Places and history of Montenegro - Your Ultimate Guide to the Top 25 Places to Visit
2023 - 25 Reasons Why Montenegro Should Be Your Next Vacation Spot - 4K
February 15, 2023
Montenegro became independent in the May 2006 referendum from the union of Serbia and Montenegro, republics of former Yugoslavia or the Kingdom of Yugoslavia before WWII. The formal language is Montenegrin, written in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. This small nation on the western Balkan peninsula is a diverse place. Besides Montenegrins and Serbs, the country is home to many ethnicities with rich culture, history, and heritage. The country's terrain comprises several geographical and climate regions perfect for eco, adventure, beach, cultural, wildlife, and medical tourism. Check out the following Montenegro travel guide for a few of our recommendations:
Herceg Novi, Igalo, and One&Only's Portonovi resort and marina in Kumbor
Herceg Novi view from narrow streets
Herceg Novi and its charming coastal villages are located at the entrance of Boka Bay, an idyllic fjord formed on the Balkan peninsula during the last glacial period. Noted for having the warmest winters, the City of the Sun has a Mediterranean climate that dominates the region with dry summers and mild winters perfect for vacations all year long, especially during the warmest July temperatures. Although temperature varies greatly with elevation, January temperatures range from 12C to 20C in winter months. Founded in the 14th century, the city has a long history of being conquered by various powers, including the Venetian Republic, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, Spain, France, Italy, and Germany, who fought over these lands. The place is known for its harbor, a long seaside promenade embellished with rare plants and exotic flowers, and a historic town center with two squares, Trg Nikole Đurkovića with a clock tower, and Belavista stone pebbled old town. Several fascinating forts facing the entrance of Boka Bay, and many historic buildings, including Orthodox Monastery Savina from the 13th century, are reminders of the city's past.
Igalo birds eye view to sea and health spa
The bay village of Igalo is known for healthy mineral water springs and mildly radioactive mud used to treat various ailments. With sandy and mud beaches, the spot attracts tourists and patients seeking treatment at the local rehabilitation center. Igalo is located near Croatia, an EU border, and is easily accessible from Ćilipi airport in Dubrovnik. It is also a short ride from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A drone picture of Porto Novi Marina
Portonovi in Kumbor is a luxury resort part of the One&Only exclusive Collection that features a variety of high-end amenities, including a marina, private beaches, and a selection of grand villas and apartments surrounded by several restaurants, bars, a spa, and a fitness center. The fun activities in the area include sailing, water sports, hiking, and exploring the local culture and cuisine.
One&Only exclusive Collection is "hand-picked for exceptional natural beauty and cultural charm." The goal of One&Only was for its visitors to "be transported by a collection of exclusive resorts located in unspoiled, breathtaking destinations across the globe," and Portonovi is one of them.
Risan, Perast and Kotor
The bay panorama viewed from Risan
Continuing down the Adriatic Highway along the narrow coastal plain of Boka Bay, aka Gulf of Kotor, Bay of Kotor, or Bocche di Cattaro, the journey takes you to Risan, Perast, and Kotor. Risan, the oldest town in Montenegro, was founded in the 4th century BC, then called Rhizon, positioned at the innermost point in the bay. It was first mentioned in local chronicles from 168 BC. Later fortified in the Middle Ages became a significant trading destination. During the Venitian period, many palaces, churches, and other structures were built in the region, leading UNESCO to declare the city a World Heritage Site. These towns are noted for their historical and architectural significance, including the nearby church islands, Our Lady of The Rocks, and Saint George. The Old Town of Kotor, another UNESCO-protected treasure from the 5th century BC, lays in the shadows of the fearsome St. John's Hill. The walls protecting the city are a fortification masterpiece. Although visiting Kotor is about stunning views from every corner of its narrow cobblestone streets, it is also about experiencing the region's cultural heritage.
Tivat and Porto Montenegro
The Tivat promenade
Tivat, another picturesque coastal town nestled in Boka Bay, is quickly becoming a hot destination for elite travelers. With its world-class marina and a variety of exclusive boutique hotels and resorts, Tivat offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities. Visitors can explore the town's deep history and culture with landmarks such as the Saint Nicholas Church and the Tivat Naval Heritage Collection or relax on a sandy beach. The Tivat Airport is a significant regional gateway, offering easy access to air travelers. As the town continues to establish itself as a premier vacation spot, Tivat is poised to become a must-see destination for discerning visitors. One of the notable Tivat attractions is Porto Montenegro, a luxury marina and residential development offering a variety of high-end amenities such as fine dining, high-end shopping, and recreational activities. It's a perfect spot for yachting enthusiasts and luxury travelers looking for a sophisticated vacation experience.
The view on the bay from the Budva Old Town Terrace
is known for its epic Greek and Roman history, narrow streets and stone walls, beautiful sandy beaches, luxury hotels, beach bars, clubs, and restaurants. The summer season runs from May to October and welcomes over 100,000 tourists yearly. The city is the most visited town on the Montenegrin Riviera, with 270 sunny days a year. Milocer Villa and Beach, a posh spot initially built as a hideaway for Karadjordjevic royal family in the 19th century, has recently been converted into a luxury hotel operated by Aman Resorts. The resort features a casino, tennis courts, mini golf, car rentals, and two exclusive beaches. This attractive place is a great reason to visit Montenegro.
The view of St Stefan from the beach
or Sveti Stefan is a small dreamy island of the Montenegrin coastline, located just 5 km southeast of oldtown Budva. It is connected to the mainland by an isthmus and is known for its exclusive accommodation amenities. The island's history dates back to the 15th century when it was used as a fort by the Paštrovići clan to defend against the Turkish army. In the 1950s, it was renovated and turned into a luxury hotel resort. The island has three churches, some of the most picturesque beaches, and inlets. It is a popular spot frequented by celebrities and one of South Europe's most attractive travel destinations.
The view of the Petrovac Beach
A Mediterranean medallion on the Montenegrin coast with unique architecture, climate, and vegetation, Petrovac lies generally as part of Budva Riviera. It is blessed with beaches, dense groves, coves, and plenty of places to wine and dine. And how precious is this Holy Week Island with the chapel on top, in the middle of the Adriatic sea?
The Sutomore's Golden Beach
This seaside town is a popular holiday destination known for its 1,250-meter-long Golden Beach. It also has a fortress called Haj Nehaj and a church visited by Orthodox and Catholic worshipers. The town is full of restaurants, beach bars, parks, and tourist boats offering sailing tours to the old-town Budva and the nearby Bar harbor.
Montenegro's main seaport town is Bar. It is a significant economic hub for the region with an abundant history dating back to ancient times. Bar is also home to several cultural and historical landmarks, including the Old-town (Stari Bar) fortress, which dates back to the 12th century. The port plays a major role in the country's economy as it is a central entry point for goods and tourists. Despite its small size, the town has a bustling atmosphere and is favored for its lively nightlife and delicious seafood.
The Long Beach in Ulcinj
is a coastal city in southern Montenegro bordering Albania, with a history dating back 25 centuries. Various cultures and civilizations have occupied it, including the Illyrians, the Colchinians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Nemanjics, the Baltics, the Venetians, and the Ottomans. The area's mild climate has always been attractive to rulers who have built residences and fortresses in the city. It was also a center for minting money and home to many churches, monasteries, and other important historical buildings. Ulcinj is known for its 13km sandy beach, hence the name Long Beach, one of the longest in the Mediterranean and a popular travel destination.
Njegusi and Lovcen
The view of Bay of Kotor from Lovcen
Njegusi, the Njegos Mausoleum on Lovcen sore obove Boka Bay. Njegusi is known for its folk architecture and traditional farms producing cheese and prosciutto. Mount Lovcen is a national park with stunning views over Boka Bay and Lake Skadar. At the top of the mountain is the Njegos Mausoleum, a grand tomb designed by Ivan Mestrovic that was built against the wishes of Petar Pretovic-Njegos, who desired to be buried in a simple chapel at the summit. The mausoleum offers sweeping views of the surrounding area enjoyed by visitors.
Virpazar and Lake Skadar
The lake boats in Virpazar
Virpazar, with a stone fortress overlooking Lake Skadar, is a small town at the northern tip of a National Park south of Serbia, near Kosovo and Albania. Lake Skadar is home to 50 species of fish, including carp and eel, and to over 270 species of birds, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers. It is surrounded by sand dunes, tall trees, and wetlands. Tour operators from the capital offer one-day trips to Lake Skadar and Plav, including a boat ride and lunch at the fisherman's village of Vranjina, situated on the lake's far banks.
Zeta and Podgorica
Podgorica at night
The country is previously known as Zeta medieval state in the western Balkan territory. It was an independent kingdom from the 14th to the late 15th century and a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire until the early 19th century. The place was named after the river in Zeta valley, which flows through the region. The capital was the city of Zeta, now called Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro and its biggest city. Besides enjoying shopping in the well-air-conditioned malls of the city center, visitors and locals love spending their hot summer days cooling off by Montenegro's own Niagara Falls and a traditional restaurant on the Cijevna river.
Nikšić, Ostrog Monastery, and Cetinje Monastery
The Ostrog church carved into the mountain
In addition to visitors' fascination with discovering wild beauty and recreational opportunities, Montenegro is recognized for several important religious sites.
Niskic is the second largest city in Montenegro, with a rich cultural heritage and history. It is home to several historical monuments, including Ostrog Monastery, a primary pilgrimage site. Visitors can also explore the city's picturesque old town, enjoy outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains, and indulge in local cuisine. The monastery is located in the country's central region and is built into the side of a steep cliff. This sacred place was dedicated to Saint Basil (Sveti Vasilije), a patron saint of Montenegro, and is a popular destination for pilgrims worldwide.
The old capital of Cetinje has the Cetinje Monastery, which dates from the 15th century. The holy site is devoted to Virgin Mary and is the residence of many monks who maintain the monastery and its grounds. Both monasteries are important cultural and spiritual centers housing a number of religious relics and artifacts.
National Park Durmitor (Zabljak and Black Lake)
Zabljak and Black Lake
As we mentioned, for those visitors who love to discover the wild beauty, the terrain of Montenegro ranges from high mountain peaks of the Dinaric Alps surrounding meadows, lakes, and rivers to narrow coastal plains. Over 70% of the country's territory is the karst of south-eastern Dinarides.
The Dinaric karst mountains of Montenegro include Durmitor, Bjelasica, Komovi, Prokletije, Ljubisnja, Lovcen, Orien, Sinjajevina, Rumija, Jelovica, just the name of few of more than 30 mountain peaks to reach heights over 2000m.
An epiphany of the wild beauty of Montenegro is Durmitor National Park, with 18 glacial lakes, including Black Lake. This area near Zabljak on Durmitor Mountain reaches heights of 8,200 feet above sea level. These mountainous regions receive some of Europe's highest amounts of rainfall and snowfall yearly.
Tara River Canyon
is the deepest canyon in Europe, runs through the national park, and is a sought-after destination for winter sports, mountain climbing, and white-water rafting. This fascinating gift of nature offers the possibility for a range of activities to outdoor enthusiasts who can stay in many cozy mountain cabins.
Kolasin is a picturesque mountain region situated in the northern part of Montenegro. It boasts some of the highest peaks in the country. As mentioned, Montenegro is known for its diverse landscape that ranges from high mountains to lush valleys. The temperatures in the mountains can range greatly depending on the altitude and time of year. In the summer, the temperature may reach up to 30 degrees Celsius; in the winter, it can drop well below freezing. The mountainous regions of Kolasin receive some of the highest amounts of precipitation in Montenegro, making it a popular destination for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. The town is also surrounded by beautiful forests, making it an excellent place for hiking. This exceptional destination is perfect for those looking to experience the natural beauty and diverse landscape of Montenegro. Whether you're a winter sports enthusiast or looking to explore the great outdoors, Kolasin has something for everyone.