Godinje is a tiny settlement on the west coast of the giant Lake Skadar; a behemoth that straddles the borders of Montenegro and Albania, and the largest lake in southern Europe. The lake is famous for all sorts of things, but the village Godinje is famous for its island prison and its wine.
We honestly had no idea about either of those things. Looking to get to Lake Skadar for some fresh water recreation we searched accommodation and found what looked like an absolute gem close to Podgorica (which is where we were to depart from). Lake side sunbathing, fishing, kayaking and relaxing was on our minds, but what we got turned out to be much different.
We arrived on the bus from Kotor via Sutomore and Virpazar. Catch one of the buses from Kotor station to Sutomore that leave hourly, the ride costs around €8 per person and takes roughly two hours depending on if you leave on time. Stay awake as its an awesome journey along the coast past Budvar and Sveti Stefan. The bus stop you need in Sutomore is opposite the pub/cafe and bakery and from there it’s a 15 minute bus to Virpazar that costs €2. If you continue on to Godinje from here you need a taxi, which costs €5.
Virpazar is on the Podgorica to Bar rail line so you can reach it via train. Information isn’t currently easy to find online but as far as I can tell the trains are regular and cheap.
The other way to get to Godinje is by driving and that’s how I would recommend doing it. Renting a car will be more expensive than public transport but avoids a small headache and enables you to explore the other towns in the area; which will be a blessing when it rains for three days straight. Trust me on this.
The nearest airport is Podgorica, which is a €2 bus ride or a €20 taxi from Virpazar.
Hint – Rent. A. Car.
The whole reason we ended up in Godinje is because we found a cheap Airbnb listing advertising a room in a family home on Lake Skadar that cost €25.60 per night. We had no previous information about the area or the village; just wanting to have some good lake times.
As it stands, in Godinje itself you can either stay where we did, or at the one Konoba (restaurant) in the village, which may or may not still offer rooms. You would honestly need to go there in person to find out, or learn to speak Montenegrin and give them a call.
My advice would be to stay in nearby Virpazar which has hotels and bnb’s, as well as restaurants, a grocery store, transport links and everything else you need. From Virpazar, Godinje is a 4.5km walk along a really nice road or a €5 taxi each way.
Accommodation in Virpazar ranges from €30 to €60 per night for a double room.
Camping in the area is available at OK Koral, but I couldn’t find out how much it costs.
If you are purposefully heading to Godinje you are either an intrepid wine explorer, or a fisherman. There’s honestly not a lot of other reasons to go. The beaches don’t really exist anymore, despite the pictures, and it’s really just a tiny village full of grumpy old people who make wine and rakija (a spirit made from distilled wine vapour). It’s great if you are wine and rakija enthusiasts…which thankfully, we are.
Everyone in Godinje is over 60, has their own vineyard and makes wine with their friends. Everyone. They also make all kinds of liquor and rakija. Seriously, what a life. As a visitor you can walk through the village sampling and buying everyone’s wine and liquor; it’s all good and all about €7 – €8 a bottle, which isn’t bad considering it’s totally natural, organic, and at source.
Godinje also boasts an old church and a quaint semi-abandoned village dating back to the 14th century, with a cool architectural feature. The houses in the old village are connected by underground tunnels to aid village defence in times of raids, conquer and plunder from the Ottoman Empire. It’s definitely worth a look.
We self-catered due to our mutual hatred of lake fish (which seems to be the only food available) so we didn’t try any restaurants, but check out the local Konoba for the best wine in Godinje (in my opinion). He also offers local lake fish, salad and potatoes if you want to eat, but make sure to book ahead otherwise he might be sleeping or might not be there at all. It’s that sort of place.
In Virpizar you can get on a boat and see the lake from the water for about €10 or less per person if you go with a group, we paid €13 each for a huge private boat and driver who took us out to see the abandoned island prison the locals call ‘Alcatraz’. You also need to pay €4 per person as entrance to the national park of Lake Skadar to do anything on the lake. There are kayaks and all sorts of lake floating devices available for hire.
As I mentioned above, renting a car is the best way to see Godinje. Since we were reliant on public transport and taxis we were effectively stranded for two days while a massive storm raged, and even if the weather was good a car would have made our stay much more interesting. Or just take a couple of really good books.
Hint – There are beaches on Lake Skadar, you just have to ask the locals where they are and either get a taxi or drive.
Godinje for three nights;
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