Montenegro is a small Balkan country whose coast is washed by the Adriatic Sea, the inland is covered by mountains, and the landscape is engraved by river canyons. Sun and warmth are gently caressing the travelers, nature is flourishing, and it’s not unusual to run into a herd of cows, goats or sheep just crossing the road. Montenegro is a country with very hospitable locals and spectacular landscapes hiding around every corner.
We spent an entire week in this land of sea, mountains, and sun. Sluggish, lazy days were combined with car travel and unforgettable nature’s gems. I picked out 12 suggestions on what to see and do in Montenegro. As our trip took place in May, the weather was hot although rain with thunder was also startling us from time to time. Due to these weather conditions we were not able to visit all of the attractions, however, we did see the most popular ones.
1. BUDVA AND THE OLD TOWN
Located on the Adriatic coast, Budva is a resort town with lots of restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. The city has a small port with a few luxurious yachts, and you can hire a local boat to cruise along the coast. Walking around you’ll find plenty of shops and supermarkets where you can buy and taste local wine or other products.
The main attraction in Budva is its old town. Built from old stones, it has narrow streets, houses with roof tiles, window shutters and cats just walking around. In the heart of the old city, there’s plenty of cafes, restaurants and tourist shops. Although the architecture is cute, the over-tourism is slightly spoiling the magic and authenticity.
The main city beach is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. The upside is that you can listen to the sound of the waves while having dinner. The downside is that there’s plenty of cans, cigarettes butts, and plastic bags just lying around. Budva beach is definitely not one of the cleanest or very romantic. For those who want to bake in the sun, we recommend walking further from the center to Mogren Beach.
2. MOGREN BEACH
Mogren is a beach located further from the Budva city center, outside the old town. It is reachable by a nice path surrounded by high, beautiful cliffs from the one side and the Adriatic Sea from the other. It takes about 15 minutes to walk to the beach from the city center. Mogren beach is covered with gravel and thick sand rather than stones, which is definitely a plus. The environment is cleaner, and it’s much cozier to lay in the sun without plenty of tourists staring at you from the nearby cafes.
If tanning is not something you want to spend your time on, Mogren Beach is anyway worth visiting. You can just take a walk, have a picnic on the cliffs, and spend an evening by the sea. There’s also a café at the beach where you can buy snacks and drinks. Mogren Beach will be appreciated by kids as well since the sand is quite pleasant for playing and one’s feet. The beach is also cleaner than the before mentioned central Budra beach.
3. SVETI STEFANI
Located in what appears to be a tiny island, Sveti Stefani is a 15th-century fishermen’s town, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The town is astonishing with its beauty, scarlet roofs, stone houses, and a fairytale-like look. If you’re coming to town by car, there’s a parking lot nearby. Opposite the town, you’ll find a tidy beach with sunbeds and umbrellas. Although we haven’t tried them ourselves, for only a few euros you can rent a place and enjoy an afternoon in a neat and romantic environment.
It’s worth walking around Sveti Stefani and following the path that leads to a hill overlooking a great view. After taking a few pictures you can continue walking until you reach another park. This is a good place for relaxing and just looking around.
4. KOTOR OLD TOWN
Kotor city is located along the Kotor bay which is technically a canyon. Probably one of the most visited spots in Montenegro, Kotor old town is listed as a UNESCO protected territory. There are lots of tourists and shops that tend to them. However, the narrow streets, hanging laundry and flowers in the windows still let one imagine the romantic life of the locals. The city is surrounded by a protective wall, which you can climb and walk on. For a few euros, you can climb the part that extends onto the mountain (from there it looks like a miniature version of the Chinese wall).
When visiting Kotor, it’s worth walking along the coast, stopping for lunch or just admiring the views from one of the cafes. As in other Montenegrin cities, in Kotor, you’ll meet plenty of cats.
5. PETROVAC TOWN AND THE WALKING PATH
We found this town unexpectedly. Seeing on the map that there are a beach and a touristic site, we decided to stop. Petrovac has a nice beach and lots of cafes where you can have lunch or get a coffee. There’s also remnants of an old castle and rocky mountains, which definitely creates a romantic mood. Higher on the cliffs you can find a pedestrian path – it’s worth spending some time here and walking around.
In Petrovac, we ate some fish, drank some coffee and were enjoying the absence of the other tourists. Local fishermen were fishing on the shore, waves were crashing, and even though the coffee wasn’t the best, the moment was just wonderful!
6. KOTOR BAY AND FERRY
There are plenty of cities and towns situated by the Kotor bay. Driving towards Durmitor National Park, we unexpectedly found a very fascinating part of the bay. We were driving using the maps.me app and I believed we were moving towards a bridge. Instead, we reached a ferry. There’s a beautiful town nearby, the actual trip cost only a few euros, and the views are just wonderful on the other side of the bay.
There’s a road stretching just along the water together with a scenic settlement. I definitely recommend taking the ferry and spending some time walking around, stopping for a snack, and admiring the surrounding views.
The ferry is leaving every few minutes throughout the day. It’s suitable for both cars and pedestrians.
7. LOVCEN NATIONAL PARK AND MAUSOLEUM
The Lovcen national park is one of the most visited in Montenegro. The locals like it as well since in the summer the temperature in the mountains is lower. The park is situated in a mountainous location and contains lots of serpentines and sharp turns. The mountains are not high but rocky and very special-looking. In some places, they are bald and resemble big piles of rocks or a surface of another planet. You can find plenty of walking paths in the park. However, if you really want to know which ones are worth your attention, best is to ask in the park’s visitor center.
The most popular attraction in Lovcen is the Njegos mausoleum, which is located on a steep mountain. There’s a parking lot nearby, although to reach the mausoleum itself you’ll need to climb dozens of stairs. From the top, you’ll get to see a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The mausoleum is reachable not only by car — you can also climb to the top straight from the visitor center. The latter option requires more time, and don’t forget to pack water and snacks.
8. DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK AND THE TARA RIVER CANYON
For us, Durmitor national park was the most beautiful place we got to visit in Montenegro. The park contains strikingly high mountains that turn into a ski resort in the winter. There’s also a small Žabljak town, the highest located town above the sea level. If you plan to spend a few days in the mountains, Žabljak is a good place to look for accommodation.
One of the most visited attractions in the Durmitor park is the Tara river canyon and the masonry bridge crossing it. A turquoise mountain river is flowing at the bottom of the canyon, and you can try rafting in it or zip-lining above it (the latter attraction costs 20 Eur). The Tara river canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, surpassed only by the Grand Canyon in the US.
The canyon cliffs and hills are extremely flourishing, and you can find local towns around. Even from the top, you can hear the river flowing down below. The Tara river bridge is said to be one of the most picturesque, and lots of painters found inspiration looking at it. We recommend walking across the bridge, admiring the view, and (if you have time) checking out the pedestrian paths around the canyon. The views here are magical and captivating.
9. THE BLACK LAKE
The Black Lake is another attraction that the Durmitor park is proud of. The lake is constantly fed by the melting snow, and you can see spectacular mountains in front of it. There’s a 3-kilometer long path surrounding the lake – you can walk around and admire the scenery. You’ll find plenty of benches along the shore, so just sit down, have a picnic, and indulge the views.
he Black Lake actually consists of two lakes: one smaller and one bigger, connected by a small canal. In the summer the water level goes down, the canal dries out and you can clearly see two separate lakes.
We spent an entire hour by the Black Lake, just relaxing after a day full of experiences. Here we also found the Durmitor park’s plan with marked objects and trails. I really recommend taking a picture of this informational stand – it will be easier to find other trails and attractions in the Durmitor park. We didn’t find a similar plan in the other park’s locations.
In case you’re driving by car, there’s a parking lot next to the entrance to the lake. However, you’ll need to pay both for the entrance to the park and parking.
10. THE ROAD LEADING TOWARDS BOBOTOV KUK
Bobotov Kuk is the highest peak in Montenegro, reaching 2523 meters. Driving along the serpentines up the mountain, you’ll be captivated by the surrounding views. During our trip to Montenegro, it was still early spring in the mountains. From further away, we spotted some white patches of snow but couldn’t imagine that they would be at least 2 meters deep. Unfortunately, we were not able to reach our destination by car, and the weather conditions were too dangerous for climbing the mountains without proper shoes or inventory.
We were slightly disappointed to see a wall of snow preventing us from reaching our destination. However, the views we saw were one of the most spectacular throughout the entire trip. The surrounding mountains resembled Canada or Colorado but only here you could see goats and cows grazing around. Even though Montenegro is all covered by mountains, these ones were definitely the most spectacular.
If you’re not the biggest fan of mountain trekking, you should at least drive from Žabljak to Sedlo.
Although Sedlo is the point where one would start hiking, you don’t need to actually climb the mountains to feel at least a part of their majesty. The surrounding views will leave you speechless, and you’ll definitely want to stop for at least half an hour to admire the nature.
11. ABANDONED BEACHES
Driving along the Montenegrin coast, I was looking for places to stop using maps.me. Sometimes the app would lead us to such shady and abandoned roads that the only solution was turning around. Then we would drive further until we found a more reachable destination.
While traveling we noticed quite a lot of empty towns, with houses selling out, and some places looked really abandoned. Even in a totally non-touristic beach, you could find remnants of cafes or other buildings. So if you want to see the other side of Montenegro, you should slightly depart from the standard route.
12. SERPENTINES AND THE VIEWS ON THE WAY
Most of the roads in Montenegro are serpentines. You have to constantly go up and down, and the views through the window are usually astonishing. Sometimes at the distance, you can see the Adriatic sea, sometimes mountains and little towns. You’ll definitely meet some local goats, cows, and sheep.
In the mountain valleys, you’ll find a few straight roads which will be a true refreshment for a driver. While driving you should stop at viewpoints or other safe locations. The landscape along the road is usually worth taking a few pictures.