“Montenegro, you are simply stunning!” I complimented as I bid goodbye after spending an entire day in its company. The tiny Balkan nation absolutely swept me off my feet.
One fine day in 2016, I came across a beautiful photograph of a place I didn’t know about during a random internet search. I loved it so much that I shared it with my friends and family on Facebook and started dreaming of visiting the place someday.
Do you want to see that photograph?
Here it is!
This picture made me fall head-over-heels for Montenegro. I wanted to be at the same place I saw in the photograph.
And the day I planned our Croatia family vacation, I knew Montenegro has to be a part of it.
Montenegro – Pearl of the Adriatic
World’s newest and littlest country, Montenegro has emerged as the hottest destination in no time. The pint-sized country has everything from mountains to history, beaches, national parks, monasteries, and whatnot. Also, it’s more untouched and peaceful as compared to its neighboring Balkan countries Croatia and Greece.
Inspired by the imposing Mount Lovćen encircling the Montenegrin Adriatic coast, Venetians name it Monte Negro that literally translates to Black Mountain in English. Montenegrins call their country Crna Gora in their mother tongue.
Montenegro’s mountains, lakes, Adriatic coastline, and old towns – everything is stunningly gorgeous.
“At the birth of our planet, the most beautiful encounter between the land and the sea must have happened on the coast of Montenegro. When the pearls of nature were sown, handfuls of them were cast on this soil.” This is what the famous British Poet, Lord Byron had to say about the beauty that’s Montenegro.
Montenegrins are as warm, friendly, and beautiful as their country. They take pride in their culture and history. Montenegrin language, history, and culture have a strong Roman, Ottoman, and Yugoslavian influence.
And how can I not mention the locally grown food and wine in Montenegro? That’s super terrific!
How to Get to Montenegro
The best way is flying into Dubrovnik, spending a day or two and then taking a road trip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro.
Dubrovnik International Airport in Čilipi is just about 29 km (30 minutes) from Herceg Novi, Montenegro.
Dubrovnik to Montenegro
I never thought I could explore a country in just one day. We took a day-trip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and surprisingly, could explore the major attractions without exerting ourselves. Isn’t it great?
You can either rent a car or board a bus or book a no-fuss day-trip tour to travel from Dubrovnik to Montenegro.
We rented a car in Vienna for our eastern and central Europe exploration and as per the rule were not allowed to take our rented car to Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We left our rented car at our Airbnb and hired another car for a day from Dubrovnik to travel to Montenegro.
Are you baffled about how to hire a car in Europe? We have a complete guide to renting a car in Europe for you.
The bus starts at Dubrovnik Main Bus Station and makes three stops in Montenegro; Herceg Novi, Kotor, and Budva. Apart from that, it stops at the Croatian and Montenegrin Border for visa and passport check.
You can choose to get down at one of the three stops whichever place you want to explore first and then take on public transport to get from one city to another in Montenegro.
The drive takes more than the required time as Montenegro doesn’t presently have a highway or motorway. The government of Montenegro has signed a pact with the government of China to fund and build their first highway.
Visa for Montenegro
The EU, USA, British, Australian, and Canadian nationals don’t need a visa for a stay up to 90 days in Montenegro.
Read more about the visa policy of Montenegro on Visit Montenegro.
Best Day Trips from Dubrovnik to Montenegro
Here are some of the best day trips from Dubrovnik to Montenegro by GetYourGuide and Viator that you can take.
How to Get Around Montenegro
The scenic towns of Perast, Kotor, and Budva are pedestrian-only and thus, are explored entirely on foot.
The towns are connected to each other by public bus transportation. They have an extensive local bus network that’s cheap and dependable. The luggage cost is not included in the ticket price and is charged per piece. You can check the schedule and book the tickets on BusTicket4.
For those with rented cars, the parking isn’t that much a hassle as in other European countries but rules aren’t on the place. Read more about parking in Montenegro here.
The road along the Bay of Kotor is lined with picturesque little villages making the drive beautiful!
5 Best Things to do in Montenegro in a Day
Montenegro has so much to do and see if you’ve time but if you are time-pinched like us and are left with just one day to explore Montenegro, simply follow our recommendations of best things to do in Montenegro in a day.
Perast, a tiny old town on a perfect stretch of Kotor Bay or Boka Bay exudes a Venetian charm. It’s so tiny that you can walk from one end to the other in less than a minute.
Stroll the town and climb the bell tower of St. Nikola Church for the picture-postcard views over the Bay of Kotor.
A short boat ride costing 5 Euros takes you across the bay to Our Lady of the Rocks, a man-made island that’s home to a little church that preserves an icon of the Virgin Mary.
The island’s history, mystery, and dramatic vistas make it intriguing enough to spend a generous time here.
Sveti Đorđe, a natural island with a 12th-century Benedictine monastery off the coast of Perast is off-limits for tourists. It can only be admired from the distance.
As per the legend, the island is cursed and thus, is named ‘Island of the Dead’ by the locals.
The ancient walled city of Kotor situated on the natural fjord-like Bay of Kotor (Boka) with a backdrop of dramatic limestone cliffs is utterly scenic and charming.
The old town is not only picturesque but is steeped in history and thus, is rightfully designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Allow yourself to get lost in the cobbled lanes of the old city to feel its soul.
It’s recommended to visit Kotor during shoulder season as during peak season cruise ships disembark into Kotor leaving hordes of tourists. No wonder, Kotor is chosen as the second most famous cruising port after Dubrovnik in the Mediterranean.
While in Kotor, make sure to gather some strength and hike the Ladder of Kotor or Ladder of Cattaro to Castle of San Giovanni for the sweeping views over the old town and Bay of Kotor.
Not-so-serious-hikers can hike the city walls up to St. John’s Fortress, a shorter trail that’s a part of Ladder of Kotor trail.
The coastal resort town of Budva is fondly called as Miami of Montenegro because of its stunning beaches and dynamic nightlife.
But, a history-admirer in me loved strolling the narrow mazelike streets of the Old Town of Budva.
I somehow just adore the European Old Towns with all those charming squares and labyrinthine cobbled streets lined with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Another stellar in Budva is the lovely bronze sculpture of a girl near the beach Mogren often referred by different names – “Dancer from Budva” or “Gymnast from Budva” or “Statue Ballerina of Budva.” It’s the most photographed attraction in Budva.
4. Sveti Stefan
Owned by the acclaimed Aman group, Sveti Stefan is an ancient-village-turned-luxury-island-resort. It has hosted glitterati like Marilyn Monroe, Sophie Loren, Elizabeth Tylor, and Kirk Douglas in the past and continues the legacy.
The resort still maintains much of the original architecture. It is one of the most photographed or rather Instagram-able spots in Montenegro.
It being ridiculously expensive is off-limits to many of us but yes, we can certainly click a photograph and admire its outdoors.
5. Lake Skadar National Park
The largest lake in southern Europe, the horseshoe-shaped Lake Skadar stretches from Montenegro to Albania.
About 50 km from Kotor and 35 km from Budva, Lake Skadar National Park can be reached by car or bus. The bus drops you at the tiny village of Virpazar. You can take a boat ride in the Lake Skadar from Virpazar or can also indulge in hiking, kayaking, or bird-watching depending on the time on your hands.
Herceg Novi, Risan, Tivat, Bar, Cetinje, Podgorica, Petrovac, Zabljak and Kolasin are other beautiful towns in Montenegro that are worth exploring if you’ve time. Biogradska Gora, Durmitor, and Lovcen are the stunning national parks in Montenegro.
That’s Montenegro summed-up!
We explored Montenegro on a day trip from Dubrovnik but it undoubtedly needs more time to drink in its beauty. I’d recommend spending at least 5 to 7 days in this beautiful Balkan country. Check out this 5-day itinerary for Montenegro to plan a perfect trip.
I’m already planning a 7-day trip to Montenegro to catch up on the places I missed. What about you? Have you visited Montenegro or are still missing out on such a gem? I hope our post inspires you enough to travel to Montenegro soon.
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