Montenegro highlights include everything from savouring sunset over the spectacular Bay of Kotor and strolling atmospheric old towns taking in splendid Venetian palaces to climbing craggy mountains for breathtaking views and savouring traditional Montenegro specialties such as fish soup, village cheese and charcuterie, such as its Njeguši prosciutto and sausage.
I’ve been dreaming of Kotor in Montenegro and other faraway places in recent days. Perhaps it’s because we’re currently confined to home on day five (actually day seven, but that’s a long story) of a fourteen-day quarantine due to a Covid case in our apartment complex. If you’re in quarantine or lockdown or just staying at home, you’ll understand.
Montenegro ticks all my boxes right now. Dramatic natural landscapes. Glittering bays. Gob-smacking mountain vistas. Atmospheric old towns. Handsome old stone buildings. Delicious traditional food. Fantastic beaches. I could go on, but I’ll tell you more about the Montenegro highlights and things to do and see if you’re lucky to be heading there this summer. If you do, oh how I’ll envy you.
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Montenegro Highlights – Things You Have To Do in Montenegro This Summer
Savour Sunset Over the Bay of Kotor
Watching a magical Montenegro sunset with a glass of wine in hand from a balcony overlooking the breathtaking Bay of Kotor is one of the most memorable experiences of our travelling lives. I still can’t quite believe that we got to do that night after night for two weeks – and for work! I am sure there are scores of marvellous places in Montenegro where you can savour magnificent sunsets. But doing so from the balcony of a holiday apartment in Muo on the Bay of Kotor, so that you’re looking directly across to the Old Town of Kotor, tops my list of Montenegro highlights. To see how sublime these sunsets are, watch Terence’s time-lapse sequence below which will take you from late afternoon through dusk and sunset into the early evening, and watch the lights turn on and twinkle on the hillside and tell me you don’t want to book a flight to Montenegro. The main lights you can see on the hill follow the contours of the old city wall, which dates back to medieval times. It was built on and off between the 9th and 19th centuries, and built by everyone from the Byzantines to the Venetians. You can read more about the fortifications and castle below.
For time-lapse lovers: Terence took a couple of tests to get the right light on the right day for this video, as there was sometimes low cloud and high winds that almost blew his tripod over a few times. On this magic day in Kotor, he shot this afternoon into evening time-lapse looking across the bay to the heritage-listed old town between 17:46pm and 21:13pm with one photo taken every 20 seconds.
Stroll Atmospheric Old Towns
Wandering the well preserved walled town of Kotor on foot is one of the most enjoyable of Montenegro’s highlights – so much so we created an itinerary for a self-guided stroll around the UNESCO World Heritage listed Stari Grad or Old Town for you. Often called a mini-Dubrovnik, Kotor’s old town is a treasure, home to lovely sunny squares lined with cafés, handsome medieval stone villas with small balconies and window boxes, and narrow alleyways that often lead to secret gardens hidden behind high walls. Montenegro has more marvellous towns for you to explore as well, including Budva’s Old Town, which was one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic, originally built on an island that evolved into a peninsula; Ulcinj, which is another of the Adriatic’s oldest towns, founded in the 5th century BC, and conquered in the 2nd century AD by the Romans, and surrounded by thick stone walls; the Old Town of Nikšić, which has an impressive fortress within a fortress; and Stari Bar, an important archaeological site dating to the tenth century on the slopes of Mount Rumija.
Taste Montenegro’s Traditional Cuisine and Local Specialties
Sampling the local specialities and traditional cuisine is another one of the top Montenegro highlights. Begin your day with delicious pastries, fresh from the oven, or a slice of Dobrotska torta, a lovely almond lemon cake. Most towns boast lively morning markets – Kotor’s is outside the Old Town walls – where you can buy wonderful fruit and vegetables, as well as regional specialties such as canned fish, the red pepper sauce called ajvar or ‘Serbian salsa’ and bottles of potent Slivovica, Montenegro’s famous brandy. Every town also boasts local specialties produced in surrounding villages. For instance, in Kotor, it’s cheeses and pork charcuterie, such as the smoky salamis, sausages and prosciuttos from nearby Njeguski village. You can sample these in tapas-style sizes, along with Montenegrin wine, at osterias and bars in the atmospheric old towns and dotted on waterfront promenades. Follow up with hearty traditional meat and seafood specialties, such as the legendary fish soup called Riblja Čorba, made with the smallest fish of the daily catch, which is too small to be sold, and octopus stuffed with cheese and ham.
Climb Mountains and Hike Hills for Breathtaking Views
As you’d expect from such a mountainous country, climbing mountains and hiking hills is undoubtedly another one of the top Montenegro highlights. Mount Orjen is the highest mountain on the Adriatic coast, located on a mountain range that separates Montenegro from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders in winter and hikers in summer, with plenty of tracks to suit all levels of fitness, atmospheric lodgings, including mountain huts, and tours that can easily be arranged with specialist guides. You can climb up to lofty Mount Ćurevac for birds-eye-views of the mountains below, cross the 150 metre-high Tara River bridge, and hike – or do a jeep safari, canyoning or whitewater rafting – through the 82-kilometre long canyon that carves its’ way through the mountains of Durmitor National Park. If that all sounds a bit too exhausting – it’s summer after all – then do the huff-and-puff climb up to the ruins of medieval Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni (or Castle of St John) to take in the sturdy fortifications and savour the spectacular vistas of Kotor Bay and the Old Town.
Have you been to Montenegro? What were some of your Montenegro highlights?