Here are some suggestions of what to do on a day off in Montenegro, depending on your mood.
For Action and Adventure: White Water Raft and Hike in a Land of Bears and Wolves
Jump in the car early and head into the high country, where Europe’s deepest gorge plunges through the mountains in Durmitor National Park. Adrenaline junkies will get their fill here with white water rafting or ziplining along the 1300-metre-deep Tara River Canyon or hiking through a breathtaking landscape of deep, sweet-smelling pine forest and glacial lakes. While you can do the three-hour drive from the Porto Montenegro in a day, you would be better off staying the night. Regardless, you will never forget this place!
For Wineries: Find the Best of All Worlds at Castel Savina
Montenegro has an ancient wine culture that has been reborn with vigour as the reputation of Montenegrin wine grows. Montenegro has many excellent wineries, largely centred around the Podgoria region and Skadar Lake regions inland of Budva. However, for an unbeatable combination of majestic scenery and perfect wine on the coast, we suggest a trip to Castel Savina in Herceg Novi, where you can sip on their merlot, chardonnay, cab sav or rose grenache wines while drinking in views of the Adriatic.
For Wandering Through History: Take a Walk Into the Middle Ages in UNESCO-Listed Kotor
Spend a morning wandering the maze-like alleyways of Kotor Old Town, a walled medieval city often referred to as ’mini-Dubrovnik’ dating back to the ancient Romans. Kotor is one of the Adriatic’s best-preserved fortified towns, and its historical jewel is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. One of the most notable features of Kotor is its ramparts which run for 4.5km and stretch up the hillside: you can get on the walls in the lower section, but we strongly suggest taking the hike up to St John’s Fortress, where—if you have any breath left after the steep climb— it will be swiftly taken away again as you gape at the incredible view of Kotor Bay and the mountains.
For Venetian Palaces and Limestone Splendour: Explore Pretty Perast
Where Kotor is a busy jumble of red roofs and stone, Perast is a small but perfect vision in white limestone, with Venetian palaces lining the waterfront and Catholic belltowers rising against a backdrop of mountains. Built during the 17th and 18th centuries by the Venetians, Perast has no fortified walls. Instead, the shore is open to lovely views of the tiny islands of Sveti Đorđe (St. George) and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) with small chapels.
For Fun in the Sun: Let Your Hair Down in Beautiful Budva
The Budva Riviera is synonymous with sunshine and glamour- a reputation it gained when Hollywood stars like Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe came to vacation on the fairy-tale islet of Sveti Stefan. Budva is a good-time town full of bars and restaurants, with a gorgeous old town and excellent beaches.
For Wildlife and Surreal Natural Beauty: Southern Europe’s Largest Lake
Lake Skadar sits nestled on the Albanian border and is the largest natural lake in southern Europe. The national park is a haven for wildlife, and its shores are dotted with charming villages (some with UNESCO heritage status). Spend the day exploring, take a boat tour, and picnic on the beach at Murici, gazing up at the mountains. Confident drivers will want to brave the windy road up to the Pavlova Strana lookout for the park’s best view.
For a Vibrantly Different Cultural Scene (and Epic Kiteboarding): Head to the Pirate Capital of Ulcinj
Montenegro may be small (only half the size of Belgium). Still, its location in the cultural jigsaw that was once Yugoslavia means you’ll encounter places that feel dramatically different. One example is Ulcinj on the Albanian border, where kite surfers tear along perfect beaches, and the town’s skyline is dotted with mosque minarets. The population is mainly Muslim, the food is fantastic, and the history is rich and full of skulduggery: Ulcinj was once the pirate capital of the Adriatic. The town has tremendous energy, and we recommend a visit!
For Beach Clubs: Take Your Pick!
Deciding which beach club to go to in Montenegro is an increasingly difficult task, especially since the Lustica Bay development opened and added a few more beach clubs into the mix.
Standouts of the Montenegro beach club scene include Almara (Tivat), 21 Beach Club (Velja Špilja), Rok Bar at The Chedi Beach (Lustica Bay) and Dukley Beach Lounge at Budva, where Nikki Beach has set up a lavish outpost. For something a little different, head to Garden Sea Lounge (Lustica Bay), where the lounge spills over a series of stone terraces carved into the hillside above the bay. Grab a deckchair in the olive groves and breathe in the incredible view.
For a Hike Through a Cave System: Lipa Cave
Head under the mountain to explore 2.5km of underground caverns and passageways. It’s about an hour’s drive from Porto Montenegro, near Cetinje, and after arriving at the car park, you are transported to the cave entrance by a miniature train.
For Authentic Montenegrin Food: Eat ’Under the Bell’ at a Konoba
You cannot visit Montenegro without eating at a konoba (and yes, that’s an order.) These traditional taverns serve up delicious local produce in a rustic family-style setting. Here, you’ll sample centuries-old recipes like ’lamb cooked under the bell’, squid ink risotto, and ’Buzara’- a medley of seafood cooked in garlic and wine. Konoba Feral (Herceg Novi) and Konoba Scala Santa (Kotor) are among the best-known.
For Fine Dining in a Magical Setting: Find Thee a Flour Mill!
There are plenty of excellent waterfront restaurants in Montenegro (and we mean plenty). But for something extraordinary, we recommend fine dining in one of the old, converted flour mill restaurants, either at Stari Mlini (near Kotor) with its beautiful waterwheel or Catovica Mlini at Morinj. The setting of these places will take your breath away.
For Nightlife: From Wine Bars to Super-Clubs
Montenegro has a huge nightlife scene, and it caters to all tastes, whether you’d like to drink good wine and listen to blues at The Winery, enjoy a nightcap in the gentleman’s club surrounds of The Regent Library, or push the boat out at one of the super clubs: either Maximus, which is built into the city walls of Kotor, or Top Hill in Budva, an open-air club with a 5,000 person capacity and an international line-up. The beach clubs are also a magical place to watch the sunset and get your Adriatic party happening.
That’s it! We’re stopping there (although we could go on and on…). Montenegro is waiting to be discovered. So step off the passerelle and get amongst it!