10 best places to visit in Montenegro

The best places to visit in Montenegro include picturesque villages, massive churches, charming coastal towns, unique islands, and stunning national parks. We explored this country in the Balkans during a road trip with our camper van. We initially planned to travel to more southern countries and make maybe one stop in Montenegro along the way. But we were captivated by this extraordinary country and decided to stay longer. In this blog, we will tell you about Montenegro’s most beautiful places, including its unique sights and highlights.

Ballerina Budva Montenegro

The 10 best places to visit in Montenegro

#1 The Bay of Kotor

Located in the southwestern part of Montenegro, near the border with Croatia, lies one of the most exquisite destinations in the Balkans: the Bay of Kotor. Often referred to as the southernmost fjord in Europe, this bay is a unique geological formation created by the carving of a river that has long since dried up. Unlike traditional fjords shaped by ice masses, the Bay of Kotor is a breathtaking display of mountains and sea. It comprises three interconnected bays, with the renowned town of Kotor nestled in its farthest corner.

Exploring the Bay of Kotor is a feast for the senses, with picturesque villages dotting its coastline and magnificent vistas embracing the entire bay. To make the most of your visit, we highly recommend embarking on a scenic drive around the lake. Additionally, driving up the narrow, winding road to the viewpoints of Kotor provides an awe-inspiring panoramic view of the bay, especially during sunset.

While there are several noteworthy stops along Kotor Bay, including Herceg Novi, Perast, and Tivat, none compare to the charm and allure of Kotor itself. As the most renowned attraction in Montenegro, Kotor attracts a large crowd of visitors, including cruise ships that dock in its port, thanks to its prime location on the bay.

Kotor Bay Montenegro

#2 Kotor

Situated at the foot of a majestic mountain range along the Bay of Kotor, the walled city of Kotor stands as one of Montenegro’s most beautiful places to visit. The idyllic setting amidst breathtaking landscapes has earned it a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Step into the atmospheric old town, and you’ll be transported back to the Middle Ages, as the ancient streets and structures have remained remarkably well-preserved.

The main attraction in Kotor is its atmospheric Stari Grad, or historic city center. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of narrow streets, staircases, squares, churches, fountains, and palaces that characterize this charming old town. Exploring Kotor wouldn’t be complete without a stroll along the city walls, which offer an extensive vantage point over the entire town. For the adventurous, a steep climb to the San Giovanni fortress rewards you with the most breathtaking views of the old city.

While Kotor is renowned for its historic center, it has also gained fame for its feline residents. Even if you haven’t heard of Kotor’s reputation as a cat town, you’ll immediately notice the presence of numerous cats lounging on street corners. The cats of Kotor have become so beloved that a Cat Museum now exists, and souvenir shops offer an array of cat-themed memorabilia. We recommend visiting the souvenir shop of local Danijela, where proceeds go toward feeding and caring for Kotor’s cats, including necessary medical attention.

Kotor Montenegro

#3 Durmitor National Park

Nestled in the northwest of Montenegro lies Durmitor National Park, a true gem of the Balkans and one of the country’s most prized natural wonders. Praised as one of Montenegro’s most beautiful national parks, Durmitor offers a stark contrast to the coastal towns and beaches found in the rest of the country. Here, jagged mountain peaks and dense forests reign supreme.

Exploring Durmitor National Park is a journey that requires several days, as the vast nature reserve attracts hikers, kayaking enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike. The charming mountain village of Žabljak serves as the park’s most popular base, offering information centers where you can gather details about the park’s most picturesque hikes and embark on exciting excursions to witness its most stunning landscapes.

Among the park’s highlights, the Tara Canyon and Black Lake stand out as must-see attractions. As some of the most iconic places to visit in Montenegro, they epitomize the park’s natural beauty. Even if your visit is limited in time, make sure to allocate some moments to explore these remarkable sights.

Durmitor National Park Montenegro

#4 The Black Lake

Out of the nearly twenty glacial lakes within Durmitor National Park, the Black Lake, also known as Crno Jezero, stands as one of Montenegro’s most renowned landmarks. This photogenic lake boasts mesmerizing dark waters, encircled by towering pine trees and the imposing Međed mountain peak in the background. Accessible from the village of Žabljak, the Black Lake ranks among the park’s major tourist attractions.

Contrary to its name, the Black Lake is actually composed of two interconnected lakes: the Big Lake (Veliko Jezero) and the Little Lake (Malo Jezero). The narrow waterway that connects the two lakes dries up during the summer months, creating a separate walking path between them. However, with the arrival of autumn, the waterway fills up again, transforming the two lakes into one large body of water. Interestingly, the Little Lake may appear smaller, but its greater depth gives it a larger volume of water.

The best way to experience the Black Lake is to take a leisurely walk along the 3.5-kilometer circular trail that encircles the glacial lake. Along the route, informative signboards provide insights about the lake and the national park. Renting a boat to navigate the lake’s serene waters is also a popular option, and for the more adventurous, a dip in the refreshingly cool lake is a memorable experience.

Black Lake Durmitor National Park Montenegro

#5 The Tara Gorge

Often referred to as the European Grand Canyon, the Tara River Canyon is an awe-inspiring natural wonder and one of Montenegro’s most stunning locations. With steep walls towering hundreds of meters high, this deep gorge is a remarkable testament to the power of nature.

Various viewpoints along the Tara Gorge offer breathtaking vistas of the canyon, which was skillfully carved by the waters of the Tara River. Among these spots, the most popular is the Tara Bridge, spanning 365 meters in length. Situated between the villages of Budečevica and Trešnjica, this arch bridge was constructed in 1937, during the time when Montenegro was part of the former Yugoslavia. Standing 172 meters above the river, it provides a magnificent viewpoint for admiring the grandeur of the gorge.

To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the Tara Canyon, consider embarking on a rafting trip along the river. Numerous excursions are available, departing from nearby villages and even from the Tara Bridge itself, offering the opportunity to navigate through several kilometers of the breathtaking canyon. For adventure enthusiasts, the Tara Canyon Zipline comes highly recommended.

#6 The Church of John Vladimir in Bar

One of the most surprising attractions in Montenegro is the Church of John Vladimir in Bar. With its grand yet contemporary appearance, this magnificent structure beckons visitors to explore its interior. While we expected a modern and sterile atmosphere, the church of John Vladimir turned out to be a vibrant explosion of colors.

Dedicated to Saint John Vladimir of Montenegro, the Church of Bar stands as the largest Orthodox church in the country. Construction of the church took place between 2006 and 2016, and while it remains unfinished, its vibrant and ornate interior is a sight to behold.

The church’s impressive display of colorful paintings adorns almost every surface, predominantly featuring depictions of saints in gold. The frescoes cover an area of nearly 5,000 square meters, providing an overwhelming sensory experience. Beyond the striking visual splendor, take note of the seven doors of brins on the facade. And did you notice there are no burned candles in this church? Instead, next to the entrance is a specially designed room with large extraction to preserve the beautiful frescoes. The side chapels, though not as lavishly painted, are still noteworthy for their abundance of color and artistry.

Be sure to visit the small chapel diagonally positioned in front of the main church. Though modest in size, its frescoes, covering every surface, leave a lasting impression. The chapel is a replica of the original structure that once stood atop Mount Lovćen, dedicated to the national hero Njegoš. Currently, a remarkable mausoleum graces the mountaintop, providing a captivating view over Lovcen National Park that is worth exploring during your tour of Montenegro.

Church Bar Montenegro
Church Bar Montenegro

#7 Sveti Stefan

Regarded as one of the most picturesque landmarks in Montenegro, the island of Sveti Stefan should not be missed on your road trip itinerary. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Budva, this stunning attraction captivates visitors with its ethereal beauty.

Sveti Stefan is a small island connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. Centuries ago, this easily defensible piece of land served as a residential area. Today, the island, once inhabited, has transformed into a prestigious tourist destination since the 1940s. Renowned artists and affluent figures have made this luxurious paradise their haven. In fact, the entire island was purchased in 2007 and transformed into an exclusive resort for the wealthy. The medieval town, characterized by its narrow streets, has been preserved, offering an atmospheric backdrop for the vacations of global stars.

Unfortunately, access to Sveti Stefan’s resort is limited to hotel guests. However, even without a visit to the island itself, a trip to this exclusive enclave is still worthwhile. Take the opportunity to enjoy the nearby off-coast beaches as a non-hotel guest and visit the viewpoint near St. Sava Church for a splendid view of Sveti Stefan. Located on the mountain opposite the islet, this viewpoint offers an enchanting perspective of the island.

Sveti Stefan Montenegro

#8 Budva

A road trip through Montenegro is incomplete without exploring its stunning coastline, and Budva is undeniably one of the most picturesque coastal towns in the country. Here, visitors can savor a vibrant nightlife scene alongside idyllic beaches, combining the best of both worlds.

Budva has a new and historic part. The new town may not possess the same aesthetic allure as its historic counterpart, but it boasts a plethora of restaurants, bars, discotheques, and cafes. If you’re seeking an exhilarating night out in Montenegro, the new town of Budva is the place to be, particularly during the high season when it pulsates with parties and open-air clubs. For those with a penchant for culture or those desiring a fusion of culture and nightlife, a visit to Stari Grad, the old town of Budva, is highly recommended.

Within the historic city center of Budva – or Stari Grad – wander through narrow alleys enclosed by ancient city walls. Don’t miss the Holy Trinity Church, where stunning wall paintings and even ceiling artwork await. For a delightful breakfast accompanied by specialty coffee or an evening beer with delectable snacks, Casper Specialty within the walled area of Budva is the perfect spot.

When in Budva, be sure to enjoy the numerous beaches in the town and its surroundings. You’ll find splendid city beaches near both the new and old parts of town, as well as some of the most stunning beaches in the area. We highly recommend taking a leisurely stroll from the old town to Mogren beach. The beach is delightful, and the scenic walk along the steep rock face offers panoramic views of the peninsula where Stari Grad is nestled.

Budva Montenegro
Budva Montenegro

#9 The Njegos Mausoleum

Among Montenegro’s most extraordinary sites is the Njegoš Mausoleum, situated within Lovćen National Park. This revered location offers a unique experience that sets it apart from other attractions in the country. Lovćen National Park, one of Montenegro’s most breathtaking natural areas, can be reached via a long, winding road with numerous hairpin bends, ascending from Kotor into the mountains. Although the road can be steep and narrow at times, it is well-maintained and even accommodates coaches, surprising visitors with its accessibility.

The focal point of the park is the Njegoš Mausoleum, perched atop one of the park’s highest mountains. Ascending to the mausoleum involves traversing a cool tunnel encompassing more than 450 steps. The mausoleum stands as a tribute to Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a national hero of Montenegro. A colonnaded courtyard, adorned with two stone figures, grants access to a chapel featuring a statue of Njegoš. Dominating the central space is a modern-looking statue, surrounded by a golden mosaic ceiling.

Behind the mausoleum lies one of Lovćen National Park’s most captivating viewpoints. For many visitors, this scenic spot is the primary reason for their visit. From here, a phenomenal panorama of the national park unfolds, and on clear days, views can stretch as far as Italy. Moreover, the turquoise waters of the Bay of Kotor are a captivating sight that should not be missed.

Njegos Mausoleum in Lovcen National Park

#10 Stari Bar

The most renowned attraction in Bar, and the main reason for our visit, is Stari Bar, or Old Bar. Contrary to what the name might imply, Stari Bar doesn’t refer to a historic city center but rather to the former town. Located slightly inland from Bar’s present location, the old town was once a bustling hub. However, a devastating earthquake in 1979, which caused severe damage to the vital aqueduct, led to the relocation of the town’s inhabitants to the coast, where the new Bar was established.

Read more: best things to do in Bar

The aqueduct has since been restored and transformed into a monument, while the walled city itself has become an open-air museum. Although life has returned to some extent outside the city walls, it is far from being a bustling town. Upon arriving at the parking lot, a steep road leads to the old main gate in the city walls. This colorful street is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. The spacious terrace against the city wall is an ideal spot to relax after a rewarding stroll through Stari Bar.

Within the old city walls, you’ll encounter captivating ruins, now adorned with lush plants and shrubs intentionally guided along frames for photogenic effect. Some buildings have been restored, particularly the churches, offering a glimpse into the town’s former glory. At the highest point lies the old citadel, providing a panoramic view of Stari Bar and the aqueduct.

To access Stari Bar, a ticket costing € 3 can be purchased just after the old city gate. Throughout the city, informative signs provide background information about the buildings, and an augmented reality app is available, allowing visitors to visualize the city as it once stood. A large sign at the entrance displays a QR code leading to the app.

Stari Bar Montenegro