Montenegro’s beautiful Niagara Falls

by Fabian Jürgens
Published: Last Updated on

Those travelling to Podgorica will be surprised that, just a short drive from the city centre, they’ll find a small oasis tugged away into the Montenegrin countryside. Surrounded by endless rows of twisting vines, the Cem river disgorges into a jagged ravine, a stunning spectacle localy known as Niagara Falls.

While you shouldn’t expect the same deafening cascades, to be experienced at their North American namesake, the falls captivate with their raw natural beauty and lack of tourists.

Originating deep within the Albanian Alps, the stream cuts through the fertile plains near the Montenegrin capital, before joining forces with the Morača, ultimately ending its journey at the splendid shores of Skadar Lake, biggest in all of the Balkans.

On its way west, amidst the vast vineyards of Montenegro’s premier wine producer Plantaža (the largest continuous vineyards in Europe for that matter), the river’s turquoise waters gush across an abrasive karst stone formation thus creating the mesmerising Montenegrin Niagara Falls.

a river, surrounded by vineyards and rising mountains in the background, cascades into a canyon

The waterfalls are especially spectacular in spring, when the river becomes billowed by the melted snow and annual floods, until it slowly starts to dry up during the scorching summer months.

Yet, before the last drop of fresh mountain water has gone, visiting the falls is a very popular pastime for locals wishing to escape the sweltering summer heat for a few hours. During those times, you will also see one or two daredevil’s, on the hunt for the next adrenaline rush, plunge themselves into the depths.

If this is your thing, there are some seriously wicked cliff jumping opportunities there. Just be careful, the rocks are sharp and slippery at times.

However, once the river runs dry, the falls’ secret is revealed. Created by local farmers around 150 years ago, they are entirely artificial, constructed with the intention to power a water mill to grind grain. Simply their profession and own benefit in mind, today, the farmers might well be surprised to find out that their creation has become one, if not the, main attraction along the Cem river.

two people stand at the ede of a canyon created by a rushing river
water cascades across a karst rock formation
clear waters flows across abrasive karst stone covered by patches of grass and moss

HOW TO GET THERE (from Podgorica)

Take the M4 highway towards the Albanian border for roughly four kilometres. Shortly before crossing the Cem river (Cijevne in Montenegrin), turn right and follow the road for another two and a half kilometres. You will know you’re there, once you see the sign for the Niagara restaurant (apparently good local cuisine). A metal staircase leads down to the falls.

Unfortunately, there are no public buses going to the falls, so you will have to rent a car or arrange your transport beforehand. Renting a bike for the day is also an option.

By car, the falls are roughly 10min away from the city centre.

an emerald river flows through a canyon cut into the karst stone

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Andrzej 11 April 2022 - 7:51 am

Very interesting post! I wish we did visit the waterfalls once we were in Podgorica!

Fabian Jürgens 11 April 2022 - 3:42 pm

Glad you enjoyed it Andrzej! I was actually surprised how picturesque they were. Would be interesting to see them dried up after the summer, as well.


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