Travel to Montenegro without any tourist traps: Here you will find the top 10 sights in Montenegro. Read which highlights and attractions you should not miss on your holiday in Montenegro!
Montenegro, the small country on the Mediterranean, is almost still considered an insider tip among Europe's holiday destinations. However, it is like a treasure chest of sights with a surprising diversity.
Swimming, hiking, rafting, pilgrimage or discovering culture - everything is possible in Montenegro! In the impressive national parks Lovcen and Durmitor, the highest mausoleum and the deepest gorge in Europe beckon, in the Bay of Kotor, picturesque views and the UNESCO World Heritage town of the same name, and on picturesque Lake Skadar, ancient monasteries tell of times gone by.
Depending on the type of holiday in Montenegro, the best time to visit Montenegro can be all year round. Of course, the summer months are best for seaside holidays, but the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea are also quite crowded then.
For hiking holidays in Montenegro or round trips, the months of May to October are recommended, and for winter sports (especially near Zabljak in the Durmitor Mountains) there is certainly enough snow from December to March.
But enough of long words - here they are, our top 10 sights of Montenegro.
Table of contents
Durmitor National Park
With spectacular gorges, sapphire-blue mountain lakes and 48 rugged 2,000-metre peaks, the Durmitor National Park is the best destination for outdoor holidays in Montenegro. Since 1980, the national park around the Durmitor massif has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its breathtaking landscape.
In the national park you will also find the Tara Gorge, the longest and deepest gorge in Europe. The river of the same name is extremely popular for rafting due to its waterfalls, rapids and cascades.
In summer, the national park attracts visitors with numerous Hiking trails and mountaineering routes up to the 2,523 metre high Bobotov Kuk (where pleasant temperatures of 15°C prevail even in high summer). In winter, the area around Žabljak (the highest village in the Balkans) is a wonderful winter sports paradise with guaranteed snow from December to March.
Bay of Kotor
The breathtaking Bay of Kotor ("Boka Kotorska") is almost 30km long and for many the highlight of the entire Adriatic coast. Many Adriatic cruise ships stop at the wonderful villages at the foot of the spectacular cliffs. Together with the Bay of Risan, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
The entrance to the "southernmost fjord in Europe", as the Bay of Kotor is often called, leads past three fortifications that already bear witness to the bay's hotly contested past. The route then leads past the picturesque towns of Herceg Novi, Tivat, Perast and Risan to the eponymous Kotor with its wonderful old town, which delights above all with the cultural diversity of countless peoples.
The pretty town of Cetinje lies at the foot of Lovćen and can be called the cultural capital of Montenegro. Until the First World War, Cetinje was also the political capital (it is now Podgorica). Before that, the princes and kings of Montenegro resided here, including the famous Petrović family, which visitors to Cetinje encounter on many corners. The Montenegrin president still has his seat here.
Cetinje owes numerous architectural sights to its royal past. The monastery of Cetinje was Montenegro's spiritual centre for a long time, the former royal palace now houses the National Museum, interesting museums tell of Cetinje's former heyday and magnificent villas still line the streets in the diplomatic quarter.
Budva is one of the most popular holiday destinations on the coast of Montenegro. The holiday resort offers dreamlike bays and sandy beaches in its surroundings, which inspire every bathing holidaymaker with a party feeling, steep mountain sides and crystal-clear water.
The most popular beaches include the somewhat noisy Slovenska plaža, Mogren with the best water quality, Jaz with a nudist area (already voted the most beautiful beach in Europe by Lonely Planet) and Trsteno with fine light sand - a rarity in Montenegro!
Tip: In the summer months, the beaches around Budva are usually hopelessly crowded and accommodation is scarce. Therefore, be sure to book in good time!
Lovćen National Park
The Lovćen National Park in the mountainous triangle between Kotor, Budva and Cetinje impresses with its spectacular mountain landscape. From the imposing peaks, the view falls to the equally imposing Durmitor massif in the north of Montenegro. The "black mountain" that gave Montenegro its name is also located here - one reason why Lovćen is considered the seat of Montenegrin national pride.
Another reason: the most visited destination in Lovćen National Park is the self-chosen final resting place of the famous poet prince Petar II. who gave himself the nickname "Njegoš". He played an important role in the history of the country, among other things, the school and tax system of Montenegro can be traced back to him. The cultural-historical monument is the highest mausoleum in the world and offers a breathtaking panoramic view.
Lake Skadar (Skadarsko Jezero)
Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans, lies 7km off the Adriatic coast and is a real natural jewel. Since 1983, the Montenegrin part of Lake Skadar has been under special protection as Skadarsko Jezero National Park in order to preserve its species-rich flora and fauna. Approximately 40 species of fish cavort in Lake Skadar and over 250 species of birds populate the skies and shores, including one of the last pelican colonies in Europe.
The so-called Monastery Route, a fascinating panoramic road, is the best way to explore Lake Skadar. The 60-kilometre route leads from Ulcinj to Virpazar and is one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in Montenegro . Highlights include the market of Ostros, the beach of Murići, the traditional architecture of Godinje and the fairytale river valley of the Rijeka Crnojevića.
Ostrog Rock Monastery
The Serbian Orthodox rock monastery of Ostrog is, with Piva and Morača near Kolašin, the most important pilgrimage site in Montenegro and one of the most visited in the entire Balkan region, as it is considered a truly miraculous site.
To make the monastery impregnable, the Bishop of Herzegovina decided to build it in the middle of the mountain. 7 years after his death, he asked the new bishop in a dream for his exhumation, which was granted. Miraculously, his body showed no signs of decomposition - a miracle that became known far beyond the borders of Europe and henceforth attracted Orthodox, Catholics and Muslims to the magical site in the middle of Montenegro.
The bishop's mortal remains rest in St. Mary's Church to this day. Miracles can also be marvelled at in the monastery's two other churches: a grenade that for some inexplicable reason did not explode and a vine that defies all botanical laws by growing out of the middle of the stone.
Tip: From here you have sensational views over the Bjelopavlićko plain, so it's worth a trip even for non-pilgrims!
Biogradska Gora National Park
Biogradska Gora National Park may be the smallest national park in the country, but it boasts a diverse flora and fauna and spectacular scenic highlights. In addition to ancient forests, high mountains, flowering alpine meadows and ice-cold glacial lakes, it is home to one of the last primeval forests in Europe. The copper beech, maple and ash trees are up to 500 years old and 45 metres high.
Despite the spectacular landscape, there are hardly any tourists in Biogradska Gora National Park. The chance is great to stand completely alone on a mountain peak, accompanied only by a few representatives of the approximately 150 bird and 350 insect species that are native to the national park.
Gospa od Škrpjela in Perast
The church on Gospa od Škrpjela, which is rather inconspicuous from the outside, contains masterpieces by Montenegrin and Italian artists, almost 70 in number. The 10-metre-long painting by the famous Baroque artist Tripo Kokolja immediately catches the eye, as does an impressive tapestry on which an artist from Perast had spent 25 years embroidering.
The snow-white marble altar houses the island's "origin stone", on which, according to legend, a sailor once found a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary. From then on, every sailor placed a stone at this spot in gratitude for a good return home. Soon the pile of stones was so large that a church could be built on it - and the Gospa od Škrpjela ("Mary of the Rock") was born. The island is still growing due to the annual "rock throwing".
Blue Grotto (Plava Spilja)
The Blue Grotto (Plava Spilja) in the Bay of Kotor is probably the most impressive sea cave in Montenegro. Due to reflections of daylight directly below sea level, the light in the cave shimmers in various shades of blue and creates a magical, almost unreal atmosphere.
Boat tours to the Blue Grotto start near Herceg Novi and are quickly booked up, especially in high season. After the 45-minute trip to the cave, you really do experience your blue wonder in the grotto, which measures around 300 square metres!
Tip: Take a bathing suit with you! The water in Plava Spilja is pleasantly warm and a swim in it is also extremely beneficial due to the high salt content. Snorkelling or diving in the Blue Grotto is also an unforgettable experience!
Holidays in Montenegro
A holiday in Montenegro is still considered an insider tip! The small Balkan country is just as interesting as its popular neighbour Croatia - only with fewer tourists. As a holiday destination, Montenegro presents itself as a country of contrasts. It surprises travellers with its enormous variety of possibilities. Relaxation on the beach, hiking in the mountains and forests or cultural holidays in UNESCO World Heritage sites - everything is possible in the land of the "Black Mountain"!
What is the best way to get to Montenegro?
The best way to travel from Central Europe is by plane. Montenegro's international airports are located in the capital Podgorica and in the port city Tivat. Of course, it is also possible to enter the country by car. The drive from Vienna to the coastal city of Budva takes about 12 hours. Cruise ships regularly enter the Bay of Kotor. And arriving with your own yacht is of course an option.
Once you have landed in Montenegro, you should ideally rent a car (unless you have arrived in your own car). A car is a great way to explore this diverse country. Four-wheel drive is only an advantage on some trails in the mountains, most of Montenegro's sights are completely uncomplicated to reach on paved roads.
Best time to visit Montenegro
The climate in Montenegro is continental. Temperatures are similar to those in Central Europe, but due to the more southerly location they are always slightly higher.
The hot, dry summers in the coastal areas are ideal for bathing holidays, while the mountains remain cool for hiking. The months of May to October are ideal for round trips.
From December to March there is plenty of snow in the mountains. The best conditions for a skiing holiday in Montenegro, for example in the winter sports resort of Žabljak in the Durmitor massif.
Where is the most beautiful place in Montenegro?
Hard to say! Montenegro shows many faces despite its relatively small area of about 14,000 square kilometers. Where to find the best destinations depends on the particular interests. No matter what kind of vacation is planned, in Montenegro everyone will find the right place for it!
- Bathing on the beach? Come to Budva, Bar or Herceg Novi!
- Hiking in the mountains? In the Durmitor Mountains, in the Prokletije Massif or in the Lovcen National Park, the sky is the limit.
- Enjoy untouched nature? Best in the primeval forests of Biogradska Gora National Park.
- Walk in the footsteps of historic monasteries? Take the monastery route around the huge Skadar Lake or visit the wondrous rock monastery Ostrog!
- Enjoy culture and nightlife? Nowhere better than Budva, Cetinje or Podgorica.
- Discover UNESCO World Heritage? Then the picturesque Bay of Kotor is the right place.
Beach holidays in Montenegro - the 3 best destinations
If you are planning a beach vacation in Montenegro, it is best to travel from June to September and enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate on the Adriatic. July and August are the high season, when prices are highest and the beaches along the nearly 300 kilometers of coastline are best visited.
Beaches near Budva
Budva's beaches are all well developed and offer perfect conditions for a relaxing day of swimming by the sea. The most beautiful beaches around Budva include:
- the bay of Mogren, whose excellent water quality has been repeatedly awarded the Blue Flag
- the beach of Jaz with crystal clear water and nudist area
- the bay near Trsteno, instead of gravel with fine, light sandy beach
- the 2-kilometre-long Slovenska plaža with beach bars, amusement arcades and autodrome
Disadvantage of Budva: In high season, both the beaches and the parking spaces in front of them are quite crowded.
Coastal city Bar
Bar is the largest coastal town in Montenegro and impresses with a huge cargo port. Bar, which is very clean for a port city, invites you to swim and splash around with the beach at Šušanj. Other beaches are in the neighbouring towns of Sutomore and Canj.
Tip: Close by are the ruins of Stari Bar, a city that is over 2000 years old. Some of the once magnificent buildings have been restored and can be visited.
As the gateway to the wonderful Bay of Kotor, charming Herceg Novi already offers a foretaste of the beauty that lies beyond. Around Herceg Novi are some enchanting seaside resorts that exude the typical flair of a beach holiday with cafés, pizzerias and ice cream parlours. There are also some churches and fortresses worth seeing.
Tip: In Herceg Novi, excursion boats depart for the mystical Blue Grotto, also a worthwhile destination for a day of swimming in Montenegro.
Walking holidays in Montenegro - the 3 best destinations
Montenegro is not called "Black Mountain" for nothing, so hiking in Montenegro is a hot holiday tip! In the interior, rocky slopes and lush meadows are an Eldorado for mountaineers and hikers.
Numerous national parks protect the partly still completely untouched nature, which still makes Montenegro Europe's insider tip for hiking holidays without mass tourism. Even in summer, the temperatures in Montenegro's mountain world are very pleasant, averaging 15°C.
Durmitor National Park
Rugged rocky slopes such as those of the majestic Bobotov Kuk, glacial lakes such as the enchanting Black Lake, as well as the Tara Gorge, the longest and deepest gorge in Europe, can be found here. The small town of Zabljak is a good base camp for hikes in the Durmitor National Park.
Lovcen National Park
At an altitude of 1,655 meters in Lovcen National Park lies the highest funerary temple in the world. Here rests the poet prince Petar II, also known as "Njegoš". When you stand on its viewing platform, Montenegro is literally at your feet. On some days, you can even make out the coast of Italy in the distance.
Biogradska Gora National Park
The Biogradska Gora National Park is probably the most pristine. Here, one of the last primeval forests in Europe provides a protected home for an incredible variety of species. Montenegro's smallest national park is also home to mountains up to 2,000 metres high with quiet glacial lakes and flowering alpine meadows.
The few tourists in the national park spread out quickly. The chance is great to hardly meet a soul on a round trip through the park. Ideal for switching off and recharging!
Cultural holidays in Montenegro - the 3 best destinations
Montenegro stands primarily for beach, sea and nature. And yet there are places where historical buildings, interesting museums or stone remains tell of Montenegro's eventful past.
Also to be found here are the mausoleum of the founder of the Petrović dynasty, the spiritual centre of Montenegro, the first reinforced concrete building in Montenegro, the beautiful diplomatic quarter and the Montenegrin National Museum.
The UNESCO World Heritage city of Kotor is located at the very end of the bay of the same name, which is one of the most beautiful places on the Adriatic. Countless peoples have populated the coast of Kotor and left their historical footprint in the numerous small towns.
The Bay of Kotor has also always been a link between the most diverse East and West, resulting in an extraordinary cultural diversity in the settlements.
Podgorica, steeped in history, is the capital of Montenegro. Many tourists only use it as a gateway to Montenegro and thus miss out on the cultural and historical background that can be discovered here.
Particularly worth seeing are the Roman ruins of Dioclea, the art museum in the Royal Palace and the striking Millennium Bridge. The latter, with its modern design, stands for Podgorica 's economic upswing after the Second World War.
Extra tip: Rafting in Montenegro
Many adventurers come to Montenegro just for rafting, because in the Tara Gorge they find perfect conditions for a wild ride in an inflatable boat. Connoisseurs dub the Tara as one of the best rafting spots in Europe.
Depending on the season, Montenegro's longest river is suitable for whitewater beginners and professionals. The adventurous tours last from a few hours to several days and guarantee the absolute best impressions of Europe's Grand Canyon!