Insider's Guide: 20 Best Things to Do in Montenegro

Montenegro is a country that offers something for everyone. Whether you're a history buff, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to relax and unwind, Montenegro has it all. From exploring the charming old town of Kotor to marveling at the natural wonders of Tara Canyon and Lake Skadar, here are the top things to experience in Montenegro.

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Foto: Shutterstock
Foto: Shutterstock

Key Highlights

  • Montenegro offers stunning landscapes, fromaggy mountains to beautiful beaches.
  • Kotor's Old Town is a-visit destination, with its UNESCO World Heritage status and charming architecture.
  • Hiking to St. John's Fortress in Kotor provides breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor.
  • Adventure seekers will love rafting in Tara Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe.
  • Sveti Stefan, an island resort, and Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans, offer serene and picturesque experiences.
  • Montenegro's cultural heritage can be explored through sites like Ostrog Monastery and Cetinje, the old royal capital.

1. Uncover the Charm of Kotor's Old Town

Kotor old town
Kotor old townfoto: Shutterstock

Kotor old town is a captivating destination that takes visitors back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a maze of narrow streets, ancient buildings, and hidden squares. Walking through the town feels like stepping into a fairy tale, with its medieval architecture and picturesque views of the bay.

st.tryphon is an old catholic cathedral
st.tryphon is an old catholic cathedralfoto: Shutterstock

Don't miss the chance to explore the town walls, which offer panoramic vistas of Kotor and the surrounding mountains. And if you're a cat lover, be sure to visit the Kotor Cats Museum, dedicated to the town's feline residents.

2. Journey to the Peak of St. John’s Fortress

view from the fortress
view from the fortress foto: Shutterstock

Kotor's St. John's Fortress is a must-visit for panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor. Here's what you need to know about this stunning hike:

  • The hike to St. John's Fortress begins at Kotor's city walls and takes about 90 minutes to two hours.
  • The trail consists mostly of stairs, so be prepared for a bit of a workout.
  • The best time to start the hike is in the morning when it's cooler and less crowded.
  • As you ascend, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the bay and the surrounding mountains.
  • Once you reach the top, take some time to soak in the beauty of the landscape and capture photos of the sunrise turning everything into shades of gold.

3. Adventure Awaits in Tara Canyon’s Rapids

tara river - biggest canyon in europe
tara river - biggest canyon in europefoto: Shutterstock

Tara Canyon is a paradise for adventure seekers. As the deepest canyon in Europe and the second deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon, Tara Canyon offers an exhilarating white-water rafting experience. Here's what you need to know:

  • Tara Canyon is located in Durmitor National Park in northwest Montenegro.
  • The canyon's crystal-clear waters and stunning natural beauty make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Late spring and early summer are the best times to experience the thrilling rapids of the Tara River.
  • Rafting trips are available for all skill levels, from beginners to experienced rafters.
rafting is popular activity at tara river
rafting is popular activity at tara riverfoto: Shutterstock

4. Discover the Enchantment of Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan is a small island resort that has captured the hearts of travelers from around the world.

Sveti stefan peninsula is centuries old settlement
Sveti stefan peninsula is centuries old settlementfoto: Nacionalna turistička organizacija Crne Gore

Connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway, Sveti Stefan is a picturesque retreat with its stone houses and orange roofs. Here's what you need to know:

  • Sveti Stefan was once a fishing village, but it has been transformed into a luxury resort.
  • The island has a rich history, dating back to the 15th century when it was a fortified village.
Sveti Stefan
foto: Privatna arhiva
  • Today, Sveti Stefan is home to the Aman Sveti Stefan resort, where guests can enjoy a luxurious stay in a stunning setting.
  • While you can't visit the island unless you're a hotel guest, you can still admire its beauty from a distance and enjoy the nearby beaches and restaurants.
  • For the best views of Sveti Stefan, head to the beach and watch the sunset over the Adriatic Sea – it's a truly magical experience.

5. Serenity on Lake Skadar

skadar lake is tranquil and serene
skadar lake is tranquil and serene foto: Shutterstock

Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and a haven for nature lovers. Here's why it should be on your Montenegro itinerary:

  • Located on the border between Montenegro and Albania, Lake Skadar offers stunning natural beauty and a peaceful atmosphere.
  • The lake is surrounded by rugged mountains and dotted with small islands, providing a picturesque backdrop for your visit.
  • Taking a boat trip on the lake is one of the best ways to explore its wonders, from cruising through the wetlands to spotting a variety of bird species.
  • Lake Skadar is also home to several wineries, where you can sample local Montenegrin wines and indulge in delicious regional cuisine.

6. Perast’s Timeless Tranquility

Perastfoto: Shutterstock

Perast is a charming coastal town that offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds. Here's why you should visit:

  • Perast is a small town located on the Bay of Kotor, known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and stunning views of the bay.
  • The town's main attraction is the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks, a man-made island with a picturesque church that can be reached by boat.
  • Perast's old town is a maze of narrow streets and charming stone houses, perfect for leisurely strolls and exploration.
perast square
perast squarefoto:
  • The town also offers beautiful beaches where you can relax and soak up the Mediterranean sun.
  • Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal at one of Perast's waterfront restaurants, offering fresh seafood and stunning views of the bay.

7. Trek Durmitor National Park’s Rugged Paths

Durmitor national park
Durmitor national parkfoto: Shutterstock

Durmitor National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with its rugged mountains, glacial lakes, and pristine wilderness. Here's what you need to know:

  • Located in the Dinaric Alps, Durmitor National Park offers a wide range of hiking trails for all levels of experience.
  • From leisurely walks around Black Lake to challenging climbs up Mount Prutaš or Bobotov Kuk, there's something for everyone.
black lake - the 'eyes' of durmitor
black lake - the 'eyes' of durmitorfoto: Shutterstock
  • The park is home to breathtaking natural beauty, including 18 glacial lakes, deep canyons, and dense forests.
  • Wildlife enthusiasts will also be delighted to spot rare species such as the Eurasian lynx and brown bears.

8. Stari Bar’s Historical Footprints

old bar is where history and culture meet
old bar is where history and culture meet foto: Shutterstock

Stari Bar is a fascinating destination that takes visitors on a journey through history. Here's why it should be on your Montenegro itinerary:

  • Stari Bar, or Old Bar, is the original settlement of the town of Bar, located in southern Montenegro.
  • The town is a treasure trove of historical sites and ruins, including a fortress, churches, and a Turkish bath.
  • Stari Bar offers a glimpse into the region's rich and diverse cultural heritage, having been conquered by various civilizations throughout history.
  • Today, the town is a living museum, with locals moving back to the area and newly constructed buildings blending seamlessly with the ancient ruins.

9. Budva’s Coastal Allure

sunset at adriatic of budva coastline
sunset at adriatic of budva coastlinefoto: Shutterstock

Budva is a vibrant coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and rich history. Here's what you can expect:

  • Budva's old town is a maze of narrow streets, ancient buildings, and charming squares, offering a glimpse into its medieval past.
  • The town is also home to some of Montenegro's most beautiful beaches, with soft sand, crystal-clear waters, and a range of water sports activities.
popular mogren beach
popular mogren beachfoto: Shutterstock
  • Budva is a popular destination for party-goers, with numerous bars, clubs, and beach parties that come alive at night.
  • Don't miss the chance to visit Mogren Beach, which offers stunning views of the Budva Old Town and is often compared to Dubrovnik for its orange roofs and beachside location.

10. Biogradska Gora’s Natural Wonders

Biogradska gora - one of the last three primeval forests in Europe.
Biogradska gora - one of the last three primeval forests in Europe.foto: Shutterstock

Biogradska Gora National Park is a hidden gem in Montenegro, offering a pristine wilderness and stunning natural beauty. Here's what you need to know:

  • Biogradska Gora is the smallest of Montenegro's national parks, located near Kolašin in Eastern Montenegro.
  • The park is home to one of the last remaining virgin rainforests in Europe, with dense forests, glacial lakes, and a diverse range of flora and fauna.
  • The centerpiece of the park is Biograd Lake, a glacial lake that reflects the surrounding forest like a mirror.
  • Hiking and walking trails allow visitors to explore the park's natural wonders, including Zekova and Crna Glava peaks.
  • For a unique experience, consider staying in a traditional Montenegrin shepherd's hut, known as a katun, and immerse yourself in the park's tranquil beauty.

11. Cetinje: A Royal History

Cetinje Monastery
Cetinje Monasteryfoto: ForceMajeureMontenegro / Flickr

Cetinje is a historic town that offers a glimpse into Montenegro's royal past. Here's what you can discover:

  • Cetinje was the capital of Montenegro until 1946 when it was moved to Podgorica.
  • The town is home to several important historical sites, including Cetinje Monastery, one of the most important monuments in the country.
  • The monastery houses the remains of St. Peter of Cetinje and is a sacred place for Orthodox Christians.
  • Cetinje is also home to the National Museum of Montenegro, which showcases the country's rich cultural heritage.
National museum of montenegro
National museum of montenegrofoto:
  • Exploring the old town of Cetinje allows visitors to wander through its charming streets and admire the beautiful architecture of its buildings.

12. Spiritual Solace at Our Lady of the Rocks

Gospa od Škrpjela
foto: Siniša Luković

Our Lady of the Rocks is a unique destination that offers a blend of natural and cultural beauty. Here's what you need to know:

  • Our Lady of the Rocks is a man-made island located near the town of Perast in the Bay of Kotor.
  • Legend has it that the island was created by local fishermen who laid stones on a submerged rock and built a church in honor of the Madonna and Child.
  • The island is home to a picturesque church adorned with beautiful paintings by local artist Tripo Kokolja.
  • Visitors can take a boat trip from Perast to the island and explore the church, enjoying stunning views of the bay along the way.
  • The annual fašinada event, where locals throw stones to build up the island, is a unique tradition that takes place on July 22nd.

13. Majestic Views at Lovćen National Park

lovcen national park landscape
lovcen national park landscapefoto: Shutterstock

Lovćen National Park offers awe-inspiring views and a rich historical legacy. Here's what you can expect:

  • Lovćen National Park is located in the Dinaric Alps and offers some of the most stunning views in Montenegro.
  • The park is home to Mount Lovćen, which rises above the Bay of Kotor and offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape.
  • At the summit of Mount Lovćen, visitors can explore Njegoš Mausoleum, the tomb of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a revered figure in Montenegrin history.
Njegos mausoleum
Njegos mausoleumfoto: Shutterstock
  • The mausoleum offers an insight into Montenegro's cultural and political heritage and is a testament to the country's resilience.

Hidden Gems for the Avid Explorer

While the popular destinations in Montenegro offer plenty of attractions, there are also hidden gems waiting to be explored. From the luxury of Porto Montenegro to the secluded river houses of Ulcinj, here are some hidden gems for the avid explorer.

14. Porto Montenegro: Yacht Haven

porto montenegro is modern development with beautiful spots for coffee and food
porto montenegro is modern development with beautiful spots for coffee and foodfoto: Shutterstock

Porto Montenegro is a luxurious waterfront development that caters to the wealthy and the yacht enthusiasts. Here's what you need to know:

  • Located in Tivat, Porto Montenegro is a marina and resort complex that attracts million-dollar yachts from around the world.
  • The development offers high-end dining, shopping, and entertainment options, as well as luxury accommodations.
  • Visitors can enjoy waterfront restaurants, browse designer boutiques, and soak up the glamorous atmosphere.

15. The Secluded Splendors of Ulcinj's River Houses

Ada Bojana
foto: Shutterstock

Ulcinj is a hidden gem in southern Montenegro, offering a different cultural experience and beautiful river houses. Here's what you need to know:

  • Ulcinj is a beach town known for its multicultural history and stunning natural beauty.
  • The town is home to the Bojana River, lined with spectacular modern homes that can be rented for a fraction of the price compared to the Bay of Kotor.
  • The river houses offer a tranquil escape and a unique way to experience the beauty of Ulcinj.
  • Visitors can relax in the peaceful surroundings, explore the nearby beaches, and immerse themselves in the local culture.
  • Ulcinj's river houses are a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by those seeking a more secluded and authentic travel experience.

16. Petrovac’s Leisurely Day Out

petrovac is beautiful for family retreat
petrovac is beautiful for family retreatfoto: Shutterstock

Petrovac is a charming beach town offering a relaxed and leisurely day out. Here's what you can expect:

  • Petrovac is a quieter alternative to the bustling resorts of Budva, offering a more laid-back and authentic experience.
  • The town's small but beautiful beach is surrounded by lush forest and offers crystal-clear waters for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Petrovac's old town is a delight to explore, with its stone houses, churches, and waterfront promenade.
  • Visitors can also take a hike from Petrovac to the nearby town of Reževići, enjoying breathtaking views along the way.
  • Petrovac is the perfect destination for those seeking a leisurely day out, away from the crowds, and surrounded by natural beauty.

17. Mystique of the Blue Cave

Blue Cave
Blue Cave foto: Shutterstock

Montenegro's Blue Cave offers a magical experience for those seeking adventure and natural beauty. Here's what you need to know:

  • The Blue Cave is located on the Luštica Peninsula in the Bay of Kotor and is known for its stunning blue light.
  • The cave can only be visited when weather conditions are favorable, so it's important to check before planning a visit.
  • When the sun shines at the right angle, the cave is filled with a reflection of blue light, creating a mesmerizing experience.
  • Boat tours are available that include a visit to the Blue Cave, allowing visitors to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters.

Cultural Insights: A Dive into Montenegro’s Heritage

Montenegro is not only known for its natural beauty but also for its rich cultural heritage. From the spiritual journey at Ostrog Monastery to the ancient Roman mosaics in Risan, here are some cultural insights to explore.

18. Ostrog Monastery’s Spiritual Journey

ostrog monastery
ostrog monasteryfoto: Shutterstock

Ostrog Monastery is a place of pilgrimage and spiritual journey known for its stunning location and sacred relics. Here's what you need to know:

  • Ostrog Monastery is a 17th-century Orthodox monastery built into the cliffs of Ostroška Greda.
  • The monastery is home to the remains of St. Basil of Ostrog and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.
  • The Upper Monastery is known for its beautiful frescoes and the vine that grows from the rock.
  • Modest dress is required when visiting the monastery, and it's advisable to visit on weekdays to avoid crowds.
  • Ostrog Monastery offers a unique and spiritual experience that shouldn't be missed by those interested in Montenegro's religious heritage.

19. The Mosaic Marvels of Risan

roman mosaics in risan
roman mosaics in risanfoto: Reuters

Risan is a small town in the Bay of Kotor known for its ancient Roman mosaics. Here's what you can discover:

  • Risan was once a Roman settlement called Rhisinium, and it's home to well-preserved mosaics dating back to the second century.
  • The mosaics can be found in a villa urbana, a type of Roman villa in the middle of the city.
  • The mosaics feature geometric formations in black, white, and gray, as well as a vibrant mosaic of Hypnos, the Roman god of sleep.
  • Exploring the mosaics of Risan offers a glimpse into the region's rich history and the artistic achievements of the ancient Romans.

What’s the Best Time to Visit Montenegro?

The best time to visit Montenegro is in late spring when the weather is pleasant, and the landscape is in full bloom. Additionally, if you're a music lover, consider planning your trip in the summer months.

How Can I Experience Montenegro Like a Local?

To experience Montenegro like a local, indulge in the country's delicious cuisine, take boat trips to hidden beaches, and visit local museums and cultural sites like the town museum in Kotor.

Advice for Food Lovers in Montenegro?

For food lovers, Montenegro offers a delightful culinary experience. Be sure to try the local cuisine, including fresh seafood from the Adriatic and traditional dishes like pršut (prosciutto) and local cheeses.

How to Make the Most Out of a Short Visit?

If you're short on time, consider taking a day trip to the old city of Kotor and exploring its narrow streets and historic sites. Additionally, visiting the best places in the old city is a great way to experience Montenegro's charm.

Is Montenegro Suitable for Adventure Seekers?

Montenegro is a paradise for adventure seekers, offering thrilling activities like rafting on the Tara River, hiking in Durmitor National Park, and exploring the rugged paths of the Dinaric Alps.

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