The 8 best things to do in Bar in Montenegro

The coastal town of Bar in Montenegro pleasantly surprised us during our road trip. Initially, we planned to make a short stop at the historic ruin city, but we ended up staying much longer and thoroughly enjoying our time there. Apart from the old Stari Bar, the relatively unknown new Bar proved to be a delightful and captivating destination, particularly for families. Discover the attractions of Bar in this blog and consider adding it to your travel itinerary in Montenegro.

Stari Bar Montenegro

How to get to Bar in Montenegro

Bar is a coastal town in the southeast of the country, near the border with Albania. Situated on the picturesque Adriatic Sea, Bar boasts the largest seaport in the country. Additionally, a ferry from Italy docks at this port.

Despite its picturesque seaside location and the abundance of sandy beaches, Bar seems to be relatively overlooked by tourists. However, it is worth noting that the well-known and popular Lake Skadar is conveniently located just 30 minutes away from Bar, with a portion of it even falling within the municipality of Bar.

Stari Bar Montenegro

Where to stay in Bar

If you want to stay overnight in Bar, you can find both the old Stari Bar more inland and the new Bar on the coast. We recommend that you stay on the coast, where you can enjoy the beach and the restaurants of Bar. From there, take a day trip to Stari Bar.

The finest hotels in Bar:

  • Hotel Princess, located right on the beach and in close proximity to the magnificent church of Bar, offers a remarkable stay. This hotel boasts an inviting outdoor pool and not just one, but two exceptional restaurants for guests to indulge in.
  • Hotel Agape offers a budget-friendly and contemporary accommodation option in the heart of Bar. With its stellar reputation, this hotel has received nothing but positive reviews from its satisfied guests.
  • Hotel Le Petit Chateau is situated in a prime beachfront location, providing breathtaking sea views. Guests can start their day off right with a complimentary breakfast served at the hotel’s own restaurant.
  • Stara Sarsija Hotel & Spa stands out as one of the most exquisite places to stay in Montenegro, nestled in the historic Stari Bar instead of the new Bar. Offering a seasonal outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, a terrace, an indoor pool, and a picturesque garden, this hotel provides an enchanting retreat. The historic ambiance of Stari Bar is beautifully reflected in the hotel’s wooden ceilings and traditional decor, creating an immersive experience for guests..
Stari Bar Montenegro

The 8 best things to do in Bar

#1 Stari Bar, the old ruin city

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.

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

#2 The Church of John Vladimir, the most beautiful church in Montenegro

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.

Church Bar Montenegro

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

#3 The aqueduct of Bar

Serving as a vital lifeline for Stari Bar, the Bar aqueduct supplied drinking water to its inhabitants, spanning a distance of 3 kilometers. It stands as the only aqueduct in Montenegro and one of the largest in the Balkans.

This architectural marvel dates back to the time of the Ottoman Empire when this region was under Turkish rule. In the 16th century, the Turks constructed this water supply system for Bar, showcasing remarkable architectural prowess with its eighteen massive pillars supporting seventeen grand arches. A section of the aqueduct even functions as a bridge, gracefully spanning a valley.

The earthquake in 1979 devastated Stari Bar and nearly destroyed the aqueduct. Afterwards, the residents moved and created the new Bar on the coast. The aqueduct has been restored. Some residents returned to build homes near the ruined walled city, but Stari Bar mainly remains an ancient and captivating remnant of the past.

Aqueduct Stari Bar Montenegro

#4 Stara Maslina, the ancient olive tree of Bar

As you explore the vicinity of Bar, you’ll encounter numerous ancient olive trees, but none rival the historical significance of the renowned Stara Maslina. Bar is renowned for its olive trees and the production of exquisite olive oil, with many trees boasting centuries-old age. However, the Stara Maslina takes the crown, standing as a truly remarkable specimen, estimated to be over 2,000 years old!

Located just outside the center of the new Bar, a short distance from Stari Bar, this extraordinary tree holds great significance for the locals. Surprisingly, you won’t find many tourists here, as Bar isn’t particularly renowned as a tourist hotspot. For a small entrance fee of €1, you can wander around the awe-inspiring Stara Maslina. Near the entrance, you’ll also notice a certificate displaying the tree’s age. According to a study conducted in 2015, the inner trunk was estimated to be an astounding 2,240 years old.

Stara Maslina in Bar Montenegro
Stara Maslina in Bar Montenegro

#5 Bar beach

Situated on a stunning stretch of coastline, the new Bar boasts a sunny pebble beach that spans a considerable length. Unlike its more popular counterparts such as those around Budva, Bar isn’t swarmed with tourists, ensuring a serene and relaxed beach experience.

A wide boulevard accompanies the beach, attracting locals who enjoy leisurely strolls on sunny weekends. While it may not be overly tourist-oriented or packed with restaurants, you’ll find plenty of beach bars along the promenade, offering a refreshing drink as you amble by the beach. Surprisingly, numerous playgrounds dot the boulevard, making Bar an ideal destination for families with children. We cherished two delightful days at Bar’s beach, accompanied by our camper van and our little one. As we savored the view from a terrace overlooking a playground, our toddler reveled in the joyful surroundings.

Bar Beach Montenegro

#6 Museum Palace King Nikola

In modern Bar, notable highlights and attractions may be scarce, but the Palace of King Nikola stands as an exception. Back in 1885, King Nikola commissioned the construction of a summer palace for his family along the coast of present-day Bar.

The palace still stands today and is now a museum showcasing ancient artifacts, regal furniture, and traditional folk costumes. When night falls, the palace is gracefully illuminated, adding an extra touch of enchantment to an evening stroll along the boulevard.

Museum Palace King Nikola in Bar Montenegro

#7 Starting point of the Panoramic Road

In our opinion, Montenegro’s panoramic roads are among the country’s true highlights. The vast and awe-inspiring landscapes are best explored through a road trip, particularly by following the official and well-marked panoramic roads. Four panoramic roads traverse a significant portion of the country, with Panoramic Road 1 situated in the breathtaking Durmitor National Park, while Panoramic Road 3 hugs the entire Montenegrin coastline.

Embarking on a journey along Panoramic Road 3, we began our adventure from Bar, where the route unfolds along the coast, passing by Lake Skadar, ultimately leading to the captivating Bay of Kotor. To provide additional opportunities for detours, the official Panoramic Road near Bar and Skadar Lake includes loops marked with designations like 3B or 3D. We highly recommend setting aside a day during your Bar visit to embark on a scenic drive along one of these routes with your rental car, immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring vistas.

Panoramic Roads Montenegro Skadar Lake

#8 Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans

A mere 30-minute drive from Bar lies one of Montenegro’s most renowned attractions: the magnificent Lake Skadar. As the largest lake in the Balkans, Lake Skadar deserves a prominent spot on your Montenegro itinerary. Straddling the border with Albania, approximately one-third of the lake lies within the neighboring country, while the most stunning and expansive portion rests within Montenegro. Undoubtedly, it stands as one of the most spectacular landscapes the country has to offer.

Lake Skadar encompasses a vast expanse of water, forming a national park that seamlessly blends elements of a lake and a wetland. In certain areas, an abundance of water lilies and other vegetation creates a mesmerizing floating grassland effect. Summer, when the water lilies are in full bloom, showcases Lake Skadar at its most resplendent. However, it’s worth noting that this season can be scorching hot and busier compared to the low season.

A visit to Lake Skadar revolves around two key experiences: a boat trip on characteristic wooden boats and relishing the captivating views over the water. Along the lake’s shores, numerous options exist to embark on boat trips, ranging from a couple of hours to a full day. These excursions often encompass visits to small islands, some of which are home to monasteries or other unique attractions, while others meander through the wetlands.

Another highlight awaits at the renowned Pavlova Strana Viewpoint, easily discoverable on Google Maps. This location, along with the road leading to it and the subsequent hairpin route, offers breathtaking vistas over the lake. The narrow section of the lake winding around a mountaintop resembles a horseshoe bend, offering one of the most splendid views of the entire lake. Additional panoramic roads encircle the lake, many of which are designated as such, providing remarkable viewpoints to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery.

Viewpoint Skadar Lake Montenegro