Located on the Adriatic Sea and part of the Budva Riviera, Budva is famous for its nightlife and sandy beaches. If you’re looking for a place to let loose and party, this is exactly where you want to be. Before the party picks up, take a walk through narrow streets of Stari Grad, or Old Town, one of the most charming parts of town. In the historic district you’ll find a seaside citadel and the Church of Santa Maria in Punta, built in the 9th century. Budva is a big draw for those with multi-million dollar yachts – and a stroll through the marina is great for daydreaming and picking out which vessel you prefer.
7. Sveti Stefen
Fifteen minutes from Budva is Sveti Stefan, an icon of Montenegrin tourism. Frequented by the rich and famous, the small islet was once a fishing village and the old town remains largely unchanged with its narrow streets, small churches, and family shops. Sveti Stefan largely declined in the 20th century (with only 20 inhabitants recorded in 1954) but in the 1960’s a group of visionaries transformed the town into one of most attractive and luxurious destinations in all of the Mediterranean. To visit the island you must be a resort guest, but the north and south beaches are open to all throughout the year.
The former capital of Montenegro is now a backpacking haven thanks to the extraordinary mountain range that sits just behind Kotor and Perast. In the main square of Cetinje you’ll find the former home of King Nikola which has been converted into a museum. In fact, there are several museums in town all within walking distance. The main attraction here is the Cetinje Monastery, originally built in the 15th century. Though its been destroyed a number of times over the centuries and the current incarnation dates from the 18th century. Here you can visit a shard of the True Cross and the mummified right hand of St. John the Baptist.
9. Lovcen National Park and Njegos Mausoleum
Just 40 minutes from Cetinje is the fantastic Lovcen National Park, and the pièce de résistance is the 1750m majestic Mount Lovcen. In addition to the fresh outdoors, most people visit Lovcen in order to visit the Njegos Mausoleum. Located on Mount Jezerski, the park’s second highest peak, the tomb holds the remains of Montenegro’s greatest hero, Petar II Petrovic Njeos. The mausoleum itself has been built into the mountain and laid with marble. You have to walk the last 500 steps or so, but it’s worth it. On a clear day you can see almost the entire country – and it’s spectacular. George Bernard Shaw even said, “Am I in paradise or am I on the moon?”
10. The Ostrog Monastery
Nine hundred metres above the Zeta Valley is the luminous Ostrog Monastery. It’s the most important religious site in Montenegro for Orthodox Christians. Up to one million visitors come here annually to see this strange and arresting place. In the busy summer months, pilgrims are given free mats to sleep on in front of the Upper Monastery. This impressive monastery is often called “Sv Vasilije’s miracle” because it’s a mystery how it was built. Finished in the 17th century it appears to have simply grown out of the rock. Enjoy the frescoes in the Holy Trinity Church and the natural spring that you can drink from to receive a blessing.
Built in the 15th century by the Venetians who were attempting to defend the country from the Ottoman Empire, this is one of the most majestic fortresses in the country. To reach it you must take a steep but phenomenal walk 30 minutes through the pines. The stone path eventually leads you to the gate and the fortress rising behind. This is another landmark that will leave you wondering how in the world it was built. Inside you can explore the ruins as you walk through a grassy area of wildflowers and sage. Above the fortress sits St. Demetrius’ Church (13th century). It predates the fortress and once had separate Orthodox and Catholic altars.
12. Piva Canyon
Part of the fun of Piva Canyon is getting to it. The road tangos with the river and clings precipitously to the cliff in several places. You have to pass through 56 tunnels carved out of the mountain after World War II. But once you’re there, you’ll be rewarded with the site of Lake Piva sitting beautifully in the Piva Canyon. You’ll want to visit Piva Monastery which was painstakingly moved to higher ground, over the course of 11 years, when the hydroelectric dam at Plužine was built. It’s a perfect place for rafting and camping.
13. Stari Bar
Once part of the Roman Empire, Stari Bar was the economic and political centre for the Byzantines of the region. Now, the ruins of that long gone era sit at the top of sheer cliff faces accessible only from one point. There is a small museum inside with exhibits of artefacts dating back to 800 BC. It will also give you a great recounting of the history of the place, including the 19th century bombing by Montenegro in its efforts to take back the town from the Turks. Visit St. Nicholas’ Church with its Serbo-Byzantine frescoes, the 11th century fortress, and St George’s Cathedral, Stari Bar’s patron saint. If you’re interested in Ottoman architecture, take a look at the Turkish bathhouse, the clock tower, and the 17th century aqueduct which carried water from 3km outside of town.
14. Tara River and Canyon
Second only to the Colorado River Canyon, Tara Canyon is known as the “Tear of Europe” is a magnificent sight. Untamed natural beauty has been forged as the river has cut its way through the canyon. You’ll find river paths, breathtaking gorges, waterfalls, and even tranquil stretches of river. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Tara Canyon reaches 1300 metres deep. If you need some context, the United States Grand Canyon is roughly 1500 metres. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Montenegro is rafting down the Tara River. For those who prefer land activities, enjoy hiking around Mt Curevac, which reaches 1625 metres high.
15. Biogradska Gora National Park
Located between the Tara and Lim rivers is National Park Biogradska Gora. You’ll find old forests, clear lakes, and lovely pastures here. But in the heart of the park is something truly incredible. First is the virgin forest. And the in the heart of this unbelievable virgin forest is Biogradska lake, a truly remarkable glacier lake. The park boasts six glacial lakes, mountain peaks over 2000 metres, archaeological sites, sacred monuments, and several buildings built in traditional architecture. Nature lovers will enjoy the 26 distinct habits, 200 plant varieties, 150 bird species, and 10 types of mammals.
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