Even if Montenegro is a popular tourist destination, the majority of visitors focus mostly on the relaxing holidays at the seaside. Yet the country has so much more to offer and you can choose from a variety of things to do in Montenegro.
You can enjoy the lazy beach time but you can also seek an adrenaline rush during your active holidays in the mountains, and these are only a few Montenegro activities you might take. In fact, this is one of my favorite countries to visit, the one I keep returning to (I’ve already lost the count of how many times I’ve been to Montenegro), and the main reason why I enjoy it so much is its diversity of attractions and things to do.
There are so many great places to visit in Montenegro that you will easily find the best location for your holidays. My absolute favorite is always Kotor but it can get really busy in the summertime you might want to choose another place for your base for Montenegro sightseeing. And since the country is rather compact and easy to get around, you can put in your Montenegro itinerary more than just one place.
If you are wondering what to do in Montenegro, I put together a list of Montenegro highlights for you to consider for your trip. As you will see, these activities are rather diverse so everyone should find something for his or her taste.
These are the best things to do in Montenegro that will give you a great overview of what the country has to offer and prove to you what a wonderful destination Montenegro is.
Table of contents
- 1 Things to do in Montenegro
- 1.1 Walk up fortification in Kotor
- 1.2 Take the boat to Lady of the Rocks
- 1.3 Walk up to the Mausoleum in Lovcen
- 1.4 Take the Belgrade-Bar train
- 1.5 Go on a boat tour on Skadar Lake
- 1.6 Go hiking
- 1.7 Zipline in Durmitor
- 1.8 Rafting on Tara river
- 1.9 Stay overnight at the fancy island
- 1.10 Experience spirituality in Ostrog
- 1.11 Wander around seaside old towns
- 1.12 Go for a boat cruise on Kotor Bay
- 1.13 Find brutalist architecture
- 1.14 Party in Budva
- 1.15 See one of the oldest olive trees in the world
- 1.16 Visit the former capital of Montenegro
- 1.17 Drive the old road from Kotor to Cetinje
- 1.18 Relax at the beach
- 1.19 Try local cuisine
- 2 Final thoughts on visiting Montenegro
- 3 Travel Resources
Things to do in Montenegro
Walk up fortification in Kotor
Kotor fortifications are among the top Montenegro highlights and can’t be missed when you visit Montenegro. Even if the hike up is a bit exhausting (you need to walk up over 1300 steps!), it’s definitely worth the effort as the view from the top is breathtaking, one of the most beautiful you will ever see. Of all the great things to do in Kotor, this one is definitely the best.
St. John’s Fortress was built between the 9th and 15th centuries, to protect the town from the invaders. Today the place is in a rather poor condition and doesn’t resemble its former glory but I bet you won’t be too focused on admiring the fortification when the landscape around is so spectacular.
If you visit Kotor in the peak season I recommend going to the fortifications either in the morning or in the afternoon, when the crowds from the cruise ships are not there (when the place gets too busy climbing up is so much slower and therefore more challenging).
You don’t need to go all the way to the top of the fortifications, the views from a small square more or less halfway are already good enough to impress.
Take the boat to Lady of the Rocks
One of the most popular Montenegro pictures is of the small, secluded island church surrounded by magnificent mountains. That’s the Our Lady of the Rocks church, built on the artificial island across Perast, in the middle of Kotor Bay.
The islet was built after in 1452 two local sailors found the icon of Madonna and Child on the rock near Perast. They took the icon and put it in the church in Perast but the icon has miraculously returned to the rock, three times. To build the islet more than a hundred sailing ships filled with rocks were used.
Today, for a few Euros you can take the local boat from Perast to the Our Lady of the Rocks church and visit this small yet impressive Tempel. Don’t miss the naval museum attached to the church, with paintings, weapons, artifacts, and a beautiful view from the window on the second floor.
While the church itself is worth taking this trip, seeing the Bay of Kotor and surrounding mountains from a different perspective is why you shouldn’t miss this place.
Walk up to the Mausoleum in Lovcen
Right in the middle of the Lovcen National Park, you will find Jezerski vrh mountain (1657 meters above sea level). Even if this is not the highest peak in the park it surely is the most important one.
On the top of the mountain, you will find the mausoleum of Petar Petrović Njegoš – one of the greatest rulers of Montenegro who himself chose the place of his final rest. To get to the mausoleum you need to walk up 461 stairs from the parking lot but on top, you will be rewarded with the spectacular panorama of Montenegrin mountains. It is said that on a clear day you can see 70% of the country from there.
The mausoleum itself is an interesting piece of architecture too. Inside you will find the big monument of Petar Petrović Njegoš sitting with cross legs, accompanied by the eagle, with the golden mosaic above. The place is guarded by two massive sculptures of women – the mother and the sister of Petar Petrović Njegoš.
Unfortunately, the only way to reach Njegoš’s mausoleum is by car or by tour. Click here for the recommended tour to Lovcen National Park and a few other great places in Montenegro (I took this tour and can say nothing but good things about it).
Take the Belgrade-Bar train
Some people (me included) consider Belgrade to Bar railway line one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world.
The whole trip is almost 500 kilometers and 11 hours but its most spectacular part goes through Montenegro and you can easily take the train on it when you visit the country. There are 254 tunnels (each of them is marked with its number and length at the entrance) and 435 bridges on that railway line and most of them are in Montenegro.
The train journey will take you first through the middle of Skadar Lake and then all the way up to the mountains. The most breathtaking place is the Mala Rijeka viaduct just outside of Podgorica – it is almost 500 meters long and 200 meters high, and until 2001 it was the highest railway bridge in the world.
Besides the direct Belgrade-Bar train there are also regional trains running on this line (from Bar and Podgorica in the direction of Kolasin) that offer the same amazing views. You can check the current schedule at the website of Montenegro railways here.
Go on a boat tour on Skadar Lake
Skadar Lake is the biggest lake in Southern Europe, divided between Montenegro (70%) and Albania (30%).
The pictures don’t do justice to this place, this is one of the most pristine and unspoiled destinations you will ever visit. This is also one of the top spots for ornithology lovers, around 280 kinds of birds live here (which is around 50% of bird species in Europe).
The best way to fully appreciate the beauty of Lake Skadar is to go for a boat tour. You can do it either from Virpazar (which is easily accessible by train or bus) or from Rijeka Crnojevica. The tours vary in duration and covered places but no matter which option you choose, you will be in for a treat.
Once you are done with the boat tour don’t miss the most popular viewpoint of Lake Skadar, the horseshoe bend near Rijeka Crnojevica (its official name is “Pavlova Strana Viewpoint”) – this vista often appears on postcards from Montenegro and the view surely is amazing.
Here are some of the recommended and highly rated Lake Skadar tours:
- Skadar Lake: Half-day Cruise Tour – the River of Crnojević
- Skadar Lake: 3-Hour Cruise to Monastery Kom
- Kayak tour Skadar lake – Virpazar to Grmozur island and Lesendro fort
While most people who visit Montenegro focus on the seaside, the country offers some amazing hiking options as well. A big part of the country is covered with mountains (after all, that’s also reflected in the name of the country), with the highest peak Zla Kolata (2,534 meters above sea level).
If you enjoy hiking, Montenegro can be a perfect destination for you. The best areas for hiking, that also offer spectacular views, are Durmitor National Park, Prokletije National Park, Durmitor National Park, and Biogradska Gora National Park.
Zipline in Durmitor
Between May 1st and October 1st, you can get your adrenaline thrill on the zipline in Durmitor. The attraction is located next to the Djurdjević Bridge over the Tara river and above the deepest canyon in Europe.
There are a few options to choose from, including one of the longest ziplines in the world, with a length of 1050 meters. If you are not afraid of heights, speed, and vast space around, this is definitely a thing you don’t want to miss.
The zipline in Durmitor is also pretty affordable, the single ride starts at 10€.
Rafting on Tara river
Tara river canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world (1300 meters) and the deepest gorge in Europe, part of the UNESCO World Heritage List.
There is no better way to get to know the place than rafting on Tara. If you like water and a bit of adventure you definitely should include this activity in your Montenegro itinerary.
There are numerous tours to choose from, including multiday ones or day trips from popular destinations like Kotor. No matter which one you choose you are in for a real treat!
This is the most popular and highly rated rafting trip from Kotor – click here for more info and to book the place.
Stay overnight at the fancy island
When driving south from Budva, just outside of the town you will see one of the most popular views of Montenegro – Sveti Stefan, the picturesque island connected with the mainland by the narrow tombolo.
It was founded in the 15th century as a fortified fishing village. Still, in the 1950s the island was changed into a luxurious 5* resort, popular among world-known celebrities who like to spend their holidays there.
If you feel like splurging a bit during your holidays in Montenegro, this is a place to be.
Experience spirituality in Ostrog
Ostrog Monastery, located north of Podgorica, is the most spiritual and religious site in Montenegro and a popular pilgrimage destination. The monastery belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church and is dedicated to the Saint Basil of Ostrog, buried here in 1671.
Even if you are not a religious person, the spiritual atmosphere really gets to you, especially if you visit the place on May 12th (the day Saint Basil died) – that’s when the main celebrations take place.
Ostrog Monastery has also a fairly breathtaking location since the place is literally glued to the rocks high above the plateau.
Since the public transport doesn’t reach the monastery, you can go there by car or by tour. I visited the place with the tour that also included Durmitor National Park and I can definitely recommend it. Click here for details of this highly-rated tour and to book the place.
Wander around seaside old towns
Just like in other seaside countries in Southern Europe, the towns on the Adriatic coast in Montenegro also have old, historic towns that are extremely pleasant to visit and get lost in the maze of narrow streets.
My personal favorite always will be Kotor where even if the old town is small, I can spend hours wandering around each corner and finding all the details around. Other places where you can find charming old towns are Perast, Budva, Ulcinj, and Herceg Novi.
Go for a boat cruise on Kotor Bay
One of the best ways to admire the stunning Kotor Bay (besides climbing to the fortress in Kotor) is going for a cruise. The boat gives you a whole different perspective on the place and lets you fall for the surrounding beauty even more.
With the cruise, you can also reach spots that would not be available otherwise, such as the former military tunnels or Blue Cave. Besides, the day on the water is always a fun way to spend your holidays.
There are different cruises available, varying with the duration or visited places. Here are some of the best available Kotor Bay cruises:
- Kotor Boat Tour: Our Lady of the Rocks, Mamula and Blue Cave
- Semi-Submarine: Kotor Bay Panorama & Underwater Experience
- Kotor Bay – Blue Cave Adventure & Beach Time
- Kotor boat tour – MAGNIFICENT BOKA BAY
Find brutalist architecture
Just like in other ex-Yugoslav countries, Montenegro is a real treat for fans of brutalist architecture. You will find some pretty impressive concrete masterpieces all over the country.
Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, was severely destroyed during World War 2 and afterward rebuilt mostly in the brutalist style. That’s where you can see places like the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus, the Television and Radio Building, or the Blok 5 housing estate, among many others.
In other places, you will find some amazing brutalism too: Izbor Department Store in Bar, the Memorial House in Kolašin or Home of Revolution in Nikšić, and many more.
Former Yugoslavia was also known for so-called spomeniks, monuments commemorating various events and people, built between the 1960s and 1990s. You will find them in Montenegro too! Some of the better ones include Freedom Monument in Ulcinj, Monument to Fallen Soldiers in Nikšić or Monument to Hanged Patriots in Vranjske Njive.
You can find out more examples of brutalist architecture in Montenegro here.
Party in Budva
Budva is considered to be the party capital of Montenegro and if you are looking for some fun holidays, there is no better place to be. During the day you can enjoy some of the party beaches surrounding the city, in the evening there are numerous bars, pubs, and nightclubs to choose from.
See one of the oldest olive trees in the world
Did you know that you can find one of the oldest olive trees in the world in Montenegro?
It is known as “stara maslina” and it is located near Stari Bar. It is believed that the tree is over 2 200 years old! It sure looks impressive and it’s definitely worth stopping to admire it, especially since nearby Stari Bar (the ruins of the town dating back to the early Middle Ages) is one of the highlights of Montenegro.
Visit the former capital of Montenegro
Even if today Cetinje looks like a sleepy little town, the place is one of the most important ones in the history of Montenegro, the cradle of the national identity and the Montenegrin culture as well as the center of the Orthodox religion.
It was founded at the end of the 15th century but the real development of the town happened under the rule of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš in the 19th century and afterward when Cetinje became the capital of the independent Kingdom of Montenegro (until 1918).
Today you can wander around the town and admire some beautiful buildings that used to serve as the embassies, you can also visit the Cetinje Monastery and go up to the Mausoleum on Orlov krš for the best view of the town and surrounding mountains.
Cetinje has the title of the honorary capital of Montenegro, still today the president of the country has his residence here.
Drive the old road from Kotor to Cetinje
Driving the old road from Kotor towards Cetinje is one of the most thrilling experiences in Montenegro.
It was built at the end of the 19th century when Kotor was under the Austria-Hungary rule. Back then, in the middle of the road, there was a border between the Habsburg Empire and the Principality of Montenegro, still today you can see the remnants of the border post along the way.
The 8,3 km stretch from Kotor towards the mountains is basically made of serpentines, with 25 hairpin turns. The road is steep and narrow and gives a rush of adrenaline to both, drivers and passengers.
Once you get to the top you will be rewarded with the breathtaking panorama of Kotor Bay and beyond.
Relax at the beach
Even if Montenegro offers so many diverse things to do, most likely your main reason to visit the country is to enjoy the seaside holidays and that’s what you definitely should do. You will find beaches along the coast, some better than others but in general you can expect a nice, relaxing time enjoying the warm sea and stunning views around.
In the south part of the country, near Ulcinj, you can visit Ada Bojana island which is the favorite spot for nude tourists.
Try local cuisine
For such a small country, Montenegrin cuisine is really diverse. At the seaside, you can enjoy fresh fish and seafood while in the mountains the dishes are heavier, made for hard-working farmers.
The most famous local specialty is Njegusi Proscuitto, made in the village of Njegusi just beyond Kotor serpentines. The local climate and high altitude create a perfect environment for the unique flavors of the Montenegrin prosciutto.
In the coastal restaurants, you shouldn’t miss black risotto that really is black thanks to the cuttlefish ink.
And of course, you can indulge in all the delicious dishes the Balkan region is known for – mostly grilled meat and vegetables.
Unfortunately, vegetarians don’t have an easy time in Montenegro but since it’s a popular destination you should find at least one meat-free dish everywhere.
Final thoughts on visiting Montenegro
Montenegro is one of my favorite places to visit and no matter how many times I’ve been there, I always end up discovering new things to do in Montenegro. The country is just packed with attractions and it’s up to you how many of them you end up experiencing.
When planning your trip to Montenegro be sure to set aside some extra time to enjoy all the country has to offer. You will be impressed by what a great and exciting destination Montenegro is!
For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:
- Sign up to my newsletter or follow me on Bloglovin to get updates about the new posts
- Join my Facebook group about Eastern Europe, the Balkans and former USSR and connect with fellow travellers and enthusiasts of these regions – just click here!
- I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Montenegro too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. Thank you!
LIKED IT? PIN THIS POST FOR LATER!
If you enjoyed that post why don't you share it with your friends? That would mean so much to me! Also be sure to join 27.000+ fellow travelers and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for travel updates and even more pictures! If you don't want to miss new posts sign up to my newsletter or follow on Bloglovin!