One of the most spectacular coastlines in Europe, jaw-dropping canyons, untouched lakes, pristine rivers, treacherous mountains and you probably haven’t heard of it! Squeeze all of this into a country smaller than Wales and you have Montenegro, one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
Located on the Adriatic coast between Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania, Montenegro is the new, upcoming tourist destination. With relaxing beaches and breath-taking hikes, bustling nightclubs and thrill-seeking adventure activities, Montenegro should be on everyone’s bucket list. The small Balkan country is home to Europe’s most Southern fjord and the second deepest canyon in the world. There is no wrong time to visit Montenegro as every season gives its own take on the stunning landscape and after travelling through Montenegro and its neighbouring countries, we’ve created this guide to help you out and hopefully inspire you to visit this beautiful country.
Places to visit
Kotor and Boka Bay
When you first see Boka Bay, it looks like any other Mediterranean bay. However, if you continue further into the bay, around the bends and mountains, the landscape is spectacular. If you decide to drive around the bay, you’ll see that there are lots of small towns such as Herceg Novi. Surrounded by rugged mountains, Kotor is a historic town, described as one of the true gems of the Mediterranean. The most stunning thing about the old town of Kotor is the city walls, which have a total length of three miles. For a small price of €3, you can walk up to the top to enjoy the view of Kotor from up high. On our day trip to this beautiful bay, we climbed the walls around mid-day in 36°C heat so if you plan to do this in the summer, we suggest you try and get there earlier on in the day or later on when it starts to cool down! Even though we did the Bay of Kotor in one day, we highly advise you to spend atleast one night in Kotor Town as it is filled with overwhelming historic attractions and charm.
Lake Skadar sits on the Montenegro and Albania border, only a quick drive from Budva. Surrounded by extraordinary mountains and rocky shores, Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans, providing habitat for birds as well as having historic towns to attract tourists. The lake is protected as a national park and a nature reserve, known as Lake Skadar National Park. As well as bird watching, there are plenty of activities that you can take part in when visiting the lake. For example, kayaking is one of the most popular activities, allowing visitors to explore the Balkan’s largest lake in peace far away from the tourists on land. The lake is also a popular destination for hiking, where visitors can adventure through the mountains, hills, valleys, swimming holes, waterfalls and historic villages. We would definitely recommend visiting this enchanting lake on your travels through Montenegro or Albania.
Set on a peninsula, not far from Budva, Sveti Stefan is an unbelievably picturesque town featuring a unique, luxury hotel-village, which can be admired from the mainland beach. From Rafailovici, we walked around the coast to Sveti Stefan, walking past Kamenovo beach and Milocer creating a perfect but hot day out! If you want to see Sveti Stefan while seeing the rest of the coast, do what we did and take a dip in the sea at every beach on the way! The sunsets at Sveti Stefan can be truly phenomenal! If you enjoy walking and exploring just as much as we do, from Sveti Stefan beach, you can take a pleasant walk to Przno, which is a stunning village with a selection of restaurants and also home to another lovely beach. You can easily get to Sveti Stefan from Budva on the bus for about €2 each way. Buses usually run every 15/20 minutes.
Locally known as ‘Hawaii’, Sveti Nikola is Montenegro’s largest island, only a mile away from Budva and Becici. In the summer, visitors can get a taxi boat to the island for €3 each way from Slovenska Plaza. The main three rocky beaches are usually crowded during the summer months but if you hire a kayak, you can relax on a secluded cove on the far side of the island. The island is a great place to snorkel and a great place to enjoy the view of the coastal towns and villages such as Petrovac, Przno, Becici, Mogren and Kamenovo.
Mount Lovcen/Lovcen National Park
Being 1,675m above sea level, Mount Lovcen offers spectacular views of Montenegro. The road to the summit is narrow and windy, but it is definitely worth doing. If you’re planning on hiking, be prepared for the unpredictable climate change, which can be around 10°C cooler than on the coast. The road provides stunning views, high elevations and steep slopes but after reaching the summit, it is definitely an unforgettable experience.
Durmitor National Park/Tara Canyon
Formed by glaciers and underground streams, Durmitor National Park is home to the deepest canyon in Europe. When visiting, be sure to look out for wildlife. Brown bears, wolves, eagles and wild boar roam free and are regularly sighted around the national park. The rugged mountains may seem like the dominant feature but the real highlight is the Tara Canyon. The Tara River holds clear blue waters, clean enough to drink straight out of and is the perfect place for white water rafting. Be prepared for the freezing cold water if you plan to do white water rafting! We had an amazing day out with Montenegro Adventure, who picked us up directly from our hotel and took us on a scenic 3-hour drive through the mountains where we passed Lake Piva, which is the biggest artificial lake in Montenegro and from the height of 1200m; we were truly amazed by the turquoise colour of the lake. The day trip consists of a free lunch and a 3-hour white water rafting trip, all for €65 each. We would definitely recommend going on this day trip, as it was one of the best ways to end our holiday here.
Trsteno Beach was our personal favourite out of all fifteen beaches we went to. It’s not like the average beach and may not appeal to everyone. The beach itself has a few different levels and is quite artificial but if you see past that, you have one of the most stunning little coves in the Adriatic Sea. The deep cove, surrounded by pine trees, provides a perfect swimming spot. It is, by miles, the sandiest beach we visited, with no rocks underneath the water. The gentle gradient means that you can walk far out without going out of depth. The beach also provides visitors with a small bar and restaurant but the lack of surrounding competition means prices are slightly more expensive Trsteno beach is one of the least accessible beaches as it is the furthest away from the main resorts. However, there is a bus to and from the beach every 45 minutes for €1 each way. If you want to find the perfect and safest spot for swimming, we would definitely recommend this beach.
Being so close to Budva, this beach attracts more of the younger tourists, which makes it one of the livelier beaches. However, the beach is also family friendly, with lots of water sports, activities and an inflatable water park, which you will have to pay extra for. It’s one of the biggest beaches on the coast, filled with sunbeds and umbrellas with little space for those who just want to sit on the beach. In contrast to Trsteno, the beach gets deep very quickly, making it less idyllic for weaker swimmers. Jaz beach is easily accessible by walking or you can get the €1 bus from Budva. There are lots of restaurants and bars surrounding the beach along with table tennis, volleyball and a basic outside gym. Jaz beach is home to the well-known ‘Sea Dance Festival’ in July every year and is known to be the main beach in the Budva Riviera, which gets very busy in the high season.
With two sandy beaches joined by a short tunnel, Mogren is one of the favourite beaches of Budva. It is located about 150m from Budva Old Town and is easily reachable by walking. On the concrete path leading to the beach, the famous ballet dancer statue sits on the rocks, giving a great photo opportunity with the old town in the background (if you’re into photography like us!). There are plenty of water sports to do on the beach such as water tubing and paddle boarding and there is also a small café/restaurant on the path behind the beach for visitors to relax with a cold drink.
Located in the centre of Budva, Slovenska Plaza is one of the longest and busiest beaches on the Riviera. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and beach clubs and with Budva being popular for the nightlife, there are a lot of young tourists partying and drinking during the day and night. The beach is packed with umbrellas and sunbeds but there is also room for visitors to sit in their own space. However, due to the large amount of people using the beach, there is quite a bit of rubbish around and if you’re looking for a nice, quiet sandy beach, this is not the place! If you want to be with the crowds and stay near the clubs and bars, then this is a great place to go. There are lots of water sports, water polo, volleyball, tennis and bungee jumping to take part in for all ages and all for a great price or even better, for free!
Alongside Slovenska beach, Becici beach is another one of the most popular Budva beaches. The majority of the beach is sandy so it’s great for families and great for swimming. There are plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops behind the beach, with plenty of parking if you plan to go here for the day. The beach links onto Rafailovici beach, which is a quieter area if you’re not too keen on crowded areas. The beach also provides visitors with lots of water sport options so wherever you are on the coast, there’s always somewhere to do water sports. If you’re looking for a big, modern hotel, the Queen of Montenegro is a great place to stay as it is a short walk to the beach and the hotel owns part of the beach for their guests to use. However, if you’re similar to us and like smaller, family run hotels, then check out Villa Cucuk. It is an amazing hotel run by Vladimir and his family, who are willing to help out with any shopping or advice about the country. Despite being at the top of a big hill, the spectacular views from the swimming pool definitely make the walk from the beach worth it.
Home to the Spring Break Festival each year, Kamenovo beach is located in between Becici and Przno. It is one of the several small sandy beaches along the Budva Riviera, a great place for swimming. However, most of the beach is quite pebbly so make sure you bring your shoes, especially in the summer, as the pebbles can get very hot! You can walk from Budva along the promenade and through the tunnel. The view from the top of the cliff is amazing. There is a beach volleyball court on the beach, which anyone can use for free if you bring your own ball and there’s a small beach bar with great music.
Situated in a typical Mediterranean village, Przno beach is a charming little beach, which tends to attract more of the locals rather than tourists. The sea is clear blue and as you swim or relax on the beach, there are amazing views of the coastline. However, there are quite a lot of rocks under the water so you might need your shoes! There are a variety of local restaurants providing really nice food surrounding the beach but it’s usually a bit pricier than Budva. We went to Przno twice during our stay in Montenegro, once in the evening and once in the day and we had a lovely dinner over a beautiful sunset, which are always absolutely stunning.
Only 500m from Sveti Stefan is one of the most beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean, Queen’s beach. It’s not easily accessible as there are no roads leading to it so you either have to walk or access it by water. The wonderful environment, fine sand and crystal clear seawater is what makes this beach so special. Despite being able to walk around the edge of this beach, visitors that aren’t staying in the hotel have to pay to use it. Although you can’t use the beach, the area is a beautiful park, worth taking a stroll through. Milocer is also known as ‘King’s beach’, which is situated right in front of the Hotel Milocer and is only for hotel guests staying at Sveti Stefan but it is a beautiful beach is visit if you’re walking from Budva to Sveti Stefan.
Petrovac beach provides a stunning view of the coast and clear blue waters but can get overcrowded in the summer. Surrounded by mountains with a little island and a chapel, it is very picturesque here. Like most other beaches along with Riviera, Petrovac beach is pebbly so be sure to bring your shoes! There are plenty of restaurants and cafés near the beach and it is close to the town. However, it can be quite expensive if you’re eating out all day. Lucice beach is located only 500m south from Petrovac and is a naturally untouched sandy beach with a few bars for visitors. There is a small water slide at the far end of the beach so it’s great for children. The clear blue water was absolutely freezing compared to the other beaches along the Budva Riviera but for us, it was a lot nicer than Petrovac beach.
For relaxing on the beach, for the nightlife and for adrenalin junkies, there are a variety of places and beaches to see to suit everybody’s wishes. We hope through reading this, we’ve inspired you to visit not just the tourist places but to adventure out and find somewhere unique to Montenegro. For activities, food/drink, pricing and tips for your trip to Montenegro, check out our next blog! Enjoy your travels!