In case you want to take a breather from crossing the must-see tourist attractions around Montenegro off your list and relax on your trip a little bit, then Niksic is the right place to go.
Located right in the middle of the country, Niksic acts like as a crossroads between the northern part on one side and the Boka Bay (on which Kotor sits) on the southern side.
Only about an hour’s drive away from the capital city of Podgorica and about 20 minutes away from Ostrog Monastery, Niksic is more than often stop where travelers choose to slow things down and experience the ordinary everyday life of a Montenegrin.
Its rich cultural heritage with various museums and monuments testify to this area’s long and storied past, and it’s yet another reason why everyone should pay a visit to this little laid-back town.
While Niksic is the second-largest city in Montenegro, it has a population of merely 70,000 people, creating a quiet and charming vibe. The city offers plenty of excursion sites near lakes, mountains, and charming rivers.
When the sun goes down, Niksic is known throughout Montenegro to be the so-called ‘town of beer and rock & roll’, and it has a pretty vibrant nightlife with numerous bars and pubs to mingle with locals while sipping the famous Niksicko beer, of course!
The Best Things to Do in Niksic, Montenegro
Wander down the city’s main promenade
The main promenade that goes out from the main square is the center of all events in Niksic.
Stroll down the main walking area filled with cafes, bars, pubs, the abundance of stores and shopping centers, all around the renewed Main Square, in order to get a better understanding of life in Montenegro away from the main tourist attractions.
Regardless of the time of the day, businesses along the promenade will always be full of people sipping the third (or fourth…) coffee of the day, flipping through the newspapers, or enjoying a beer after a long workday. Montenegrins like to take it easy and slowly, and it may take foreigners by surprise how laidback and unhurried life can be around here.
In the middle of the main city’s square, you’ll surely notice a 10-meter-tall Monument to King Nikola, the only Montenegrin king and the founder of modern Niksic, after it was liberated from the Ottoman Empire in 1877.
The statue of the national hero Ljubo Cupic is also located on the main town’s square and represents a symbol of the fight against fascism in Montenegro.
Size up history at the king’s palace
An imposing building of what used to be the residence of the late King Nikola and the royal family was built in 1900 and then later transformed into a Heritage Museum in 1951.
Located within the town’s center and beside the main park, it’s hard to miss this striking building of the enormous cultural and historical significance.
The museum showcases archaeological, ethnological and historical collections testifying Montenegrin long and turbulent history.
Besides the museum, there is also an Art Gallery frequently having various Montenegro-themed art installations at the display, as well as the library. To enter the premises of the palace, you’ll have to pay 2.50 euro for the ticket.
Climb your way up to the grandiose cathedral
Right next to the Heritage Museum stands St. Basil of Ostrog Orthodox Cathedral, a memorial temple dedicated to the fallen Montenegrin and Herzegovinian heroes who died fighting against the Ottoman Empire.
Situated on the top of the pine-covered hill, this 34-meter-tall temple certainly is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings in Niksic.
Made exactly 120 years ago, the temple is equally magnificent both inside and out. Giant chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the delicate iconostasis painted in a realistic manner add to the cultural importance and beauty of this unique Orthodox Christian temple.
Hike up the Trebjesa hill
In the vicinity of the town’s center stands the natural trademark of Niksic, Trebjesa hill.
The hill is the most popular place for doing sports, exercising, hiking or just taking an unrushed afternoon walk before or after the sun goes down. If you want to stay fit while on the road, Trebjesa hill is where you need to be heading.
On the top of the hill, there is also a hotel with a beautiful terrace placed under the tall pine trees, as well as the observation point with the view extending all the way through the Niksic plain.
It will obviously take some effort getting up the hill, but it will, needless to say, be worth it as you can compensate the lost calories with the taste of the exquisite national cuisine and breathtaking view!
See the odd but beautiful Communist Partizan Monument
With their peculiar design and distinctive construction, the Yugoslav-era socialist-realist monuments (spomeniks) attract the attention of admirers all around the world.
One of those is placed right under the Trebjesa hill at the end of the walking trail, on the same spot where Italian fascists murdered 32 local soldiers.
This magnificent construction is dedicated to all the individuals who lost their lives during the Second World War fighting for freedom against fascism. For more details, read here.
Work your way up to the imposing fortress settlement
Rising above the town’s main boulevard, Bedem Fortress is one of the must-see places when stopping by Niksic.
Erected by the Ottomans after they conquered the town on the remains of what used to be Romanic Gothic cathedral, nowadays the fortress is regarded as a state-protected national historical monument of extensive cultural importance.
Bedem Fortress attests to this area’s long and often turbulent past, and passing through the ancient walls and towers feels like reliving ancient history all over again.
Aside from being an observation point from which the entire town is visible, the fortress also regularly hosts various cultural events such as live concerts, performances, poetry nights, and more.
The most popular event held between the walls of the fortress is the music festival called Bedem Fest, taking place in August each year. With a 10-year-old tradition, the festival has brought many musicians and artists from all around the Balkans, promoting unity and peace as the main ideas of this festival.
Take the advantage of the town’s oasis
One of Niksic’s main draws is its incredibly beautiful lakes and their surroundings, and it’s no surprise that one of the local favorite things to do in Niksic is get out and enjoy the nearby scenery.
Krupac Lake is the locals’ favorite getaway location. A short drive from the town’s center will bring you to the charming artificial lake, initially created for the producing electricity.
Today, the lake is used for various activities — whether you want to hang loose and sip a cup of coffee or pint of beer in a romantic ambiance of the pine forest around the lake, do some jogging, or even embark on a water sports adventure like kayaking, this lake provides it all! Its sand beach, bar, restaurant, and crystal clear water are the real paradise for the locals searching to cool off.
There are also water polo and swimming schools available, as well as equipment for trying out different water sports. On the other side of the dam, locals usually gather under the shade of the tall trees for barbecuing or spending some quality Montenegrin-style leisure time relaxing in nature.
Each August, the area behind the dam hosts one of the most popular alternative music festivals in Montenegro called Lake Fest. Gorgeous nature combined with the sounds of the best regional music stars creates a special experience and adds to the list of reasons to visit Niksic!
Check out Jaguar’s lake of choice
On your way towards the seaside, you’ll notice Slano Lake, another artificial lake surrounded with steep, rocky terrain and wild nature.
Far less touristy than Krupac Lake and with far fewer amenities available around it, Slano Lake still offers the breathtaking sunsets and the opportunity to experience unspoiled, wild nature of Montenegro.
The fact that the British automobile giant Jaguar chose Slano Lake for testing and promoting their first SUV car model, F-Pace, undoubtedly speaks about the beauty and uniqueness of this place!
The sights of copious mountains and hills, as well as several tiny islets making up this lake, make taking some jaw-dropping photographs here almost mandatory.
Witness a 150,000-year-long history
Potentially one of the most significant archeological sites in all of Europe is located 30 kilometers away from downtown Niksic.
Red Rock Cave and archeological site (Crvena Stijena in Montenegrin) testifies to the life of first early human societies dating back up to 150,000 years in the past.
The archeological findings of Red Rock will give visitors the opportunity to fathom the idea of life and development of civilizations through Middle Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic as well as the Bronze Ages.
Swing by a 120-year-old brewery
It’s is quite impossible for beer lovers not to try Niksicko beer while staying in Montenegro — so visiting the brewery where it’s made is one of the best things to do in Niksic for beer fans!
Since 1896 when the production first started, Niksicko beer has been the trademark of Montenegro. Besides being the Montenegrins’ favorite, it been well known and enjoyed all around Balkans ever since. Large quantities of Niksicko beer are nowadays exported to France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and England.
If wondering about the process of top-notch beer production, you can drop by the Trebjesa brewery, located only a few hundred meters away from the downtown area, and see for yourself where the magic happens.
Trying some high-quality beers and being able to experience its creation firsthand is every beer enthusiast’s dream come true. You should check out the Trebjesa brewery website to request a guided visit beforehand.
Have a drink at Propaganda Bar
One thing that Niksic has no lack of are most definitely bars, pubs, and cafes! With an abundance of places for enjoying that first-morning espresso or third mug of a beer, there is a pretty big variety to choose from.
The place that stands out for its uniqueness, quirkiness, and distinctive cultural concept is Propaganda Bar. Positioned right behind King Nikola’s monument, with a charming, colorful veranda overlooking the entire main square, Propaganda Bar is known to be one of the locals’ favorite spots to hang out in all of Niksic.
What sets this place apart is the variety of events, such as movie screenings and live gigs with both aspiring local musicians as well as musicians from all over the world. Also, this place is known for great coffee, alcoholic beverages, and a rather exceptional choice of cocktails.
Do you really need any more reasons to come by and check this place out firsthand?
Feel the funky vibes at Floyd
Only a block away from Propaganda Bar, you’ll run into a comfortable yet quite bold and intriguing bar named Floyd.
Despite being in the heart of the downtown, its enclosed terrace under the dense branches of the chestnut trees will give you the impression of being far away from the city center. Bright purple walls covered with eccentric drawings will seem like a call to come inside and check this place out.
Among the main reasons why the youth of Niksic opts for Floyd Bar is certainly a great choice of music: ranging from diverse funk, disco, and techno music, here the most prominent local DJs play the nightly tracks, giving a rhythm to the crowd dancing the night away.
Check out the impressive Emperor’s Bridge
Assembled in 1894, the Emperor’s Bridge was among the most architecturally valuable constructions in Montenegro at the time of its creation and is an essential thing to see in Niksic.
Aside from its architectural importance, this bridge symbolizes Montenegrin fight for freedom from almost five centuries of Ottoman rule.
Today rather forgotten, the Emperor’s Bridge has a quite impressive construction of 18 spans extending over the area of 270 meters. Each of the bridge’s pillars has one gold coin inside, as the king Nikola I ordered during the construction of the bridge.
This remarkable, bridge represents one of the most significant historical monuments in the entire country and it definitely deserves being on every traveler’s itinerary.
Where to Stay in Niksic
Budget: For an affordable double room at approximately $30 USD a night, you’ll enjoy the well-reviewed Aparthotel Koliba, with beautiful surroundings on the outskirts of Niksic, 10 kilometers from the city – a perfect place to stay if you have a car and are planning on visiting nearby Ostrog Monastery as well. Breakfast is included, and there is a tasty restaurant on-site serving traditional Montenegrin classics.
Boutique: For a room smack-dab in the center of Niksic at a mid-range price, look no further than Garni Hotel Atrium. Garni is a trusted small hotel chain with fabulous hotels in Montenegro and Serbia, offering gorgeous boutique-quality accommodations at a budget price; it’s one of our favorite small chains in the region, as you get a lot of bang for your buck, and the reviews for this one in Niksic are fabulous.
What to Bring with You to Montenegro
If you’re planning a trip to Montenegro, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more, check out our complete Montenegro packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We recommend the Lonely Planet Western Balkans which includes Montenegro but also Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in cities and towns in Montenegro is drinkable, especially in touristic towns such as in Kotor, Budva, and Zabljak, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter regardless.
It’ll help to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Montenegrin bus and car rides can be winding and cause motion sickness! If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Water shoes: While some beaches in Montenegro is sandy, many more beaches in Montenegro are rather pebbly. Pebble beaches are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the pebble seafloor is what creates that gorgeous deep turquoise-colored water that is hard to beat, as the lack of sand means you have incredibly clear water. However, on the other hand, pebble beaches and rocky shores can be downright painful!
Our friend recently cut his foot on a rocky beach in Croatia; had he been wearing water shoes, he’d have avoided such unpleasantness! We suggest these unisex water shoes. They’re not sexy, but they will make your trips to the beach far more pleasant!
– Travel safety items. We think Montenegro is very safe to travel, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Stephanie or I use these.
Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack. It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Montenegro Travel Resources
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.
Finally, if you’ll be headed to Montenegro as part of a larger trip around the Balkans, check out our Balkan currency guide which explains how money and tipping work in the different countries here.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Finally, make sure you always travel to Montenegro with a valid travel insurance policy. Montenegro is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses!
For travel insurance, we use World Nomads. We’ve been happy customers of theirs for almost three years, and we’re happy to refer them to anyone we meet.
Nikola M. is a native Montenegrin, English teacher, and political scientist writing about a variety of social topics. He particularly takes pleasure in traveling, discovering new places, and exploring cultural differences in the process. He is passionate about animal rights and environmental protection. He also enjoys cinematography, discovering new music, and cooking.