Montenegro is a country I have been dying to visit but have always put to the side in favour of other more talked about destinations such as Croatia in the Balkans, or continuing to explore every inch of France and Italy (a long time obsession with these cultures I cannot seem to shake).
However this year I was invited to speak at a conference for entrepreneurs and my mind was made up: I would stay three days for conference and spend a further two weeks exploring Montenegro. My visit was in late May/early June and the weather was unseasonably unfavourable – rain and lots of it! However the few days of sunshine I did enjoy I was able to discover most of the Southern coast and some of Northern Montenegro toward the end of my trip. These are the places in Montenegro you must visit!
Perast is a small fishing village that has quickly become a hot spot for foreign investors and visitors looking to venture beyond over-populated Kotor (more on that later). Be sure to take a short boat ride from the town toward the two man made islands that have made Perast famous; Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George.
Located in a bay below the Lovćen mountains lies Kotor, the crowning jewel in Montenegrin tourism as it has quickly become a must visit destination following an influx of cruise ships that dock here over the summer months. The trick to visiting Kotor is to stay in the town itself, take regular day trips, and enjoy the town in peace and quiet once the cruise ships have departed for the day and the city streets are quiet and inviting. Be sure to hike the Kotor Fortress Trail for epic views over the city, a free alternative to the heavily populated Castle of San Giovanni trail that will also set you back eight euros (you can still visit the castle for free, just take the turn off on the Kotor Fortress Trail).
Lovćen is a mountain in the southwest of Montenegro and offers incredible views over the mountain ranges below, often covered by a stream of low lying clouds making this destination even more ethereal. The price to enter is €2 for the national park and €5 to the mausoleum, where you can enjoy panoramic views from this man made stone lookout point.
4. Durmitor National Park
Heading North in Montenegro may seem like a mission, but it is one that will pay in dividends when you arrive to the epic scenery inside Durmitor National Park. This is one of Montenegro’s most celebrated regions to explore and great for long day hikes or multi-day treks throughout the summer or watch as the park becomes a major ski resort from December through March.
5. Sveti Stefan Island
This small islet off the southwest coast of Montenegro is home to the uber luxe Aman Sveti Stevan property but unless you have a spare €900 I would suggest appreciating the islet from afar as it is the perfect photo opportunity.
6. Skadar Lake
Not too far from the capital of Montenegro you will soon run into Skadar Lake, the largest lake in southern Europe which also crosses the border to Albania. The lake is a popular choice in the summer for kayaking and other summer water sports.
7. Biogradska Gora
This forest national park in the north of Montenegro is home many epic lakes, mountains and even a ski resort in the colder months. There are four national parks in the country and although this is the smallest, it is easily one of the most beautiful.
8. Đurđevića Tara Bridge
Đurđevića Tara Bridge is easily one of the most photographed locations in Montenegro, located in the north in Durmitor National Park. The bridge is a concrete arch bridge over the Tara River and is idyllically located between the villages of Budečevica and Trešnjica.
9. Herceg Novi
Although not the most popular for bay towns in southwest Montenegro, Herceg Novi is still worth a visit, especially as it is less populated by floods of tourists. Herceg Novi sits at the opening of the Bay of Kotor and at the foot of Mount Orjen.
10. Our Lady of the Rocks
Although it is close to the coast of Perast and can be visited at the same time, the small man-made island known as Our Lady of the Rocks deserves its own mention for being one of the most photogenic locations in the entire country.
If you have more time be sure to consider these destinations in the Balkans to extend your trip. Crossing borders is easy and you can enjoy the difference in culture between Montenegro; neighbouring Bosnia & Herzegovina; Albania; Serbia and Croatia.