Planning a trip to Montenegro any time soon? You should! Montenegro is a small country and its beauty has attracted tourists for many decades, but when the Yugoslavian war broke out, the tourists naturally abandonded the country and were gone for many years. Today, Montenegro is frequently visited mostly by tourists from the neighbouring countries and it is seen as a cheaper alternative to Croatia. With tourism being the main income for the country, you’d expect that it’s a touristy nightmare – like, say, the Canary Islands (which I did not like that much) – but it’s not. It is small though and there aren’t as many places worth a visit as in Italy or Greece for example. There are some things you’ll want to visist though, and if you’re completely lost on where to go and what to see in Montenegro, here are 5 things I recommend experiencing:
1. Picturesque Sveti Stefan
The small coastal town with its peninsula, now privately owned, has attracted the rich and famous for decades and it continues to do so. Once you go there, you’ll understand why. Sveti Stefan was my favourite place in Montenegro, and I wish we had stayed there instead of in Kotor. The town is very small and you won’t find big malls, fancy fashion boutiques or big tourist trap restaurants here. It feels very genuine, very original, I’d say – although tourism is the most important income, you don’t feel the same forced beauty here as you do in many other cities on the coast. It feels real, genuine; it doesn’t feel like the city has adapted its beauty to get the tourists there and I believe that’s what attracts travellers. You can either stay there and rent an apartment or room, from one of the locals, or you can splurge and visit the 5 star luxury resort located on the peninsula that is no longer open to the public. Or, you can stay in Budva and get here by car or by bus.
2. The Tara River Canyon
I’ve already written about our rafting adventure on Tara, which you can read more about here. It truly was one of the highlights on our trip and I’d love to go back and do it again in June or May when the water goes completely wild. Rent a car and drive there yourself if you’re an experienced driver, or you can go by bus with one of the many travel agencies and hostels that offer a river rafting package. The drive up to the river, going through Niksic, offers breathtaking views over mountains and lakes, and you can stop on the way to buy some homemade rakija or local honey (look for signs that say med).
3. Walls of Kotor
The old city walls that surround the old town of Kotor and continue up over the rocks are truly impressive. Looking out on them, I couldn’t help but wonder how they built it on top of the steep hills. The thing with Kotor is, there’s not much else to see here except the walls and the old town, so get here either in the morning, before the sunrise, or a bit later, when the sun has settled behind the mountains, and climb the circa 1,300 steps up to the top. There, you’ll get a magnificent view of the Bay of Kotor. Bring water and good shoes!
4. Crystal clear beaches on Sveti Nikola
If you’re staying in Budva, you must visit the island that you see from the city. Get up early, get on a boat going to Hawaii (not the Hawaii, obviously 😉 ), lie down on a comfy deck chair and enjoy the surroundings and the turquoise waters. I’ve written more about Sveti Nikola here.
5. Budva Nightlife
If you’re all about partying Balkan style, vibrant Budva is the place to go. You’ll find everything here – from beach parties to outdoor bars with live music and nightclubs playing music until the early morning. If you’re up for getting day drunk by the pool (take it easy, though!), Torch Beach has DJ’s and a bar IN the pool. Or you can take a boat or taxi to Ploce Beach, where there’s a pool, cocktails and music all day long. If you’d rather relax in the day and save your partying for the evening, Budva has lots of options. I really liked a place that I’ve completely forgotten the name of, located just by the citadel in the old town. There’s live music with a great local band, the venue is outdoors and has both comfy sofas and bar tables to stand by and enjoy your drinks. If house music is your thing, head on over to Casper. If you like something wilder, try the big plaza right by the marina, where the music is so loud, all you can do is dance and use your body language to talk. All the bars close at 01 (1 A.M.), so if you want to continue the fun, you’ll need to head for the nightclubs. There are many of them – Trocadero, Paris, and Top Hill (which is in the hills – get there by taxi for 2 euros) to name a few. Music is mostly traditional Balkan music and many of the famous singers from the Balkan countries play here during summer.
Want to live the high life? Visit Porto Montenegro and its pool club, with an infinity pool, cold mojitos, perfect service and even better food. If you’re all about a luxurious escape, you can stay at the five star Regent Hotel.
Image 1,2, 4, 5 and 6 by Liveandletsgo.com
Image 3 of Kotor City walls by Chico Boomba.