Many people only know Montenegro for its stunning coastline. But this beautiful Balkan country has some hidden gems that you’ll definitely want to explore after you’ve soaked up some rays.
From steep mountains to deep ravines, icy blue rivers to emerald green lakes, dense mushroom-filled forests to breathtaking bays, rocky cliffs to flat sandy beaches; Montenegro has it all!
I’ve spent the last four years exploring this country, swimming in its secret lagoons and climbing many of its peaks.
So, without further ado, here are my favourite locations to explore in Montenegro.
Are you vegan? Then make sure you check out my vegan guide to Montenegro! You’ll need it 😅
1. Bobotov Kuk, Durmitor National Park
It’s one heck of a climb but this was without a doubt the most rewarding view I have experienced in Montenegro so far. Surrounded by vast valleys, turquoise glacial lakes, rugged peaks, jagged cliffs and dense evergreen forests, Bobotov Kuk is truly breathtaking.
After having climbed a more modest peak in the rain the day before and having spent the night beneath the porch of an abandoned house, my clothes and shoes were thoroughly drenched. Consequently, I found myself scaling Bobotov Kuk in a pair of borrowed swimming shorts and sandals, much to my mother’s dismay. Gratefully, the weather bestowed upon us far more favourable conditions as we climbed Montenegro’s ‘tallest’ peak.
Actually, here’s a fun fact: whilst Bobotov Kuk stands as Montenegro’s official highest peak, reaching lofty heights of 2,522 metres (8,274 feet), in reality, this distinction remains confined within the Durmitor mountain range. New surveys have revealed Montenegro’s actual tallest summit goes to Zla Kolata, which soars at an impressive 2,534 metres (8,314 feet) and resides in the Prokletije mountain range, nestled near the Albania border.
Climbed Zla Kolata? Please let me know in the comments what to expect – it’s next on my list!
2. Pavlova Strana Viewpoint, Skadar Lake
Skadar lake is an expansive emerald paradise boasting abundant biodiversity and offering truly breathtaking panoramas. Its verdant shores are fringed with reeds and lily pads blanket the tranquil waters.
In the winter months, a surge in rainfall, coupled with the significant contribution from its main tributary, the Morača River, enables Skadar Lake to sprawl over an expanse of up to 530 square kilometres. As the summer arrives, the lake undergoes a transformation, contracting its surface area to approximately 350 square kilometres.
To fully appreciate Skadar Lake, I recommend renting a canoe to row around some of the lake’s islands. Afterwards, drive up the road to the viewpoint known as Pavlova Strana where you can see the Green Pyramid hill nestled in the famous bend of the Rijeka (river) Crnojevića.
3. Secret coves near Blue Horizon, Luštica Peninsula
Explore the coastal paths to either side of the Blue Horizon beach and you’ll discover secret pathways that take you to beautiful woodland clearings and hidden coves.
From here, you can swim in the crystal clear open sea, dive through underwater tunnels that lead to vast sea caves and jump off rocky cliffs until the sun goes down.
4. Nevidio Canyon, Durmitor National Park
I had spent three summers in Montenegro before I discovered Nevidio Canyon. After eating delicious vegan priganice at Eagle’s Nest Etno Village, we wandered off the beaten track to discover this amazing view ☝🏻
Nevidio (which means ‘unseen’) Canyon is approximately 3km long and was formed when the Durmitor and Vojnik mountains collided millions of years ago. The river Komarnica (meaning ‘mosquitos’) weaves its way through narrow ravines, forming swirling whirlpools, frothy rapids and vigorous waterfalls. Sometimes the river disappears into a gorge, which is where it gets its name ‘Nevidio’.
If you’re brave enough to drive around the narrow and winding roads to the top of the canyon, I recommend getting a bird’s eye view. Alternatively, a canyoning tour offers an equally exhilarating experience.
5. Vrmac peak, Tivat/Kotor
I’ve climbed up Vrmac twice now; the last time we started our ascent at 4am to film a music video at sunrise (watch from 3 minutes 15 for the view); we were pretty early so ended up chilling out with the goats that were munching away at the top of the mountain. There was a lot of poop…not the most pleasant experience for the barefoot music scene.
But the sunrise was insane! The peak divides Tivat and Kotor, which means you get the most spectacular panoramic view of the entire bay.
Vrmac is a much much much easier climb than Bobotov Kuk (there’s a dirt path all the way to the top) and you may even spot a few boletes on the way up 🍄
6. Kotor fortress, Kotor
Another sunrise climb, this time after a house party in Old Town, Kotor; it’s well worth doing this before the day gets hot and the crowds of tourists begin their ascent (plus you get to avoid paying the entrance fee – approx. 8 euros).
The Kotor Fortress, also known as St John or the Fortress of San Giovanni, boasts an impressive 1,350 steps and has served as a backdrop for various films and TV shows. The fortifications have origins dating back to the Illyrian period, with many other cultural influences shaping its walls, ramparts and towers.
7. Lovćen National Park
During the heat of the summer, you may wish to escape to the fresher climate of the mountains. Lovćen National Park offers some fantastic views of the open sea and sunsets over Boka Bay. You can also visit the Mausoleum of Njegoš, the eternal resting place of Montenegro’s former ruler and beloved poet.
There are evergreen and birch tree forests to explore, some very pretty old-style stone houses to stay in, plenty of great hikes and you may even chance upon a free party whilst you’re checking out the various viewpoints 😉
I recommend going up on the new cable car to avoid getting stuck on the serpentine and to experience some of the best views of Montenegro!
8. Buna River, Ada Bojana
If you like to party then I recommend heading over to Ada Bojana. The parties on the super long beach are great fun and you can stay nearby in one of the beautiful houses along the Buna River.
Prefer to enjoy the view in peace and quiet? Then I recommend going out of season (September onwards).
9. Black Salt Lake
There’s a path that goes around the entire Black Salt Lake, which I think (I forgot to time it) takes about an hour to walk around. This takes you away from the majority of the tourists that flock to the front shore of the lake, although it is still busy along the entire path during the summer. (I would also recommend parking before you reach the official parking lot for the lake since this can get VERY busy and difficult to manoeuvre).
Along the route, you’ll find some beaches and rocks that you can jump from into the water. You can also hire a boat to take across the lake! Oh and there are numerous pathways that you can take if you fancy a longer and more challenging hike up the various mountain peaks that surround Black Salt Lake. You can get to Bobotov Kuk from here (although I took the route from the other side so can’t comment on this particular hike).
10. Tara Canyon, Durmitor National Park
The Via Dinarica hiking trail passes through the Tara Canyon, a UNESCO-protected site and Europe’s deepest canyon!
The Tara River weaves its way through limestone gorges, flanked by ancient black pine forest; its crystal clear blue water collects in peaceful pools before unleashing white water rapids that will make even the most experienced kayaker’s heart race.
11. Fort Kabala, Luštica
Possibly one of the best forts to explore in Montenegro; Fort Kabala has fantastic views of the bay and the open sea but you can also explore the entire fortress, which has three floors of secret rooms and turrets.
There’s even a room with some weird ritualistic drawings on the wall and ancient runes written in brown paint…very creepy! Definitely worth exploring.
We were lucky enough to attend a party in a house nearby that had an infinity pool, which mirrors the breathtaking sunsets you can also observe from the fortress.