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There are many more things to do in Montenegro than meets the eye. Having been awarded one of the most underrated countries in my eyes, Montenegro is the kind of place that just keeps giving. Many people assume it’s great for its coast – which it is – but it would be a mistake not to do a Montenegro road trip as well to check out the glorious mountains and ravines of the inner parts of the country.
Montenegro is home to beautiful beaches and bays, old walled towns, magical national parks, rocky mountains, towering cliffs, sparkling lakes, and more natural wonder than I thought possible to pack into such a tiny country. After visiting quite a few times, I’ve finally ticked most of the amazing places to visit in Montenegro off my list. Although I still discover more and more each time I return, I think I can confidently list all the best things to do in Montenegro – and not only that, but I have organized them into a looped Montenegro road trip itinerary so you can conveniently see them too.
This Montenegro road trip route can start anywhere you’d like (as it’s a loop – don’t you just love looped routes?!), but I have begun in the Bay of Kotor for convenience. Many people like to get to Kotor from either Dubrovnik, Croatia or Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. You can drive or take a bus from either of these locations – see below!
There’s a LOT of info in this Montenegro Guide… Pin it to Pinterest?!
But First, Are You Traveling Around the Balkans?! Perhaps Some of my Other Articles Could be of Use, Too!:
- Must-See Day Trips from Dubrovnik
- Travel Guide to Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Travel Guide to All of Croatia
- Guide to Visiting Kravice Waterfalls
- Travel Guide to Dubrovnik
- How to Choose the Best Croatia Sailing Tours
What is the Best Time to go to Montenegro?
Montenegro is very coastal, so temperatures stay quite temperate even in the summer with an average temp of 27C in the peak of summer. The middle of the country, however, is quite mountainous with a higher elevation, leaving it a bit colder year round. I would say the best time to visit Montenegro (and everywhere in the Balkans) just before or on the tail end of the high summer season. May/June and September/October are ideal months; July and August can get a bit too busy and hot.
Currency in Montenegro
Montenegro uses the Euro, unlike its Croatian and Bosnian counterparts. Some markets still accept other currencies, but it would be a good idea to change over some Euros before your Montenegro travel plans.
Getting to Montenegro
Flights to Montenegro
There are airports in Tivat (which is near Kotor) and Podgorica (the capital) if you would like to fly in. You can easily connect to Kotor and Budva from either, or begin your Montenegro road trip from either place. Bus connections to main cities are easy to find. You can check flights to Montenegro from other places in Europe here; the cheapest flights tend to be from Italy.
Bus to Montenegro
You can easily reach Kotor from main northern cities of Dubrovnik and Mostar, or connect by bus from other surrounding countries as well. Check bus times from Dubrovnik to Kotor here. Budva and Kotor are about 30 minutes apart by cheap public bus.
Driving in Montenegro
We rented a car to do a big Montenegro road trip, which I recommend to have a more freestyle Montenegro trip and be able to see all the places to visit in Montenegro that you want to see. We had a big Balkans road trip through Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, so we rented our car from Sixt in Croatia (offices in the airports/city of Split and Dubrovnik, plus many other places). Sixt was much cheaper than competitors and offered free border crossings as well. You can check Sixt in Montenegro too if it’s the only country you’re going to – there are offices in Tivat, Podgorica, and Budva.
Montenegro Day Tours
If you want to do a Montenegro road trip but can’t rent a car, there are actually plenty of Montenegro day tours you can do from Kotor, Tivat, or Budva. These four tours below pretty much encompass all the main points of interest and adventures in the country if you prefer.
- Montenegro Full Country Day Tour from Kotor, Tivat, or Budva (visits Ostrog Monastery, Tara River Canyon, Durmitor National Park, more viewpoints)
- Montenegro Coast/Parks Full Day Tour from Kotor, Tivat, or Budva (visits Lovcen, Sveti Stefan, and a few other points of interest)
- Bay of Kotor Boat Tour (3 Hours)
- Tara River Canyon Rafting Trip from Kotor, Tivat, or Budva
Bay of Kotor
Things to Do in Montenegro
Here are the best places to visit in Montenegro, organized in order to do a possible Montenegro Road trip between them all. I would highly recommend branching out from Kotor and Budva – there is so much to Montenegro than these two main cities, and I pretty much guarantee that you’ll be as completely blown away by the countryside as I was.
To do this whole Montenegro road trip, you would need to either do multiple day trips from Kotor/Budva or rent a car and stay the night in a few other places in the country, such as Durmitor National Park or Tara River Canyon. I will recommend places to stay the night where applicable. Everything I mention will be visible on Google Maps. You can do this whole road trip in a row, or you can do bits and pieces here and there; as with all my itineraries and ’things to do’ posts, it is a ‘create-you-own-adventure’ style!
Without further ado, here’s my Montenegro Travel guide with all the best things to do in Montenegro!
1. Bay of Kotor
Time: Stop for photos
The bay of Kotor is a sight to behold in and of itself. A huge bay surrounded by massive mountains, the Bay of Kotor is effortlessly picturesque all the way around. You can either drive all the way around it or take a short ferry ride from Kamenari to Lepetane if you’re looking just to cross. I do however recommend getting lots of different views of it, both from sea level and from some high roads leading into and out of it (Lipci is one of the best views – see all on Google Maps).
The Bay of Kotor is actually the largest inlet of the Adriatic Sea, and has lots of amazing views. Perhaps the best points of interest in the Bay of Kotor (besides Kotor itself) are the two tiny islands located in the Northern past of the Bay, near Perast. One island (Our Lady of the Rocks) has a monastery on it, and the other (Otok Sveti Dorde/Saint George Island) has a church. Both are reachable by boat (like this boat tour here), and there are also great views of them from the coast directly opposite them, or from afar up the hill in Lipci.
Hiking above Kotor
Scenes from Kotor Town
2. Kotor Town
Time: A few Days
Kotor is an amazing little walled town on the southern tip of the Bay of the same name. The wall goes nearly vertically up the steep mountain behind the town and snakes its way to a massive fortress overlooking the town and back down to a small moat. The designs of the mountain fortifications are very impressive and unique, and have survived since the 15th century!
You could easily spend a few days in Kotor, so this is one of the places I recommend staying at least a night, up to 2 or 3.
The best things to do in Kotor are:
- Hike up the mountain to the fortress (MUST do!).
- Visit the many churches in town
- Walk the front side of the city walls – you can get up to the top of the walls from the bay side entrances
- Visit the cat museum and cat gift shops – Kotor is known as the city of cats!
- Visit the archeological museum, Maritime museum, or other art galleries
- Wander through the old medieval town and the many little shops with interesting souvenirs and trinkets
If you want, the hikes around Kotor are some of the coolest things to do in Montenegro. The hiking trails actually go up much farther than the fortress, and zig zag their way up distant mountains with even better views. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time, though, and bring lots of water!
Where to Eat in Kotor
There are also some top-rated restaurants in and around Kotor. Tables might book up in the high season so make sure to call in if you’re a foodie.
Where to Stay in Kotor
- Hostel: Old Town Hostel East Wing
- Airbnb: Cozy Antique Studio + Terrace in Old Town or B Rooftop Apartment for bigger groups
- Hotel: Boutique Hotel Astoria
3. Slansko Lakes View – from Kuside
Getting There: Drive back around the Bay of Kotor from Kotor Town (heading north) and take the road up from the bay (P11 to M6). You will see the viewpoint on your right!
Time: Stop for a Photo
Slansko Lake is a really picturesque lake scattered with little islands. It’s a great place to stop for a photo on your Montenegro road trip; there’s also a restaurant or two overlooking it if you are so inclined. You don’t need to stay long – but it’s worth checking out and snapping a photo for sure.
4. Ostrog Monastery (+ Mountain Views Along the Way)
Time: An hour or two
Getting There: From Slansko Lake, you can go through the town of Niksic to the M18 (you don’t have to go through the town as the highway circumnavigates it, but if you’d like, you can stop for a coffee, food, or accommodation). Exit at the town of Bogetici and enjoy what will emerge into beautiful mountain views overlooking a ravine. You’ll travel up and up and up, eventually reaching a zig zag road that leads up to one of the most unique monasteries in the world.
Ostrog Monastery is a feat of architecture and engineering – its a monastery built right into the side of a hill, overlooking the entire (basically) country of Montenegro. It’s really cool to see. It’s hard to get a proper view of it, but it’s amazing to catch glimpses of it as you ascend the mountain and to eventually get up close to it and see how it was carved into the side of the massive rock.
On certain days you can go inside, but I don’t recommend going on the weekend (like we did) because people often make pilgrimages to it and it can get really crowded. We got there on what ended up being a holiday and could not get in as hundreds of people had slept there overnight! Either way, it’s a sight to behold and one of the most unique things to do in Montenegro.
Standing below Ostrog Monastery
Etno Selo Izlazak Viewpoint + Restaurant/B&B
Time: Stop for a meal/photo or possibly overnight
Getting There: This is one part of the Montenegro road trip that you’ll have to retrace your steps, but not for longer than 15-20 minutes. You’ll now head up the E762 into the most amazing mountainous part of the country. This viewpoint is about 1:15 hours from the Ostrog Monastery.
This little viewpoint/restaurant/hotel is searchable on google maps as ‘Etno Selo Izlazak” and it’s a perfect introduction to this part of the country. You can enjoy a delicious traditional meal overlooking one of many amazing Montenegro river canyons.
Time: Stop for a photo
Getting There: This overpass is simply a spectacular view. after you cross the bridge from the south, you’ll wind your way up the side of (yet another) mountain looking back upon a stunning view of Piva lake and the bridge that you just crossed over it.
Visitng the Piva area is one of the most scenic things to do in Montenegro, with a thin ice blue lake/river sitting between large green mountains. The terrain is so mountainous that you’ll have to constantly be looking in every possible direction for more incredible views. Pluzine is the small town you’ll pass through when crossing between different parts of Piva Lake, from Etno Selo Izlazak all the way to the Mratinje Dam (a large dam at the far side of Piva Lake) if you’d like to make a slight detour to see it as well.
Driving over Piva Lake
Jumping for joy at the Crno Jezero in Durmitor National Park
The kinds of views to expect driving through Durmitor
Durmitor National Park
Time: From a few hours to 1-2 Days
Getting There: From Piva Lake, you’ll keep on the same small road (P14) which will eventually take you through Durmitor National Park and out the other side to the town of Zabljak.
Be on alert for this whole drive, trust me – there are some incredible views as you make your way into another cluster of rocky mountains and grassy countryside. There’s one specific overpass (marked on the map Prevoj Sedlo) that is extra special, where you can stop at the top and overlook a winding road on either side. But for this trip (until you get to the main town outside the National park entrance on the other side, Zabljak) I recommend putting some tunes on and keeping your eyes glued to the windows, because it’ll be a bona fide Montenegro road trip with sweeeeeet views.
After another epic leg of your Montenegro road trip, you will reach the small country town of Zabljak, which is the main entry point to the most popular and easiest part of Durmitor National Park to visit. There are grocery stores, shops, and tons of accommodation in this town ,which is why it would be a great place to stay a night or two to be able to properly explore one of the best things to do in Montenegro.
From here you can access one of the main parts of Durmitor National Park, which has lakes and hiking trails backed up to large mountains. The Crno Jezero (Black Lake) in my opinion is the most picturesque part. You can hike through forests, across pebbly beaches, and up and down hills around two interconnected lakes, getting a true variety in viewpoint. You can hike around them in a few hours, but there are lots more adventures around the area if you have longer time to spend in Montenegro.
Tara River Canyon
Time: Few Hours – Half Day
Getting There: Now we have reached the farthest part of the Montenegro road trip, and the further places to visit in Montenegro will be getting closer and closer until we get back to the coast. We will take the most scenic route possible of course, through the Tara Canyon along the Tapa river. The P4 road (on Google Maps) can take you through some more amazing scenery as you drive south – and as you will be used to by now, more windy roads to get to epic viewpoints. You can reach the main town of the canyon, Rasova, in about 20 minutes from Zabljak.
The Tara River Canyon is actually recognized as the deepest canyon in Europe, and a must-see of the things to do in Montenegro. If nothing else, you’ll want to stop off and take photos of the gorgeous arched Tara bridge, which to me is actually almost more magnificent than the single-arched Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, California. The bridge is extremely picturesque against a jagged mountainous landscape surrounding a small blue river. This area is great for adventures, such as zip lining or river rafting.
The Tapa River is a popular place to go river rafting- perhaps the best in the Balkans. Rafting here is accessible on your Montenegro road trip or via day trips from Montenegrin cities/Dubrovnik. This tour here takes you on a full day of rafting and food from Kotor, Budva, or Tivat. You can also zipline over the canyon to get the most our of your adventure.
A lookout over Lovcen National Park
Time: Anywhere from a quick rest stop to 1 day
Getting There: This will be the largest commute of your Montenegro road trip. It’s 2-2.5 hours via the E65 to the E80 from the Tara area to the capital.
I feel inclined to include the country’s capital in this Montenegro road trip route, because, well, it’s one of the most obvious things to do in Montenegro. But, to be honest, the capital is more of an industrial center and doesn’t have crazy amounts to do. If you need a break, a meal, or a night’s stay (depending on how long you spend in other places and how long you have), you can spend some time here.
There are parks, shops, squares, riverside eateries, some gardens, a museum or two, and accommodations, but Podgorica isn’t particularly a tourist destination to be honest. You could easily spend a day wandering around, but the true magic of Montenegro is more elsewhere.
Pavlova Strana Viewpoint
Skadar Lake National Park/ Pavlova Strana Viewpoint
Time: 30 minutes at the viewpoint to 1 day exploring the whole National Park
Getting There: The Pavlova Strana viewpoint is about 30 minutes from the capital via freeways and tiny mountains roads.
This national park is centered around (you guessed it) a massive lake, located in the southwestern part of the country on the border with Albania. It’s pretty massive, but if you were to visit just one part of Skadar Lake National Park on your Montenegro road trip, make it the Pavlova Strana viewpoint. You can find this viewpoint on google maps, and it is perhaps one of the most famous viewpoints and best things to do in Montenegro. 🇲🇪
This viewpoint looks out over a massive 180 degree river bend, and is pretty spectacular. You can see little boats going by on the river to give you perspective of its size, and look out to the river snaking through marshlands into the distance. It’s an unbeatable photo op! Just to warn you, though, the roads to get through the park to reach this point are, well, less than ideal. They’re thin and often overgrown, but don’t be discouraged that you’re going the wrong way. You’er not – it’s just quite remote.
If you only have time for this viewpoint, that’s totally fine. But if not, you can easily spend a day exploring the far reaches of this National Park. Just remember that you can’t drive around the entire lake unless you go into Albania.
Lovcen National Park + Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos Viewpoint
Time: A few hours to a half day
Getting There: It will take about 30 minutes from the Pavlova Strana viewpoint to get to the outskirts of Lovcen National Park, and about an hour to get to the top of the highest mountains viewpoint.
Lovcen National park is a little circular National park about mid-way between Budva and Kotor, inland. In my opinion the roads leading to it are easier to take from/to Budva, which is why I placed it in this position on the Montenegro Road trip itinerary. You’ll take a winding road almost in a circle around the outside of the park to get in, and be faced with beautiful rocky mountain views throughout.
The real treat comes in when you drive all the way to the top of Lovcen mountain, however. If you follow the one main road all the way to the end, you’ll head straight up a massive mountain and reach a restaurant and parking area at the top just below the mausoleum of an old Montenegrin leader.
Park there, and walk towards the massive, ominous-looking tunnel with hundreds of stairs. Pay a small worthwhile fee, and walk up to what is probably the most… interesting… mausoleums I’ve been to. To be honest, this one one of the most interesting places I have been, and definitely on the the coolest things to do in Montenegro. I can’t quite think of the words to describe what this huge mountaintop marble structure adorned with statues and columns is like. It’s ominous; it’s opulent; it’s over-the-top; its friggin’ awesome; it’s a bit spooky; it’s like something I would expect in like, Ancient Egypt or something. You can visit a few different rooms in the mausoleum or go downstairs for the actual tomb, and there are guides and workers who can give you pamphlets to explain what it’s all about.
Oh, and THE VIEW. The view is panoramic and unreal, assuming the fog hasn’t covered it all up. There’s a platform (Vidikovac observation deck) not far from the mausoleum where you can look out over the whole park and also back towards the mausoleum, perched on top of the hill for the rest of its days.
Vidikovac Observation deck
Scenes from inside the mausoleum
Time: 2+ Days
Getting There: From Lovcen National Park, you must return to the entrance in Cetinje and take the M2.3 back to the lovely coast! It should take just about an hour to see the sea again and another 15 or so minutes to get to the town. Another Montenegro road trip option for those with less time is to go to Sveti Stefan (the next item on the list) for a quick swim and a sunset before you go back to Budva.
Budva is probably the best city to visit in Montenegro. It’s coastal, has more to do than Kotor and the capital, and is all-around the biggest and most eventful tourist town. There’s a charming old walled town, beautiful beaches right outside of it, a harbor, a coastline full of clubs, games, and water sports, and some really large suburbs.
In the summer months there will always be something going on in Budva, from parties in the local parks to film screenings to live music in the squares of Old Town. There are tons of museums and other things to do, ruins to learn about, and too many great restaurants to choose from.
Some of the best things to do in Budva include:
- Visit the beach outside old town – complete with thatched umbrellas and lounge chairs to rent
- visit the dancer statue (‘Statua Ballerina’) up the coast from old town
- Get lost exploring and shopping in the alleyways of Old Town
- Visit the many churches in old town
- Check out the Maritime Museum, City Museum, and a few art galleries
- Visit Sveti Stephan (see below)
Where to Stay in Budva
- Hostel: Freedom Hostel Budva
- Airbnb: Sea View Studio for a view/bit more quiet, or Old Town Budva Authentic Apartment for central
- Hotel: Apartment Alex Viewpoint
Time: A few hours – 1 day
Getting There: It’s right down the coast from Budva- about 10km south.
Sveti Stefan is one of the most unique places to visit in Montenegro. It’s a little island connected to the mainland by a very thin isthmus – about 100m long. It’s an extremely postcard-worthy view, both from a small viewpoint on a road above it and from the bridge itself.
Sveti Stefan is an extremely picturesque formation, and if it wasn’t beautiful enough already there is now a wonderfully designed (and expensive af) hotel on it that is also pleasing to the eye. There are no other things to do in Montenegro quite like it, or any of the Balkans really. I recommend spending a few hours here taking photos, swimming, and relaxing on the beach. The water here is warm and clear like the rest of the Adriatic, and with a view like Sveti Stefan it will be an unforgettable dip.
Sunset at Sveti Stefan… now time for a swim!
Time: 1 Day Trip
Getting There: Ulcinj is about 1.5 hours from Budva, down the coast.
Ulcinj (Ult-zin-ee) is a lovely beach town on the farthest south end of Montenegro’s coast – close to Albania. It’s definitely not one of the necessary things to do in Montenegro, but I wanted to include a more off-the-beaten-track beachside destination for those who want to get away from the crowds. Ulcinj is a secret paradise with rocky headlands, beaches, and hilltop parks overlooking the sea. It would be a great getaway for 1+ days. It’s also quite close to Skadar Lake; if you end up exploring deeper into the national park you can always visit Ulcinj directly afterwards and re-route your Montenegro road trip a bit past Sveti Stefan towards Budva.
Remember to PIN ME!
Phew, where there they are – ALL the best things to do in Montenegro, organized into the ultimate road trip. You can now know all the possible places to visit in Montenegro and plan your own trip accordingly – choose your own adventure and make a route with the time you have. Whether you hit all these spots or only Kotor and Budva, you’re sure to have a great time in what I have considered one of the most underrated countries in the world. As always, let me know if I can help in any way, if I missed something, or if you have any extra tips!