Fantastic road trip on the coast of Montenegro

Let’s go to the beach – somewhere else and off the beaten track in Croatia and Greece: by road trip in Montenegro! Don’t miss a trip along the beautiful coast of Montenegro – from north to south (from Herceg Novi) or vice versa (from Ulcinj). Great sights like cozy “Stari Grads” (old towns), crystal clear turquoise water and great beaches are waiting for you!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Montenegro Coast Road Trip

You don’t want to miss any attraction? Find your checklists, travel guide & tips for the Montenegro road trip here:

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Speed Date

Outstanding:

The short distances in little Montenegro – in one day you can see and discover a lot

Sucks:

It is not Kotor or even worse Dubrovnik, but some places can be very touristy and crowded

DO:

Enjoy the evening after an exhausting day on the beach and sightseeing with local fish in a restaurant with sea view

DO NOT:

Do not fill up the rental car too full – depending on the provider’s regulations! Due to the overestimated size of the country we had problems to drive enough kilometres and so we finally filled up the tank much too expensive…

Don’t tell your mother:

Fortunately, the driving style of the locals is a little more relaxed on the coast than inland

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • I already know many beaches on the Mediterranean, why Montenegro? – Montenegro’s coast is at least as beautiful, depending on the place not as crowded as e.g. Greece or Croatia and the prices are a good bit cheaper
  • Can I drive the coast in one day? – Yes, from the distances, no problem. If you want to visit everything in detail or plan long beach sessions, I recommend a stopover and at least a second day
  • What is the nature of the roads? – The roads along the coast are well maintained and easy to drive. However, due to the lack of alternative routes it can be very crowded
  • The beaches are supposed to be very crowded in some places already!? – No problem, check out my “Big5 off the beaten track”
    Phew, after Dubrovnik and Kotor again Stari Grad… Really? – Yes, every old town has its special charm and location! See for yourself.

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Orga

Best travel time

The hottest months of July and August are predestined for an exuberant beach holiday, and generally good weather can be found on the Adriatic from May to October.

Arrival & Departure

Visa: Here you can check if you need a visa for Montenegro

  • Flight: Tivat International Airport (IATA: TIV; 25 minutes to Budva, 60 minutes to Herceg Novi)
  • Flight: International Airport Podgorica (TGD; 1:15 hours to Ulcinj)
  • Bus: From / to Dubrovnik (Herceg Novi: several times daily; ~ 1:30 hours, 5-17 Euro)
  • Bus: From / to Podgorica (Ulcinj: once a day; ~ 4 hours (via Budva); 10-25 Euro)
  • Bus: From / to Shkodra / Albania (Ulcinj: 3x daily ; ~ 2 hours; 5 Euro); read Katy’s experience here

The next step is to… Shkodra / Albania, Montenegro’s north or Dubrovnik / Croatia

Accommodation

  • Recommended location: Literally free choice, in Montenegro is really pleasant due to the short distances. My starting point was Cetinje, but also Kotor or the other coastal towns are suitable.
  • Budget: Montenegro Hostel B&B Kotor (Stari Grade 333, 85330 Kotor,; ~ 10€ dormitory, 30€ double room), nice hostel in the middle of the old town – a welcome rakija was also available!
  • Medium: Apartments Timoni (Stari grad bb, Ulcinj Stari grad bb, 85360 Ulcinj; ~ 35€ double room), great location near Ulcinjs old town, some rooms with sea view
  • Medium: Hotel Gradska Cetinje (Dvorski Trg 5, 81250 Cetinje; ~ 100€ double room, depending on the date), 5 stars at a reasonable price
  • Noble: Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro (Stari grad 433, 85330 Kotor; ~ 120€), extremely good location, well equipped rooms and a terrace with a magnificent view
  • Noble: Hotel Palata Venezia (Stari grad bb, 85 360 Ulcinj; ~120€ in apartment), magnificent location directly in a 2000 year old fortress of the old town of Ulcinj

Price level

Withdraw money: ATMs are available in all coastal towns

Beer indicator: 0,5 litre: 1,20 – 2,00 Euro in a normal restaurant

Costs for a taxi: 1 kilometre ~ 0,50 Euro

Petrol price: approx. 1.20 – 1.40 Euro (March 2020)

Restaurants

  • Savings tip: “Ekspres Restorani” – very cheap fast food restaurants, which can still be found in almost every tourist town
  • Tri Lipe (Stepiniste 28, Stepenište Iva Andrića, Herceg Novi 85340) – super delicious grilled food, good Balkan cuisine
  • Jadran (Slovenska Obala, Budva) – very good fish restaurant directly at the port, reasonable daily menus
  • Dukley Beach Lounge (Zavala Peninsula, 85310) – Terrace directly at the more with view to Budvas old town, rather upscale prices
  • Dulcinea (Stari Grad, Ulcinj 85360) – Terrace with great city and beach views in the medium price range

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Activities

  • Enjoy the cafés of Herceg Novi
  • Dive into the nightlife of Budva – relax on the beach during the day
  • Swim a lap off the picturesque island of Sveti Stefan
  • Be enchanted by the mystical old town Stari Bar
  • (Sun-) bathing on the beaches of Ulcinj

Attentive readers will quickly notice that Kotor Bay and Perast are somewhat left out of the equation on this route. A separate blog article is dedicated to it, for your journey, plan at least one complete day in Kotor!

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Photo spots

  • From the main square Herceg Novis to old houses and the fortress tower in the centre
  • Hotel island Sveti Stefan from the coast – best from different perspectives and at sunset! Insider tip: From the mountain Čelobrdo with great panorama – including Budva!
  • Budva Point of view / Vista Point” – Panorama with beaches and the old town
  • From Stari Bar with overgrown old walls into the landscape panorama towards the sea
  • Photographing the sea and the town from the old town of Ulcinj

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Things to do off the beaten track

  • Beach Pržno / Plavi Horizont – Located near Tivat
  • Ada Bojana – island in the very south of the country, on the border to Albania, pure nature and famous for nudist beaches
  • Mogren fortress in Budva – a little bit away from the tourist hotspots with a great view over the city
  • Swim in the Blue Grotto on the Lustica Peninsula
  • Sveti Nikola – a small, uninhabited island off Budva with great cliffs

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Culinary Journey

  • Fresh fish / seafood – if not here, then where?
  • A cool Nikšićko beer on the beach – the local delicacy, available in different variations
  • Especially in Muslim regions (e.g. Ulcinj), pigs are not used. Instead a lot of vegetables. Would you like a stew?
  • Baked onions – great side dish for meat dishes of any kind
  • Rožata – a kind of caramel pudding typical of the country

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Communication

  • Thank you- zahvaliti
  • Yes- da
  • No- ne
  • Hello/ Good day- Zdravo / Dobar dan
  • Bye/ goodbye – Zdravo / Zbogom

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Helpful Websites / Links

BIG5 Montenegro Coast – Overview Map for your road trip

What are the BIG5 on the Montenegro coast?

Sun, beach and Stari Grad – let’s go to Greece or Croatia! – No, swim against the current: take a Montenegro road trip!

Cosy old towns (“Stari Grad“), crystal clear turquoise water and beautiful beaches are waiting for you. Budva is the right place for an extended day at the beach and a pulsating nightlife. Quieter is the old town of Ulcinj near the Albanian border with nice restaurants with a view of the beach and the sea. In between, don’t forget to take one of the most popular postcard pictures of Montenegro at Sveti Stefan.

The most important thing first: Which route should you take? The best route is from north to south (Herceg Novi -> Ulcinj) or from south to north (Ulcinj -> Herceg Novi). Depending on the location of your accommodation you can – as in our case – start right in the middle of it.

Cetinje really proves to be a good starting point for the “expedition” to the coast of Montenegro. The drive to Budva takes only about 40 minutes (for 32 kilometres) and runs down a wonderful serpentine road.

Herceg Novi – Fortresses above the picturesque old town

Start of the Stari Grad expedition: Herceq Novi at the northern entrance to the Bay of Kotor.

Here you will experience a particularly impressive mix of history, culture and tradition. The fortifications in the old town are great vantage points and well worth a visit. Espanola is located a little outside, but can still be reached on foot.

Start with the fortress Kanli Kula to get an overview.
The picturesque old town of Herceg Novi is terraced and you can walk down to the sea from above. These special stairs are called “Skaline” by the locals.

There is a nice path to walk along and enjoy – the Pet Danica.
On this path you pass Forte Mare, the sea fortress and – following the coast in eastern direction – Fort Citadela.

You still have some time left and are not too tired of running up stairs and conquering fortresses? Then I recommend you to explore the city from the water. Nooo, not with the comfortable excursion boat, but in a kayak, driven by your own muscle power. You can find the kayak rental “Kayak Herceg Novi” on the beach section near Forte Mare.

Afterwards at the latest there is time for relaxation: lean back in one of the many old town cafés and let the scenery take effect on you!

Do not miss it: On the way further through the bay, the picturesque village of Perast lies before Kotor – stop and enjoy!

Budva – Stari Grad and Party

Budva – the oldest town on the coast and the centre of beach tourism in Montenegro, it can get very crowded in summer.

Free parking in the centre of Budva? Running! A little bit off the beach promenade in a side street!

Like most major coastal towns in the region, Budva has a “Stari Grad“, an old town. It offers a similar picture as in Kotor: Bright stone houses, green shutters, narrow alleys. But here, too, the increasing number of tourists is clearly noticeable and visible: groups of buses crowd through alleys and on the beach, many (fast) restaurants and souvenir shops dominate the street scene.

Budva’s old town is dominated by the citadel from the Austro-Hungarian occupation, which can be visited for a small entrance fee (~ 3 Euro).

You have particularly good views of the city and the beaches from the “Budva Vista Point“. A little further you will find the Mogren Fort, historical old fortress walls, less crowded with tourists than the old town.

Budva is known for its distinct nightlife. Even during the day you can see this in the many (beach) bars and clubs.

Sveti Stefan – Luxurious hotel island as postcard motif

Continue on the coastal road towards the south. The Stari Grad of Budva has just disappeared on the horizon, the next highlight already appears in the sea: The small island of Sveti Stefan.

In former times the island was used as a contemplative monastery, today it is a hotel with about 250 beds, only exclusively accessible for guests. Nevertheless, the island with its small houses, surrounded by walls is one of THE, if not THE photo motif of Montenegro and should therefore not be missing on our itinerary.

From the main coastal road, a small path leads through the upscale coastal districts, which have developed there since the 1950s and continue to grow up the slope opposite the island. Do not miss the access road (pay attention to the signs)!

Above the hotel complex you will also find one or the other possibility to park for free, the last meters to the beach lead down steps. The obligatory photos are taken quickly, you don’t really have to plan much time.

We used the great scenery for an extensive lunch. So, don’t forget the provisions!

Insider tip nearby: The picturesque little village of Petrovac na Moru in a bay, which has retained much of its original charm. Take a break here too and walk through the small alleys down to the beach. Visit the castle Kastio above the picturesque bay!

Bar & Stari Bar – Old town off the coast

After a further 30 kilometres or so of leisurely driving along the coast with great views of rugged cliffs and turquoise sea, you reach Bar.

Opposite the imposing orthodox cathedral with its bright golden tower roofs we leave our faithful vehicle next to the gas station (again free of charge) and walk along the beach. It is definitely not the most beautiful promenade ever, but suitable for relaxing, sunbathing and swimming.

It is Sunday and we watch a football match on the nearby artificial turf pitch. Heroes of the Montenegrin county league.

The Stari Grad of Bar (“Stari Bar“) is located a few kilometers from the coast and is also worth a visit. Also built in Venetian style, it resembles Dubrovnik and Kotor, the view from above over the surrounding landscape is magnificent, the ruins are covered with trees and thus allow a walk around at least partly in the shade.

In Bar we also have our first contact with the local police. With the Montenegrin number plate we are stopped at first, but after the first sentence in English we are immediately encouraged to continue driving with a clear hand movement. Tourists seem – at least on this day – not to be in focus.

Ulcinj – beach paradise almost in Albania

On today’s journey, literally the way is the destination. The coastal sections are absolutely gorgeous, steep cliffs, turquoise blue water in front of picturesque fishing villages.

Finding the Stari Grad by Ulcinj is indeed a bit tricky, but succeeds with the offline map in the end safely.

In the city, the streets are already much narrower and full of people. Many cars with Albanian license plates are on the road, the immediate proximity to the border is unmistakable. Ulcinj is also the place-to-be to experience much of Ottoman cultural influence in Montenegro. Minarets dominate the townscape along with church towers.

Meanwhile we are recognized “Stari Grad experts” and enter the old town of Ulcinj through a great staircase with castle gate. Crossed by many hotels with adjacent restaurants, it lies picturesquely situated above the town and the harbour.

The restaurants are not very expensive and invite you to a refreshing drink – great view over the Adriatic Sea and the sunset included.

 

So, like I was saying: Let’s go to the beach! 🇲🇪

Are you interested in a Balkan road trip? Have a look here: Balkans Road trip – Incredibly versatile adventure

 

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