The Best Places to Visit in Montenegro
Montenegro has it all. There are glorious coastal towns, amazing hikes, and mountain vistas as well as National Parks that you won’t want to leave. Here are Montenegro’s best places to visit.
Kotor Bay, one of the best places to visit in Montenegro
Kotor is a beautiful town at the top of the fjord-like Bay of Kotor. You can easily be forgiven for thinking you are in Scandinavia rather than Southern Europe as the bay is surrounded by steep cliffs and mountains as in Norway.
The charming old town is sandwiched between the bay and the mountains. Get lost in the many cobbled streets and lanes that twist and turn like a picturesque maze. This beautiful town is definitely one of the best places to visit in Montenegro. Enjoy food and drink at one of the many street-side bars and cafes that are spread throughout Kotor for a fraction of the price of nearby Croatia.
There is more to Kotor than just the Old Town and one of the best things to do is to climb up to Kotor Fortress high above the town for stunning views across the bay.
Feeling hot after sightseeing? Take a refreshing swim at one of the town’s small beaches.
In summer Kotor can get busy as large cruise ships dock here, so try and avoid the high season.
Explore Tivat, the Millionaires Playground
The new playground for the super-rich and the Balkan answer to Monaco, Tivat is a new settlement built around a large marina that is home to some of Europe’s super-yachts.
Tivat is located just around the bay from Kotor and although it is pricier than its neighbor, there is some nice hiking in the area and a few small beaches great for swimming and sunbathing.
One of the most picturesque places in the Balkans, Sveti Stefan is a small settlement jutting out into the Adriatic Sea as if from a picture postcard. There is a charming old town full of winding lanes and cobbled streets surrounded on all sides by the lapping sea. Note: Unfortunately, Sveti Stefan is now closed to tourists unless paying guests of the resort there. It is possible to visit some of the nearby beaches for a small fee. You can see it from above, or walk to the edges of the beach nearby though.
Visit Skadar Lake National Park
Lake Skadar is the largest freshwater lake in southern Europe and straddles the border between Montenegro and Albania. With its water lilies and lush green hills, Skadar looks more like a lake in China or Vietnam than in Europe. Explore tiny villages dotted around the horseshoe-shaped lake.
Skadar is definitely one of the best places to visit in Montenegro for its peace and tranquility. One of the best ways to see the lake is to take a lake tour, this really is stunning – and you don’t need long – this is a great Skadar lake visiting option.
Hike around Crno Jezero (Black Lake)
If you have time in Montenegro to take only one single hike then you should make it this one.
Crno Jezero (Black Lake) is located close to the town of Zabljak, Montenegro’s winter sports destination, within the Durmitor National Park, and is one of the best places to visit in Montenegro for its untouched nature.
The lake (two lakes actually) sits in a basin beneath towering mountains and is surrounded by pine trees. Black Lake is one of 18 glacial lakes within Durmitor. Mount Meded rises majestically behind Little Lake (the smaller of the two, obviously). The Little Lake is the deepest of the two and descends to depths of almost 50 meters. The larger “Big Lake” is only 25 meters deep but covers a larger area.
There is a 3.5km hiking trail that runs all the way around both lakes and which takes at least a couple of hours to complete because of the uneven terrain. You’ll need a decent pair of boots, and our guide to the best budget hiking boots will help you pick up a pair without breaking the bank. Crno Jezero is a true Hidden Gem of Europe and hiking there is one of the best things to do in Montenegro. If you’re visiting from Kotor, then you can easily take a day trip to Durmitor National Park and get to see this stunning location.
Climb Bobotov Kuk
Bobotov Kuk is one of the highest peaks in Montenegro at 2,523 meters (8,278 feet) and there is a well-signposted trail that leads from Zabljak to the summit.
There is no technical climbing needed to reach the peak, however, it is a tough trek with some scrambling over rocky outcrops needed near the top.
Only those with a high level of fitness and mountain experience should attempt to summit the mountain.
The trek should take about 10 hours to complete going at a moderate pace and starting and finishing in Zabljak.
Mountain Bike through Durmitor National Park
Durmitor National Park, one of the best places to visit in Montenegro
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durmitor National Park is the perfect place for mountain biking, hiking, and climbing. With wide, empty roads and stunning vistas out across the countryside, cycling is a great way to explore this beautiful part of Montenegro.
You can hire bikes in Zabljak, the main town of the National Park, from €15 per day.
Raft the Tara River Canyon
The Tara River Canyon is the second deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA. The canyon starts in Bosnia & Herzegovina and stretches 86km into Montenegro. The average depth of the canyon is 1,300 meters (4,300 feet). There are two main rafting courses. There is a one-day 18km route and a longer 100km route. Both include many rapids. Don’t like rafting? The easiest option for seeing the Tara River Canyon is to do it from the Tara Canyon Bridge lookout. It’s a stunning view. And then you can also take a zipline across the canyon (and river) too!
Party on the Budva Riviera
Budva is by far the most popular tourist destination in Montenegro (mainly for domestic tourists, Russians, and Serbs) and as such, the beaches can get crowded and the nightlife a little rowdy.
Shops and restaurants are overpriced compared to the rest of the country and ugly concrete hotels are springing up everywhere, but the old town is pleasant enough to explore.
If you are looking for a beach destination, consider visiting some of the less touristy towns along the coast such as Bar farther south.
However, if you’re looking for a lively holiday resort with plenty of nightlife then Budva is the place to be.
Getting to Montenegro
Montenegro is pretty easy to reach if you’re self-driving – and visiting from some of the other Balkan countries is simple. Here’s how to get to Montenegro.
Getting to Montenegro by Air
Montenegro’s main airport is located 12km from the capital, Podgorica, but there are no decent connections to the coast. Dubrovnik airport in next-door Croatia might be a better option as you can take a bus to Kotor and the coastal areas.
Getting to Montenegro By Train
Montenegro only has one train line connecting Bar to Belgrade in Serbia (with onward connections to Austria, Germany, and Hungary) via Podgorica. This is considered one of the most scenic rail journeys in all of Europe and well worth doing for the views alone!
Getting to Montenegro By Bus
There are regular daily services to neighboring Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Tickets cost under €25.
Getting Around Montenegro
Bus and marshrutka are the best ways to get from city to city in Montenegro. Taxis can be expensive so best avoided. I explored the country by bus and found it easy and inexpensive to get around.
Weather in Montenegro
Montenegro’s weather is typical of its southern European location. Long, hot summers and mild winters by the coast and snow in the mountains. Spring and autumn are great times to visit. The many national parks look fabulous in autumn as the leaves turn to bright reds, yellows, and oranges.
Safety in Montenegro
It’s pretty safe here in Montenegro, but there are a few things to watch out for.
Crime in Montenegro
Montenegro is a very safe country by world standards but petty crime does exist in places that see higher numbers of tourists. Take the same traveling precautions you would anywhere such as keeping valuables out of site and using a money belt. We always also travel with a portable travel safe and lock away our valuables in the trunk/boot of the car when we’re leaving the car for a day hike and also in our accommodation if we’re staying overnight.
Travel Insurance for Montenegro
Although Montenegro is a very safe country, it always pays to cover yourself in case the unexpected happens (even more so now in these strange times).
Landmines & Unexploded Ordnance
The border area between Montenegro and Kosovo may still contain landmines and unexploded ordnance from the Yugoslav and Kosovo conflicts. Keep to the main roads and paths.
Final Words on the Best Things to do in Montenegro
Most people who visit Montenegro only visit the stunning (but busy) coastal town of Kotor, but there’s so much more to this gorgeous Balkan country. If you like the outdoors then you’ll love Montenegro, however, you don’t need to take to the backcountry to appreciate this relatively new state. Many of the views can be seen easily, although, to be fair, the best places are a little more off the beaten track. So come on over, explore the glorious Adriatic coastline, head to the mountains of Durmitor National Park, and hike the Black Lake. And do it now, as outside of Kotor you won’t see the tourist crowds that other neighboring countries see, Asocial Nomad writes.