Whether you’re putting together your own Montenegro itinerary or simply looking for an extra dose of wanderlust, Montenegro is a country that is both gorgeous and inspiring.
While Montenegro is becoming known for its beautiful coastline which rivals Croatia’s at a fraction of the cost, it has much more to offer than just its beaches. It’s home to UNESCO old towns, stunning bridges, and insane nature. From its epic mountains of the pristine Durmitor National Park to the deepest canyon in Europe, the Tara River, Montenegro is truly a place of wild beauty.
Travel Writers Tell Us their Favorite Places in Montenegro
While Montenegro may look small on a map, it’s chock full of amazing cities, national parks, and beaches that you have to see to believe. We asked a group of professional travel writers to tell us about their favorite places in Montenegro, plus we’ve thrown a few of our own into the mix.
The walled city of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the namesake for the Bay of Kotor. While many towns along the bay are worth visiting (and many are listed here) Kotor is by far the most popular.
While here, make sure to spend a morning climbing up to St. John’s Fortress. While it’s 1355 steps might seem daunting, the views are more than worth it. It’s one of our favorite Kotor Instagram spots, but the city is so charming you’ll almost never want to put your camera away.
Many people visit Kotor as a day trip from Dubrovnik, but if you have more time it is worth it to spend a few days (or even a week) here. There’s so much to explore, and you can get out and see the other bayside towns and villages while here.
Durmitor National Park
Durmitor National Park is one of the most stunning mountain ranges in Montenegro. It’s been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.
Naturally, hiking is the main activity in Durmitor. Several shorter or longer hikes can be done in the region. An all-day hike to Bobotov Kuk (2,523m), Durmitor’s highest peak, is challenging, but the views are more than worth it.
Another popular day hike is to Crvena Greda mountain (2,164m). On your way, you’ll pass by quite a few lakes and will have a beautiful view of them from the top too.
Apart from hiking and trekking, adventure sports can be done in the Durmitor National Park. The Tara River, which flows through the mountain range, creates a deep canyon. In fact, it’s the second deepest canyon worldwide! You can engage in whitewater rafting on the Tara River or zip line above it near the Đurđevića Tara Bridge.
An ideal base for an active holiday in the Durmitor National Park is the town of Žabljak, which offers all ranges of accommodation from campsites to hotels.
Photo and words by Veronika Primm of TravelGeekery.
Tara Canyon & River
Between the mountains, Bjelasnica, Sinjajevina, Ljubisnja, and Durmitor, flows one of the most beautiful Montenegrin rivers and the clearest European river – Tara, also called the “Jewel of Europe”.
The Tara canyon, protected as UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the second longest in the world after Grand Cayon with up to 1.3 km depth and about 80 km length. The river is crystal clear with turquoise color and is the biggest European supply of drinking water. The very special is Tara cascades. There are rocky and pebbly terraces surrounded with thick pine forests, sandy beaches, high cliffs, and steep sides.
This is absolutely a perfect spot for all adventure and nature lovers. The river is known for water sports, such as rafting, kayaking, and fishing. There are also other sports activities available to visitors – enjoy mountain biking or hiking the steep mountains and narrow paths.
The most beautiful natural attractions of the canyon are Bajlovića Sige waterfall and Crna Poda forest. Đurđevića bridge, from 1940, is the symbol of the river, the highest bridge of Europe and features an impressive panoramic view of the canyon and the surroundings. If you want to explore more about Montenegro you should read about Kotor.
Photo and words by Leo of Safari Nomad.
One of the oldest cities on the Adriatic, Budva is a fantastic destination for everyone from luxury travelers to backpackers. It’s famous for its beaches and nightlife, plus its absolutely stunning architecture. While exploring the old city, make sure to explore the city walls, the citadel and the Church of the Holy Trinity. Don’t miss the truly beautiful Dancer from Budva Statue, a symbol of the city located not far outside the city walls on Mogren Beach.
You also want to set aside time to enjoy the city’s beaches and admire the resort island of Sveti Stefan from afar – afar being the operative word, as staying there will cost you quite a pretty penny – rooms cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000+ a night! However, for the rest of us peons, there’s plenty of beautiful places to visit in Montenegro near Budva that won’t cost you a month’s rent. Check out nearby beautiful Jaz Beach and Mogren beach, both of which offer stunning blue waters (just watch out as they are both rather pebbly!).
Skadar Lake is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Montenegro. You can see the lake from above by taking a wonderful road trip around it. But the best way to experience the lake is by going on it by boat or kayak.
You can start your journey in the village of Virpazar. Talk to a few of the operators for the offers, but they all basically offer the same. Take one of the reed boats and go out on the lake. Your captain will show you the best bits. You can see many birds and different plants and will be surrounded by waterlilies. With some luck, you will even see the pelicans which live in the lake!
You can visit the lake by boat easily: a captain will take you around and you do not need to walk, only to get in the boat. I recommend it for everyone who loves to include a little nature in their trip!
More time? Eat some fish in one of the restaurants in Virpazar after your boat trip or be a bit more active and climb all the way up to the fortress up the mountain. It offers you some nice views over the lake.
Words by Manouk of Groetjes uit Verweggistan.
Pebbled beaches, a crumbling but charming old town, medieval castle, coastal promenades, and seafood to die for… Ulcinj is hard not to love. These beaches are some of the country’s best on offer.
While the “city beach” or Mala Plaza, is the most easily accessible and huge, it’s usually very busy with almost everyone trying to find their slice of sand for the day.
Visitors may be tempted to go a bit beyond the town and explore other lesser visited beaches although, they may be more pebbled then sandy. Liman beaches (there are two) are small and rarely crowded, and the ladies can take refuge at Ladies Beach, which is a women-only nude beach. With your partner and wanting to get rid of those tan lines? Head to Ada Bojana Resort!
The Salinas, just nearly crossing the border with Albania is home to some wild flamingos, and The Fisherman Hari Restaurant may seem like it would be a fortune to eat at considering its prime location in the city and being on the water but it’s not. Feast like a king for not much coin and order all the seafood things possible. It’s cooked to perfection and couldn’t be any fresher considering they go out and fish for everything themselves!
Photo and words by Nina Ragusa of Where in the World is Nina? For more, check out her sample Montenegro itinerary.
Biogradska Gora National Park is located in the northeastern part of Montenegro and is a perfect place for those who enjoy hiking, camping, active vacations and spending time in nature. This national park encloses the mountainous area, one of Europe’s virgin forests and several glacial lakes, including Lake Biograd.
There is a broad variety of activities you can do in Biogradska Gora National Park. You can rent a kayak or a boat, explore the area by a bicycle, and even get a permit for fishing. There are also several hiking trails available across the region. You can choose an easy route around the lake, or go with a more challenging and longer trail to one of the lookout points or mountain peaks. Trails in the park are well marked and offer incredible nature views.
Entrance fee to the national park is only 3 euros, but the experience is worth much more than that. Biogradska Gora is rich for flora, fauna, and stunning scenery. It offers a perfect gateway from the busy city life and insight into Montenegro’s untouched beauty. Accommodation options include renting a tent or a bungalow, as well as coming with your own tent, campervan or trailer.
Photo and words by Ženja from Bearly Here.
I discovered Sveti Stefan by chance, sitting on a bus from Croatia to the south. With my eyes lost in the sea, suddenly this destiny appeared with all its magic, like a small Dubrovnik.
And as it happens to the aforementioned Dubrovnik, it has surrendered to tourism after having already been discovered a long time ago and enjoyed by personalities such as Kirk Douglas and Sophia Loren in the 60s. It became fashionable and today Sveti Stefan is actually an island luxury resort (much appreciated by those looking for a unique destination wedding spot) and one of the most attractive destinations on the Adriatic coast.
Surrounded by incredible beaches, the number of rooms available is quite limited, which makes them pricey. Hence, it is best to explore on a day or half-day tour from Podgorica, Kotor or Budva.
The easiest way to get there in public transport is from Budva – 5km away – on a bus that takes half an hour
Along with Lovcen, Sveti Stefan is one of the Balkan highlights anyone traveling around this area of the world should not miss.
One of the most important old towns in Montenegro, Stari Bar is situated about 5 km from the modern city of Bar. Surrounded by olive groves and dating back to 300BC it is well worth a visit. By the 9th Century, it was known as Antivar and was a popular trading post. Over the centuries it has been Venetian, Ottoman and finally taken back by the Montenegrins in 1878.
While it is mainly in ruins now due to an earthquake in 1979, there are some signs that it is being restored with the city walls, the Venetian Clock Tower, Citadel and Turkish Baths all having been completed. You still get a feel for what it must have been like all those years ago as you wander around the remaining streets and take it all in. Make sure you pop into the museum just inside the gates to gain an understanding of Stari Bar.
Close by you will also find the oldest olive tree (Stara Maslina) in Europe, situated in Mirovica. Dating between 2007 and 2443 years old, the tree still produces olives. Roughly 10 meters in diameter, it is worth having a look. Used as a meeting place for centuries it has been the place of many marriage discussions and ending of arguments, maybe that is where the term extending the olive branch comes from.
Photo and words by Ron and Michele Legge of Legging It.
Often called one of the most boring cities in Europe, Podgorica doesn’t get much love from travel writers. And I get it, I really do: with gorgeous UNESCO Old Towns like Kotor and Budva, deep river canyons like Tara, stunning mountain peaks like Bobotov, and wild beaches in Ulcinj all vying for your time, it’s easy to see why Podgorica pales a bit in comparison.
However, that’s not to say that it’s not worthy of a visit during your time in Montenegro, and indeed it can be a great place to spend a night to break up a journey between other destinations, such as I did when traveling between Peja (Kosovo) and Kotor. There are a few places to visit in Montenegro’s capital that make an overnight stay worthwhile, such as the Millennium Bridge, the Ribnica Bridge, the old Clock Tower, and the beautiful Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ.
But the people who will really love Podgorica are fans of concrete communist and Brutalist architecture – something Montenegro isn’t really known for, but certainly can be found if you look for it! Be sure to check out the TV tower outside of town (not actually communist/Brutalist era, but done in that style) as well as the communist apartment blocks around the New Town of Podgorica. And whatever you do, don’t miss a meal at Pod Volat, the most beloved restaurant in town!
Kruče is a small village close to Ulcinj and not too far from Bar. There was never a large number of people living there, but the number of inhabitants is still in decline. One cause of the slow abandonment of the settlement is the seasonal landslides that happen when massive spring rains fall. Those have wiped down entire buildings from its cliffs in the past.
The hamlet used to be quite a popular place for tourists to visit, but that time has passed. Now it’s the neighboring bay to the north and other nearby bays that have an active vacation and hotel scene. This makes a trip to Kruče an excellent adventurous and alternative day trip for those that don’t only want to see the happy side of tourism and nature.
A day in Kruče can be spent swimming at its little beaches and hiking in the surrounding forest. Most of all, it’s a good place for some urban exploring and admiring the speed at which nature takes back what humans abandon. If you’re daring enough, you can squat one of the more architecturally sound derelict structures for the night. There’s one restaurant ‘Pizzeria Laki’ (with WiFi!), one shop on the main road for all your urgent needs, and one mosque. If you have the opportunity, definitely stick around for watching the sunset from the little pier.
Photo and words by Iris Veldwijk of Mind of a Hitchhiker.
Montenegro’s capital doesn’t make it into the list of the most beautiful cities in the Balkans. Podgorica is slightly boring and has few tourist attractions. It might, therefore, surprise you to hear that its former royal capital Cetinje, is the complete opposite.
In Cetinje, you can visit the old palaces, churches, and homes of the Petrovic dynasty that ruled Montenegro till the first world war. The beautiful architecture that still around makes Cetinje a pleasant city well worth a visit. Because of its small size, its best explored on foot.
Cetinje makes for a great day trip from any of the coastal towns. It is easy to combine Cetinje with the nearby Njegos mausoleum on the top of Mount Lovcen. The mausoleum of Montenegro’s famous poet is impressive, but even more beautiful is the view over Cetinje and all of Montenegro. This is where you get a true sense of what Montenegro has to offer.
Still few people come here, despite its appeal. Most tourists stick to the beach or understandably spend most of their time in Montenegro’s incredible nature. But If you want to learn more about Montenegro’s past, a visit to Cetinje is a must. Montenegro’s political capital might be in Podgorica, but Cetinje remains its cultural and historical capital.
Photo and words by Ellis Veen from Backpack Adventures
Ostrog Monastery is so special because of its unique location and its beautiful scenery. It is located in an extremely interesting place: within a mountain cliff.
Although it is a Christian site, it is open and welcoming to all travelers. You’ll find several restaurants on the road to the monastery since there are none once you’re there. From the monastery, you will see the beautiful sprawling countryside.
Immediately outside the monastery, you’ll see devoted believers, some who may have walked all the way up. Inside you’ll find beautiful paintings and a shrouded figure that believers claim is a priest that has never rotted.
Along with the things you can see, you also have the chance to write prayers down on papers and pencils provided that you can then pass over to one of the priests present that will then read it at a liturgy. If you’d rather, you can burn candles for prayers. Also, it’s recommended to take home some of the holy water found at the monastery to protect your family and home. The candles and/or holy water can be purchased inside the monastery.
If you’re not so religious or interested in bringing back religious items, there are souvenir shops that you’ll pass on the way there.
Insider tip 1: Go very early. Even though it is open 24/7, it gets busier as the day gets later which means longer lines to get in.
Insider tip 2: Be aware – the road to the monastery is very windy and narrow, but it is well traveled.
Words by Cassie of White Sands and Cool Breezes
Milocer & Queen’s Beach
Visitors to Montenegro will no doubt visit the most famous site in the country, Sveti Stefan. The Aman managed hotel sits on a revamped fishing village that holds a lot of history and is now one of the most beautiful resorts in the world. While being a guest is extremely pricey, they do provide day tours for non-guests.
Visitors that aren’t staying at the hotel also have a chance to rest on one of their private beaches for the day but at a high price. There are some fantastic beaches in Montenegro, but none are as private and secluded as Sveti Stefan’s King’s beach (or Milocer Beach) and Queen’s beach.
King’s beach is the larger of the two and is open to the public for 120 euro. This comes with an umbrella, sunbed and bottled water. The view is breathtaking as it is one of the most beautiful bays in Montenegro. It is a red pebble beach with azure clean waters and surrounded by trees. The gorgeous Villa Milocer stands over the beach adding a dose of Montenegrin authenticity and history. You will be one of the very few guests who will most likely be celebrities or dignitaries trying to escape the spotlight. The beach is about a five-minute walk from the parking area that is either in Przno or in front of Sveti Stefan.
The sleepy town of Risan is a great place to base yourself to explore the Bay of Kotor. With a town beach, waterside restaurants, and far fewer tourists than Kotor and Perast, it’s the perfect combination of dreamy and relaxed.
Nearby you can tour the Roman mosaics, which date from the second and third century AD when the area was an important point along Roman transportation routes.
If you’re looking for an offbeat day trip from Dubrovnik, you can combine more-touristy Kotor in the morning with a more serene afternoon in Risan.
During the Yugoslav era, Herceg Novi was a popular beach destination for travelers from across the country. While Croatian beaches have risen in popularity recently, Herceg Novi is a great place to go to enjoy the resort feel with fewer crowds than you’ll find on similar beaches in Croatia and the Croatian islands.
Adventure enthusiasts will want to rent kayaks and paddle out to the rusted fishing ship that’s stuck in the bay, the nearby village of Rose, and the Blue Cave. Culture travelers will want to wander the Old Town and visit Savina Monastery.
There are kilometers of beachfront promenade you can explore, and multiple quiet beaches to relax on.
Montenegro Travel Resources
Don’t forget to read our Montenegro packing list for all seasons, for both male and female travelers.
If you’ll be visiting Montenegro in winter, we have a guide for that as well.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Montenegro and the Balkans, bookmark our Montenegro and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip.
Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a great idea for Montenegro and for travel in general! This is especially true when visiting a country like Montenegro, where you’ll be enjoying a mix of city and outdoor activities. If your stuff gets stolen or you get hurt in an accident, it’s good to know that travel insurance will cover you.
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Montenegro is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Guide to the Best Places in Montenegro for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.