What to do in Montenegro

Who I am
Elia Tabuenca García
@eliatabuencagarcia
Author and references

The time is now! Voted as one of the most promising destinations of the last year by Lonely Planet, Montenegro is the new promise of the Mediterranean. Cheap, easy to travel, and still full of nooks and crannies for you to call your own. We list here everything you need to know before you leave and what to do in Montenegro.

Montenegro, until three decades ago, was part of one of the greatest powers in the world, the Yugoslavia. Countless civil and religious conflicts later, the country gradually dismembered into 7 small countries in the Balkan region: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, the latter still partially recognized as independent from Serbia. .



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View of the Bay of Kotor, one of the promises of the Adriatic Sea

Montenegro it's a country still in primary school, only 11 years old, and that small! There are 13 square kilometers, the equivalent of twice that of our smallest state, the Federal District, still discovering itself and forming its opinions. One thing, however, he knows: size does not matter!

Even with so little space, Montenegro accumulates a huge diversity of landscapes, activities for all tastes and times of the year, at an affordable price - even the Euro being the local currency - and you can still give you that delicious feeling that you have discovered a place of your own without having to fight space with thousands more people who had the same idea as you.



Kotor Bay concentrates a lot of things to do in Montenegro

When to go

Even with the increase in tourism, the best time to visit Montenegro is still high season: from May to September. To have the place just for you and get better prices on accommodation, bet on the seasons between the end of March and April and the end of September and October.

The period between November and February is the low season. Some coastal accommodations and restaurants close their doors, while in Zabljak, the ski resorts open and the snow transforms the landscape of northern Montenegro.

Directions

Montenegro's largest airport is in Podgorica, the country's capital, but it is still very poorly connected to the rest of the world, causing many visitors to arrive via Belgrade, Serbia, or Dubrovnik, in Croatia.

From Belgrade it is 10 hours by train to Podgorica or 9 hours by bus. From Podgorica, it's another 2 hours by bus to the coast or Bay of Kotor. From Dubrovnik, the connection is more frequent and much shorter. In just 2 hours you can be wandering through the streets of Kotor.

If the option is to prioritize time, it is best to use the Aeroporto de Tivat, which is just 10 minutes by taxi from Kotor and has constant flights that connect it with other cities in the region.

Finally, for those enjoying the summer in Italy, the port of Bar has ferries that connect it to Bari, in southern Italy. This last option, however, is only available in the high season months.



Niksic artificial lake, in central Montenegro.

how to explore

Montenegro is full of attractions everywhere, but it's tiny! In four hours it is possible to cross the country from top to bottom with a car, but renting a vehicle is not necessarily the best option for exploring.

The roads are all in excellent condition, but most of the citadels do not allow vehicle traffic, which makes it a little difficult for drivers.

The cost of renting a car and parking was not worth it, and I ended up choosing to base myself all the time on Kotor and visit attractions around the country on day trips. In less than 5 days it is possible to visit everything, especially if you join an agency that organizes small day tours, such as 360Monte.

I visited practically everything with this agency and everything was impeccable: from the prices and quality of the vans, to the guides who master the content of the explanations.

Hiring a boat to take you to the villages around the Bay of Kotor is one of the best ways to visit the region.

It's safe?

It's amazing how many people ask me if Montenegro it is a safe country to visit. Given the proximity to Bosnia and the conflict that took place there in the 90s, I understand the concern, but the reality of Bosnia almost 30 years ago, it could not have been more different from the situation in Montenegro 30 years ago and today.



Montenegro did not get involved in the conflict and even won its independence from Serbia through a referendum! The roads are safe enough and life is quiet enough for a simple theft to become news in the region. Therefore, you can embark without fear of being happy!

View of the Bay of Kotor at dusk.

What to do

Bay of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor is by far the most visited attraction in the country. she has something of coast of Croatia, with something Alps. Did you feel what I'm feeling? So it is! Every day more people discover this little secret of the world.

Despite already being part of some Mediterranean cruise routes, it is still almost a rule to come across tourists who have just arrived from Croatia who are elated with happiness to feel a little bit of the feeling of exclusivity still present in Montenegro.

Kotor and one of its squares hidden among hundreds of medieval alleys

The biggest square in Kotor, right after the entrance to the main city gate.

The wall of Kotor deserves a visit dedicated to her alone.

Kotor, the main city of the Bay, is, of course, where the band plays. It is there that you can face the 45-minute climb between the 1400 steps to the Fortress, which has one of the most beautiful views in the country.

To make the tour even more pleasant, try to go in the middle of the afternoon to avoid the midday heat, as there are few shady spots on the way to rest.

The wall that surrounds the old city also deserves your attention, but the best thing to do inside it is to get lost in its numerous alleys and squares hidden between churches, restaurants and shops, which you will soon feel like you know like the back of your mind. hand.

One of the 1400 steps leading up to Kotor Fortress.

The most famous view of Kotor Bay, halfway to the city fortress.

The 45-minute climb to the fortress is rewarded by this view of the Bay of Kotor.

From Kotor, it is also possible to rent a small boat to take you to the other charming villages in the Bay, among them, Perast. One of the postcards Montenegro, Perast has two picturesque islands just ahead. One of them was artificially built, in the XNUMXth century, on the spot where an image of a sacred saint was found and is open for visitation.

The most famous and charming islands in the Bay of Kotor, opposite Perast.

Perast is a must-see in the Bay of Kotor.

View of Perast in the distance.

Herceg Novi, on the other side of the Bay, goes unnoticed for those who are traveling through Montenegro in a bit of a hurry, but if you're feeling lazy, it's worth a visit! Like Kotor, it is prone to getting lost and found. It is easily connected to Kotor by public transport and also has one of the most traditional festivals in the Bay: the Mimosa Festival, which usually takes place in early February.

The coastline of Herceg Novi

Despite having a crystalline sea, the Bay of Kotor has limited options to enjoy a beach. All of them are made of stone and are not extensive, but the most popular piece is, without a doubt, the one in front of the Bar Havana, a few meters from wall of kotor.

The main beach in Kotor.

Adriatic Sea beaches

Budva it is the charming city that put Montenegro on the map of the rich Russians and Europeans. Surrounded by sandy beaches, it is a great destination for those who want to see and be seen.

Rampant development has detracted from Budva's charm a little, but it still retains a medieval setting, within the walled city, which is now brimming with boutiques and restaurants.

Budva, the city that launched Montenegro on the map.

The most disputed square meter in Montenegro!

Yatchs vie for a spot at the marina that surrounds Budva, and yes, at some of the beaches near town, there is an entry fee charged during peak season. The most photographed of all – but not a good option to spend the day – are the two that connect the walled island of Sveti Stefan to the mainland.

Currently, Sveti Stefan is one of the most luxurious hotels in Montenegro and a hotly contested wedding ceremony in the country.

Sveti Stefan, today one of the most luxurious hotels in Montenegro.

The coast of Montenegro with Sveti Stefan in the background.

To relax on the Adriatic Sea, the best option is the Przno beach, which does not charge admission and is one of the most beautiful in the country. If you're really looking for some fun on the beach, head to Jaz or Ploce, the hangout for young people and also home to music festivals and parties in the summer.

Przno, the most charming beach near Budva.

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Lago Skadar e Crnojevića

Crnojevica is the main starting point for exploring one of the most scenic stretches of Montenegro's most famous lake, the Skadar lake. On the banks of the river of the same name, in this village it is possible to rent a small boat to take a trip to the point where the river empties and meets Skadar Lake.

Crnojevica, a porta de entrada para o Lago Skadar.

Rio Crnojevica, que leva ao Lago Skadar.

Mt Lovcen

This mountain, which gave the country its name, Crna Gora (Black Mountain), has a special place in the heart of every Montenegrin. At its top, the mausoleum of one of the country's greatest heroes and leaders, Petar II Petrović Njegoš, is protected by two black granite sculptures of two guards. From there, on a sunny day, it is said that you can see more than 80% of the national territory.

Mt Lovecen, the mountain that inspired the name of the country.

Ostrog Monastery

This monastery impresses mainly for its location. Clinging to an abyss 900 meters above a valley, the white monastery gives the impression that it has been embedded in the mountain itself.

The entrance to Ostrog Monastery.

Ostrog Monastery, nestled in the mountain!

The view of the valley just below Ostrog Monastery.

Durmitor and Zabljak National Park

This National Park, in the north of Montenegro it has more than 45 mountains higher than 2000 meters and more than 15 glacial lakes between them. The largest of these, Lago Negro is easily accessible and can be explored by an easy 3,5km walk.

Zabljak is a small town in this mountainous region of Montenegro that “wakes up” in winter. That's where the attention of the Balkans are attracted as the coastline becomes less inhabited and the immigration of ski lovers takes place.

The Black Lake in Durmintor.

It is possible to walk around Lago Negro, the main one in Durmintor National Park.

Rio Tara

This river shapes much of the country and has one of the highest canyons in the world, with 1300 meters. Under this part of the river, there is a bridge, from which the view is breathtaking.

From below, you can explore the river aboard an incredible rafting tour through the rapids that make up Montenegro's border with Bosnia

what NOT to visit

If there's one place you should avoid in Montenegro, it's it. Podgorica, the capital. Many waste time there because they end up risking staying a night after the flight arrives, but you shouldn't be one of those people.

Trust me: even Montenegrins shout and wave at you to turn around if you're planning on passing by, and they're absolutely right. Podgorica does not live up to what Montenegro has to offer.

Rafting on the Tara River, a unique sensation of navigating the border of Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Where to eat

A good Montenegrin will talk with endless pride about the hams from the village of Njeguši, about the caloric bomb that is the Karadjordje's steak, the traditional national dish, and how a piece of Priganice goes well with anything, but especially a good homemade Kajmak. Try it all with a shot of Rakija and you'll make any Montenegrin call you brother.

The good thing is that there is no shortage of great restaurants! Despite being a traditionally red meat-loving country, on the coast it is possible to find great seafood restaurants. Here's a list of my recommendations for every budget.

Budget suggestions:

  • Tanjga, em Kotor: It looks more like a butcher shop than a restaurant, but it is one of the square meters of best food in Montenegro. It is outside, however, still very close to the old part of town.
  • Scala Santa, em Kotor: Serves everything and the portions are large. To leave there very satisfied!
  • Pizzeria Pronto in Kotor
  • Konoba Akustik, em Kotoa: right in front of the main beach of Kotor, it is a great option for those who spent the day relaxing on the shores of the Bay.

Sophisticated Suggestions:

  • Gallon, in Kotor: the location above the waters of the bay makes a perfect setting for a romantic dinner overlooking the Kotor wall lit up at night.
  • Tavern Portun, em Dobrota: the best seafood option in the Bay of Kotor.
  • Restaurants in Porto Montenegro, in Tivat: This marble village filled with moored yachts and exclusive shops, also has a multitude of great restaurants, such as One, Al Posto Giusto and Byblos.

Where to stay

As tourism grows every day, accommodation options appear everywhere. Here are my pointers:

Budget suggestion:

  • Old Town Hostel, em Kotor: no error! One of the best hostels I've stayed in in my wandering life. The rooms are fully equipped, everything is clean, the staff are super attentive, and the activities organized for the evenings, such as the Pub Crawl, guarantee that you will leave there full of friends. During the day, join the crowd on one of the tours organized by the Hostel in partnership with 360 Monte.

Sophisticated suggestions:

  • Palazzo Drusko, in Kotor: in a restored 7th century palace, this hotel has XNUMX cozy rooms with unique decor and rich in antiques. Expect hand-hewn wooden beds!
  • Pearl Apartments, em Kotor: they are fully equipped and modern apartments that accommodate couples and even families.
  • Aman Sveti Stefan: one of Montenegro's postcards is also one of the most luxurious hotels on the Adriatic Sea.
  • Regent Hotel, Tivat: Located in the middle of Porto Montenegro, in Tivat, this hotel is elegant and refined.

Where to go next?

Montenegro borders Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia. This makes the possibilities of continuing to roam the Balkans, are vast. Some people arrange a visit to Montenegro with Croatia or even with Albania, for the more adventurous.

On one of my visits, I chose to continue south to Albania and then to mainland Greece. If you also choose to take the same route, know that Albania, unfortunately, is very poorly connected with the countries it borders, but it is possible to organize a transfer from Kotor to Tirana via 360 Monte.”

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