Montenegro: The Ultimate Travel Guide To The Hidden Gem Of Europe
Located in the western Balkans of Europe, Montenegro is perched between Croatia, Albania, and Serbia. Although the country is rather small in size and population, it has incredible diversity. From the jagged mountains in the east to the sparkling Adriatic coastline in the west and the medieval towns scattered all across, there is a lot to see in this country. Add to that a lovely Mediterranean climate and you can imagine why we consider Montenegro to be Europe’s most underrated destination. The name Montenegro (Crna Gora in Montenegrin language) translates to “Black Mountain”, calling for mystery and adventure. In this article, we highlight the most important things to know before going to Montenegro, the 12 best places to visit in this magical country, and some proposed itineraries.
Check out our video on Montenegro to see the best things to do through our camera!
Table Of Contents
Important Things To Know
Best time to travel to Montenegro
Generally, the best time to visit Montenegro is from April to October. Though the summer months are hot and more crowded. Also, allow yourself enough time in the mountains as the weather is very unpredictable there.
Cost and currency
In itself, Montenro is an affordable travel destination. However, keep in mind that the restaurants are not as cheap as other things, so if you're looking to save as much money as possible while traveling the country, consider buying food from grocery stores and cooking.
Safety in Montenegro
Montenegro is a safe country. In the big cities you do need to watch out for pickpocketers, but there is little to no crime in the mountainous regions.
Best Places To Visit In Montenegro
If you're traveling to Montenegro and want to save time searching for directions to all of the places we mention in this article, then look no further than our custom map. Simply click on a point in the map below to get directions there for yourself!
12. Stari Bar
Situated in the south of Montenegro near the Albanian border, Stari Bar or “Old Bar” is the predecessor of the port town of Bar. Founded by Illyrians around 800 BC, this ancient town was ruled by different groups over centuries, such as the Byzantines, Slavs, Venetians, and Ottomans. Today, nearly all the 240 buildings lie in ruins and the site can be visited for a small fee. Step inside and you’ll find a small museum, many churches, mosques, a Turkish bathhouse, and a fortress. After a few hours of exploring, you can take a break outside the walls, where there is a selection of bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
11. Sveti Stefan
Of all the towns along the Adriatic coastline, Sveti Stefan is the most unique. This small fortified island village is Montenegro’s most photographed place for a good reason. From the steep slopes of the mainland, you can admire the island villas surrounded by azure waters and connected by only a narrow causeway.
10. Lipa Cave
At number 10 we have the Lipa Cave, which can be found near Montenegro’s old capital city (Cetinje). This is one of the country’s largest and most accessible caves, which is impressive since it is millions of years old. You can only visit with a guide, but tours leave multiple times per day and last about an hour each, find the schedule here. After a short road-train ride, you’ll wander around the illuminated passageways of the cave to admire the stalagmites, stalactites, and natural pillars.
9. Lake Skadar National Park
Known as the Balkan’s largest lake, Skadar is divided across both Montenegro and Albania. The Montenegrin side is by far the larger one, with approximately 400 square kilometers being protected by a national park. Home to over 180 different bird species, this is a true birder’s paradise. Most travelers just come to enjoy the breathtaking vistas, and driving around the lake to the viewpoints is an experience in itself. The most famous view is from the Pavlova Strana viewpoint, but the best view is from the Twins winery. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, we recommend going on a boat tour or kayaking. These are best undertaken on the northwestern side of the lake, where serpentine loops stop near a charming village (Rijeka crnojevića). When we were visiting Lake Skadar National Park we stayed at Apartment Radovan and we would highly recommend it!
The bustling seaside city of Budva might be Montenegro’s most popular destination to visit. Cramped with high-rise hotels, buzzing beach bars, and clanging clubs, it’s also nicknamed the “Montenegrin Miami”. During the summer, the beaches are filled with sunbathers and package holidaymakers. And while most of the city looks modern and new, there is also a beautiful old town, or “stari grad”, at the southern tip. Get lost in its marbled streets and find hidden squares, churches, and a fortress. If you’re looking for a more peaceful beach experience, head to nearby Petrovac instead.
7. Tara Canyon
Located in the northeast of the country, Tara Canyon is another impressive place to visit in Montenegro. With canyon walls reaching over 1,300 meters or 4,265 feet in some places, this is Europe’s largest and deepest canyon. The canyon is best explored from the water level and rafting is the most popular activity here. But if you’re visiting in the late summer or fall like we did, the river won’t be high enough to raft. In that case, you might want to take in the views from the Tara Bridge or from one of the zip lines over the canyon.
6. Durmitor National Park
At number 6 we have Durmitor National Park, which lies on the edge of Tara Canyon. Here, the landscape is made up of dramatic limestone peaks and glistening glacial lakes. From December to March Durmitor serves as a major ski resort, but during the summer and fall it attracts hikers and nature enthusiasts. The star attraction is undoubtedly the stunning Black Lake (Crno Jezero), which can easily be explored on foot from the nearby town of Žabljak. But for more adventure, hike to one of the surrounding mountain peaks. We hiked to Prutaš peak, which is more relaxed and less busy than Bobotov Kuk, Montenegro’s highest peak. We recommend staying at Apartment Usović, e had a great time here!
5. Herceg Novi
Heading back to the coast, Herceg Novi is situated near the Croatian border at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. This beautiful town is home to a quaint Old Town, filled with tiny squares, elegant churches, and a fortress. But for the best atmosphere, head down to the waterfront. There is a large pedestrian-only promenade lined with cafés and restaurants. There are also some pebbly beaches, where you can enjoy some of the bay’s best and cleanest swimming. But be aware that Herceg Novi is extremely hilly and to get to the beaches from the highway you’ll have to go down numerous sets of steps, which makes it very challenging for older or mobility-impaired people!