15 Best Things to Do in Montenegro

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Montenegro is an overlooked travel destination that should be on every traveler’s radar. This tiny country of just over 600,000 people hits above its weight in natural beauty and charm.

From historic and atmospheric old towns to jaw-dropping natural beauty, Montenegro has it all. Montenegro’s coast is lined with pristine beaches where you can dive into aquamarine waters at the perfect temperature. Its inland offers first-class hiking and adventure along with five national parks that cover a full 10% of the country. And the local culture of hospitality means you’ll feel right at home. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Montenegro, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you’ll find the 15 best things to see and do in Montenegro. Prepare to be wowed by Montenegro!

Kotor

Kotor-Montenegro (2)
Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

Kotor, nestled deep in the stunning Bay of Kotor, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see in Montenegro. This 2,000-year-old town is one of the last walled towns in Europe, and its walls are up to 15 meters thick in places.

Inside Kotor’s walls, you’ll discover a pretty, quaint old town of stone buildings with terracotta roofs. Laundry drying on lines strung between houses adds to the authentic feel. Top sights in Kotor old town include St Tryphon Cathedral, the Maritime Museum, and the farmers market.

But, as interesting and beautiful as these are, there’s one attraction that steals the show: Kotor’s cats. Kotor has always had cats to control rodent and snake populations, but today they’re arguably Kotor’s star attraction. Visitors gather in Wood Square for the chance to pet and take dozens of photos of Kotor’s cats, and you’ll find them lounging in the sun and begging for titbits throughout the town.

San Giovanni Fortress

Kotor is also known for its awe-inspiring walls. Started by the Illyrians in the 2nd century B.C., the Venetians finally finished Kotor’s walls in the 15th century at an enormous cost. Those walls protected Kotor’s citizens for centuries, and Kotor residents will proudly tell you that the town has never been taken by force.

Today, you can climb Kotor’s walls to San Giovanni Fortress and this hike has become a rite of passage for visitors to Kotor. The short but steep hike is only 1.2km, but it’s made of 1,355 steps and challenges even the fittest!

The views are worth it, though. From the top, you’ll get stunning panoramic views over Kotor’s old town and the Bay of Kotor.

If you’re not up to the hike, don’t worry, there are other ways to see Kotor’s walls. Inside Kotor old town, head to Kampana Tower for an elevated view, or have a delicious dinner on Galion’s outdoor terrace for beautiful views of the walls, which are lit up at night.

Perast

Fifteen minutes from Kotor by car, Perast is one of Montenegro’s most picturesque towns. This former home of the wealthy and powerful nobility is lined with baroque palaces and churches that date back to the Venetian era.

Visit Perast Museum in 17th-century Bujović Palace, climb the belfry of Saint Nicholas Church, and sample the Bay of Kotor’s seafood at a seaside restaurant. Adding to the ambiance, two island churches float just off Perast’s shore. This is the perfect place to relax and watch the boats sail by.

Our Lady of the Rocks

One of the two churches that float off Perast’s shore is Our Lady of the Rocks. Legend has it that on 22nd July 1452, two brothers were returning from a dangerous voyage and found an icon of the Virgin Mary and Child on a rocky outcrop. They decided to build a church on the spot. The whole town of Perast dropped rocks and scuttled ships on the spot in order to build an island, and, 32 years later, Our Lady of the Rocks was built.

Today, you can take a boat from Perast or Kotor to visit Our Lady of the Rocks. The Catholic church is covered with 17th-century frescoes by local artist Tripo Kokolja. The adjoining museum is filled with artifacts and works of art that date all the way back to prehistoric times. You can get a guided tour of both for just a couple of euros.

Blue Cave

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Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

Montenegro’s Blue Cave is a natural wonder that attracts visitors year-round. But the best time to visit the Blue Cave is in summer when it becomes a great place to swim!

The Blue Cave got its name from the iridescent blue light that fills the cave, which is caused by sunlight reflecting off the sandy bottom. The entrance to the sea cave is just big enough to allow boats inside so you can swim and snorkel in the cave’s otherworldly glow.

Budva

Budva-Montenegro
Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

With its blend of history and summer resort vibe, Budva is a top destination for a few hours, a day, or even your entire stay in Montenegro.

Wander Budva’s 2,500-year-old town to discover historic churches, Greek and Roman ruins dating back to the 4th century B.C., Budva Museum, and the citadel. When you’re done exploring, cool off in Budva’s clear aquamarine sea on Richard’s Head beach or wander the seaside path to Mogren’s gorgeous golden sand beach.

When the sun goes down, Budva becomes Montenegro’s party capital. Grab a drink in a pub in the old town, then head up to Tophill, one of Europe’s biggest nightclubs, to dance the night away!

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan -
Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

A favorite of stars from Sofia Loren to Novak Djoković, Sveti Stefan is the jewel in the crown of the Budva Riviera.

The 15th-century islet is covered with traditional stone houses. On either side of the islet, pink pebble beaches lead to a crystal-clear turquoise sea.

A short walk through Miločer Forest Park brings you to Villa Miločer, the former summer residence of the Karađorđević Dynasty. Take a swim on Queen’s Beach and end your day with a romantic candlelit dinner watching the sun go down in the tiny hamlet of Pržno.

Lake Skadar National Park

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Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

Lake Skadar is the largest natural lake in Southern Europe and one of the most important bird reserves in Europe.

Take a boat tour out on the lake to see over 280 bird species, ancient forts, and monasteries. Then try some traditional marinated carp at Silistrija, a floating restaurant on a boat in the tiny town of Virpazar. And stop by Pavlova Strana, a unique horseshoe bend in the Crnjojević River that is one of Montenegro’s most-photographed spots.

This region is also Montenegro’s premier wine-making region, and you can visit local boutique wineries for wine tastings. Full-bodied Vranac red wine is a staple here, Krstač is a local specialty white wine, and the traditional rakija (fruit brandy that’s at least 50% alcohol) will blow your socks off!

Black Lake

Black Lake Montenegro
Image Credit: Montenegro Pulse.

In Montenegro’s northwest, the Black Lake is the largest of the glacial lakes in Durmitor National Park. The lake is surrounded by a dense forest that’s home to a variety of animals like owls, woodpeckers, deer, and wolves.

You can follow the easy 3.5km walking trail around the lake, hire a boat to row on the lake, and even swim in it. If you’re into hiking, this area has 48 peaks over 2,000m and offers some of Montenegro’s best hiking. Other ways to see Durmitor’s dramatic scenery include driving the Durmitor Ring, climbing the via ferrata course, visiting the stećci medieval tombstones, and taking a thrilling canyoning tour through Nevidion Canyon. 

Tara River Canyon

The Tara River Canyon is the second-deepest canyon in the world, next to the Grand Canyon. Known as the ‘Tear of Europe’ because it’s so pristine, the Tara Canyon is a major attraction in Montenegro.

For a thrilling way to experience the Tara Canyon’s stunning natural beauty, take a white water rafting tour down the Tara River. You’ll be able to raft the rapids, swim under waterfalls and take a refreshing dip in the 10°C water!

The best viewpoint to see the canyon is at Ɖurđevića Tara Bridge. Once the highest concrete arch bridge in the world, you can walk out on the bridge that stands 172m above the riverbed. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a zipline across the canyon!

Petar II Petrović-Njegoš Mausoleum

Petar II Petrović-Njegoš was arguably Montenegro’s greatest leader. A teenager who unexpectedly became the ruler of an unrecognized country of feuding tribes in 1830, Njegoš, as he’s known to Montenegrins, used courage and cunning to unify Montenegro’s warring tribes and defend the country from powerful armies. He was also a prolific poet, best known for The Mountain Wreath.

Njegoš is laid to rest in a mausoleum atop Jezerski Vrh in Lovćen National Park. Scaling the 461 steps to the mausoleum can be a challenge, but it will give you breathtaking 360° views over all of Montenegro that make it all worth it.

On your way up, stop at Njeguši village (Njegoš’ birth place) to try Montenegro’s best prosciutto and drink a toast of rakija to the great man!

Ostrog Monastery

Ostrog Monastery is Montenegro’s holiest place, and it draws visitors of all faiths from around the world.

Founded in the 17th century by St Basil, the monastery seems to be gravity-defyingly carved into the face of a sheer cliff. It’s actually made up of three caves, including the Church of the Presentation, which is where St Basil’s relics lie.

Inside the monastery, see the frescoes in the Church of the Holy Cross, which follow the contours of the rock and the miracle vine that grows out of sheer rock. You’ll need to cover your shoulders and knees to enter.

Porto Montenegro

While Montenegro is full of history, Porto Montenegro represents its future. This glittering super yacht marina is the world’s first platinum-rated marina and is a mecca for the rich…and richer!

Built on a former shipyard in the center of Tivat, this luxury marina and village is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike.

Wander Jetty One to see the biggest and most-luxurious super yachts in the world. Then grab a bite at one of the restaurants overlooking the marina. You’ll find fine dining, but you’ll also find pizza and pasta at very reasonable prices. You can also browse the high-end boutiques and even stay in the marina at the five-star hotel Regent Porto Montenegro.

Biogradska Gora National Park

Biogradska Gora is the smallest of Montenegro’s five national parks, but it’s one of only three virgin forests left in Europe, and the trees here are up to 400 years old.

The park lies by the Bjelasica mountain range, which offers excellent hiking and the chance to experience traditional katuns, shepherds’ huts where you can find accommodation and traditional meals.

The main attraction here, though, is Lake Biograd, an emerald-colored lake surrounded by ancient forest. Take the 3.5km walking trail through the forest around the lake or hire a boat to row around it. You can also go horse riding, bike riding and visit 13th-century Morača Monastery.

Cetinje

As the capital of the Kingdom of Montenegro when Montenegro was declared an independent country in 1878, Cetinje was a bustling European capital and home to embassies and royal palaces.

Although Cetinje is no longer Montenegro’s capital city, it’s still an important cultural center in Montenegro. Take a guided tour of King Nikola’s Court to see the former royal palace and a vast array of gifts from visiting emissaries. Explore the National Museum in the former government buildings to see well-curated exhibits from Montenegro’s first settlements to recent history.

Take a walk through the Bilijarda, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš’s residence, which was so named because he had the first and only billiards table in Montenegro! Other notable sights include Cetinje Monastery, the Blue Palace, Đukanović Palace, the ethnographic museum, and the Vlaška Church, with its fence made of 1,550 rifles captured from Turkish Ottoman soldiers.

Final Thoughts

Montenegro is a treasure trove of fascinating history, awe-inspiring natural beauty, and adventure. Put this hidden gem on your list of must-visit destinations in the Balkans!

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Sarah Pavlovic is a New Zealander who’s lived in Montenegro since 2008. She loves exploring Montenegro and shares her best tips at MontenegroPulse.com.