The 5 Best Things To do in Montenegro

Tara Bridge-1

Montenegro is famed for it’s abundant rugged mountains, beautiful coastline and historic cities. If you are a lover of the outdoors then this place is for you! The country is also a wonderful destination for solo (female) travellers, as it is both budget friendly and boasts friendly, hospitable locals.

Here are 5 activities you shouldn’t miss in Montenegro

1. Explore Kotor Bay and Old Town

Possibly the most famous region of Montenegro is Kotor Bay. Formed by a fjord, this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage listed bay is naturally divided into four smaller areas; Herceg Novi, Risan, Kotor and Tivat. 

Well positioned for trade, the Old Town of Kotor became the cultural center of the bay and is now the most popular tourist town. It can be extremely busy and hot in summer, so visiting in shoulder season is more enjoyable.

Another highlight in the bay is Perast, a stone town with views of two beautiful islets; Our Lady of the Rocks and St. Gorge. You can reach these islands by frequent water taxi for 5 euro.

Lady of the Rocks
Lady of the Rocks
Kotor Bay
Overlooking Kotor Bay and Old Town
Perast Old Town
Perast Old Town

2. Climb Above Cetinje to St. Peter’s Mausoleum

Cetinje is the old royal capital of Montenegro and is a beautiful and peaceful place to explore in itself. There are several great value restaurants serving delicious local dishes- just look for where the locals are eating.

The main draw card of the area are the stunning views of Lovcen National Park from high above the city. To get there you’ll need to drive or hire a taxi to take you up the winding road to St Peter’s Mausoleum. I’ve written another post, here, with specific details and the cost involved.

View from St Peter's Mausoleum
The view from St. Peter’s Mausoleum

View out an archway

3. Walk over Tara Bridge and Raft the Canyon Below

Falling 1,300 meters at it’s lowest point, Tara Canyon is the deepest canyon in Europe. The clear turquoise water of the canyon also makes for a beautiful place to try white water rafting. Canyoning and zip line rides are also on offer in the area.

Aside from adventure activities, Tara is a popular tourist destination due to the impressive structure of Tara Bridge. Perched 170 meters above the river, the 365 meter-long structure is both beautiful and imposing.

White Water Rafting along Tara River
White Water Rafting along Tara River
Zip line in Tara
One of the Zip lines at Tara
Tara Bridge
Tara Bridge towering over the canyon

4. Hike and Swim at Biogradska Gora

One of the last three primeval forests in Europe, Biogradska Gora National Park is a rare treasure. It’s also a lot quieter than nearby Durmitor National Park. The train from Bar to Belgrade stops at nearby Mojkovac, making the area accessible even without a car.

You can stroll through the beautiful trees and boat or swim in the central lake. Have a look here for more information.

Biogradska Gora Lake
Biogradska Gora Lake
Boat at Biogradska Gora
Biogradska Gora Lake

5. Relax on the Montenegrin Riviera

Fondly dubbed the Riviera of Montenegro, the coastal region of the country is indeed stunning and relaxing. There are three main touristic towns along the coast, each offering a slightly different experience. Below you can see some highlights from Budva, Bar and Ulcinj.

Montenegro Riviera
Montenegro’s coast is full of beautiful beaches
Budva
Budva at sunset
Waterfall above Bar
The waterfall above Bar
Ulcinj Old Town
Ulcinj Old Town

Budva

By far the most popular resort town on the coast, Budva is full of hotels, beach side bars and sundeck chairs. It can be overwhelming in summer but in the shoulder season it’s just quiet enough.

Budva Old Town is a short stroll from the beach and at over two and a half thousand years old, it’s famous for being the Old Town of Illyria. However, these days I found most shops and cafes inside to be exceedingly touristic and over-priced.

Bar

The next town along the coast is Bar. One of the main highlights is the rubble strewn old town which spans many civilisations. At 4km up hill from the coast, it’s quite a hike, but local buses and taxis frequently visit the old town and are quite cheap.

A further 40 minute hike up the hill will reward you with a small waterfall tumbling into a deep swimming hole. This spot is well known by locals but not by tourists, so it’s refreshingly cool waters are often empty. Find the trail to the waterfall on the Maps.me app.

Ulcinj

Just before the border with Albania you’ll find Ulcinj a large town with many lovely beaches and a quiet inviting old town. The best beaches are small rocky coves on the north side of the old town.

Ulcinj is much less touristy than the other coastal towns, providing a welcome respite from summer crowds. In the old town you’ll find good value seafood restaurants and bars over looking the water with perfect views of the sunset.

 

So how much should you budget for a trip to Montenegro? Have a look at this post for a detailed guide.

 

 

 

Travel Budget: Montenegro

Montenegro is incredibly beautiful- from the mountainous national parks, to the rocky coast and historic old towns, there is no shortage of variety of sights to see and activities to enjoy. The country is also a much cheaper and less touristy option than neighbouring Croatia.

Here is a breakdown of what I spent during two weeks in Montenegro.

Towns: Podgorica,  Mojkovac, Tara, Bar, Ulcinj, Budva, Kotor Bay

Travel Style: Budget

Currency: Euro

Duration: 16 nights

Season: End of Summer (August & September)

Total Spend: 720€

Daily Spend: 45€

Biogradska Gora-6

 

Accommodation:

 167€ for 16 nights

Camp.jpg

  • 8 nights in a shared hostel dorm, averaging 10€ per night
  • 5 nights camping at 5€ per night
  • 4 nights in an AirBnB at 30€ per night split by two

 

Transport:

160€ for 16 days

Biogradska Gora-40

  • Short or shared taxi trips averaging 4€ a ride
  • Local buses, averaging 3€ a trip
  • Car hire for five days 200€ split by two (quite a high rate due to lack of credit card incurring high insurance fee)

Food & Drink:

240€ for 16 days

Sunset Dinner.jpg
Sunset seafood dinner

I spent 145€ eating out, 65€ on groceries and 30€ on alcohol.

While local ‘fast food’ can be a cheap option, it’s not very healthy and you’ll likely tire of if after a week or so. Fresh vegetables and supermarket food is relatively cheap, so if you have access to a kitchen and are looking to save money (whilst maintaining a balanced diet) this is probably the best option.

A traditional fast food staple is burek- a huge fried pastry stuffed with meat, cheese or spinach. This is often served with yogurt and the local way is to have a mouthful of burek then a sip of yogurt and mix the flavours in your mouth.

By the coast seafood is fresh and delicious and relatively cheap compared to elsewhere in Europe- around 12€ for dinner at a good value touristic place.

  • Breakfast: burek at local places should cost less than 1€. Coffee is around 1-2€
  • Lunch: a salad roll or another pastry and a drink will set you back less than 5€
  • Dinner: you can find some great local restaurants away from the tourist areas serving local dises for under 10€ with wine. My favourite was a whole fish served with local vegetables.
  • Drinks: less that 2€ to buy a large can of beer from the supermarket ,about double for a bottle of wine. 4-5€ for beer or wine in a restaurant. Cocktails are around 5-10€.

Activities

153€ for 16 days

Rafting Above
The view from Tara Bridge
Rafting
Rafting Tara Canyon
  • Cetinj National Park Entrance and St. Paul’s Mausoleum: 2€ + 5€
  • Biogradska Gora National Park Entrance: 2€
  • White Water Rafting down Tara Canyon: 110€
  • Zip Line over Tara Canyon: 20€
  • Entrance to Bar Old Town: 2€
  • Boat trip in Ulcinj through Pirate Hostel: 12€

Total spent:    720€ / 16 nights = 45€ per day

Biogradska Gora: one of the most beautiful national parks in Montenegro

Biogradska Gora in Montenegro’s northeast is one of the country’s five national parks, and is famed for it’s extensive primeval (old growth) forests and beautiful lakes. There are over 2,000 plant species200 bird species, and a walk through the park feels like an escape to another world. Many of the trees are over 400 years old and protection of the area dates back to 1878- the second oldest protected park in the world after Yellowstone.

You can access the national park through the towns of Kolasin or Mojkovac which are both on the train line from the capital Podgorica or the coastal town of Bar. The train continues on to Belgrade and is touted as one of the most beautiful rail trips in Europe.

I stayed at Camp Rebrenovic in Mojkovac where you’ll find cabins, tent pitches and camper van spots, all nestled in a beautiful valley. Tara River is a 15 minute walk away for a refreshing swim and a 10 minute taxi ride (3€) will take you to a small but endearing town with a real local feel. I found the area to be a lot less busy and touristic than other areas in Montenegro’s mountainous north.

One of the best ways to reach the national park from the camp is to hire a push bike (5€ a day) and ride 10km to Lake Biograd. While the last 3km of the ride is purely up hill, the subsequent dip in the lake was one of the most refreshing I’ve ever had! The bike ride down the winding road past the ancient trees is also thrilling. By the lake you’ll find a cafe, restaurant and information booth, as well as row boats and canoes for hire.

After spending a few days in the area, I’d recommend getting the local bus to Tara (5€ for an hour trip along the river) where you can raft Tara Canyon and experience the incredible views of Tara Bridge and the canyon below from the thrilling zip line.

Visiting Montenegro’s Cetinje & St. Petar’s Mausoleum: as an independent day trip

Montenegro’s Old Royal Capital Cetinje is a beautiful, peaceful town well worth a visit on it’s own, but also the entry point to St. Petar’s Mausoleum. Perched atop Jezerski Vrh peak of Lovcen Mountain, the Mausoleum itself is not overly impressive, but the views from the top are spectacular. A quick 10 minute (steep) hike to the the rocky peak affords views of rugged mountains and the Bay of Kotor in the distance. Be sure to walk through the Mausoleum and along the narrow path to the guvno, a circular stone structure traditionally serving as a gathering point where important decisions were made.

Cetinj-1

Getting there

From the capital Podgorica or the popular town of Kotor you can take a local bus to the Cetinje bus station. The trip from Podgorica is shorter, at around 30-45 minutes and a little cheaper (3.5€) than the 5€, 1.5 hour trip from Kotor.

From the bus station in Cetinje it’s best to take a taxi to the Mausoleum. It should cost around 25€ for the return trip, including an hour of exploring at the top. I split the trip with two fellow travelers, so it was very affordable at around 8€ each.

Entrance Fees

Entrance to the Lovcen National Park is 2€ per person and 5€ to the Mausoleum. You can still appreciate the view without paying for the Mausoleum entrance but the best view is at the end and well worth the fee.

Cetinj-25