Croatia tends to steal the spotlight from its southeastern neighbor, Montenegro, but it’s a country well worth visiting with breathtaking mountain and seaside scenery along with many enchanting medieval Old Towns. Sitting on the borderline between east and west, its rich cultural history can be glimpsed in ornate churches, mosques with elegant minarets, elaborately painted monasteries, the mosaic floors of Roman villas, and fortresses that have stood the test of time.
There’s a long list of outdoor activities available, including epic treks and mountain biking trails that wind through rugged mountains, kayaking, and horseback riding. When you’re ready to unwind and enjoy a bit, delicious Mediterranean fare paired with Montenegrin wine can be enjoyed everywhere from trendy cafes and small, family-run eateries to fine-dining restaurants.
Wonders of Croatia, Slovenia & Montenegro Cruise Tour
Ljubljana, Lake Bled, Opatija, Plitvice Lakes, Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Montenegro
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While Montenegro is a small country, it’s also quite diverse making it important to choose your base carefully. Budva is the most popular resort city, a destination many choose to enjoy the beach or as a party getaway with lots of restaurants, bars, discos, and casinos along with resorts and hotels. Kotor is a favorite among couples seeking romance and everyone who wants to enjoy sightseeing and a variety of excursions while Tivat provides a little bit of everything. It’s a top pick for families, providing a quiet setting with playgrounds, shade on the beaches, and parks for serene walks.
Wedged between brooding mountains, the atmospheric town of Kotor is perfectly at one with its setting. Hemmed in by staunch walls snaking improbably up the surrounding slopes, the town is a medieval maze of museums, churches, cafe-strewn squares, and Venetian palaces and pillories. Old Kotor was built like a maze for protective purposes and it is very easy to get lost. In fact, even the locals get lost. It’s a dramatic and delightful place where the past coexists with the present; its cobblestones ring with the sound of children and lines of laundry fluttering from wrought-iron balconies. At night, Kotor’s spectacularly lit-up walls glow as serenely as a halo whilst the streets buzz with bars, live music – from soul to serenades – and castle-top clubbing.
Relax at a coastal resort
The resorts along the Montenegrin coast will seduce you with their charm, diversity, and the Mediterranean air. From Ulcinj (which used to be a pirate town), Bar (a town rich in historic monuments), Budva (which represents the tourist metropolis of Montenegro), Tivat (an area of outstanding beauty), Kotor (protected by UNESCO as part of the world cultural heritage), each town tells a story of its own. You can find restaurants with homemade food and fish specialties and excellent cocktails to sip whilst admiring the beautiful sunset.
When to visit Montenegro
The best time to visit Montenegro for a beach vacation is in the summer with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s or slightly warmer. It’s also ideal for those who want to enjoy lakes like Skadar and the mountainous regions with pleasant temperatures for hiking and biking. Winters can be cold and wet, especially in the mountains, with snow rare along the coast. The shoulder seasons of May and mid-September through October often bring idyllic weather without the hordes of tourists. Swimming in the sea can usually be enjoyed through early October with the water warmed by the sun all summer.
Natalie Our Croatia Expert
How many days do you need in Montenegro?
Three days in Montenegro is just enough to explore the main cities and some beautiful beaches. You might begin by visiting Tivat and Budva followed by a day in and around the Bay of Kotor, including Kotor and its magnificent Old Town. The hike to San Giovanni’s Castle is a must for all who are up to the challenge. From here, the small village of Perast is easy to reach for your afternoon exploits. On your third day, you could choose to relax and spend the day on the beach, hike through Durmitor National Park, or explore Lake Skadar’s shoreline.
What is the best time to visit Old Town Kotor?
As one of the most popular destinations in Montenegro, to escape the crowds while enjoying pleasant sightseeing weather on a visit to Old Town Kotor, plan your visit in May or early June, September or October. Winter is very quiet so you can enjoy it practically all to yourself, with a more local experience, but hiking or traveling elsewhere may be limited due to inclement conditions. If you’ll be here during the peak summer season, you’ll want to explore it early in the morning. Arriving by 8 a.m. will give you about an hour to explore before the tour groups start pouring in.
What are the essential sites to see in Montenegro
The top site in Montenegro is arguably Old Town Kotor and its medieval walls. You won’t want to miss Perast with its 16 well-preserved palaces or the short boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks, a man-made islet with a museum and church. A visit to Lipa Cave brings the opportunity to view unique and remarkable stalactites, stalagmites, and natural pillars. The largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula, Lake Skadar is a bird watcher’s paradise with more than 250 species as well as being a place of stunning beauty with secluded villages and steep mountains.
Is Montenegro worth visiting?
Even if you just have one day, perhaps visiting on a day trip from Croatia, Montenegro is well worth making time for although you’re likely to be left wanting more. With its world-famous mountains and fjords, gorgeous beaches, glorious walled cities with cobbled streets, rich history, delicious cuisine, and friendly people, it’s truly not-to-be-missed. It’s one of those countries that offer it all and as it’s small you’ll be able to check off many of the highlights in one trip.
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