Here are the best places to visit in Montenegro. Beaches, history, and culture. We have it all.
Taking a break in the rugged mountains, looking down into the primeval forests and ancient towns below, you realize how at peace this country is after years of torment. However, it is an oasis full of untold stories and a recovering reputation that will make you want to stick up for it.
For most of its history, Montenegro was tossed between empires and the victim of ugly communist regimes. Still, now they are independent and one of the more fascinating places to travel in Europe.
The country is well-hidden between five Balkan countries and the great Adriatic Sea: Bosnia and Herzegovina sitting to the north, a sliver of Croatia in the west, Albania to the south, and Kosovo and Serbia in the east.
It is a shame Montenegro is only recently starting to catch wind among European travelers, but that makes it great timing for you.
Despite a recent uptick in tourism, the Montenegro people remain good souls- not trying to rip off tourists as you see in other countries that are numb to tourists.
It is only a matter of time before there are too many tourists in this tiny country, the streets become crowded, and culture gets washed away. It is now or never for this tiny jewel of the western Balkans. Take a trip to Montenegro and check out the hype before it is too late!
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Montenegro Weekend Itineraries
Here are a few examples of Montenegro itineraries of varying lengths depending on how much time you spend in the country. The benefit of such a small country is that you are allotted the opportunity to cover a majority of it quickly.
Two or 3-days: Fly into Kotor and visit for a day or two. While there, visit Bar and Tivat.
Seven days: Start in Perast for a day, make your way to Kotor, and spend 1-2 days there while visiting Bar and Tivat. Continue in Budva for a day or two and end the trip in Cetinje, exploring Lovcen National Park.
Best Time To Visit Montenegro
Just as Montenegro’s Balkans neighbors surrounding it, there is never a wrong time to visit, depending on what you are looking for.
However, skiing enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find a better place for their weekend vacation than in Montenegro. If you want to spend time on its pristine beaches, visiting in the wintertime wouldn’t be a wise idea. Most hotels near the sea are closed then.
Summer months in Montenegro are pretty standard, from June to mid-September. Summers are usually dry and hot in Montenegro. Being near the coast helps with a gentle coastal breeze, and being up in the mountains is generally cooler.
Late summer to early Fall, near October, is our favorite time to go. It is the shoulder season when the tourist rush starts to slow, yet the water is warmest, and a cool breeze is continuously cooling you off. Just be warned: frequent showers could interrupt your beach days.
Best Places To Visit In Montenegro
Montenegro is made up of small towns. No city in Montenegro isn’t walkable, which is pretty neat. Here are a few of our favorites to check out on your weekend vacation.
Tucked into the valley between Kotor Bay and the serene mountains on the busy Adriatic coast of Montenegro is a town pleasing to the eyes in the most sincere way. With only 22,000 residents, Kotor screams a small town with big scenic views.
Its appeal lies in the cobbled streets and romantic street lighting, among other pieces that add to the ambiance.
In the afternoon, laundry hangs from the line and blows in the wind, and you walk past centuries-old buildings to your left and right.
The cafe culture in Kotor is setting the trend for the rest of the country. You can’t walk but a block anywhere in town before running into a quaint little spot you will want to stop at and watch the world go by.
There are also many museums in Kotor to educate you on all things Montenegro – you will have access to learn as much as you desire about the country.
It is like every building in the city has two very different lives – one during the day and one at night. As night falls, the city comes alive, the cafes turn into bars, the live midnight music turns up, and the castles at the top of the hill transform into nightclubs. It is an experience you can’t miss out on.
With its dramatic views and appeasing atmosphere, this town is everything you could want in a vacation destination.
We have handpicked a few of our favorite accommodation spots in Kotor, ranging from budget hostels to mid-range guest houses.
You might be interested in staying at one of these places:
- Guest House Forza Lux
- Antika Guesthouse
- Hostel Old Town Kotor
Budva & Sveti Stefan
The golden mark of Montenegro tourism, Budva, is known as the Miami of Montenegro. By far the most popular place to visit in Montenegro, this town has managed to keep a small-town feel over its 2,500-year history (one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic).
The city has changed in the recent past. You will find fancy accommodation and chain businesses around Budva’s outskirts. Outside the busy but charming Old Town is all developed real estate to cater to the holidayers.
It has less than 60,000 residents and can be quiet depending on your visit. Perhaps you will come in the summertime and witness the frenzy on the sandy beaches and echoes ringing off the walls of its fortified Old Town.
For those beach-goers, the summertime appeal is high with its Miami-esque million-dollar yachts and beach parties.
However, if you don’t mind visiting after the place has cooled down for the year, we find it a much more pleasant, small-town-ish visit come early Fall. By then, the temperature has cooled down, the water has warmed up, and the crowds have gone home.
We can’t forget to mention Sveti Stefan, just down the road from Budva, one of the most picturesque places in Europe. Only fifteen minutes down the road along the Budva Riviera is the private-type of island with pink sand beaches and a once Royal residence. Enough to visit for a day, at least! Hike up the nearby hillside to get a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the scene.
Budva is generally quite busy, so it would be advantageous to book in advance — especially when traveling in the summertime. We have listed a few of the Budva accommodation options which fit our budget. Check them out:
- Hotel Tre Canne
- Twister Apartments
- Villa Merci Budva
Between Kotor and Podgorica is Montenegro’s capital of history and its official secondary capital city.
Cetinje is home to the President of Montenegro, surrounded by limestone mountains and neighboring the great Lovcen National Park. There are only 15,000 people who live there, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
This place has a certain buzz to it, which can be nice on the right kind of day. It is a treasure trove for history buffs and culture addicts.
Centuries-old mansions and former royal estates have been transformed into excellent schools and museums for modern-day education. If you are coming to learn about the country, look no further than here.
It is a beautiful place, indeed, but we found the accommodation to be quite limited. You might consider staying at one of the options below or roll into town and make your selection based on what you see:
- ApartHotel Belvedere Residence
- Hotel Monte Rosa
Neighboring Cetinje and just down the bay from Kotor is the lovely forgotten town of Perast. You won’t believe there are less than 300 residents – not because the city is busy – but because it is so beautiful that it is hard to understand why people don’t live there!
It was once a seaside town for the rich centuries ago. This can be seen in its crumbling stone mansions, which have been renovated into charming yet dazzling luxury hotels. It is but a ghost town in most areas of town – and a beautiful one at that!
However, to see the most picturesque part of the town, you will have to peer into the Bay of Kotor to see two stunning island views with mountain backdrops seemingly out of a fairytale.
This small town certainly feels out of place — a charm that doesn’t match the rest of the country — but that’s what makes it so special. Recently, tourism has started sprouting around town. Although there is only one main street, there are enough buildings in town for some development, which is precisely what started. Soon, Perast will be as big as Budva on the tourist map, so get there before it is too late.
Perast was fun and a great way to spend a day. Here are some of the accommodation options if you are planning to stay overnight:
- Hotel Admiral
- Boka Gardens Seaside Resort
- Guest House Dragutinovic
Tivat may be the most stunning town along the Bay of Kotor, which says a lot! Its beautiful surroundings match that of the rest of these beautiful, quaint bayside cities, but Tivat’s infrastructure is just the opposite.
It is the only town along the bay that lacks the old-school charm for which the rest of these towns are known. That is because recently, a million-dollar renovation turned a former abandoned naval base into a world-class luxury marina for million-dollar yachts and the super-rich.
Now, the rest of the city is undergoing the same development, and soon, Tivat will be the French Riviera of the Balkans. It is just down the coast from other towns on this list, such as Kotor and Perast, so it is easy to day trip here. What it lacks in charm, it makes up for with a new feel — a lively vibe that makes a day trip to this small town well worth your time.
Tivat is a place that has it all sans ancient charm. It is not hard to find a bed to sleep on, but it can be expensive, and we tend to prefer not to blow our budget on accommodation, which is why we recommend these places to you:
- D & D Apartments Tivat
- House Grabic
Down the Adriatic coast near the southern border of Montenegro is the small town of Bar, which doesn’t see as many tourists as some of the more popular towns around the Bay of Kotor.
Though Bar is (for the most part) off the main tourist trail in Montenegro, a few notable attractions make it worth a visit. Namely, the oldest olive tree in the world dates back over 2,000 years ago.
It would also be a shame if you didn’t stroll around Stari Bar (Old Bar) and see the crumbling ruins of a beautiful town blended into the mountains of the newer part of town.
It is a small town with a little colorful flavor leftover from the Ottoman Turks when they ruled the country for nearly half a millennium.
Nowadays, the town acts as more of a transport hub (head from Bar to Belgrade) than a destination with its largest port and a key train and bus station. However, if you give it some time, you will be surprised at its hidden beauty.
Most of the time, your accommodation options in Bar are pretty limited.
We recommend finding a place in advance of traveling to Bar. Here are a few of our favorites if you are staying a night:
- Aparthotel Monterria
- Hotel Pharos
You’ll hear locals calling Herceg Novi the “City of Flowers” because of the huge amount of flowers and greenery around the town. This beautiful coastal town is a great place to visit, and it’s conveniently close to the border with Croatia. There is plenty of history to explore around this town, including architecture dating back to Byzantine times. You can also visit Igalo, which is famed for its healthy mud.
Located in the beautiful Bay of Kotor, you’ll find Risan. This is a town that also has a lot of history, dating back to the 2nd century, particularly the Roman mosaics the town is known for.
While there isn’t a huge amount to do in Risan, it’s somewhere you should definitely visit for half a day and enjoy the stunning views over the sea.
The largest lake in the whole Balkan region, Skadar Lake, sits in both Montenegro and Albania. This area is a bird watcher’s dream, and you’ll find more than 280 different types, including pelicans and herons. But it’s not all about birds – you can take a boat trip on the lake and enjoy the peace and serenity and simply enjoy being right in the middle of such a stunning place.
Ulcinj is a seaside town that is near to the border with Albania and is far less crowded than other coastal regions, such as Kotor. Ulcinj has a really traditional feel, and it’s totally chilled out, which means it’s ideal for people who want a spot of R&R. With a history dating back to the 5th century, you can walk around the old castle as a break from beach time, while also enjoying some delicious traditional food.
Lovcen National Park
If you’re into views, you have to visit Lovcen National Park, and with the highest peak at around 1749 meters above sea level, you can imagine the distance you can check out. Make sure you visit the Petar Petrovic Njegos mausoleum, and even though you have to make your way up 461 steps to get to it, the views are something else entirely.
Durmitor National Park
Durmitor National Park is UNESCO World Heritage listed, and it’s a stunning place to visit. There are some great hiking trails around the park, ranging from beginner-level to advanced. Wildlife and nature spotting opportunities are everywhere, and this is one of those places that makes you want to stand, breathe in fresh air, and wonder at everything around you.
Tara River Canyon
As the second deepest canyon on the planet, the Tara River Canyon has some amazing sights to take in. It is UNESCO World Heritage listed, and one look will tell you why. You can enjoy rafting on the river itself or walk around and look at the different types of flora and fauna. Of course, the views are second to none. However, if you do need a boost of adrenaline, give ziplining over the canyon a try.
As the highest town in the entire Balkan region, this is a must-visit. Again, it’s all about breathtaking views. The town is close to Durmitor National Park and has countless activities to take part in, including skiing during the winter months and rafting on the river. You can hike on several trails here, or you can stand and take it all in.
Biogradska Gora National Park
In the middle of Montenegro, you’ll find Biogradska Gora National Park, a place for all nature lovers. There are glacial lakes and huge mountains along with forested spots that give you the freshest air possible. Biogradsko Lake is located here, and it’s definitely a spot for amazing photographs.
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Montenegro Travel: Know Before You Go
There is a lot to know about this tiny hole-in-the-wall country. You might as well sit down and figure out the lay of the land before you go so there are no surprises, and you can maximize your time to discover the whole country.
Transportation In Montenegro
Travel in Montenegro is simple through a variety of modes. You can arrive via boat, plane, train, bus, or personal vehicle. Port Bar takes in many passenger boats, and the Podgorica and Tivat airports see hundreds of arrivals daily.
The roadways are continually improving in Montenegro and make renting a car a fun way to get around.
Taxis are available in most towns; some are not metered, so make sure you discuss a price before riding.
Bus lines aren’t as common in Montenegro, being such a small country. Instead, it has become common practice to hitch a ride. There is always a risk involved with this, but people in Montenegro have welcomed hitchhikers with a warm a soul.
There is one central train railway with stops in several key locations and access points.
However, most towns in Montenegro – even Podgorica – are easily walkable.
Montenegro is so small it almost isn’t necessary to pay $17 per day to rent a vehicle. However, the option exists if you like the freedom it affords you.
Accommodation in Montenegro is generally pretty standard compared to the rest of the Balkans. There are guesthouses for as little as $17-20, while larger, more luxurious hotels in more stunning locations can cost nearly $60 on the low end.
If you are on a budget, you can find a hostel dorm bed for around $7-10, which usually comes with a complimentary breakfast.
Food in Montenegro is a result of its geographic location within the Balkans and its long, ever-changing history. The cuisine on the coast can vary drastically from the food scene in the northern highlands.
However, the cost doesn’t differentiate too much. You will generally pay $5-6 for an inexpensive meal and around $11-12 for a more sophisticated taste.
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Montenegro is an astounding country teeming with so many gems that probably still haven’t been discovered. Not even 225 miles from border to border, this tiny country is a weekend road trip dream with many awe-inspiring footnotes.
This place is on the rise and bursting at the seams with potential. It is only a matter of time before the secret is out, and European sun-seekers crowd the beautiful beaches of the Adriatic coast in Montenegro.
So, what are you waiting for? Take advantage of these weekend itineraries and steal a slice of heaven in Montenegro.
If you have questions regarding your trip to Montenegro or anywhere else in the Balkans, don’t be afraid to reach out with questions, and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.