The ultimate guide to Montenegro
Have you heard a lot about Croatia but not much about its small neighbouring country Montenegro? Whilst it is not hiding under a rock, it is still charming, authentic and cheap compared to its more popular neighbouring country.
We recently spent 2 weeks in Montenegro and it was absolutely incredible. For such a small country, there is so much beauty to explore. From the clear water beaches, beautiful lakes and many old towns, everyone would love a holiday in this beautiful country. We spent our whole time along the Adriatic Sea, but there are plenty of stunning mountains, national parks, lakes and canyons to explore in the middle as well.
How to get around
We think the best way to travel around Montenegro is by car. Even though it's such a tiny country, there are so many places to explore and having a car is very handy to help you get out of the popular tourist route or do day trips to the many beautiful beaches and towns. We drove our car here for this trip but it seems popular to rent a car here too.
How long should you stay?
Even though we stayed here for two weeks, we don't think you need that long to explore the coastal region. We had the time and spent a week in Dobrota alone taking it easy and catching up on life after a busy European summer. We think that 1 week here would be enough, or maybe even less if you wanted a taster of this beautiful country. If you had the time though, we really enjoyed relaxing here for longer.
One week sample itinerary
Kotor - 2 nights (drive through Dobrota and Perast or do a boat trip here)
Budva - 2 nights (do a day trip to Sveti Stefan and the nearby beaches)
Stari Bar - 2 nights (do a day trip to Ada Bojana and spend time chilling)
Where to visit
Even though Dobrota is a tiny town on the lake of Kotor, it is a perfect hub to chill on the beach and explore the near by towns. We stayed here for a week and loved it. It is only a 10 minute drive or bus ride from Kotor and about 20 minutes from Perast on the other side. The beach is beautiful and very quiet compared to Kotor, but it is also lively with some restaurants and supermarket.
Where to stay (1 bedroom): We highly recommend this airbnb for a long term stay. It was a one bedroom apartment, close to the beach, restaurants, supermarket and bus stop.
Where to stay (2 bedroom): We stayed in another airbnb with Mel's cousin which was also great for a short stay. A two bedroom apartment near the water and supermarket and only 30 minute walk into Kotor along the water.
Tip: If you have some extra time and want to relax for a few days, we highly recommend staying here.
The old town of Kotor is a must see. It is incredibly beautiful to wander around the alleyways and pop into one of the many wine bars. You MUST walk up to the old fort and check out the views across the bay.
Where to stay (2 bedroom): We stayed in this airbnb with our friends for a night. It was in a great location right in the middle of the Old Town and included a parking space. Extremely comfy beds too!
Tip: If you want to save the 8 euro entry, there is a sneaky way to get up to the fort for free at the back. Follow the goat trails up and around, climb up a ladder and in through a whole in the wall. Voila - you can now enjoy the incredible views for free. We recommend visiting during the sunset. Message us if you want more instructions.
Tip: If possible, try to avoid staying here on the nights that the cruise ships come in.
Perast lies right on the waterside of the Bay of Kotor. From here you can look out to a tiny island called Our Lady of the Rocks that is a lovely site. The streets of this stunning town are much quieter than Kotor. There are many nice restaurants and hotels along the water, making this much fancier and for generally an older crowd, although it is stunning for everyone to explore.
Tip: We recommend either taking a bus or boat to get here. Parking is expensive and scarce as you can't drive into the town. Only buses and buggies are allowed to drive in.
If you are after a luxurious visit, come to Tivat. Luxury yachts are parked through the harbour with designer stores along the streets. There are many nice restaurants and bars to watch the beautiful sunset from here.
Tip: We don't think you need to stay here but drive here on your way from Kotor to Budva for a visit instead. A couple of hours is enough to explore.
Although Budva is very touristy, full of high rise buildings and hotels, we really loved the beautiful Old Town. The beach lies just outside the ancient walls, making the view incredible when going for a swim. The town itself is full of cute little shops, restaurants and bars, making you feel like you are stepping back in time. Budva is also a big party place with many night clubs outside the old walls, making it the perfect destination for party people. Depending on what you're into, it can also be a quiet and relaxing destination within the walls.
Tip: Stay in the old town to avoid leaving the walls.
The small island resort off the coast of Montenegro is very exclusive providing an excellent view for all the tourists coming past. Staying at this resort will cost you upwards of 1000 euro a night in Summer, with a visit to its beach costing 100 euro a day. But lucky for us who can't afford these crazy prices, there is a free beach to visit right next to it. If you have a car, drive down and enjoy the stunning beach with amazing view. There is a car park there for 2 euro an hour, letting you feel like royalty without the price tag.
Tip: Most tourists just drive past and take a photo with the view. We recommend driving down to the small beach which is surprisingly quiet and on of the most beautiful beaches in Montenegro.
We LOVE LOVE LOVED Stari Bar and for such a small town, this has to be one of our favourites. Even though there is not much to do here, and only one main street to wander, there is something special about being surrounded by old olive groves (up to 2000 years old). This quiet place was perfect to just chill out for a few days and slow down after some hectic European Summer partying.
Tip: Head into the Old Town for sunset. This is different to all the other old towns as there are no shops or guesthouses in here, just old ruins. It has a 1 euro entrance cost.
Where to stay - backpackers: The Grove hostel is an absolute must stay for backpackers. Our friends opened this hostel recently and it has perfect 10/10 scores throughout hostelworld and trip advisor and we can totally see why. This converted farmhouse is only a 5 minute walk from town and sits amongst the olive groves. It is the perfect place to hang out, read a book, bathe in the plunge pool and meet other travellers. Everyone here has their own double bed, and they even put on free yoga and a cheap dinner every night for their guests!
Where to stay - couples/families: We stayed at Kula Boutique Hotel which was recommended by our friends as the hostel was completely booked out for the season. This affordable guesthouse was in a perfect location right in town and included a delicious breakfast in their restaurant on the main street. The rooms were big and staff were very friendly.
Where to eat: Bedem - this restaurant was AMAZING! We ate here 4 times it was that good. Get the cevapi and vegetarian platter to share for two, and try the pomegranate beer/wine/juice - SO GOOD!
We wanted to check out Ulcinj to see what the fuss was about, and to be honest we were not big fans of this place. The Old Town was alright but not too special compared to the other old towns of Montenegro. The beach was incredibly packed and the whole city was very tacky in our opinion. It seems more like a Benidorm, Magaluf or Ayia Napa to us - so if you're into these places, it might be for you!
Tip: If you prefer to experience the more local and less "holiday" places like us, we recommend skipping here altogether.
This little island right on the border of Montenegro and Albania is more like a little fishing village with black sand beaches. The main beach here is a nudist beach, which is not what we are normally in to but enjoyed for something different. There are fresh seafood restaurants and guesthouses all along the river, and we felt more like we were in Asia than in Europe here. Ada Bojana is great for a day trip from Stari Bar or check out on your way to Albania if you're heading there next - which you definitely should!
Tip: Take your clothes off, let it all "hang" out and feel the freedom in the water at the nude beach. This is not something we have ever done before but it was very liberating!
Where to eat: Misko (try the fish soup for a cheap tasty lunch).