Last Updated on May 16, 2023

About the size of Connecticut, the picturesque Republic of Montenegro is situated on the Balkan Peninsula, sharing borders with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. The name means “black mountain,” a reminder of the dark pine-forested alpine terrain found in most of the country.

Montenegro’s main draw is its stunningly beautiful coastline along the Adriatic Sea, dotted with delightful Victorian-era homes set against dramatic mountain ranges. With its Mediterranean climate, mountainous regions, verdant forests and pristine lakes and rivers, this country has certainly been blessed by Mother Nature’s kiss.

The republic has a rich and complex history and was once part of various empires and kingdoms, including the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Serbian Empire and Ottoman Empire. Montenegro gained independence in 1878 and became a kingdom in 1910. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, it formed a federation with Serbia in 2003 and became an independent nation in 2006.

With good planning, visitors can enjoy the many treasures of this awe-inspiring destination.

Explore the Bay of Kotor

This incredibly picturesque bay, also known as Boka Bay, is a stunning natural and cultural treasure recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 due to its well-preserved medieval towns and scenery. The bay is a winding, fjord-like inlet of the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by dramatic mountains and steep cliffs stretching over 28 kilometers (17 miles). 

The bay offers breathtaking scenic views along its winding shores with numerous viewpoints to witness its striking panoramas. The Bay of Kotor is not only a visual delight, but also offers a myriad of opportunities for outdoor activities. You can rent a kayak or take a boat tour to explore the bay’s hidden coves, islands, and secluded beaches. Sailing, swimming, and stand-up paddleboarding are very popular here.

Relax in Budva

Spend time in the coastal town of Budva, known for its lovely beaches, vibrant nightlife, and well-preserved old town. 

Budva has a rich history dating back over 2,500 years influenced by many different cultures. The town’s architecture reflects these diverse influences, with well-preserved medieval walls, narrow streets, and historic buildings.

The Old Town of Budva is a major attraction, characterized by its ancient walls and charming stone houses. It is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. Within the walls, you’ll find narrow cobblestone streets, squares, churches, and small shops selling local crafts and souvenirs.

Discover Durmitor National Park

Visitors can explore the rugged beauty of the Durmitor Mountains and its incredibly beautiful national park. Popular outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking, or, in winter, skiing the slopes. 

Breathtaking Tara River Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe, and second deepest in the world, is one of the most spectacular natural landmarks in Europe. The rugged canyon, also deemed aUNESCO Heritage site, is characterized by towering limestone cliffs, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls.

The lush vegetation and pristine wilderness make it a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The Tara River is renowned for its excellent whitewater rafting opportunities. Rafting through the canyon is a thrilling adventure, with adrenaline-pumping rapids and breathtaking scenery. The most popular section for rafting is the 18-kilometer (11-mile) stretch between Brštanovica and Šćepan Polje, which offers a mix of exhilarating rapids and calmer sections.

Head to Lovćen National Park

Located near the historic town of Cetinje, Lovćen National Park is a breathtaking natural and cultural treasure. The park covers an area of around 62-square-kilometers (24-square-miles) and boasts rugged mountains, deep canyons, dense forests and picturesque landscapes.  

The park offers numerous hiking trails, the most popular, the Ladder of Kotor, a serpentine road with 25 hairpin turns ascending into the mausoleum. The hike provides incredible views of the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding mountains. Other activities in the park include mountain biking, camping, and birdwatching. Wildlife includes deer, wild boars, foxes, eagles, and various bird species.  

Lovćen National Park holds great historical importance for Montenegro. It is considered a symbol of Montenegrin national identity and serves as the resting place of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a revered Montenegrin ruler, poet, and philosopher. His mausoleum, Njegoš’s Mausoleum, sits at the peak of Mount Lovćen and offers amazing panoramic vistas of the surrounding area.

Bask on the Beaches of the Montenegrin Riviera

Montenegro is renowned for its stunning coastline and magnificent beaches.  

Bečići Beach, located near Budva is a long, sandy beach stretching for almost two kilometers. It offers crystal-clear waters, beach bars, and a range of water sports activities. Bečići Beach has been awarded the Blue Flag designation, a symbol of high environmental and water quality standards.

Mogren Beach is situated close to the old town of Budva, and the scenic gem consists of two pebble beaches separated by a rocky cliff. This stretch is nestled between high cliffs, offering a unique setting. It is accessible through a tunnel from the old town and provides impressive views of Budva’s fortified walls.

Jaz Beach is one of the longest and most popular of Montenegro beaches. Located just west of Budva, it’s known for its pristine waters and fine pebbles. Jaz Beach has gained popularity as a venue for music festivals and concerts due to its spacious layout.

Queen’s Beach, located on the Lustica Peninsula near the town of Tivat, is a secluded and tranquil spot known for its natural beauty. Surrounded by lush greenery, the beach offers a relaxing atmosphere and calm, turquoise waters.

Plavi Horizonti Beach situated in the Bay of Kotor near the town of Tivat, is a hidden gem characterized by golden sands and crystal-clear waters. Surrounded by olive groves and pine forests, the beach provides a peaceful and idyllic setting.

Žanjice Beach on the Lustica Peninsula, is a pebbled beach embraced by pine trees and olive groves. It offers calm, clear water, making it ideal for swimming and snorkeling. This is also a starting point for boat trips to the nearby Blue Cave and Mamula Island.

Drobni Pijesak Beach in the municipality of Bar, is another hidden gem with fine pebbles and crystalline waters. The beach is surrounded by cliffs and offers a serene atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for relaxation and unwinding.

Explore the Old Capital of Cetinje

The historic town of Cetinje has a rich historical and cultural heritage and played a vital role in Montenegrin history. It served as the capital of the Principality of Montenegro, and later the Kingdom of Montenegro, during significant periods of the country’s history.

Cetinje is considered the cultural and religious center of Montenegro and home to numerous cultural institutions, including museums, art galleries, libraries, and historical monuments. The town has a strong connection to Montenegrin identity, preserving traditions, folklore, and the Montenegrin Orthodox Church.

This was the seat of the Petrović dynasty, which ruled Montenegro for centuries. Its architecture reflects its royal history, with buildings such as the Cetinje Monastery, the 15th century former royal palace (now the President’s Residence), and other historic structures.

Cetinje is dotted with historical landmarks showcasing its rich past.

Notable sites include the King Nikola’s Museum, which displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the Petrović dynasty, and the Njegoš Mausoleum, located atop Mount Lovćen, which honors the renowned Montenegrin ruler and poet, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš.

Various cultural events throughout the year attract visitors from both Montenegro and abroad. The most prominent is the Cetinje Cultural Summer, a festival featuring concerts, theater performances, art exhibitions, and traditional folk dances.

With its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage and historical significance, Montenegro is a destination you’ll want to place at the top of your travel bucket list.  

Author

  • Noreen Kompanik

    Noreen Kompanik is a retired registered nurse, legal nurse consultant, and military spouse turned travel writer. She launched her travel writing career in 2014 and has over 600 articles in both digital and print publications.

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