Cetinje might not be the most beautiful or exciting of all the places to visit in Montenegro but it surely has charm. That, combined with plenty of monuments of big historical value make Cetinje a perfect stop to add to your Montenegro itinerary.
I had a chance to visit Cetinje twice and even if the place isn’t half as amazing as Kotor (my all-time favorite destination to visit in Montenegro or even the Balkans) I still enjoyed it a lot and was busy with checking all the best things to do in Cetinje.
If you plan a trip to Montenegro you should consider visiting Cetinje too (after all it makes a perfect day trip from Kotor, Budva, or Podgorica). Below you will find all the info on the town, with what to see in Cetinje and more.
Where is Cetinje, Montenegro
Cetinje, the town of around 14.000 inhabitants, is located in the southern part of Montenegro, not far from the Adriatic Sea. Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is around 40km away from Cetinje, Budva is 30 km away and Kotor is 42 km away (if you take the challenging yet rewarding road through Lovcen National Park and with 16 hairpin turns).
Why visit Cetinje
Even if the town seems to be really sleepy, Cetinje is in fact one of the most important places in Montenegro, the former royal capital of the country and a cradle of the culture of Montenegro. Still today it holds the title of the honorary capital of Montenegro and is the official residence of the president of the country.
The town is known for its historical monuments, including a few former embassies and some beautiful churches and monasteries. If you would like to see more than just the popular seaside destinations in Montenegro and learn more about the country, its history, and culture – visit Cetinje (especially since getting here is really easy).
You can also combine a trip to Cetinje with some amazing wonders of nature that are located very close to the town – visiting all these places would make a perfect day trip from the seaside or Podgorica.
How to get to Cetinje
Getting to Cetinje is very easy. The town is located on the main bus route in Montenegro, connecting Podgorica with Budva and further destinations along the Adriatic Sea hence there are numerous buses every day serving Cetinje.
You can find the timetable here but I would recommend buying the ticket at the bus station – even if you get the ticket online you will still need to pay a small fee at the station for their service.
If you would like to visit more than just Cetinje you would need a car or go on a tour since all the great places beyond the town are not reachable by public transport. Here you can find the best deals on car rentals.
If you decide to go for a tour, here are the recommended ones:
- From Kotor/Budva: Montenegro: Full-Day Tour to Lovcen National Park & More
- From Podgorica: GREAT MONTENEGRO TOUR Cetinje – Njeguši – Kotor – Budva – Bečići – Saint Stefan
How to get around Cetinje
Cetinje is small enough that you will walk easily everywhere. The bus station is located in the central part of the town, only a few minutes away from all the Cetinje attractions.
What to see in Cetinje
Even if today Cetinje is a sleepy small town, the former capital of Montenegro is full of attractions and interesting places to see that will keep you busy for a few hours.
Most likely you will start your trip to Cetinje at Njegoševa street, a pedestrian street lined with important buildings from the past that used to be the main avenue of the capital. That’s where you will find a few former embassies (the building of the French one is definitely the most beautiful one) as well as palaces of noble families (like Djukanovic Palace) or buildings of public use such as the Ministry of Culture or the Bank of Montenegro (today it’s home to the Museum of Money). A whole street is a pleasant place for a stroll as it gives you a good feel of Cetinje’s importance in the past.
While you are there you can do a small detour to the Vlaška Church (located halfway between the bus station and Njegoševa street). It’s actually one of the most overlooked Cetinje attractions.
The church, dating back to 1864, was built in the place of the oldest church in the town, where the Bogomil cemetery used to be located (you can still find some remnants on the few tombstones). The urban legend says the fence surrounding the church was made from the weapons of the Ottoman soldiers that were captured during the Battle of Grahovac in 1858.
The center of the old part of Cetinje is Dvorski Trg where, among a few cafes and restaurants, you will some important buildings (like more former embassies).
The highlight of the place (and one of the top attractions in Cetinje) is the King Nicholas Museum – the inconspicuous red building from the second half of the 19th century that served as the Cetinje Royal Palace and the seat of the Montenegrin royal family for over 50 years.
In the museum, dedicated to the first and only king of Montenegro – Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš, you can see many artifacts connected to the royal family, such as the Montenegrin crown jewels.
A bit further behind the King Nicholas Museum, you will find another important building from the same period – the Blue Palace (and, of course, a few more former embassies). It was built as the residence of Crown Prince Danilo of Montenegro but today the place is the official residence of the President of Montenegro. Between the palaces, you can enjoy the Royal Garden, a pleasant park popular among locals.
A bit further from the King Nicholas Museum, you can find the Court Church in Ćipur – one of the most important churches in Montenegro. It’s small and a bit inconspicuous (that should be a keyword to all the attractions in Cetinje) but holds a bit of historical and cultural value.
The church you can see today actually dates to the end of the 19th century and was built by King Nikola I of Montenegro but this very place used to be the site of the 15th-century monastery. To underline the significance of the church, remnants of some of the most important rulers of Montenegro (including King Nicola) are buried here.
It is possible to visit the church inside but during my two visits to Cetinje I never found the church open – maybe you will have more luck.
Next to the church, you can visit Biljarda – another former royal residence in Cetinje, built in 1838 (it was used by the royal family until today’s King Nicholas Museum was built), the seat of the Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. The palace looks slightly different than other buildings of Cetinje from that time, that’s because it’s supposed to resemble a medieval defense palace (hence the added tower).
The name of the palace literally means “the Billiard House” since in one of the rooms the billiard table, the first one in Montenegro, was placed (it was the favorite game of Petar II).
Today the place is part of the National Museum of Montenegro, dedicated to its former owner where among other artifacts you can see the model topographical map of Montenegro (you can also see it through the window from the outside).
Right in front of Biljarda and Court Church in Ćipur, you will find one of the most important and impressive monuments in the town – Cetinje Monastery, the seat of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro. It was founded in the late 15th century but destroyed during the Morean War (late 17th century).
The current building was built shortly after, in the place of the former court of Ivan Crnojević. Inside you can see numerous religious relics of huge importance as well as beautiful icons and royal valuables.
The last place worth visiting in Cetinje is the viewpoint of Orlov Krs. It’s a short but uphill walk there from the Cetinje Monastery but the view from the top is definitely worth the effort. You can admire a beautiful panorama of Cetinje and surrounding mountains from there (and easily see why the name of the country means “Black Mountain”).
While the view is the main reason to go to Orlov Krs, that’s also where you will find the grave of Danilo I Petrović-Njegoš, the founder of the House of Petrović-Njegoš and the ruler of Montenegro at the turn of the 17th and 18th century.
Once you are done with visiting all the attractions of Cetinje, you can sit down in one of the cafes and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the town before continuing your journey to another destination.
Where to go next
While you are in Cetinje (and don’t use buses to get around) you have to visit a few nearby places that are real highlights of Montenegro. Sadly they are not reachable by public transport so you can get there only by car or with a tour.
Halfway between Cetinje and Kotor you shouldn’t miss Lovćen National Park and especially Jezerski Vrh – its second highest peak. On top of it, you will find Petar Petrović Njegoš’s mausoleum, built here in 1971. This very place was chosen by the ruler himself, to get there you need to walk up 461 stairs from the parking lot.
It’s definitely worth the effort as the view from up there is breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see a big part of Montenegro from the top. The mausoleum itself is also worth seeing for its interesting and unique architecture, including the golden mosaic.
On the other side of Cetinje, towards Podgorica, you will find Skadar Lake, the largest lake in the Balkans, and a wonderful and pristine nature getaway. The best way to discover the place is by boat, the tours start from the village of Rijeka Crnojevica, some 20 km away from Cetinje.
On the way, you can stop at Pavlova Strana Viewpoint where you will see one of the most iconic views of Montenegro, the horseshoe bend of the lake.
Another place, located only 5km away from Cetinje, is Lipa Cave – the only cave in Montenegro open to the public (in 2015 so it’s still not widely popular among tourists). It is the only kras cave in the country, with a total length of 3500 meters. Tourists can explore 2500 meters of real underground beauty.
Final thoughts on visiting Cetinje
Cetinje, together with its surroundings make a perfect day trip destination from Budva, Kotor, or Podgorica. With the variety of attractions, it can be a nice change from the seaside destination and a way to see more than the tourist hotspots in Montenegro.
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