one week in Montenegro by car

10 Must-Do Things in Montenegro to Begin Your Trip With

Surprisingly, there are hundreds of things to do in Montenegro even though the country is very small. But I am not going to talk about all of them as it would require writing a book, instead, I’ll talk about what is a must-do in Montenegro that allows one to experience this destination in full. 

So if your holidays are approaching and you are looking to plan a trip to Montenegro, start with this list. However, if you have been to the country before and this time want to experience something else, then check my other posts from this travel guide here.

I am living in Montenegro part-time of the year (and of course traveling around) and sharing my favorite places and travel tips here! 

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

1. Climb the Kotor Fortress

Kotor Fortress walls
must-do in Kotor

Kotor Fortress is an iconic place in one of the oldest cities of Montenegro (and Balkans) Kotor. It is also known as the Castle of San Giovanni as it is named after St. John the patron saint of Kotor (due to historical ties to Italy, Montenegro kept the Italian name of the saint).

Why visiting it is a must-do thing in Montenegro? First of all, because it is a prominent landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been standing here since the 9th century. It consists of a series of defensive walls, gates, and towers (all are mainly ruins but still give a good idea of the operational functions of the fortress in the past).

And second, from the top of the fortress, you just get a fabulous view of Kotor city, the Bay of Kotor, and surrounding mountains. And, if you come in the early morning, you can visit San Giovanni fortress without crowds (which means you’ll take lots of photos without other people in the background).

Read my post about the best hikes in Montenegro where I talk about a climb to the Fortress. There are ways to climb it for free and for the payment, I share my tips on both options.

2. Stroll Through Kotor Old Town

Kotor Old Town

Of course when in Kotor, one of the must-have experiences is to discover its Old Town which deserves a couple of hours for thorough explorations.

Kotor Old Town is breathing ancient past as it has a palpable sense of its ancient origins. It is surrounded by ancient stone walls (which were built to protect the city from invaders) and once you walk in, you get immediately disconnected from the modern aspects of Montenegro, as if stepping back in time to a different era.

Within the walls, there is a maze of cobblestone streets, squares, churches, and palaces that are intriguing to explore and easy to lose yourself in. 

For the best experience and when short on time, it is best to explore Kotor on a tour. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford to join a paid tour, then go with a free one. There are many companies offering free tours but I like this one as I personally use them in many countries. 

3. Take Kotor Bay Boat Cruise

must-do thing in Montenegro

Another must-do thing in Montenegro while in Kotor is to join a boat cruise around the bay as it is a nice way to see Montenegrin fjords from different perspectives and experience cultural heritage of the region from the water.

The bay is renowned for its landscapes, historic towns, and small islands, thus on a cruise, you get a chance to see all of that as well as relax and enjoy panoramic views of the bay’s coastline.

The choice of boat cruises is big with different routes and stops available. Some depart from Kotor, others from Herceg Novi and Tivat. However, there are also shorter routes that go only to hidden coves for a swim or around small towns for history and photos.

Boat Cruises Around Kotor Bay That Are Worth Checking Out

4. Walk Budva City Walls

how many days in Budva

Even though Budva is not the most beautiful city in Montenegro, its old town deserves a visit since it reflects centuries of history and culture, with narrow cobblestone streets and ancient stone buildings (built in old traditional Montenegrin style). 

Go for a walk around the Old Town climbing its old City Walls that provide a unique opportunity to immerse in Budva’s past through stepping on the same paths once patrolled by Venetian soldiers. The same walls also provide nice panoramic views of Budva’s Old Town, harbor, and coastline, giving a glimpse into the city’s layout and architectural features.

My favorite company guruwalks also offers a free tour around Budva if you are interested to feel the spirit of old city walls.

5. Visit Perast – One of the Most Romantic Towns

must-visit in Kotor Bay
Perast town

Even though I personally think that Perast is overrated and there are other beautiful towns in Kotor Bay, it is still one of the must-visit places in Montenegro as it has some iconic landmarks (Our Lady of the Rocks for example is one of them) that make it a quintessential stop for those who seek to explore cultural and natural treasures of the region.

Perast also feels very romantic with its waterfront promenade, elegant homes, and picturesque church that sits on the hill against the backdrop of the bay’s tranquil waters.

It is among the best places where to stay in the Bay of Kotor but if you don’t feel like this is a place for you, make a stop here to experience the town with everything it has to offer. When visiting on your own outside summer, I also recommend you go on a hike above Perast, views there are simply breathtaking!

6. Dine in Waterfront Restaurants

waterfront restaurant
restaurant with a view in Montenegro

During the last couple of years, the number of waterfront cafes and restaurants in Montenegro increased several times. And no wonder why – with its coastal scenery and warm Mediterranean climate, Montenegro is just the right spot for setting al fresco dining and leisurely meals with panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea.

So no matter where you are in the country, go to at least one waterfront restaurant for a dining experience. They are not always about serving only seafood since many waterfront restaurants also offer meat dishes, Turkish food, desserts, and even vegan food (like in many restaurants of Herceg Novi, Budva, and along Budva Riviera).   

And when you are in the Kotor Bay area, stop for a meal or drink at one of the panoramic cafes as they are all just so special!

7. Take a Boat Cruise Around Skadar Lake

Skadar Lake day trip

Skadar Lake is another place in Montenegro that is a must-visit due to its status as the largest lake in the Balkans and due to its unique freshwater habitats and wetlands that provide sanctuary to over 280 bird species, including the rare Dalmatian pelican and pygmy cormorant.

There are many other lakes and wetlands around the world, but Skadar Lake’s specific combination of biodiversity and ecological significance makes it truly irreplaceable. Its biosphere is considered one of a kind with rare and endangered species that you won’t find anywhere else.

And when you visit, you have a chance to see them with your own eyes! But don’t come just to one of the villages (although views of the lake from the land are beautiful too), better hop on a boat to witness its vastness and uniqueness from the water.

Tours are available as day trips from Kotor, Budva, Ulcinj, and directly from Virpazar.

8. Visit Durmitor National Park in Montenegro North

durmitor national park hiking

Among all the things to do in Montenegro, visiting Durmitor is always iconic, whether it’s summer or winter, spring or fall. It is a place with beautiful mountains and a variety of outdoor activities regardless of the season.

We like Durmitor for its hiking trails and excellent infrastructure (there are more dramatic mountains in Montenegro but they are not well developed in terms of quality of roads and accommodation options), and for the fact that it really has impressive nature.

Must-do things in the park are a walk around the Black Lake (although in summer it is overcrowded), drive on a Sedlo Pass, and hike to Bobotov Kuk, the highest peak. However, if you like adrenaline to tickle your nerves, then go ziplining over Tara Canyon or rafting in the canyon river.

9. Relax on Beaches on Budva Riviera

must-visit beach in Montenegro
Montenegro beach

Even if you are not a beach person who likes to spend hours lounging by the sea, it is still worth checking out at least some of the beaches in Budva or in Budva Riviera as they are considered to be among the best beaches in the Balkans.

Some hold blue flags, indicating their high standards of cleanliness, safety, and environmental management, while others are nestled in secluded coves, offering a tranquil escape.

One of the beaches, to be exact Ploce Beach, even reminds me of Tenerife (where we live) with rocky mountains in the background and pools. So after visiting, you’ll feel like being to Montenegro and Tenerife at the same time, ha.

10. Go on a Road Trip Around Montenegro in Any Direction

must-do in Montenegro

There are many ways how to explore Montenegro on a budget and travel around the country with public transport. But I am absolutely convinced that going on a drive in Montenegro is a must-do thing since this country is made for road trips, particularly outside summer.

So no matter for how long you are visiting – either for a few days, for a whole week, or longer, including a road trip in your itinerary will bring a ton of positive emotions.

Best road trips to take are around Kotor Bay, around Skadar Lake, along the whole Montenegro coast, from Podgorica to the Komovi Mountains, and through Kolasin to Durmitor. However, there are dozens of opportunities for shorter road trips in the central part of the country with a big concentration of alpine lakes.

Read my tips on driving in Montenegro and Montenegro car hire to know what to expect from the roads, parking, and cheap car rental tips.

Top things to do in Montenegro on any visit! Even if you have been to this country before, check if you've done these activities. If not, hurry up! | Montenegro bucket list | Adriatic coast | Durmitor National Park | Kotor Bay

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