Montenegro (meaning Black Mountain) is a Balkan country in Southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. It is full of rugged mountains, medieval towns and beaches along the Adriatic coastline.
In case you have even a passing interest in European history, Montenegro is certainly a fascinating place to visit. The richness of its cultural history is evident from the mosaic floors of Roman villas, elaborately decorated Catholic churches, and the strong castles built by several powers that have battled over its lands.
Most certainly you are now thinking about taking a trip to this amazing country. Several valid questions such as how much time to spend in Montenegro, what would be the best things to include in the itinerary, among others might have already crossed your mind.
Spending one entire week in Montenegro would give you enough time to enjoy the wonders of significant tourist destinations like Kotor, Budva and Durmitor National Park.
When to go to Montenegro – Summer (from May to the end of September) is certainly a preferable time to visit Montenegro as most of the interesting places here are accessible at this time of the year and you get to enjoy plenty of activities like hiking, horse riding, mountain biking and kayaking. When it comes to mountain biking, Honda crf motorbikes truly fit the bill.
The winters in Montenegro can be extremely cold, especially inland and in the mountains. So, unless you are specifically keen on skiing in the mountains, you could avoid visiting this place during the winter.
Getting around in Montenegro – The bus service to most towns in Montenegro is safe and cheap with the services on the coast running more frequently. Renting a car is your best bet if you want to explore remote destinations and you can easily load your weight on Toyota hilux roof racks. This is suitable for a tough destination.
Montenegro food and drink – The traditional form of Montenegrin cooking is under the coals. Kajmak (sour cream), and cow and sheep cheese are the most commonly used ingredients. Lamb, veal and seafood are common options for non-vegetarian food. Generally, the tap water here is safe to drink.
Health & safety in Montenegro – Travelers do not have access to the Montenegrin health system. So, make sure to check with your General Practitioner that your general polio, tetanus and typhoid vaccinations are still effective. Remember to use a strong sunscreen lotion with a high SPF.
Here are some of the best things to do in some of the best places during one week in Montenegro:
One of the best preserved medieval parts of the Mediterranean, Kotor is a quaint and charming town of Montenegro. A step back in time, this coastal town of Kotor is famous for its World heritage medieval structures such as churches and fortresses. Kotor is located at the very edge of the mountain-rimmed Kotor bay, with stunning natural scenery all around it.
In Montenegro, the nearest international airport to Kotor is Tivat. A five-day stay in Kotor would be perfect, which is sufficient time to explore the coastal towns, relax in Kotor and then travel inland to towns like Budva. There are numerous hotels in Kotor working throughout the year. Additionally, there are luxurious villas and budget-friendly private properties available for vacation rentals.
Here are the top tourist attractions in Kotor:
Kotor Old Town – This is the most famous part of Kotor, where the Kotor history and culture are being preserved. It is on the list of the UNESCO world cultural inheritance, since 1979.
The old town of Kotor has myriad monuments of the medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, fortresses, palaces, and museums. Plenty of narrow streets, squares, markets, stylishly made gates, and stairs further enhance its beauty. City bulwarks which surround the old town of Kotor are a unique example of the fortification architecture in Europe. These bulwarks or ramparts have 3 doors, through which for centuries people have entered and exited the town.
On the way from any of these doors to the old town, you will come across the most famous structure, namely, cathedral Sveti Tripun from the XII century. Of the many squares in the old town, the main and the biggest is Trg od Oruzja (Square of arms). It was and remained the main place where people from Kotor assembled. Some of the famous churches here are Church of Sveti Luka (XII century) and Church of Lady of Health (XV century).
The Kotor Maritime Museum that preserves the fame of the Kotor navy, is a part of the medieval baroque palace of Grgurina, located on the Square of the Boka (Bay of Kotor) fleet. Next to the very entrance of the palace, there are two small cannons, which symbolise the constant battle of the Boka seamen and pirates.
A 9th century narrative of the foundation of the union of Kotor seamen proves that sailing in Kotor began to develop during the middle ages (from the 5th to the 15th century). The Maritime Museum preserves and showcases such old memories of the successes of the renowned Kotor sailors, shipbuilders, craftsmen, and diplomats. The golden maritime memories include portraits of the famous captains, models of old sailboats, navigational instruments, treasures of the sea, and a copy of the oldest (dating from 1168) navigation guide (for the areas of the Bay of Kotor) among other things.
In the Old town of Kotor, there are also music halls, the Center for culture, galleries, cafés, pizzerias, several boutiques and trade shops. Some smaller stores offer footwear and clothes of the famous European and world designers and creators. A great number of souvenir shops and antique shops make this town even more interesting.
Perast – This is one of the quietest and most beautiful towns in the Bay of Kotor. Known for long to be a town of sailors, hundreds of sailing boats used to dock in the coves of Perast. This strange town is full of narrow streets and abandoned baroque palaces.
Among the 16 preserved palaces here that represent 12 Perast brotherhoods, is the baroque palace Bujovic at the very entrance of the town.
Summer (during July and August) should be the best time of the year to visit Perast as it offers some interesting events at this time. In the month of July, several festivities like traditional Fasinada occur here. This is a ritual procession of barges and boats, which carry stones with them and then put them onto the island named Gospa od Skrpjela. August is the time for meetings of music clappers. A competition of traditional singing occurs on the part of the Mediterranean which connects the city of Dalmatia to Montenegro.
Our Lady of the Rocks – Also known as Gospa od Skrpjela, this gorgeous artificial island is located in the bay of Kotor across Perast in the Kotor municipality. It was made by the seamen from Kotor, who on their large sailboats carried big stones.
Legend says that fishermen from Perast, after a shipwreck near the island, found a statue of the Holy Mother of God with the Christ on a sea rock. This discovery led them to build a church on the island, long ago, in 1630.
It would be interesting to visit Our Lady of the Rocks island in the summer period. Tourist barges organize rides to the island as part of an excursion.
St.John Fortress – During your stay in Kotor, a visit to the fortress St. John is a must. This fortress, known locally as San Giovanni is situated above the bulwarks of the Old town of Kotor, at 280 m above sea level.
You can enjoy the fantastic views of the Old town of Kotor and the entire Bay of Kotor while climbing up to the fortress and from the top of it respectively. During summer, the Bay of Kotor is filled with luxurious boats, and yachts. Also, during this time, the visit to St. John Fortress becomes much more interesting as its ramparts are illuminated with special reflectors.
Start your hike up to the fortress around 8-8:30 a.m. when the least amount of people go up because boats and ships start coming into the area around 10-11 am.
This way, by climbing up the steep stairs to St. John Castle, you get to start your day early with a morning workout. Make sure to wear closed toed shoes because the pathway is made of slippery, crumbling rocks.
Known for its well-preserved walls, sandy beaches and hip nightlife, the medieval town of Budva is Montenegro’s most popular summer playground. You can spend an entire day in and around Budva.
Here are the top tourist attractions in Budva:
Budva Old Town – Raised on an island, this Old town is a trademark of Budva and is famous for its medieval walls, criss-cross streets, squares, ramparts, churches and towers. A city fortress here, called Citadela which dates from the V – VI century B.C. is at present a stage of the famous City theater.
The museum of Budva, known as the Ethnographic Museum is situated in the very center of the Old town. Besides the antiques, you’d get to see exhibits at the museum, that mark Budva from the creation of the town until today. Several items with Greek, Roman, Byzantine and other cultural traits such as vases, ornaments, tools, eating utensils and silver dishes are kept in the Ethnographic Museum.
Sveti Stefan – Best known as a fashionable summer resort for elite tourists, this island’s interior is made of curvy, narrow streets. Myriad celebrities including actors like Sophia Loren, the presidents of most of the nations and English princess Margaret, among others have stayed in Sveti Stefan, with the majority having stayed in the villa 118. This villa is a part of the hotel complex “Sveti Stefan”.
The town has picturesque squares, 3 churches, and hotel suites in the form of elegant Mediterranean-style houses.
A former king’s summer residence here, known today as Hotel Milocer, is completely surrounded by pinewoods. You’d find a gorgeous park in its immediate vicinity, which is further made of nicely arranged smaller parks with several flowers, two beaches, and pine tree alleys. For a special dining experience, you can have lunch or dinner in the open-air restaurant of the hotel.
Sveti Nikola Island – This attractive island, popularly named Hawaii, is easily accessible by taxi boats or barges. Sveti Nikola is thickly covered with conifers and pine forests. In a one-day trip to the island, you can enjoy swimming in the sea, and enjoy Mediterranean delicacies in a newly opened restaurant.
While packing for a summer vacation here, don’t forget beach shoes and T-shirts made of breathable fabric.
Petrovac – A nice little place and long known for fishing activities, the town of Petrovac is found in the sandy bay, surrounded by thick pine forests.
The clean and wonderful beaches of Petrovac are sure to make you come back to this place year after year! One such marvellous beach is the beach Lucice. During the summer it is full of visitors. The town is also famous for its diverse nightlife which mostly takes place at Hotel Riva.
3. Durmitor National Park
This breathtaking national park, formed by glaciers, is the highest point in Montenegro and is a UNESCO World Heritage property. You can travel from Kotor to Durmitor National Park by bus or by car. Durmitor is a popular tourist destination, where you can enjoy superb hiking, mountaineering and canoeing opportunities.
You can cover the entire park in a one-day trip or choose to stay overnight in a hotel, whichever suits you. Things you need to pack for the trip are plenty of filtered water, a few snacks like nuts, cheese and chips, hiking boots, ankle socks made of wool, a light waterproof jacket just in case it rains, a headlamp with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, and a camera with a tripod.
Here are some of the top attractions in Durmitor National Park:
Tara Canyon – One of the world’s deepest canyons, the Tara River cuts through the mountains at the northern edge of Durmitor National Park. You’d get the best views of the park from the waters of this river, while you enjoy rafting along it. Rafting along Tara Canyon is one of Montenegro’s most popular tourist activities.
Stećci (Cemeteries) – These are mysterious carved stone monuments belonging to an era between the 12th and 16th centuries. There are two extremely important cemetery sites in Durmitor National Park, namely, Bare Žugića necropolis and Grčko groblje (‘Greek graveyard’).
Bare Žugića site has many intricately decorated stones, slabs and tombstones.
Black Lake – Of the eighteen glittering glacial lakes here, also known locally as “mountain eyes”, the spectacular Black Lake is the largest and most visited part of the national park. Once you are here, take a refreshing stroll along an easy 2.2 miles walking track which circles the pine-walled lake waters.
Konoba Luna – This humble cafe-bar with a simple ambience serves good cheap meals. You can try a variety of dishes ranging from kačamak (polenta porridge with mashed potato) to grilled lamb to omelettes.
Days of Mountain Flowers – Celebrate the alpine flora by visiting Žabljak, a small town right in the centre of the National Park. Every year this town holds a very important manifestation from 11th to 18th July. If you are visiting Montenegro around this time, don’t miss out on the wonderful concerts, hearty food and a display of a variety of flowers at Žabljak.
Harriet is a marketing enthusiast and an influencer in different verticals. She keeps a special interest in the impact of visual branding on business growth. She has been writing for a long time now and has an interest in traveling as well.