Montenegro Holiday Planning Guide
Whether you're in the mood to explore unspoiled nature, visit historical sights, or soak in the Mediterranean atmosphere of beaches and parties, Montenegro offers everything within arm's reach. The Montenegrin coastline offers both large city beaches abundant with amenities and peaceful fishing villages and secluded coves. Fortified old towns, medieval cathedrals, and monasteries are certain to satisfy history enthusiasts. Further inland you’ll find an abundance of opportunities for an active vacation. Wander off the beaten path, hike through mountains and canyons, and experience the traditional hospitality of villages where time seems to stand still. The national cuisine reflects the diversity of the landscape, including everything from fresh meat and dairy specialties, to a selection of seafood. The size of the country allows you to see a lot even during a short Montenegro holiday.
Places to Visit in Montenegro
Regions of Montenegro
Bay of Kotor: This region includes the bay area as well as rolling green hills, charming villages, and old Romanesque churches, making the area a must-see on any Montenegro itinerary.
Budva Riviera: As one of the hottest vacation spots in the country, the riviera is characterized by about 20 sandy beaches, an artsy community, and a booming nightlife scattered throughout coastal resorts and inland villages.
Central Montenegro: At the heart of the country, the region is covered in lush forests marked by two large national parks, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.
Montenegrin South Coast: This coastal region boasts subtropical coastlines, making it a perfect retreat for beach vacations, but it also supports lively seaside villages and cities.
Cities in Montenegro
Podgorica: Although the capital does not regularly appear on Montenegro itineraries, it is a city worth visiting for its blend of modern venues mixed with old architecture surrounded by mountain and seaside resorts.Kotor
: First established as a medieval settlement, Kotor is famous for its Old Town, a maze-like area featuring old churches, cathedrals, and palaces.Budva
: As the top city to visit, Budva sits on a rocky peninsula filled with medieval charm; it draws tourists with its warm beaches and booming nightlife.Bar
: Located along the coast, Bar stands as a major seaport and boasts several beaches, plus it serves as a jumping-off point for traveling to surrounding islands.Zabljak
: Taking a Montenegro vacation here in the winter is highly popular due to its snowy mountains and the busy winter sports scene.Herceg-Novi
: Built at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, this young coastal town is visited for its architectural beauty in diverse styles.Tivat Municipality
: This coastal town sports beaches, botanical gardens, and sacred monuments and is popular with seafaring tourists, as it hosts numerous yacht clubs.
Things to Do in Montenegro
Popular Montenegro Tourist AttractionsStari Grad Kotor
: The Old Town of Kotor allows visitors to step back in history in this World Heritage Site and explore Roman plazas, stone houses, and a fortified wall from centuries past.Bay of Kotor
: As a World Heritage Site, Bay of Kotor packs a punch for Montenegro sightseeing and houses medieval monuments, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, and authentic little villages.Altstadt (Old Town) Budva
: This old city fortress looks modest from the outside but actually holds numerous historical structures like Venetian streets, Roman baths, and museums displaying ancient artifacts.Citadel
: Standing on the area's highest point, this medieval castle overlooks Budva and boasts Saint Mary's Church and bastions.City Walls
: Kotor's city walls date back to the 9th century and bear the marks of several empires in forms of gates, churches, and forts.Tara River Canyon
: The largest canyon in Europe is a must-see among Montenegro places to visit and even offers activities on site like rafting, hiking, and exploring caves and waterfalls.Crno Lake
: Also known as the "mountain eyes," this natural feature consists of two connected, dark green lakes in a thick forest that can be explored on hiking trails.Đurđevića Tara Bridge
: This concrete bridge spans Europe's largest canyon and hosts extreme bungee jumping events as well as rafting adventures and ziplining across the rift.Monastery of Ostrog
: As one of the world's most-visited Christian destinations, this site was carved into a mountainside in the 17th century and features cave systems filled with chapels, tombs, and artifacts like an 18th-century prayer book.R.K.C. Gospa od Škrpjela
: This church, standing on the only artificial island in the Adriatic Sea, was originally built around a rock protruding from the ocean with a painting of the Virgin Mary; today it houses 17th-century Baroque paintings, artifacts from 3,500 BC, and a museum dedicated to the history of Perast.
Planning a Montenegro Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Montenegro with Kids
Creating a kid-friendly Montenegro itinerary is a breeze, with numerous fun attractions from which to choose. Let kids’ imaginations take over amidst the medieval structures and twisting alleyways in Kotor
. The city is diverse enough to offer museums, parks, and entertainment venues like cinemas and bowling alleys. If you visit during the summer, head to Montenegro's coastline and countryside, which offer beaches, lakes, mountains, and thick forests to keep the whole family busy.
In the winter, however, bundle up and head to the mountains. Zabljak
is dotted with ski resorts where kids can take winter sports lessons and hit the slopes along with you.
Things to Do in Montenegro with Kids
Kids who enjoy exploring castles and ancient structures can storm the gates at Citadel
, a medieval castle with fantastic coastal views, or Altstadt (Old Town) Budva
, a fortress with tons of attractions to explore inside like Roman baths and Venetian streets.
If history does not pique their interest, take the kids to discover the natural scenery of Montenegro destinations. One popular beach getaway awaits at Becici Beach
, a pebbled beach lined with restaurants and hotels on one side and clear, shallow water on the other side. Alternatively, head inland and find Skadar Lake National Park
. Swim or fish in the blue waters, or grab a boat and visit the small lake islands that host historical monuments. Take lunch along and have a bite at a picnic area.
Often the greatest thrill for your young travelers is Tara River Canyon
, where whitewater rafting excursions are organized. The activity may initially sound dangerous, but children often join the excursions with no issue. Avoid strong, fast currents by visiting during late summer, when the river calms and creates slower rapids.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Montenegro
Do not let the idea of traveling with kids overwhelm you, as Montenegro is an easy country to navigate with tons of kid-friendly activities and services. Also, natives generally love children and will often lend a helping hand if you need help with a stroller or picky eater.
When hiking in the countryside and national parks, always carry bathing suits. You never know when you will cross a lake or waterfall and want to cool off. Remember, though, that lifeguards are not present at these natural pools.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Montenegro
Cuisine of Montenegro
Cuisine in Montenegro carries a distinctive Italian influence as well as traces of cuisine from Turkey, Croatia, Hungary, and the Levant. You will find these Italian flavors especially along the Adriatic Coast, where bread, meat, cheese, and wine are created with Italian methods. Be sure to try the polenta or meatballs while in the area. Other specialty dishes include Turkish sweets like baklava and Hungarian dishes like goulash.
Shopping in Montenegro
In addition to high-fashion names and large shopping malls, Montenegro is better known for its local products and open-air markets. Among the top souvenirs is Vranac wine, a smooth, red wine produced in the country. Look for this wine in any market, including the summer bazaars and boutiques in Budva
, where clothing, jewelry, and perfume are also popular buys. Kotor
is also frequented by tourists looking to purchase clothing from Italian fashion designers. The city hosts a bazaar across from its harbor every weekend, selling mostly fruit and vegetables.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Montenegro
History of Montenegro
Although previously inhabited by the Romans during the Roman Empire and the Slovenes, the official name of Montenegro was first mentioned in the 13th century, presumably named for the dark forest-covered mountains of the area. Turks conquered Montenegro in the 15th century, but the country maintained a high level of autonomy and regained independence in 1645.
The country flourished under the direction of Petar I Petrovic, a leader who fought for unified religion and politics and won many battles against the Turkish army. The Petrovic dynasty also unified the region's clans, established state institutions and authorities, and maintained friendly relations with Russia all while successfully resisting Turk invasion. Recognized as the only Balkan country to fully resist the Ottoman Empire, impressed European powers declared Montenegro a kingdom in the early 20th century.
Following years, however, presented trials for the powerful country. Montenegro sided with the Allies during World War I and eventually surrendered to Austro-Hungary in 1916, losing independence and all progress gained throughout past centuries. The country's king was unable to save the kingdom and, consequently, the nation lost its statehood and army.
Nonetheless, Montenegro proved its heart and spirit after the fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Huge numbers of natives resisted Italian occupiers in the beginning of World War II and liberated most of the territory. After the war, Montenegro was completely liberated and given republic status in Yugoslavia. Once Yugoslavia fell, Montenegro maintained a union with Serbia and finally gained independence in 2006.
Customs of Montenegro
Three kisses on alternating cheeks is the regular form of greeting for both men and women. Locals, especially in small villages, are particularly friendly and accommodating, and many are eager to share their customs. If you are invited to a native's home during your Montenegro trip, be sure to take a small gift of flowers or sweets and wear the provided slippers upon entering their home.
Holidays & Festivals in Montenegro
during February and prepare for the lively Kotor Carnival. As one of the most boisterous festivals in the country, expect to see masked balls, traditional theatrical shows, street performers, parades, and fireworks. A similar festival is also held in August.
The Mimosa Festival, celebrated all over the country, takes place during February and March to celebrate the upcoming spring season and the first appearance of yellow mimosa flowers. Lasting for several weeks, the festival features art exhibitions, music and dance, and flower shows. A highlight of the festival involves costumed girls holding branches of mimosas.
Montenegro Travel Tips
Climate of Montenegro
Montenegro's weather is best between April and September, when warm temperatures create the perfect environment for viewing gardens and sunbathing on the beach. Wintertime can be bitterly cold, and many cafes and beach resorts close during these frigid months. Try to avoid visiting during July and August, when prices rise and Montenegro places to visit are congested.
Transportation in Montenegro
Visitors can do their Montenegro sightseeing by bus, taxi, or rented vehicle. Buses tend to be the cheapest option and offer routes to all the regions. A number of agencies around various cities provide cars for rent. Alternatively, rent a scooter or bike for a fun way to discover this small country.
Language of Montenegro
Montenegrin is the country's official language, which sounds like dialects of Serbo-Croatian and Shtokavian. Historically, Montenegro's language has traditionally been called Serbian.
Tipping in Montenegro
While not always expected, tipping is becoming more common in Montenegro. Smaller restaurants will keep the change, and nicer places expect a 10 percent service charge. Also leave small tips for taxis and hotel services.