8 BEST Places to Visit in Montenegro
UPDATE MAY 2020: Montenegro is the best country to travel in the Balkans. Sure, Croatia gets all the plaudits, but tourism is like that. Crowds draw more crowds. There are so many amazing places to visit in Montenegro, just next door, which is equally as beautiful as anything Croatia has to offer, but for half the price and a fraction of the tour buses! So, even if you read my damning report on Budva yesterday you could be forgiven for thinking that I don’t rate Montenegro as a great travel spot, but you’d be wrong. It’s one of the most gorgeous countries I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting and I’m already itching to go back. Check out the 6 best places to visit in Montenegro during your trip:
Getting Around Montenegro
Don’t reach touristic Budva by cruise ship, and suddenly think that’s a fair reflection on beautiful Montenegro, and don’t believe the hype about Croatia next door, and their huge marketing budget for tourism. Montenegro has so much to offer, and a week travelling around here will leave you with some of the most amazing pictures you’ve ever seen. Public transport, however, isn’t ideal in Montenegro, so I’d advise renting a car. Once you have the freedom of your car rental, you’ll have no problem visiting the best places in Montenegro.
Below, I’ve listed the best way to visit the 6 most beautiful places in Montenegro. You can see from the map, total driving time is only about 5 hours or so. You could see all 6 places in 2 or 3 days, depending on how much you want to relax on your trip. I’m a fast traveler, and I’m not good at sitting on beaches, so we took 2 days to see all 6 spots. But many holidaymakers choose to see just 1 attraction per day and spend the rest of the day chilling.
Finally, because Montenegro is a small country, it means you can have one base to see all the best places to visit in Montenegro. You don’t need to chop and change hotels, which is another reason why I love this country so much!
Ok, enough chatting, here are the 6 best places to visit in Montenegro, factor them all into your trip when you visit:
If you believe in symmetry, which I do, this is the cheese to Budva’s chalk. Where Budva has become a cliche for overhyped cruise ship tourism, Kotor is peaceful, beautiful and grateful for your visit. Kotor is a beautiful UNESCO town, with a charming old town and a bustling harbour. You can climb almost 1500 steps to the fortress overlooking the town too, for the most breathtaking views. Kotor has got so much character, use this as your base as you explore the country, you won’t regret it.
For me, this is everything I had hoped Montenegro would be. Another UNESCO town, the population is probably less than 500 people and the town is closed to cars. It’s only maybe 10km from Kotor but it’s a different world, slow, sleepy and beautiful. Out in the water, you can see two tiny islands St George and Our Lady of the Rock, where you can take boat trips out to. This is a Balkan paradise. There is one area to swim, complete with a low-key beach bar, and perhaps a couple of dozen other swimmers. My favourite place in Montenegro, hands down.
This is where you earn your travel bragging badges. It’s just over the mountain range that lurks behind Kotor and Perast, Cetinje was the former capital of Montenegro. Head to the main square and check out King Nikola’s former place, now a museum – the square is full of museums and churches actually, it’s nice to walk around.
Lovcen National Park and Njegos Mausoleum
This is an ABSOLUTE must-see when you’re in Montenegro. The national park is about a 40-minute drive from Cetinje and is dominated by Mt Lovcen, all 1750m of it. The real reason to come here, aside from nature, is Njegos Mausoleum which was built on the national parks second highest peak, Jezierski. You can drive up to the top but you’re still required to climb the final 461 steps yourself, once at the top you’re rewarded with views of up to 80% of the entire country on a clear day, it’s spectacular. The tomb is intriguing too, built within the mountain in cold marble.
The Ostrog Monastery
The Ostrog Monastery is in central Montenegro, about a 3-hour drive from Kotor, Budva etc. I rented a car to get here and it was much faster (and cheaper) although the final road up to the monastery is rife with sheer drops and bumpy roads! The monastery is like a Balkan Petra, really it’s almost that impressive. Built into the cliff, almost 1 kilometre up from the valley, I have no idea how it was built, but it’s fascinating. If you don’t want to drive you can take a tour from the tourist towns for around 30 Euro ($36).
Only 15 mins from Budva, Sveti Stefan is often the postcard pic for Montenegro. The old town is built on an island 30m from the shore but since 2008 the island was ‘bought’ by an upmarket hotel (rooms start at $1000 per night, the beach is $65 for usage!). So it’s now closed to the public, unbelievable actually. Still, you can snap away for free and I can’t deny how impressive it is. The ‘free’ beach beside the hotel beach is pretty nice too, especially if you’re there before 9am.
Tara River Canyon
In the far north of the city, near the border with Bosnia, is the Tara River Canyon. It’s in the Durmitor National Park, and it’s actually the second longest canyon in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s just about possible as a day-trip, but it’s a long day!
Not too far from Kotor, in the east of Montenegro, and shared with neighbouring Albania, is Lake Skarda. Lake Skarda offers Montenegro’s best hiking opportunities, so if you’re keen for that, considering basing yourself in nearby Virpazar for a night or 2.
Thoughts on the best places to visit in Montenegro
For me, my next stop was Dubrovnik and it’s was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to Montenegro. I could have happily lounged around the old towns of Kotor and Perast for days on end but alas, that’s the life of a blogger.
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