at all dangerous.

Mrtvica Canyon

This is our guide on how to get to the hiking Mrtvica Canyon and tips to help you plan your trip.

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What is the Mrtvica Canyon?

Ok, so it might seem like Montenegro has a lot of canyons. The growing fame of the Tara Canyon in the north – the second deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon – means any others often get overlooked.

Mrtvica is one that you should definitely spare a second thought for.

Mrtvica Canyon Hike

Firstly, there’s the amazingly clear turquoise water we have come to expect from this region, collecting in mesmerisingly blue pools and bubbling along rapids and waterfalls. Couple that with scarred granite cliffs and craggy peaks that seem to sway above the narrowing canyon and a dense forest that feels like it may swallow you with every passing bend, and you’ve got yourself some pretty spectacular scenery for a hike.

It’s like stepping deeper and deeper into another world.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro
The Route

We started at Medjurecje and walked toward the iconic Gate of Wishes and the blasted military trail before returning to our starting point along the opposite side of the river. This circuit is about 15 km and took us six hours including photo stops and a lengthy break at the Gate of Wishes.

There is also the option to continue from the military tunnel to the ‘beach’ and the tiny village of Velje Duboko a few kilometres further along the trail. We chose not to do this extra section as it was already late in the day and we knew we would have to walk the same way back.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro
Mrtvica Canyon

In the absence of any useful area maps, we turned to our phones and recommend you do the same.

The Maps.Me App is free and shows the network of trails in the area. Simply download the App and zoom into Montenegro and it will ask you to download the country map. Then zoom in or search for Medurijecje on the main road between Kolasin and Podgorica. You’ll see the river going off to the left which is the one that runs up the canyon and if you zoom in further you’ll see the dark grey dotted line which is the trail.

Hiking in Durmitor National Park

In general, the path is very well maintained and marked with the bullseye emblem at regular intervals. But, at the beginning section, there are a few misleading signs and one overgrown path turning off the road that we completely missed and had to backtrack to.

Once you’re on the main path though, you can’t really go wrong and the map can just be used as a guide.

From Medjurecje take the small paved road right off the main road and follow it downhill and across the metal bridge. Turn left and continue past the camping area to the next bridge. This is where the Mrtvica and Morača rivers join.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro

Across the bridge follow the road for about 3 km from where you will need to keep a steely eye out for the seriously inconspicuous and overgrown path we managed to stroll right by. There is a rock in front of it marked with the bullseye but we were obviously too distracted by the beauty of the canyon and managed to miss it.

This path will take you all the way down to the river and into the canyon from where the path is easy to follow.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro
Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro

Follow the path across an old wooden bridge and up a rise where you will reach an intersection. Here you turn left to go to the Gate of Wishes and the military path and on your return you will follow the path to the right which will take you back to Medjurecje along the opposite bank of the river to which you came.

Mrtvica Canyon

From here it is about 1.5 km to the Gate of Wishes where there is another intersection. Take the left path and you will find the Gate about 100 m further along. Climb down the rocks to sit beneath the arch – the temperature is about 10 degrees cooler down there. Swim if you dare – the water is pretty icy.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro
Mrtvica Canyon

Return to the main path and in about 3 km you will come to the military trail. Much of this section is in open sunlight so it can get incredibly hot.

When you reach the military trail you can return via the same route until you get the first intersection across the river. The trail goes all the way back to where you began.

Or if you are still feeling energetic you can continue along the canyon to Velje Duboko.

Mrtvica Canyon Hike
How to Get To Mrtvica Canyon

From Kolašin take the bus in the direction of Podgorica and ask to be let off at Medjurecje costing €2.50. Morning buses leave at 6, 8, 8:30, 9:40, 10:30, 11 and 11:45 and take 40 to 50 minutes. You will be let out at a small old hotel on the right hand side of the road and the turn off to begin the walk is about 50 m further along.

Mrtvica Canyon

Getting back to Kolašin was, for us, the most challenging part of the trip. Return buses are relatively infrequent, particularly in the late afternoon, only passing once every hour, if that. If you walk about 300 m up the road in the direction of Kolašin there is a pull in bay for buses.

In the end we hitch hiked back instead of waiting 90 minutes for the next bus. This is a viable option if you are comfortable with the risks it presents. Bare in mind though that drivers in Montenegro are a little more wild than what we have encountered almost anywhere else in the world.

If you have your own car there is also ample parking space around the camping area and the first bridge near the main road.

Mrtvica Canyon | Hiking In Montenegro
Where To Stay To Hike The Mrtvica Canyon

Set about half way between Kolašin and Podgorica, you can just as easily stay at either to reach Mrtvica Canyon, though we chose the former. These are a few accommodation options to help you plan your stay.

Kolašin

As a more rural part of Montenegro, Kolašin is all about small family run guesthouses and friendly hosts.

Guest Accommodation Bakic.  Set beside a leafy garden with spacious rooms, this friendly guesthouse is a great budget option. All rooms come with an ensuite and a communal kitchen is available for guests. There is also ample parking for those travelling by car. Check prices and availability here.

Rooms Lisičić.  Another excellent budget find inKolašin, this small but welcoming guesthouse is set beside the river and serves breakfast. Check prices and availability here.

Mrdja Apartments. These spacious apartments are fully self-contained, featuring a kitchen, fireplace and ensuite. A charming garden is also available and guests rave about the welcoming hosts. Check prices and availability here.

Chalet Kolašin. For something a bit nicer, you can’t go past Chalet Kolašin, one of the top rated options in town, boasting beautiful and spacious apartments with a kitchen and ensuite. Check prices and availability here.

Podgorica

As Montenegro’s capital city, there are a number of options available in Podgorica. If you’ll be travelling by bus, we’d recommend staying near enough to the bus station to allow you to get an early start.

Search for available accommodation in Podgorica here.

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A Guide To Hiking Mrtvica Canyon | Montenegro | Eastern Europe
A Guide To Hiking Mrtvica Canyon | Montenegro | Eastern Europe

16 Comments

  1. Is this hike visible in the ” trail ” app? How can you find it before you start?
    Do you need a subscription for it?
    Really want to do this one, but I’m afraid I’ll get lost without the app so that’s why I am asking. The scenery really looks amazing!!!

    • Hey Maikel,
      Yes we used the app to find the route, however once you’re on the path it is actually quite clear where you need to go. There was only the one turn off which was a little overgrown that we nearly missed.
      It looks like you do need to pay to access the Trails App now but the route is also available on Maps.Me which is free to use.
      It’s a really beautiful trail and definitely worth doing!

  2. Dear Freya and Chris,
    First of all, thank you so much for the decent discription of this very beautyfull but in fact totally unknown sight of Montenegro.
    Your Guide is very detailled, easy to follow, and leads to the most astonishing sights of the canyon.
    We did the trail just this month, and we wanted to give a short feedback to point out how awesome it was
    (!) and to suggest a thing or another.

    For instance: there is one path, leading to a stone bridge over the river (google maps calls it ‘Danilov Most’),
    that can take you to the other site (the site on which the two of you returned to Medjurecje) quite shortly after
    you get to the road that takes you into the canyon. Which means you are able to decide whether you want to do the
    trail clockwise or counterclock wise, right in the beginning of your hike.
    First, we thought this must be the ‘seriously inconspicuous and overgrown path’ that you mentioned, but its not.
    Though, it has no sign or anything but its quite easy to find and leads also downhill through the wood on your
    right hand site. It starts about 750 m after the point where you get to the road in the beginning.

    Fun fact: we got that information from an an eldery man, apparently the owner of that small camping site.
    He seems to be a little mischievous because he put the word ‘here’ next to some red arrows pointing away
    from the road. When we followed these arrows we got to his house and he would come out and invite you in
    his broken german or english to sit and drink with him:) We had some trouble convincing him that we are
    in a hurry, at first, but he is was also very friendly and harmless, of course.

    To sum it up: Thanks for the exploring and recording:) We had a great time going on your trail, although
    we missed the military path.

    Sincerely
    Kim&Paul

    • Wow! Thanks so much for your feedback Kim and Paul, and so glad to hear you had such a great time on the hike. It was one of our favourite experiences in Montenegro!
      That fellow does sound rather sneaky, though alongside the river probably isn’t a bad spot for a drink!

      We have found a better App now with all the trails and roads (including the ones you mention) so we will update the post with that info now!

  3. Realy great hike – thank You for this guide! We, a family of seven people from Sweden, took the trail in june 2018. Som of us was experienced and some unexcperienced, age from 10 to 50 years. Total distance for us was almost 20 km. I think it was an easy walk, extreamly beautiful and the bath was very cold. The path is realy easy to follow (I am used too hike in the north of Sweden) Most difficult part was to get back to Kolasin. We waited for the bus for an hour and managed to wave it in to the roadside and pick us up (no ordinary bus stop).

  4. It was such a spectacular hike! We have done it just a few days ago, following your tips and I wanted to get back and say “thank you”. We really enjoyed the gate and forest surrounding it. At some point, it felt we were in a fairytale or something 🙂

    • Hey Martyna, Have you taken a look on Maps.Me? The trail is clearly outlined here and you’ll just need to keep an eye out for the sign to the Gate of Wishes on the trail.

  5. Thank you for your insightful post. We are headed to Montenegro in two weeks, and have just added this hike to our list based on your recommendation. Do you have any suggestions on what kind of footwear to bring? We have hiking boots but if trail runners (kind of a blend between a running shoe and a hiking shoe) are good enough we would much rather pack those instead.

    • I did the trail in hiking boots because I was trying to wear them in, but I think a solid pair of running shoes would have been fine too. There’s a few rocky patches but nothing too strenuous for your ankles. Have a great hike!

  6. Thank you so much for bringing my attention to this hidden gem of Montenegro (I found it looking for hiking trails in the Moraca Canyon). It’s really a shame it is not even mentioned in popular travel/hiking guides to Montenegro. We followed the marked trail as you described and indeed, still at one point we would have missed it without a GPS (although I have been on much worse marked trails in Montenegro). For anyone interested, here is a track of the trail (one-way) https://www.gpsies.com/map.do?fileId=bysksyswzygivyoq

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