Balkan Travel – 25 Best Things to do in Montenegro
Last Updated on September 1, 2021
If you’re thinking of travelling to the Balkans a trip to Montenegro should not be missed. It’s one of the most beautiful countries with endless amounts of beauty, from National Parks to historical castles and charming old towns. There is a lot to see and do during your trip to Montenegro but I have picked the best for you.
Here are 25 of the best things to do in Montenegro!
Visit the cultural capital of Montenegro
Suggested by Backpack Adventures
Podgorica might be the official capital, but Cetinje is the historical and cultural capital of Montenegro. The royal family Petrovic ruled the country from this small town for centuries. Some of their palaces are still there and Cetinje is the place to go to learn more about Montenegro’s fascinating history and visit some of its interesting museums.
The museum of King Nikola the first will teach you more about Montenegro’s royal family and their diplomatic relations with Europe’s other royal families. Then there is also an ethnographic museum and the National museum of Montenegro. The highlight of Cetinje is the Cetinje monastery that is the most famous Serbian orthodox monastery in Montenegro. Inside there are beautiful ancient frescoes and several relics such as the right hand of John the Baptist.
Cetinje is best explored on foot. The historical centre of town is small enough and it is a pleasure to walk around. There are some good restaurants for lunch where you can try the local Njegusi ham and Njegusi cheese. There are frequent buses to Cetinje from the major towns in Montenegro making it a perfect daytrip from either Kotor or Budva.
2. Check out Ulcinj
Suggested by Sling Adventures
Ulcinj on the southern Montenegrin coast, near the border of Albania, offers history, stunning clifftops, beaches and in summer, a family-friendly party atmosphere. It’s a place you can enjoy the summer sun alongside the deep blue waters of the Adriatic.
The 2,500-year-old Ulcinj Castle protects the Old Town, one of the oldest relics on the Adriatic coast. Apart from exploring the ancient citadel and palace remains, the Old Town offers many vibrant alfresco dining options. These are set on ancient sandstone terraces which overlook the stunning sea and serve freshly caught seafood.
In contrast, the Ulcinj Korso, which runs along the entire beach area of Mala Plaza turns into a bustling carnival during the warm summer evenings. Strobe lights spiral out into the sea. Thumping beats reverberate off the sheer cliffs. And, the entire esplanade is shoulder to shoulder with crowds, many of them families, being wooed into food stands, restaurants and bars.
Ulcinj allows you to relax by the coast and soak up the sun, explore numerous nearby beaches or even travel inland across the border into Albania. It has plenty of action in the evening and dining options run from a street-side bratwurst to fine dining in a two-millennia-old castle.
3. Stay at Old Town hostel
One of the best hostels I have stayed in, in The Balkans, and in Europe is Old Town Hostel in Kotor. Situated right in the heart of Kotor Old Town in a building that was founded in the 13th century is probably the coolest hostel in Montenegro itself. The architecture and interior design make you feel like you have stepped back into an original Kotor house. The staff are super friendly and are happy to help you get wherever you need to get to. They also do a good pub crawl (called numb crawl, the name says it all) and they also do an amazing medieval communal dinner. This is definitely a hostel that likes to party so if you’re looking for a fun experience in a beautiful town then this hostel is a great option! For the latest prices and availability click here!
4. Relax at Queen Beach
Suggested by Once in a Lifetime Journey
Queen Beach is a beautiful red pebbled beach sandwiched between Sveti Stefan and Przno, in the coast of Montenegro. It can only be accessed on foot from either of the two places on a 10min walk.
The beach received its name from Villa Milocer which used to be the summer residence of the Queen at the beginning of the 20th century and is located in front of the beach. The villa is part of luxury resort Aman Sveti Stefan and contains some of the rooms.
The beach is accessible to the general public for a fee of 120 euro which includes a sunbed, umbrella and water.
5. Hike to Castle of San Giovanni in Kotor
This was one of the best things I did on my Montenegro trip for sure. I highly recommend going up the stair route which starts in the old city. You will have to climb up over 1300 stairs so it’s not for the faint-hearted but it’s totally worth it. The price of entry is only 2 euro. The viewpoint is stunning! On the way back, I recommend not going down the same route but taking the local path winding down the mountains. You get a different perspective and there are also a few small places where the locals sell cold beer and Rakia. I had an excellent experience of one of the local families giving me 3 rakias on the way down, none of them which I actually wanted but that’s Balkan hospitality for you!
6. Explore Durmitor National Park
Suggested by Travel Geekery
Montenegro took me by surprise with its stunning mountains and national parks. One such area is Durmitor National Park, a mountainous region located in the north of the country.
The mountain range forming the Durmitor NP has shaped up during the Ice Age and belongs to one of the most beautiful mountains in the Balkans. Despite that, it remains largely undiscovered.
There are several peaks in the Durmitor Mountains. I can highly recommend these two:
Crvena Greda (2164m)
A table mountain nested in between forests and lakes, offering beautiful views… A hike up there from Žabljak, a typical base for most people visiting the region, would typically take at least half a day.
Bobotov Kuk (2523m)
More strenuous, and in the end more rewarding, is a trek to the top of the Bobotov Kuk. It can take up to a full day! Still, I think it’s worth it. The views from the top of Bobotov Kuk are one of the most stunning I’ve seen in my life.
Even if you don’t feel like hiking to the top of the mountains, the area is full of hiking paths that lead through valleys and cross meadows. You can admire several lakes, such as the Black Lake or the Snake Lake.
If you want to take a few days to explore Durmitor (highly recommendable!), you can stay at one of the many accommodation facilities in the town of Žabljak.
7. Take a 360-monte tour
During my stay in Kotor, I went on a north Montenegro tour with 360 tours and it was really incredible! As I had a limited time to see Montenegro I really wanted to see as much as I could so this was a great option. We started early morning and ventured to some of the most beautiful viewpoints and interesting stops within Montenegro, including, Ostrog monastery, Durmitor National Park and a few other stops along the way. It was a great way to see the countryside and gain perspective of the country from a local. This was by far one of the best things to do in Montengro!
8. Discover lesser known Perast
Suggested by Sofia Adventures
Most people know to hit up Kotor when visiting Montenegro, but I find I prefer the quiet towns around the Bay of Kotor over the actual city. These towns don’t have the old city walls, so they are far more picturesque on the water and easier to explore on foot.
Perast is a true gem. This beautiful little town sits right on the water, with its famous clocktower making it easy to spot from far away. This is one of the best places to photograph the island church “Our Lady of the Rocks,” which sits out in the middle of the Bay.
While in the town, explore the beautiful Orthodox church and the lively little town square. This is also a popular stop for boat tours coming from Kotor, so its a great place to people watch.
Montenegro is one of my favorite Balkan countries, and I think too many people pop into Kotor for a day (or even just as a day trip), and then leave. I think this part of the world is far too beautiful not to sit back and enjoy the scenery here. Perast is a town that’s perfect for relaxing, unwinding, and enjoying.
9. Take the train from Bar to Serbia
Suggested by TheHotFlashpacker
Montenegro was the highlight of my trip to all the Balkans. The scenery is incredible. One of the best ways to experience the scenery is via train on the Bar, Montenegro to Belgrade, Serbia train line. Staring in the coastal city of Bar, the train follows the coastline northbound. After some while, it heads east, skirting the edge of Lake Skadar, the largest lake in southern Europe. After the train stops and passes through the capital city Podgorica, the train snakes it way up the mountains and tunnels towards Serbia. From the train you can witness some of the active bridge construction of Montenegro – true engineering marvels. The train is a worthy relic of the Yugoslavia era and the best way to travel from Montenegro to Serbia. If you make the trip in October, you’ll be lucky to see fall colors. The cost of the train is less than 20 Euros for a full day ride.
10. Salty Lake of Nikšić
This was one of the stops on my 360-monte tour! This salted lake was artificially created in the ’50s. There is an abundance of islands and lots of water sports to be done here in the warmer months. The view from above is truly beautiful. This is on the road between Kotor and Ostrog monastery so it’s definitely worth a stop.
11. Visit Stari Bar
Suggested by My Wanderlust
On the hills above the harbor town of Bar you can find one of the Montenegro highlights – the ruins of the ancient town Stari Bar. It was founded in the 6th century and, even if badly destroyed by the earthquake in 1979, it is still one of the best preserved fortified towns. The ticket to get inside the walls is €3 and you can freely explore the remnants of the town, as well as admire the stunning views of surrounding mountains. Even in the summer season Stari Bar is never packed with tourists which makes it a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the seaside. Near the ruins you can find Stara Maslina – an over two thousand years old olive tree that is considered to be the oldest one in Europe. Stari Bar is located some 3 kms above Bar. To get there from the city you can either take the public bus that runs every 30 minutes or take the taxi.
12. Taste Rakia
When in Montenegro you must taste Rakia! Rakia is the drink of the Balkans and it is guaranteed to knock your socks off. Not because it’s good but because its damn strong. You will most likely be offered Rakia at least once on your trip to Montenegro and you should try it at least once. Rakia can be between 20 – 60 % proof and you never really know exactly as nearly all of Rakia is homemade. You can make Rakia from grapes which is the most popular fruit but also from other fruits such as peaches, apples and figs.
13. Visit the beautiful Ostrog Monastery
Suggested by Time Travel Turtle
The Ostrog Monastery is not only the most important Orthodox church in Montenegro, it’s also the most dramatic. And visiting it is an experience unlike any of the other religious buildings you may visit in the Balkans.
What makes the Ostrog Monastery so spectacular is its location. It is built into the side of the cliff, perched amongst the steep rocks like a bird in a high nest. From afar, you can see its white walls against the grey cliff. And up close, you feel the height and the drop as you explore.
The Ostrog Monastery was built in the 1600s and more than a hundred thousand people a year make a pilgrimage here. There are two main church buildings within the complex – a smaller older one and then one built in the 1700s. Both have an impressive collection of art within them.
Getting to the Ostrog Monastery with public transport can be a little tricky. You can get a public bus from Podgorica to the turnoff on the highway but from here it’s another 8 kilometres. I walked it because the scenery is quite nice – but, if you’re lucky, there will be a taxi there who can take you the rest of the way or some local worshippers make offer you a lift.
For tourists, the Ostrog Monastery is not one of the most famous sites in the country – but locals know it a symbol of their history and faith. Visiting it gives you an insight into both of those things – as well as a spectacular visual experience!
14. Drive the beautiful and terrifying twisty road between Kotor and Cetinje
Suggested by International Desserts Blog
If you visit Kotor by car, I highly recommend driving up the narrow, twisty road towards Cetinje for stunning views of the Bay of Kotor and beyond. Just outside Kotor look for the P1, a barely two-lane mountain road with 25 switchbacks. The road is so narrow that anytime a bus or large truck rounds the corner, you’ll probably have to back up to the nearest pullout to let them pass. Warning: locals drive this serpentine road all the time and seem to be comfortable speeding around the hairpin turns!
While the drive up the mountain is mildly terrifying, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking and totally worth it. When my husband and I drove it, we stopped at nearly every switchback from 18-25 to take photos (the last one has the best view). Each time we stopped we didn’t think the view could get any better…and then it did. We just couldn’t get over how gorgeous the Bay of Kotor is from that elevation, and how you could see all the way to the Adriatic sea. Once you reach the final switchback, you can continue on to Lovćen National Park and Cetinje or head back down to Kotor.
15. Lipa cave
This cave is one of the largest in the country. There are over 2.5 km worth of passageways and halls making it one of the best things to do if you’re an adventure seeker. The cave is a constant 8-12 degrees at all times so make sure you bring a jacket! You can even opt for an extreme tour rather than a regular tour which means you will be exploring the cave by rope.
16. Visit Lovcen National Park
Suggested by Two Find A Way
Montenegro is a country filled with breathtaking nature all around, so it’s no surprise that one of the best things to do is explore the stunning national parks – we loved the Lovcen National Park. It is located in the Dinara Alps, and access is especially simple if you’re located in the region of the Kotor Bay. Nevertheless, Montenegro is a small country so you’ll find it easy to get there no matter you are in the country.
So what is so special about the Lovcen National Park? Due to its location, the park has a very specific climate due to the influence of both the Mediterranean and Continental climate. The fauna and flora is incredible diverse, with over two thousand different species of plants and an incredible abundance of life all around (with that in mind, do not forget bug repellent when you visit!).
The Lovcen National Park is also an historic part of Montenegro, as it is a symbol of the country’s identity, and where you can find one of its most important monuments, the Njegos Mausoleum. At the second highest peak of Montenegro, you can visit the tomb of the country’s greatest hero, Petar II Petrović Njegoš.
17. Marvel at Tara River Canyon
Suggested by World in Paris
Tara canyon, a geological feature formed by the river with the same name, is one of Montenegro’s natural wonders. At some points, this canyon is more than 1000 m deep, which makes of Tara the deepest canyon in Europe and the second deepest canyon in the world, only beaten by the Grand Canyon.
There are many ways to explore Tara Canyon. People looking for adrenaline activities can book a rafting or a canyoning (departure from many locations) tour while others will prefer to see it as part of their road trip. In regards to the best period to visit Tara, late spring and summer are better for doing water activities while in autumn it is when the canyon shows its best colors. Tara Canyon, and especially its bridge are also important from a historical point of view: when the Italians occupied the area during the WWII a group of partisans, blew up the central arch of the bridge with the help of the engineers who designed it. The attack cut the only feasible crossing over the Tara Canyon halting the Italian advance. The bridge was rebuilt in 1946 and it is used today for bungee jumping.
18. Adži-paša’s bridge
This bridge is the oldest bridge situated in Podgorica. The history of this area dates back to the 5th century where it was an ancient town. If you love history and ruins, then you will enjoy this part of the city. This bridge was built by the Romans but then later changed when Montenegro was under Ottoman empire.
19. Discover Sveti Stefan
Suggested by The Fashion Matters
Sveti Stefan is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Montenegro, and it is easy to see why. The breathtaking islet is approximately 6 kilometres and is located southeast of Budva.
What now is a luxury resort, used to once be a fort and has a rich history. In addition, Sveti Stefan was formerly an island, but it is now connected to the land.
In order to get there we rented a car from Budva and had a smooth 20 minutes ride to Sveti Stefan. On the way, we stopped at a viewpoint to get a glimpse of the isle from the above. However, when you get don’t expect to be able to be able walk in; as the resort is open to the hotel and restaurant’s guests only. But don’t let this discourage you as it is beautifully to look at from outside.
20. Visit Plantaze winery
Do you like wine? Is that a stupid question? Okay, you need to visit Plantaze winery. It’s one of the most popular wines made in Montenegro so you will find a lot of the restaurants and supermarkets stocking this. When you come here you must do a tasting. For 3 wines and some cheese, it will cost 10 euro. If you would like to try 5 wines, then you will get some canapes too for only 30 euro (pp).
21. Take the scenic bus from Podgorica to Budva
Suggested by Tripsget
One of the best things to do in Montenegro is to take a bus from the capital, Podgorica, to Budva, one of the most popular coastal towns or Kotor, another of the popular places to visit in Montenegro. The drive takes just under 2 hours and it’s incredibly picturesque. There are quite a few companies that operate these buses, e.g. OLD TOWN TRAVEL or Euro Line travel and if you want, you can buy tickets online. However, there’s no need to buy tickets online, you can just arrive at the main bus station of either Budva, Kotor or Podgorica and get a bus ticket there.
The buses normally operate from 1 am to 22:45 pm (the bus stations open around 6 am). However, there are a couple of things you should be aware of. The time around October is the trickiest, as it’s still warm and sunny outside, but not as hot as in summer, so the bus driver doesn’t use air conditioning during off-season and it could get very hot inside the bus – if you’re not very resistant to hot temperatures inside transport, you can bring a portable fan with you. However, the drive is actually really worth all the small downsides, as the road is one of the most beautiful roads I’ve seen in my life.
22. Visit the UNESCO site of Duklja
The ancient city of Duklja dates back to the 1st century AD. This was formed originally by the Illyrian tribe. The city has now been named a UNESCO site in Montenegro. It’s only 3km out of Podgorica so it’s well worth visiting if you are near.
23. Visit Skadar Lake
Suggested by Borderlass
Once part of the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro is not the most well-known country in Europe. Lake Skadar which straddles the Montenegro-Albanian border is a spectacular and pretty much unspoilt destination. It is the largest lake in Southern Europe. Surrounded by karst mountains and rocky shores, it is the largest freshwater lake in the Balkan region.
Popular activities include kayaking, boat trips, bird watching, hiking, and fishing. Taking a boat trip from the out on to the lake from the tiny village of Virpazar is a relaxing way to spend the day. If you’re really lucky you may get to see one of the rare Dalmatian Pelicans (I didn’t)! Another great way to spend the day is to walk to other villages, many of which have their own wineries.
It’s easy to get to Skadar lake from Bar, Budva or Podgorica. Trains stop at Virpazar and tickets cost around 1 Euro for a single journey.
24. Wander around the old town of Kotor
Old Kotor, within the old city walls, is a beautiful place to just walk around and admire. It’s truly beautiful and very well kept to its original form. Therefore, so many people flock to this cute little place. One piece of advice when visiting Kotor is to visit in the off-season. In the summer, cruise ships disembark into Kotor leaving the city packed. If you can visit before May or after September, then it will be even more beautiful, and you will be able to fully enjoy the slow pace of the town.
25. Cat Museum in Kotor
If you’re a cat lover, then you’re really going to love this cat museum. In the heart of Kotor is a museum dedicated to your furry friends. From artefacts to coins, drawings and cat humour it’s not just a place dedicated to cats but a look into the history and how cats were a part of that here. To get in its only 1 euro so it’s a good thing to do on a rainy day or if you have a bit of extra time in Kotor.
There’s your big list of things to do in Montenegro! Tell me below which thing you would like to do. Make sure you remember to visit the neighbouring country of Albania – where I currently live! Albania has some of the best undiscovered beautiful beaches in Europe.
Other articles you will love:
- Albania Travel Guide for First Timers: Everything You Need to Know!
- Best Places to visit in Montenegro
- Things to do in Kruja, Albania: The City of Skanderbeg!
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