Part of the Balkans region, Montenegro is less frequently visited than other countries. Plan your first visit using these tips for must-do things in Montenegro.
From guest author, Anya, who blogs at Road is Calling: An amazingly beautiful Balkan country, there are so many attractions and must-do things in Montenegro: sandy-pebble and rocky beaches with crystal clear water, picturesque sea bays and unique lakes, high mountains and deep canyons, narrow streets of ancient cities, and fortress walls of ancient fortifications.
Everyone will be able to find something for his own taste. However, to be able to see everything, you’d probably need to spend at least a few weeks traveling in Montenegro. Or visit the Balkans region for an extended period.
If this is going to be your first trip, I’d love to share my list of top places to visit. They are all very interesting and fascinating.
Pay a Visit to the City of Cats – Kotor
Kotor is not only considered to be the most beautiful city of Montenegro but also the city with the largest number of cats. Given the small area of Kotor, the concentration of fluffy animals exceeds all reasonable limits. But there is an explanation for this interesting fact. In the Old Town, there are a lot of rats due to constant dampness, so residents breed cats (in every house there are at least two) and feed those that are on the streets. Stray cats freely walk around the city, lay down on cafe chairs, and when people are around, they often want to get closer.
With cats, the beautiful nature surrounding the city, and many unusual things to do in Kotor, you can stay busy for many days. The narrow cobbled streets in the Old Town, centuries-old houses surrounded by the fortress give a sense of the Middle Ages.
This feeling only intensifies when you look at the fortress wall which is 4.5 kilometers long and 20 meters high. The fortress is open to all visitors and 1400 steps along a narrow mountain trail will bring you to the top where you get absolutely amazing view of the city and the bay.
Old Kotor is full of historical buildings such as Clock Tower, Watchtower, Arsenal, city gates, a few small palaces, and ancient church. By the way, the church of the XII century is notable for the fact that there are two altars – the Catholic and Orthodox.
In addition to the rich cultural and historical heritage, Kotor is also the center of the festival life of Montenegro.
Admire Stunning Kotor Bay
Among all Montenegro attractions, visiting Kotor Bay should be on the list for any visit, no matter if this is your first, second, or fifth trip here. Kotor Bay, a place of incredible beauty, is the largest bay of the Adriatic Sea where you can see fjords. Dark green mountains reflect in the blue water and medieval towns are scattered on the banks. Five main cities in the bay area, such as Herceg Novi, Tivat, Risan, Morin, and Kotor, are full of history, cute little cafes, ancient buildings, and gorgeous views.
If your goal is to see fjords, learn about history, and possibly go on a hike, this is the first place to travel to since Kotor Bay has it all and even more. And by the way, it is on the list of the most visited places in Montenegro. Thus, if you are eager to avoid crowds, better avoid traveling here in July and August.
To enjoy the bay, I suggest you going on a road trip around it, take a boat cruise, or rent your own boat.
Hike, Bike or Go on a Road Trip in Durmitor National Park
Another must-do thing in Montenegro is a visit to Durmitor National Park which is more like a huge pristine forest, spread among the high plains. This park is home to 18 lakes, relict forests, and many different plants. The most famous lake the Black Lake attracts thousands of visitors each year but people mainly go to the main entrance with a viewing platform and one trail around the lake.
For the best experience and to stay away from crowds, I suggest you go hiking in Durmitor, bike on a special biking path, rent a private boat and go on a scenic drive through the park.
For the most part, Durmitor is usually cool with little rain. In the highlands, it gets pretty cold.
See the Deepest Canyon in Europe: Tara Canyon
The breathtaking Tara Canyon is considered the deepest in Europe (its depth reaches 1300 meters) and the second-largest in the world. It is considered to be part of the Durmitor National Park and the best way to get there is by car or on a tour. The river flowing on the bottom of the canyon, called Tara River, even in the summer is stormy and noisy. The water is always very clean and turquoise-blue but cold.
Tara Canyon can offer you so many exciting activities. However, the main attraction among tourists there is rafting. The most fearless extreme lovers can go rafting between April and June, and those who don’t feel very confident can try to do it in August or September when the river is calmer.
Another attraction nearby is the openwork arched automobile bridge of Dzhurdzhevich which for a long time was the largest in Europe. If you are brave enough, you can fly over the canyon on a zip-line. The cost is around 20 euros.
Try Local Wines from Montenegro
Another experience that you must have in Montenegro is to try the local wine. Not many people know that but Montenegro produces very good wines. The selection is small but very decent. The most popular wines are Vranac (red) and Krstac (white) dry wines. And you can purchase them in any grocery store or at the market.
The prices for them pleasantly surprise since young wines cost from 2 euros per liter bottle. It may look rather suspicious that the price is so low, especially when the bottle is closed not with a cork but with a cap. However, you shouldn’t worry. All wines are of exceptional high-quality and made from natural grapes by the natural method. Therefore, do not let the price confuse you. It depends only on the age of the wine and the quality of grapes.
To be able to sample Montenegrin wine, you can go on a tour to one of the wineries near Podgorica, purchase homemade wine in Njegusi village, or buy a bottle and just enjoy a glass by the sea.
If you are visiting Montenegro only for a few days and don’t have time to see the entire Kotor Bay area, then you should visit at least the city of Kotor and romantic, fancy town Perast. This tiny town, with only 300 residents and houses that look like a magnificent work of art, has 17 palaces and 16 churches (can you imagine?). But only 3 churches are open for visitors.
With only two streets and a lovely promenade, Perast offers fantastic views of the Boko-Kotor Bay and two islands nearby. One man-made island, called Lady of the Rocks, should definitely be on your bucket list of things to do in Montenegro, and the best way to visit it is with a local on a tour.
Besides the island and palaces, Perast is also famous for the bell tower of St. Nicholas (from where you get another gorgeous view) and cozy coffee shops by the water.
Visit Sveti Stefan and the Surrounding Area
One more point of interest in Montenegro that every traveler should see is a city-hotel Sveti Stefan which is located on an island 5 km from Budva.
The island is one of the most expensive resorts in Montenegro. The area surrounding it has 58 luxury apartments and beaches with beautiful pink sand. But what makes this site really unique is a fact that the island is connected to the land by a small isthmus made of gravel and pebbles. This is a unique phenomenon since the isthmus has a natural, not an artificial origin.
Since 2007, Sveti Stefan was under reconstruction, and only at the end of April 2012, it reopened again for visiting. In order to get on the island, you must either book a stay or dine in one of the restaurants.
The stay is pretty expensive and not for an average tourist, that’s why the best way to take a glance at the island would be on an organized group tour for 20 euros or so per person. On the mainland, there are several observation platforms with good views of the island and a huge Royal Park Milocer with unique plants and beaches.
Author Bio: Anya is originally from Ukraine but she has lived in Montenegro as well as many other countries around the world. She writes on her blog, Road is Calling, about a slow travel lifestyle, how to become an expat, and move abroad. Also, she creates travel itineraries for everyone who is interested in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.