Our Curated Montenegro Itinerary: A Journey of Discovery
Planning a trip to the beautiful Montenegro? Read our ideal 5 Day Montenegro itinerary here for the perfect trip through the Adriatic coast of Montenegro.
Pristine and underrated, Montenegro is one of Europe’s most beautiful hidden gems. A small country with beautiful national parks, lovely landscapes, Medieval towns, and a gorgeous coastline, Montenegro has pretty much everything you could want from your next vacation destination.
Making a great alternative to the coast of Croatia which can get quite crowded in summer, the Montenegrin coast offers visitors some superb beaches, crystal clear water, cultural Medieval towns, and stunning scenery.
If Montenegro isn’t yet on your bucket list you might want to add this underrated spot and start planning your very own Montenegro itinerary to make the most of this exquisite coastline before word gets out.
In this blog post, you’ll be able to find our very own polished and curated coastal Montenegro itinerary as well as our travel tips. Whether you have just 5 days or even longer and want to experience the highlights as well as some hidden gems, keep reading to make the most of your trip.
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The Best Time to Visit Montenegro
The best time to visit Montenegro is in the should season. The shoulder season falls in the months of May and June, September and October. These are the best months to visit as they see far fewer visitors than the high season summer months.
During the shoulder season, the weather is also pleasant and warm but not too hot like it can be in July and August.
During the winter months, it can get quite cold in Montenegro, even on the coast. In general, this is low season and many hotels and businesses will close so you might be quite limited when it comes to eating, drinking and entertainment.
How Many Days in Montenegro?
Montenegro is a small country that’s easy to get around in. While the more time you have the better, 5 days is enough to discover all the gems on the Montenegro coast.
If you also want to go inland and discover the mountains and the national parks of the north, 7-10 days in Montenegro is ideal.
However, you could spend weeks slowly exploring all the hidden gems and undiscovered corners of Montenegro. It really is a beautiful country and it just depends on how much time you have to discover it.
Before You Go
Here are some important points and personal recommendations to note before planning your 5 Day Montenegro Itinerary. Some of these tips I wish I knew before I set off and I thought I’d share them with you here.
↠ Montenegro is a small country and the distances are short. You can fit quite a bit into your day as not much driving is involved. Having said that roads on the coast can get very congested during the summer- another reason why a shoulder season visit is recommended.
↠ This itinerary is best done by renting a car. It’s possible to get from one place to the other by public transport for the most part but places like Lovcen National Park and Ostrog Monastery are difficult to reach by bus. A car will generally give you the most freedom and flexibility.
↠ This Montenegro itinerary focuses on Montenegro’s best coastal destinations, including Lovcen National Park and Cetinje, the old capital. I have heard great things about the mountainous regions of northern Montenegro but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to make it happen this visit.
If you can I’d highly recommend extending your trip a little and visiting Prokletije National Park, Ostrog Monastery, and Black Lake.
How to Plan Your Montenegro Itinerary
Most travelers rent a car and explore Montenegro on a road trip style itinerary, staying in different accommodations each night or every second night. While there is nothing wrong with this type of trip, there are some different ways to think about when planning your itinerary.
A road-trip – hire a car and drive to each place and stay at a different destination each night. This option allows you to see the most but it can also feel quite rushed.
Have a Base – This one is an excellent option for those that want to take their time in specific destinations or don’t have access to a rental car. For example, basing yourself in Kotor for 4 nights you can easily do day trips to a different place each day such as Tivat or Budva, or even Lovcen National Park.
A Bit of Both – There’s also nothing stopping you from doing a mix of both even if you have a car. It will also save the hassle of moving hotels every night. Basing yourself in Kotor for a few nights and then doing day trips is a lovely way to explore Kotor Bay.
Getting to Montenegro
There are a number of places you can begin your trip when doing a Montenegro Coastal Itinerary. Here are the most popular options which I highly recommend but, where you start your trip will depend on your full Balkans itinerary.
Many factors such as airline routes, full itinerary, and time frame might affect where you start your trip.
Dubrovnik– Many travelers start their Montenegro trip in Dubrovnik, Croatia. This is because not only do you also get to see Dubrovnik, but there are also many direct flights available to Dubrovnik from a variety of European destinations.
While, yes you will need to cross a country border, the border crossing from Croatia to Montenegro is fairly easy and doesn’t take long in the shoulder season. Almost all rental car companies allow you to drive to Montenegro but make sure you notify them of your plans. We began our trip from Dubrovnik airport.
Tivat – The small coastal town on the Boka Bay does have its own airport and if you prefer to fly straight into coastal Montenegro, Tivat is your best bet. It’s not a huge airport but during the summer months, it has connections to Germany, the UK, Austria, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Turkey, and Israel among others.
Podgorica – Montenegro’s capital is one of the most obvious places to fly into. From Podgorica, it’s about an hour’s drive to the Montenegro coast.
Albania – If you’re doing a longer Balkans itinerary and are planning to visit Albania too you can drive into Montenegro and make the cute coastal town of Ulcinj your first stop.
Our Montenegro Itinerary: 5 Days Along the Coast
As we started from Dubrovnik and so do many other travelers, I’ve ordered the destinations in this order. If you’re crossing the border from Albania you can do the same itinerary just in reverse.
For those coming in from Podgorica or Tivat, you can start in the middle, but you will need to backtrack on yourself at some point.
5 Day Montenegro Road Trip Summary:
Day 1– Herceg Novi & Perast
Day 2– Old Town Kotor & Around
Day 3– Lovcen National Park, Cetinje, Tivat
Day 4– Tivat & Budva
Day 5– Sveti Stefan
Bonus Days 6+: Petrovac, Ulcinj & Beyond
Day 1: Herceg Novi & Perast
Begin your 5 Days in Montenegro Itinerary in Herceg Novi, a wonderful seaside town, popular in the summer with a gorgeous old town. Herceg Novi offers travelers an enchanting blend of history, natural beauty, and a vibrant atmosphere.
As you wander through the winding streets of the Old Town, you’ll be greeted by centuries-old fortresses, charming squares, and a plethora of cozy cafes and local shops. The town’s rich history is evident in its architectural treasures, including the iconic Clock Tower and the imposing Kanli Tower.
Make sure not to miss spending most of the morning walking around the beautiful old town, visiting the beaches, and exploring the coastline.
Top Things to Do in Herceg Novi
–Climb up to the Spanish Fortress– Ancient fortress ruins located high above Herceg Novi with stunning views of the Bay.
–Explore the Old Town– Walk through the old town and savor the pretty stone streets. Make sure not to miss the iconic clock tower, the Kanli Tower, and St Joakim Church.
–Relax on the beaches– There are many different small beaches and coves to relax on during your time in Herzeg Novi. Herzeg Novi beach is a good option right next to town and so is Bla Bla Beach.
From Herceg Novi, it’s just a short drive around the Bay of Kotor to Perast. You’ll want to arrive in Perast just after lunch and stay until sunset as this is the most magical time in the small town.
Perast is the best place inside Boka Bay to watch the sunset- they are simply magical here. One thing to note is that due to the high mountains all around the bay, the sunset here is actually much earlier than on the coast. The sun will quickly disappear behind the mountains well before the official sunset time.
There’s actually quite a bit on offer in Perast from local museums to palaces and churches. It’s also a great spot for lunch right on the waterfront.
Things on Offer in Perast
–Go for a Stroll on the Waterfront– Perast’s waterfront is one of the most scenic places in town, especially at sunset. Walking down here you’ll pass several of Perast’s palaces and heritage buildings surrounded by mountains.
–Visit St. Nicholas Church– Perast’s main church which sits on the main square. You can also climb the bell tower in the summer.
–Visit the Palaces– There are some spectacular palaces in Perast and most of them have now been converted into museums or luxury hotels. Smekja Palace and Bujovic are definitely worth visiting.
–Take a Boat Trip to Our Lady of the Rocks– That artificial island you see in the Bay just by Perast? Take a boat to see the beautiful Our Lady of the Rocks church on the island.
For the full list of things to do read the full Slow Traveller’s Guide to Perast, Montenegro
Perast can also be visited on a day trip from Kotor if you want to continue to Kotor this evening. However, I personally much preferred Perast to Kotor- it’s far less crowded, touristy and because cruise ships can’t dock here it has a more historic and authentic feel.
I’d highly recommend staying the night in Perast to enjoy an evening stroll on the waterfront and the views of the Bay during sunrise the next morning.
Where to Stay in Perast
There are a number of lovely guesthouses and luxury hotels in Perast, given its small size. It makes Perast a great alternative to Kotor. Staying in one of the heritage hotels will also give you the opportunity to say in a noble family’s palace and a chance to look around.
–Heritage Grand Perast– a 5-star luxury in a renovated 18th Century palace. Stunning interiors, beautiful rooms, and views right on the Bay of Kotor. Check rates and availability here.
Heritage Hotel Leon Coronato – Another stunning, luxury option right by the water. Check rates and availability here.
Palace Jelena Rooms– Stay here for a chance to experience one of Perast’s most famous palaces without breaking the bank. Rooms here have exposed heritage stone, traditional furnishings, and breathtaking views from the balconies. Check rates and availability here.
Day 2: Kotor
Start the day backtracking a little from Perast to the stunning little village of Risan. Located just 10 minutes north of Perast, Risan is a small town on the edge of the Bay of Kotor. While it’s not as atmospheric or pretty as Perast, it is home to a collection of Roman floor mosaics that date back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD.
The mosaics were once part of a very large and luxurious Roman villa, they have been well-preserved since. Entrance to the site costs just a few euros.
From the site of the Roman mosaics, it’s also worth exploring the town. The Risan waterfront is really pretty and I suggest grabbing a coffee and a bite here too on the water’s edge before moving on to Kotor.
Spend the rest of the day in Kotor exploring its narrow, labyrinth streets and heritage stone architecture. There are some pretty spectacular things to do in Kotor, Montenegro. Make sure to explore the charming Stari Grad or Old Town of Kotor as well as spend some time ogling at the jaw-dropping views of the Bay of Kotor.
If you do have more than 5 days in Montenegro it’s here that you might want to extend your stay. Assigning some extra time for hikes and day trips to some other hidden gems in the area is recommended.
Best Things to Do in Kotor
–Explore Stari Grad (Old Town)– there’s no place quite like it, the old town is picture-perfect and full of both Catholic and Orthodox churches, restaurants, cafes, and bars. While you’re exploring the Old Town, make sure to also find all the churches and palaces that’ll transport you back to old times.
–Hike to St. John’s Fortress – A great thing to do at sunset. the short hike up to St John’s Fortress past the picturesque church of Our Lady of Remedy is a must. The views of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor here are exceptional.
–Relax on Kotor Beach – Yes Kotor does have its own beach and if the weather is fine, why not take some time for it?
–Walk Along the City Walls– One of the best spots for views of the old town and its atmospheric squares.
–Take a boat trip to Montenegro Blue Caves– If you have the time then sign up for a tour to see this wonderful cave with mesmerizing turquoise hues and sunlight that illuminates the cave walls beautifully. Check out this Blue Cave Tour also heads to Mamula and Our Lady of the Rocks.
READ MORE: 20+ Wonderful Things to Do in Kotor
Where to Stay in Kotor
–Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro – Historic, old-town luxury with a Montenegrin flare is what you can expect at this gorgeous property. The terrace here is probably one of the most beautiful in town and the rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel Monte Cristo – Take advantage of this hotel’s location right in the heart of Kotor. Uniquely designed rooms that capture the spirit of the town beautifully. Make sure to also dine or have a drink at their stunning terrace overlooking town. Check rates and availability here.
Day 3: Lovcen National Park, Cetinje, Tivat
On day three, depart Kotor early and begin driving the serpentine road up to Lovcen National Park.
The winding road is full of hairpin bends and it really is a stunning and fun drive. If you manage to head up for sunrise you’ll see the spectacular glow over the whole Bay. Not to mention there will be fewer people on the road which is a good thing on a narrow, curving road like this one.
Spend the morning exploring Lovcen National Par