Looking for the best things to do and places to visit in Montenegro with all highlights and travel tips for the small country in the Balkans? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this Montenegro travel guide I recommend the best activities, insider tips and hidden gems in Montenegro, some of them off the beaten tourist track. Learn all about the highlights in Montenegro like the Bay of Kotor, the Durmitor National Park, the Tara Canyon or sights on the coast like UNESCO site Budva, Sveti Stefan, Bar and Ulcinj. These things to do in Montenegro and highlights should be on your bucket list for 2022!
Things to do in Montenegro & Highlights
Things to do in Montenegro & Highlights at a glance
Here you can find the best things to do in Montenegro, highlights and all places mentioned in this travel guide summarized on one map
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Things to do in Montenegro & Highlights Checklist
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Bay of Kotor
Old town of Kotor
Fortress St. Giovanni
Serpentines of Kotor
North of Montenegro
Durmitor National Park
Pluzine / Piva Reservoir
Montenegro highlights off the coast
Rock monastery Ostrog
Lovćen National Park
Prokletije National Park
Montenegro Highlight: The bay of Kotor
Kotor and the surrounding bay is my absolute recommendation for Montenegro and one of the most beautiful destinations in the Balkans. The bay is the southernmost fjord in Europe – would you have known that? The pictures with the anchored cruise ships remind at first sight more of Norway.
You have an incredible view from the adventurous serpentine road above the bay or from the Venetian fortress San Giovanni. You can reach the top via many steps above the old town. Or via a “secret” detour, where you can even save the entrance fee. You can read more about how to do this in the article Things to do in KOTOR for a perfect day.
On the way up you will also pass by Radovan, don’t miss this friendly man.
In the afternoon, you can check out the old town of Kotor. Like its quasi-big sister Dubrovnik, it was strongly influenced by the Venetians. Stroll through picturesque alleys and over the well-preserved city wall.
Stroll through the Stari Grad of Kotor
My recommendation is to climb the fortress first and visit the old town of Kotor only in the afternoon. This is anti-cyclical to the cruise ships. Yes, you read correctly. Kotor is less crowded than the old town of Dubrovnik, but still the cruise ships have discovered this great destination for themselves. When the masses of tourists crowd the old town in the morning, you’ll enjoy the view from the fortress – and all the way there!
The Bay of Kotor can be combined with southern Croatia during a Balkan round trip. After a perfect day in Dubrovnik, you can travel on to Kotor. No matter if you travel by rental car or as a backpacker. There are buses several times a day from Dubrovnik to Kotor and of course in the opposite direction.
Other great places to visit from Kotor are the picturesque village of Perast in the bay, or
Kotor and the surrounding bay are a great starting point along the coast of Montenegro. With its brilliant turquoise sea, rugged rock formations, and many offshore islands, Montenegro’s coast resembles its northern neighbor Croatia or is strongly reminiscent of Greece. Only here it is not quite as expensive and crowded.
The Adriatic coast here is only about 250 kilometers long. With a rental car or the regularly running buses you can cover this distance comfortably in one day or spend great vacation days in the picturesque towns and coastal villages. The coastal road is very well developed and easy to drive. Whether you want to explore the coast from north to south or in the opposite direction is up to you.
For example, if you start in the north from Kotor or Dubrovnik, be sure to visit the picturesque old town of Herceg Novi. Here, old fortifications, cozy squares with cafes and a relaxed beach promenade await you.
Budva is less tranquil. The city is the oldest on the coast, but nowadays it is more known for its nightlife and the many beach tourists. Accordingly, there are many hotels, bars and restaurants in the city. A visit to Budva is also worthwhile by day: the old town with a small fortress is surrounded by a walkable city wall.
Postcards motifs & Stari Grad: Sveti Stefan, Bar & Ulcinj
Just a short drive from Budva awaits the next highlight on the coast of Montenegro: Sveti Stefan. The former monastery island is now used as an exclusive hotel complex. The island with the narrow access, built with small houses, is definitely one of THE photo and postcard motifs of Montenegro – if not of the whole Balkans. You have a great view of the island from Hotel California.
You will pass many more picturesque bays. Just keep your eyes open and stop where you like it.
In Bar, the old town is not directly on the coast. After “Stari Bar” it goes a little bit uphill into the interior. But even this detour is worth it: the old town of Bar is also surrounded by a high wall. From these you have a great view of the surrounding landscape down to the sea.
Ulcinj is located in the very south of the Montenegrin coast. Here you can feel and especially see the proximity to the neighboring country Albania. In the old town of Ulcinj there are great restaurants with sea view directly on the city wall. From here you have the opportunity to end the day with a great sunset over the sea. From Ulcinj you have access to a number of great beaches on the “Montenegrin Riviera”.
The north of Montenegro is very different from the regions on the coast. And that’s what makes this small country in the Balkans so exciting: its versatility!
The most famous destination is the Durmitor National Park. It is undoubtedly one of the most impressive Montenegro sights & highlights and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site for many years. The park is known for its deep dark fir forests, high peaks and the large network of exciting hiking routes. The gateway to Durmitor National Park is the small town of Žabljak. It is considered the highest settlement in the whole Balkans. In winter the whole region is a popular ski resort. If when you think of Montenegro you rather have the image of sunny old towns and turquoise blue water in your mind, this may sound surprising at first, but what was that again? That’s right, versatility!
Through Durmitor National Park you can go on hiking tours of several days. Possible destinations for day trips include the Fish Lake (Riblje jezero), the Devil’s Lake (Vrazje jezero) and the Stecci Tombs. A challenging stage for a day is, for example, the ascent of Bobotov Kuk, the highest mountain of the massif at 2522 meters. If you want to make only a short trip, there is a great option: from the hikers’ parking lot near Žabljak you can make a short hike to Crno jezero, the “Black Lake”. The trail leads through the dark coniferous forest around the lake.
Insider tips in Montenegro: Tara Gorge & Piva Reservoir
A short drive from Žabljak is the Tara Gorge. At around 1,300 meters, the gorge is the deepest gorge in Europe and even the second deepest in the world – after the famous Grand Canyon. Would you have known that?
The Durdevica-Tara Bridge has spanned the Tara Gorge for over 80 years. It’s best to cross the impressive arched structure on foot. The swinging and vibrating of the heavy traffic is an exciting experience 🙂
In the region you will find everything that the outdoor fan and adrenaline junkie heart desires: there are offers for zip-lining over the gorge, kayaking and rafting, motocross tours, mountain bike excursions and much more.
An insider tip in Montenegro is the Piva reservoir (Pivsko jezero), picturesquely located in the mountains. A very good starting point for visiting the imposing 220 meter high Mratinje dam is the small town of Pluzine. Here you will find a number of cozy restaurants for an authentic dinner at the end of the sightseeing day. My menu recommendation: fresh fish from the reservoir!
Lake Scutari – sometimes called Lake Skadar – is the largest lake in the Balkans. The shores of the lake are located in Montenegro and Albania and in many places are an important nature reserve, especially for water birds. A wonderful activity here is an extended boat trip.
Here in the “Skadarsko Jezero National Park” you will also find one of the most famous photo spots of Montenegro: The Pavlova Strana, a “Horseshoe Bend” like in Arizona. Well, almost.
Only a narrow road leads along the lake to small villages. If you want to get away from the tourist hustle and bustle of the coast, I recommend an overnight stay there – for example in Godinje. Read more about it in Montenegro Road trip – Things to do off the coast
Montenegro highlights off the coast
Montenegro hat noch viele weitere Sehenswürdigkeiten zu bieten, teilweise etwas abseits der typischen Touristenpfade.
Here, the rock monastery Ostrog or the LovćenNational Park are particularly worth mentioning. This is particularly easy to reach via the serpentine road from Kotor. The highlight of Lovćen is the 360° viewing platform of the Njegoš mausoleum with a great panoramic view over the mountains to the coast.
In Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, the list of sights is a bit short at first sight. Nevertheless, there is a lot to discover like the Stari Most (old bridge) or the “Niagara Falls” of the Cijevna River.
In Cetinje you can go on a little time travel. The tranquil town was the former capital of Montenegro. Some traces are still visible: here you will find many former embassy and government buildings. All the great powers of the 19th century were represented.
Things to do in Montenegro & Highlights – Summary
Here you have all Montenegro travel guides from JOURNICATION to for the best things to do in Montenegro at a glance:
The best things to do in Montenegro with all the highlights you can experience easily in the context of a Balkan round trip. In the article Balkan round trip – route, highlights & planning tips you can read everything you need to know and get route suggestions including maps.
From Montenegro – or on the way there – I can recommend other unique destinations in Croatia, Kosovo or Albania: