Montenegro is a small but beautiful country bordered by Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo & Albania! Its Southern Coast opens up to the Adriatic Sea.
With a plethora of things to do in Montenegro and amazing sights to see, one of the best ways to see and experience this beautiful country is to rent a car and drive around, staying at the little villages and national parks along the way.
My sister & I on a backpacking tour across Europe actually rented a car in Dubrovnik, Croatia, drove into Montenegro for a few days and then back to Split in Croatia via Bosnia & Herzegovina.
We barely touched the surface of things to do in Montenegro and after what I’ve seen so far I definitely want to go back to experience more!
Here are my top 10 things to do in Montenegro including the places we visited and further research on the places I plan to go!
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Top 10 Things to Do in Montenegro; TL;DR
- Kotor Bay & Old Town
- St John Fortress
- Kotor Serpentine
- Mount Lovcen
- Lipa Cave
- Sveti Stefan
- Lake Skadar
- Ostrog Monastery
- Tara River Canyon & Nevidio Canyon
- Durmitor & Biogradska Gora National Parks
Kotor Bay is pretty much the very first thing you come across when driving along the Southern Coast of Montenegro.
You can stop off at Herceg Novi (see my section on other places to visit in Montenegro below), or just keep driving on the E65 around the bay of Kotor.
It is quite simply breathtakingly beautiful!
To be honest we witnessed the full beauty of Kotor Bay completely by accident! As you drive past the largest section of the bay, you can cut across to Kotor via a ferry which means you don’t have to drive the full way around the bay.
However, we missed the turn off to the ferry and so decided just to continue driving.
We stopped at a viewpoint to take a photo and noticed a little cafe/restaurant called Verige 65 and decided to have a drink. Are we glad that we did. The view of the inner part of Kotor Bay was fantastic!
A beautiful lagoon decorated with a majestic mountainous background and small beautiful old towns dotted along the shores. We could see the town of Perast across the water which we got to see close up on our boat trip the next day.
Then, as we sipped our drinks, a pod of dolphins swam past! It couldn’t have been more beautiful!
We then continued around the bay to Kotor, where we stayed within walking distance of the old town.
Things to do in Old Town Kotor include;
Kotor Bay is so beautiful, it’s a must do to jump on a boat and experience it by sea. The lady we rented our room from recommended a friend and we had an incredible time!
For 80 Euros (a little pricey I know), we sped out into the bay singing along to Abba tunes and with our very friendly captain giving us some history and legends of our surroundings.
As we crossed the bay, we came to a stop at the beautiful little town of Perast which is so old archaeologists believe the first settlements here were Neolithic.
Not far from the shores of Perast is the Island of St George which houses the St George Benedictine Monastery and is closed to the general public.
It is here our captain told us the legend of Perast!
Back in the early 1800’s Napoleon’s troops had captured Kotor Bay and used the Island of St George as a military garrison. It was here that Franz, a young French soldier, fell for Katya, a Montenegrin girl from Perast.
Deeply in love, Katya and Franz met secretly and vowed to marry.
When the Perast townsfolk came together to drive the French from their land, Franz was ordered to fire a cannon to end the uprising. He fired one solitary shot from the Island of St George, which devastatingly killed his beloved Katya.
The townsfolk of Perast buried Katya on the Island of St George and so Franz decided to become a monk to stay close to his beloved Katya. Every night on her grave he would light dozens of candles.
One night the people of Perast could see the candles no more and the next morning found Franz dead on the grave of his beloved. In his hand, a note, asking to be buried alongside her.
Still to this day the monks light candles on the graves of Katya and Franz which if you look closely can be seen from the shores of Perast.
And if that wasn’t legendary enough, we then heard the story of how the small man made islet The Lady of the Rock came about.
On the 22nd July, back in the mid 1400’s, two seamen found the icon of Madonna & child on a rock in the bay. Every time they returned from a successful voyage they would lay another rock until over time the islet gradually emerged from the sea.
This has continued ever since and every year, at sunset on July 22nd, the locals have an event called ‘Fasinada’ and sail out to the island to lay more rocks gradually widening the surface of the island.
Nowadays the island houses a church, a museum, a gift shop and a navigation light.
Altogether, the charming town of Perast, along with the two small islets and their legends makes for a fantastic day out in Kotor Bay!
That’s not it for Kotor though. Before heading off to explore other parts of Montenegro be sure to take a walk around the old town!
Surrounded by city walls and huge gates, the old town is made up of gorgeous little narrow streets and big squares dominated by churches and medieval buildings.
One of the best preserved Medieval old towns in the Adriatic, Kotor old town is a double UNESCO World Heritage site.
With 3 main entrances in and out of the city walls, each street takes you to the impressive Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kotor, which covers the entire Bay of Kotor and Municipality of Budva.
The town has another 3 churches, multiple palaces, theaters and museums, all hidden in plain sight as you wander through the beautiful squares exploring the many boutiques, shops and restaurants.
Although I eyed up the fort, we ran out of time and had to continue on our journey without exploring this awesome hike. (I’ll just have to go back).
Open from 8am – 8pm, the fort is 1350 steps up the mountain side and after a day exploring the old town, while having an evening drink on the balcony, I watched two young guys run up and back down!
The views from the top are spectacular so if you’re feeling fit and adventurous this could be the thing for you.
Although its officially open from 8am, our boat captain suggested you could walk up anytime as it’s an open path. However, be extremely careful and be sure to read guides by experienced hikers as there are various routes based on your skills, fitness and levels of risk adversity.
The Kotor Serpentine is an 8.3km steep stretch of road on route from Kotor to Cetinje. With 16 hairpin turns, it’s a narrow one lane road which would challenge even the most confident of drivers.
Although it’s not in great condition, and therefore recommended to tackle by day rather than in the dark, you will see the most stunning views of Kotor Bay on route.
Once you’re through the Serpentine, if you intend to drive straight to Cetinje, you’ll still need to navigate the rest of the main P1 Road which remains narrow with plenty more hairpin turns, although on a lovely morning is a beautiful ascent with scarce traffic.
From the top of the Serpentine, before heading on to Cetinje, you can take a different route and head up to Mount Lovcen, home of the highest mausoleum in the world, the Petar Petrovic Njegos Mausoleum.
Here you’ll come across unrivaled views of the Bay of Kotor and the Black Mountains. Some locals say you can see the whole country from here!
You’ll be able to drive some of the way and then hike up the main plateau to take in the views.
While there, be sure to visit the mausoleum of the Montenegrin’s people’s hero Petar Petrovic Njegoš. Not only did he keep much of Montenegro from falling to Turkey, he wrote many national poems and literature. He believed in “justice, freedom, and the dignity of Man and nations”.
If you like you could spend a night or two camping here, rent a bike or an ATV, have a family picnic or simply hike the day away!
Lipa Cave is one of the biggest caves in Montenegro containing 2.5km of big halls and passageways, and full of stalagmites and stalactites.
Millions of years old, it’s the only cave in Montenegro open for organized visits, and tours typically last around an hour.
One of the things I love to do with my daughter when we visit caves is to try to see animal shapes in the rocks. It’s a fun game and makes the visits even more interesting!
Lipa cave is only a few kilometers from the town of Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro before it became part of Yugoslavia in 1918.
Surrounded by limestone mountains, Cetinje is situated in a karst field around 7km2, which basically means it’s beautiful!
If you love a bit of history and culture, it’s definitely worth spending a few hours here.
Sveti Stefan is an exquisite little islet off the mainland coast about 8km from Budva Riviera.
Due to its location and charm, sometime back in the mid 90’s, the government decided to oust the local villagers who lived there and turn the island into a luxury destination for upscale tourism.
It was a hit with celebrities who visited in their drives through the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Margaret, Marilyn Monroe, Sly Stallone and more, all stayed in Sveti Stefan for their vacations.
In 2007, post Yugoslavian rule, Aman resorts took over the island and restored it to its former glory, opening once again only for the most discerning of tourists!
If you have upwards of $800/night to spend, this resort would most certainly be the place to stay. However, as of writing in 2022, it’s currently closed with no indication of when it will reopen.
Keep your eye on their website for further details.
To be honest, Lake Skadar needs a blog post all on its own, but I would allow two days of your Montenegrin trip to explore this huge lake which straddles the Albanian border.
One of the largest lakes in Central Europe, Lake Skadar, otherwise known as Lake Scutari, Lake Shkodër and Lake Shkodra, is Europe’s largest bird reserve.
The best way to explore the lake is to stay in the quaint town of Virpazar located on the shore and take a boat cruise.
Choose a shallow bottomed wooden boat so as to explore the shallower areas of water and stop off at Monasteries, ruined fortresses and even an old prison.
You can even stop for wine and cheese at the local wineries. What a fab day out!
To view the lake from different perspectives you can also hire bikes and cycle across one of the trails, go hiking or even take a kayak out and stop at one of the freshwater beaches for a few hours.
Pavlova Strana is the most famous viewpoint at Lake Skadar. It’s a huge bend in the Crnojević River and can be accessed via the small town of Rijeka Crnojevica.
If you’re looking for a unique experience, visiting the Ostrog Monastery in the Danilovgrad Municipality is highly recommended.
Built into the caves of the Ostroška beć u Crnoj Gori mountain, the gleaming white Ostrog monastery stares out from the vertical cliff face over the Zeta valley some 900m below.
The most important orthodox site in Montenegro, the monastery attracts over a million visitors a year, many on a pilgrimage, giving the dramatic structure a peaceful air of serenity and spirituality.
The best way to explore the monastery is to drive up the winding, narrow and slightly scary road to the lower monastery and then walk the 3km up through the forest to the upper section, where you’ll find toilets and coffee machines etc.
Please remember it is a practicing monastery so dress accordingly!
Billed as the second deepest canyon, second only to the grand canyon, Tara Canyon is actually only 1333m (4373ft) deep. A ways off from the deepest canyon which is around 7620m (25k ft) feet deep (and not the grand canyon which is about 1800m – 6k ft).
However, even if it’s not making any Guinness books of record, it’s still a beautiful sight which flows through magnificent limestone densely forested gorges.
The rafting season is from April – October with the best time being as the snow melts during spring, which means the rapids are at their peak!
If you don’t fancy rafting, other adventures include kayaking, horse riding, or taking a 150m zipline from the Đurđevica bridge, standing majestically over the river!
Just over an hour south is the 3500m long Nevidio canyon. Carved into the rocks by the River Komarnica which disappears into the gorge, it was called ‘Nevidio’ meaning ‘unable to be seen’ or ‘invisible’.
The best way to explore the canyon is of course to climb, swim, jump & canoe!
If you like tight spaces, you’ll love the Kamikaze Gate which is only 25cm wide for 80m!
If instead, you prefer something a little less physical, take a walk through the forests of the Dragišnica and Komarnica Nature Parks.
Montenegro has five national parks. I’ve already touched on Mount Lovcen and Skadar Lake, but while there it’s also worth your time visiting Durmitor National Park and Biogradska Gora National Park.
Durmitor National Park is in the North West of Montenegro and is part of the Dinaric Alps. At 150sq miles, it’s the largest protected area in Montenegro.
You’ll want at least 2 or 3 days to drive around and explore this region. From beautiful lakes (18 glacier lakes in total), mountain hikes, winery tours, some of the best kept secrets in Europe include;
Zabljak – Town in the center of the Durmitor region. Great place to stay and explore the sights from.
Bobotov Kuk – Mountain Hike
Durmitor Ring – 85km drive
The Biogradska Gora National Park is one of the last three oldest growth forests in Europe. The park itself is 5400 acres and houses the magnificent glacial Lake Biograd.
Hike the park, have a picnic and explore the lake by boat for a wonderful, relaxing day out.
Originally founded as a fortress in a small fishing village, the mediaeval town of Herceg Novi has been influenced by many cultures over the years.
It was ruled for 200 years by the Ottomans, then the Republic of Venice, Austria, Russia, France, Yugoslavia and finally Montenegro (with a few other annexes along the way).
This has resulted in a diverse mix of culture and architecture, making it a popular tourist destination. Known for its spas and healing mineral springs, you’ll also find signature narrow winding streets leading to ancient churches & monasteries.
Forte Mare and the huge tower of Kani Kula are the most famous tourist attractions.
If a more luxurious destination floats your boat (so to say), the opulent Porto Montenegro is worth a visit.
Home of the superyacht, Porto Montenegro houses one of the most prestigious marinas in the Adriatic.
Walk along the marina, shop in the boutique stores or simply enjoy coffee or lunch in the Venetian inspired ambience of the billionaire lifestyle!
Budva is a holiday town. Driving and parking is a bit of a nightmare and it’s very commercialized, however, the Budva Riviera is a lovely place to stroll and experience some Montenegrin fare!
The old town is worth a walk around in the evening and if you love cats, the people of Budva will love you!
I wouldn’t rush back here as there are so many more beautiful places to visit in Montenegro, but if you’re doing a week long road trip, it’s worth stopping off and grabbing a boat trip around the bay.
The blue cave is one of the largest caves along the Lustica Peninsula and if you’re taking a boat trip out of Budva, it’s on the list of attractions to see.
It’s big enough for a small boat to sail right inside and then you can jump out and do some swimming and snorkeling.
Be sure to dive down as far as you can go, facing the entrance to get the full effect of the light coming through the cave entrance and creating the beautiful blue effect.
Neither Croatia or Montenegro are known for their amazing beaches. However, Becici Beach is a long stretch of sandy beach, with a shallow incline into the sea and clear, pristine Adriatic waters.
You can rent sun loungers and umbrellas and with a backdrop of the beautiful Montenegrin mountains behind you, Becici beach is a perfect place for a relaxing day at the beach.
You’re forgiven for thinking I’m recommending somewhere to stop and have a drink!
In fact Bar is a town along the South Coast of Montenegro and Stari Bar is the old town of Bar, about a 5km trek from the new town.
Stari Bar has a rich history having been ruled by a variety of countries over the centuries. Following an earthquake in 1979 which destroyed the aqueduct supplying mains water to the town it was finally abandoned. To this day it lies in ruins.
Definitely worth a visit, you’ll come across the old fortress walls, towers, cobble stoned pathways, gates and tunnel remains.
While you’re down on the South Coast, it’s worth heading to Ulcinj for a day or two.
Known as having the best beaches in the country, Ulcinj is home of the famous Velika Plaza, or Long Beach.
Velika Plaza is a sandy beach which stretches for 13km (8miles) and is a lovely shallow slope into the sea. You can also hike from Long Beach to Small Beach, which houses many restaurants, bars and cafes to finish off a perfect day.
I couldn’t write a ‘things to do in Montenegro’ post without including its capital, Podgorica.
Podgorica was originally on our list of places to visit during our super fast road trip to Montenegro, but as I researched it, I decided there were better places to go. The more I have read about it since, the happier I am that we decided not to take time out to visit.
On my return I will go and see it for myself to see if it’s as dull and lifeless as people say, but for now I’m only including it here because it’s the capital.
Most people will say the best time is during the summer months – June – August, and sure if you want highs of 35°C, premium prices and masses of tourists, be my guest.
Personally I recommend September/October as the best time to visit Montenegro.
The temperature will have dropped to the mid 20’s. Many tourists will have gone home, flights will be cheaper, accommodation will be cheaper and you’ll have a much more enjoyable time.
If you prefer spring time then go just before summer in April or May. Once again it will be slightly cooler, less busy and more reasonably priced.
There is no shortage of hotels, hostels or Airbnb in Montenegro, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.
I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.
If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.
Here’s where we stayed in Kotor & Budva.
J&P Apartments – Kotor – $90/night – Fantastic location, just 2 minutes from the Old Town. Nice clean rooms, whole apartment with kitchen, lounge and even a washing machine. Plus the owner was super nice and recommended the boat tour we took across Kotor Bay.
Avala Resort & Villas – Budva – $200/night – We were looking for a decent hotel with a pool etc, so we could have a relaxing afternoon. Therefore we chose a slightly more expensive hotel. The room was fantastic, in fact it was more of a suite than a room. The location was brilliant, right by the beach and the old town. Great pool and super friendly staff. The downside was the parking was a bit challenging, but doable.
As I said above, a boat trip across Kotor Bay to Perast or Our Lady of the Rocks is an absolute must do!
There are plenty to choose from, but we paid 80 euros for a guy recommended by the lady we rented the apartment from. He had a lovely little speedboat and played any music you liked while speeding through the bay.
He also chatted about the places we were seeing and told us legends and stories. Really nice lad, highly recommended. Best part? When I called, they were available to take us right away and had other cheaper tours on offer also.
You can get more details (and see my 5 star review) here – Sea & Sun Adventure Tours
Other tours in Montenegro include;
- The best way to get around Montenegro is without doubt by car or RV. There are buses and taxis, but in the long run, trying to get everywhere you want to go is going to end up costing a fortune or taking hours of travel. It is doable, but not ideal. Cheap car hire is everywhere. I recommend discovercars.com, but they’re not the only kid on the block. Do your due diligence and you’ll find a car for a great price.
- If you really don’t want to hire a car I recommend you use the Montenegro bus system which is pretty good and will get you to most places. Then when going off the beaten track, grab a taxi (no uber), or book a specific tour.
- Carry plenty of cash. The currency in Montenegro is Euro (even though they’re not part of the EU, yet) and although many places accept credit cards, there are still lots of places who don’t!
- As with Dubrovnik, Montenegro is built on mountains! That means there are a lot of hills and steps. Be aware if backpacking or carrying heavy luggage the chances are you’ll have to lug it up and down a big set of steps to your hotel, so pack light!
- Wifi was pretty good everywhere we went. I had no issues connecting or jumping on facetime etc.
- Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. A sim in Montenegro will cost around $15 for 500GB of data. A lot more expensive than Asia, but likely cheaper than roaming from your own country. It’s worth checking with your phone company before traveling.
- If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
- Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps!
It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!
The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.
Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!
Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.
Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.
Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.
Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.
Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.
Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.
Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.
I’m generally a very light packer and on this trip my backpack was unusually heavy as I was returning to Phuket, Thailand from a 3 month stint in the UK via a trip around Europe!
However, for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;
Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan
Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Travel size body moisturiser
Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;
2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Montenegro is in Eastern Europe along the Adriatic Coast, bordered by Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Albania. It’s separated from Italy, which lies opposite, by the Adriatic Sea.
Montenegro is a very safe city even for solo female travelers.
As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).
But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Montenegro it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.
Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.
The official currency of Montenegro is the Euro. Be sure to take some cash with you as not all places accept card payments as yet.
Montenegrin is the official language, however many people speak Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Albanian or a mix thereof.
While there we chatted with a barman who told us the various languages across the country were more akin to a change in dialect, than to a completely different language.
In the summer Montenegro uses CEST (Central European Summer Time) as their time zone, meaning they’re 2 hours ahead of UTC.
In the Winter from 30th Oct to 27th March, they use Central European time, making them only 1 hour ahead of UTC.
Other than the breathtaking views of lakes and mountains, the ancient towns and cities steeped in a rich and diverse cultural history, the fantastic Mediterranean food, gorgeous summer weather and friendly local inhabitants, there is so much to do and see in Montenegro.
From cycling, horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, swimming, sailing, canyoning, rafting, wine tasting, sightseeing or even just simply driving around, this country has something for everyone.
I can’t wait to return to this lovely tiny country and explore even further.
Some of the places I did see, such as Kotor Bay with its huge lagoon & soaring mountains, took my breath away and made me realize how much more there is to do and see here.
The Dalmatian coastline has such a rich history and a diverse cultural background that you’re constantly experiencing old and new together.
When I return I will hire a car, as I did this time, and take a good two weeks to travel around and take in all the sights and sounds, as even though it’s such a small country there are a lot of experiences to be had! .
I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Montenegro useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!