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A 5-Day Montenegro Itinerary 🇲🇪

A 5-Day Montenegro Itinerary 🇲🇪

While spending a month in Belgrade, Serbia, we were chatting casually with a friend about future travels. With Greece in the cards a month later, we had about a week-long gap in between where we wanted to explore the Balkans, while simultaneously getting closer to where we needed to be, Athens. That was when she brought up an overnight-sleeper train that traveled daily from Belgrade to the coastal town of Bar, Montenegro. As I had yet to take a train in Serbia and the Balkans, I secretly questioned the existence of this mysterious train, but low-and-behold we were soon at Belgrade Central Station purchasing tickets - and a few weeks later, boarding the Lovcen sleeper train to Montenegro. That was the start of a relatively unplanned journey through the stunning, surprise-filled country of Montenegro.

Through our itinerary below, I hope to inspire you to get down to Montenegro as soon as humanly possible, particularly since it is on the verge of being discovered by the masses.

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Table of Contents

Short on time?

My top recommendations for your trip to Montenegro include:

🏨 Hotels:

🚍 Transportation:

🚗 Tours and Excursions:

Before we begin, let's talk about some Montenegro logistics:

What is so special about Montenegro?

The major draw in this small country is the Adriatic Sea coastline and the one-of-a-kind Kotor Bay (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), but it also offers monasteries, endless mountainous terrain and immaculate nature, unbelievably warm people, and not-your-typical cities that bolster a local charm.

When is the best time to visit Montenegro?

The summer months - May to October, but July and August will be steamy hot and jam-packed down by the beaches and Kotor Bay area.

How many days are enough in Montenegro?

This itinerary is a 5-day route through Montenegro, but as our mantra is slow travel, the more time the better. We were going a much faster pace than we would have liked here. Nevertheless, five days gave us an excellent feel for the country and a lasting impression on our hearts. If you can stay 7 days, 10 days or even 2 weeks, you'll have no problem seeing much of the country.

What is the best part of Montenegro to stay in?

If you are short on time, staying somewhere around Kotor Bay is an absolute must. Choose between Kotor, Perast, or Herceg Novi.

Where to stay in Montenegro 🏡

Here are some places to stay in the areas we visited - including some of the places we stayed or our personal recommendations depending on your budget!

Looking for luxury 💅?

On a budget or an adventure seeker 💰?

How to get to Montenegro

Airports in Montenegro 🛫

The main airports in Montenegro are in Podgorica, the modest capital of Montenegro, and Tivat, which is on the Bay of Kotor, thus closer to the typical hotspots near the water. As Montenegro gets more noticed, the amount of flights to these airports are bound to increase (with ticket prices getting cheaper).

Trains to Montenegro 🚝 / Buses to Montenegro 🚎

As mentioned, we took the overnight train from Belgrade to Bar, so if you are on a Balkan adventure, this was ideal. Beware, you need to buy tickets directly at Belgrade Central Station, and make sure to do it well in advance.

Probably the most common way aside from flying is taking buses. While I cannot be entirely sure of all the routes, I know that Flixbus goes to Montenegro.

Check buses on Flixbus or BusTicket4.me 🚎.

Getting around Montenegro

Driving a car in Montenegro

For the ultimate level of freedom, go ahead and rent a car for the time you are in Montenegro. They are cheap, often do not require deposits, and a road trip is truly the best way to get around the country.

We used and can absolutely recommend a service called TakeCars.com, which basically feels like an online middle-man connecting you with smaller agencies or individuals that typically don't have the means for easy online booking. For 4-days, we spent a little over €100 (with insurance) and had a direct WhatsApp connection with the owner of the car in case we needed anything. We used this service directly in Bar, but they also serve a few other hubs around Montenegro. And even if you are not in the area where they are serviced, they can deliver the car to you for an extra fee.

Just be sure that if you are crossing borders, you have the proper insurance paperwork needed (unlike us 🤣), so be sure to ask whomever you rent from.

Can you get around Montenegro without a car?

You can absolutely get around Montenegro without a car - I did it in 2019 solely by bus. Have a look for routes on BusTicket4.me to help you plan your routes. Generally, you can buy tickets at the bus station just before, but you also have the option to purchase through this site.

However, with car rental being quite cheap and to have full reign of where you can go, I would go ahead and rent that car if you can.

A 5-Day Montenegro Itinerary

So now with the basic logistics out of the way, how do you spend 5 days in Montenegro?

Let's go on a journey.

Day 1: Bar to Sveti Stefan to Budva to Kotor

While I love the idea of a night train, the amount of sleep I manage to get in actual practice isn't much, what with the bumps, creeks, and, in this case, two border crossing checks (once to leave Serbia, and 30 minutes later to enter Montenegro) that commenced with loud knocks on our door to make sure we were awake. So to say we pulled into Bar weary-eyed is an understatement. Much to our good fortune, the rental car and the agency owner, Goran, were waiting for us in the quaint train station parking lot. Within 30 seconds, we were behind the wheel starting our Montenegro road trip, whether that was the appropriate thing to do on little to no sleep or not.

We wound our way up the coastline, stopping briefly at the nearby beach, Ratac beach, to take in the morning Adriatic Sea air before continuing onward. Ratac beach is actually a nude beach with a majestic abbey perched on top. However, at just after 9 am, there was no evidence of nudity.

We continued driving up the winding coastline to Sveti Stefan and Budva.

Sveti Stefan is a town famous for a small island sporting buildings that rival those on Croatia's coastline. The island itself is actually a 5-star resort, inaccessible unless you are privileged enough to be guests. While it was worth it for a quick coffee stop and some photos, we found ourselves ready to move on in a few minutes.

Budva is the party capital of Montenegro, and it feels like a place that has developed too quickly for its own good. Yet its old town has a lot of charm and while I don't think it is worth it to stay overnight there unless you have more time, a coffee break or breakfast and stroll in the old town, a walk on the Mogren Beach Footway, and a little relaxation at the hidden Mogren Beach sets a nice tone.

A historic stone fortification in Budva, Montenegro, with walls extending into the sea under a clear blue sky. Montenegro itinerary.

Slightly more awake and with the morning fog having lifted, we continued on to the stunning Bay of Kotor. 28 kilometers long, Kotor Bay (also called Boka Bay) is actually a fjord, and Europe's most southern fjord at that. There are several small towns scattered around impressive bay's edge with the largest being, Kotor.

We set up shop for the night at a small guesthouse with the world's friendliest staff, Apartments Dakovic, just past the Kotor Old Town. Delirious by this point, we dropped off our belongings and made our way straight for Kotor Beach, a quaint pebble beach right in town that is one of the best places for a little swim and a midday nap. As I drifted in and out of oblivion, I would glance at the gorgeous blue waters in front of me and the steep hillside on the far side and thank my lucky stars that I was where I was at that moment in time.

Two men in sunglasses relaxing on a pebbled beach in Kotor, Montenegro, with mountains in the background. Montenegro itinerary.

Dusk rolled in and after a shower, we wandered down the promenade away from the old town, and stumbled upon Konoba Portun, a seafood restaurant with stunning views of the bay, plenty of Montenegrin wine, and a seafood platter fit for two kings. We watched the sun's light fade over the horizon; marking an end to our first day in Montenegro.

For foodies and wine-lovers, check out the Montenegro wine and food scene with this tour. 🍷

Day 2: Kotor to Perast

After a blissful sleep and some coffee and croissant sandwiches at Mon Bistro Cafétéria in Kotor's Old Town (definitely give their desserts a try), I was fully recovered and ready to take on the main physical activity of the day, a hike up Kotor Fortress. Also called St. John's Fortress, this was one of the most vital defenses of the Adriatic during medieval times and stretches for 4.5 kilometers over Kotor. We were admittedly a bit shocked by the €15 entrance fee we paid at the start, which was accessible from the Old Town, but as we winded the stone stairs and ramps further up the mountain-side, it was clear that a lot of effort was put into keeping this place in tip-top shape. Along the way were various towers with breathtaking look-outs over the Bay of Kotor. We finally made it to the end of the 1,350 steps to the fortress itself and further realized that every cent of that €15 was worth it; I couldn't think of a more perfect place. From start to finish, it lasted around 2 hours.

As an alternative for those who really have an affinity for hiking, there is the nearby Ladder of Montenegro.

A breathtaking view from Kotor Fortress overlooking the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding town. Montenegro itinerary.Two men posing at the top of Kotor Fortress, overlooking the scenic Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Montenegro itinerary.

How many days do you need in Kotor, Montenegro?

We spent around 24-hours in Kotor, but honestly if you are just in Montenegro for a long weekend, 3-days is ideal. You can make it your base and take boat trips from it to other parts of Kotor Bay

We got back in the car and drove a little further around the Bay of Kotor until we came to Perast, arguably one of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic. With only 300 actual residents, the town mainly caters to tourists. While generally our mantra is going off-the-beaten-path, the charm and sleepiness of Perast made it impossible to skip.

After checking in to our hotel, we strolled the 1.5 kilometer waterside promenade dotted with old stone restaurants, hotels, bars, and beaches. Night was already drawing in, so we decided to ditch the seafood and go with a Neapolitan-style pizza and beer at Bocalibre (after all, Kotor was Roman and Venetian once upon a time). We turned in watching entranced as the moon and stars sparkled across the bay.

To make the most out of Kotor and Perast, definitely check out a boat tour. This one goes to Lady on the Rocks in Perast and Blue Cave ⛴️.

A close-up of three small fishing boats docked in the calm waters of Perast, Montenegro, against a backdrop of a stone pier. Montenegro itinerary.Scenic view of the Bay of Kotor from Perast, featuring mountains, water, and a small lighthouse on the pier. Montenegro itinerary.

Day 3: Perast to...Nikšić

Upon us was the day of never-ending surprises and a reminder that nothing ever goes to planned, so plan loosely.

Our original plan was to head inland from the Bay of Kotor and drive into Bosnia and Herzegovina. But after two failed border crossings (a friendly reminder to talk to your rental company about the documentation you need), we had to restrategize and stick to Montenegro. Feeling defeated, I just drove further away from the bay without any clear aim.

It wasn't far from the border when the stunning nature spectacle of Slansko Lake came into a view, an entirely artificial lake. We purchased an incredibly cheap Turkish-style coffee at panorama and despite the size of the terrace, were the only guests, a far cry from the tourism of Perast.

Everything was going to be okay.

A panoramic view of Lake Slano in Nikšić, Montenegro, featuring lush green islands and surrounding mountains under a clear blue sky.

After we got our bearings and recovered from all the rejection, we drove down to the city that we saw from up above the lake.

Before long, we discovered it was Montenegro's 2nd largest city called Nikšić, which in actuality only has less than 60,000 residents and is impossible to pronounce.

It wasn't what you would call a "pretty city" at first, second, or third glance. As we drove the car through the streets, we passed tower block after tower block, a blighted sight after unreal Kotor just that morning. But we knew that this is where we would get the most local experience. We pulled into our spontaneously-booked accommodations, Emily Apartments, named after the owner's daughter, where we were greeted with rakija, a spirit we grew to love while staying in Serbia and is consumed by people from the Balkans at basically any hour of the day and for any occasion.

A little tipsier than before, we wandered the bizarre streets to Onogošt Fort. Unlike Kotor Fortress, we were the only people there, and it was entirely free. Of course, free comes at a cost, as the place was falling into disrepair and covered in overgrowth giving it an eerie aura to it. As weird as it sounds, these are the kind of places we love and search the world over for.

Ruins of an old stone fort surrounded by lush greenery and mountains in Nikšić, Montenegro, under a cloudy sky. Montenegro itinerary.

Not a soul in sight on Onogošt Fort

Two men posing with the historic stone walls of Nikšić Fort and the town in the background. Montenegro itinerary.

What did we get ourselves into coming to Nikšić?! Just kidding, we love this stuff

We cut back through the city to the Orthodox temple of St. Vasilije of Ostrog and people watched as local Nikšić citizens entered the ornately-designed church to pray to specific saints.

And after we had our religious fill, we naturally headed for a beer at Propaganda, a very quirky, progressive, alternative bar in the center that blasts Elton John and Queen under an outdoor ceiling of umbrellas. Fun-fact: The country's most famous beer, called Nikšićko Pivo, is brewed right in Nikšić, so we were getting the freshest of batches for hardly even €1.50 for half a liter. We finished the night off with some local Montenegrin cuisine (particularly Ćevapi) at Restaurant Merak and another cheap beer at Jerry Pub.

Decorative umbrellas hanging above string lights at the Propaganda Bar in Nikšić, Montenegro, during the evening. Montenegro itinerary.

Only the coolest bars have umbrella ceilings

While during the day, Nikšić, may not be the prettiest of places, at night, the streets light up tons of energy. If you are an off-the-beaten-path kind of traveler, this is the most local you are going to get.

Day 4: Nikšić to Lake Skadar to Ulcinj

This was our longest leg of the journey, as we had to drop the car off in the evening. Nonetheless, Montenegro is a small country, so it wasn't particularly exhausting, and we weren't in the car for long periods at all.

Just nearby Nikšić on the way to the capital, Podgorica, there are some incredible sights that most people who come to Montenegro never get to see - probably places that most locals in Montenegro never even get to see.

Just south of Nikšić, albeit with a little trial and error of navigating roads, we discovered Emperor's Bridge, an old road leading from Nikšić to Podgorica that gives off Roman vibes. Not a soul was there except for us.

A long, arched stone bridge stretching across a river in Nikšić, Montenegro, with a scenic landscape. Montenegro itinerary.

We headed back up into the mountains with the goal of getting to Ostrog Monastery, a monastery that is in a cliff face. We parked as close as we could without having to pay and hiked the rest of the way up to the monastery. Those who are serious about the pilgrimage do the 3-kilometer hike from the lower to the upper monastery, but the small leg we did was enough exercise for the day. The incredible views from the monastery are awe-inspiring and makes you wonder how it is even possible to build a monastery in a cliff face. Be prepared to see a lot of blankets around the premises, as apparently visitors donate them to the monks.

Back in the car, we continued on to the direction of Podgorica, but stopped at a little roadside restaurant called Gostionica Ostrog Podstijene to satiate the breakfast and lunch we had yet to have. The convivial waiter brought out some seriously delicious local cheese, olives, and a mixed meat platter (the Balkans love their meat) - and even gave us a pomegranate juice made from the orchard next to the restaurant on the house.

For a North Montenegro tour, that includes Ostrog Monastery and Durmitor National Park, check out this tour.

Colorful blankets laid out in front of Ostrog Monastery, which is built into a cliffside in Montenegro. Montenegro itinerary.

An hour later, we were driving past Podgorica, the capital city with less than 200,000 people, with no intention of stopping this time. As much as we wanted to, we had gotten enough taste of Montenegrin city life the last day and also didn't have the time. From the highway, it bore a similar resemblance to Nikšić, with tower blocks and dust. But initial judgments aside, I am sure it has hidden gems.

We had a coffee break at Restoran Jezero on the side of Lake Skadar, Southern Europe's largest lake, which has half of it in Montenegro and half in Albania. If you are looking to try Montenegrin wines, this is the place to do it as there is an adjoining winery next door.

A bottle and a glass of Nikšićko beer on a table with a meal in Montenegro. Montenegro itinerary.

For the outdoorsy type, there is a ton more to explore around Lake Skadar, including Lake Skadar National Park. Make sure to factor in more time than we did!

You can even do guided panoramic boat tour ⚓️!

Finally, back in Bar, we bid adieu to our rental car in the bus station parking lot - Goran let us leave the keys and money under the front seat and would pick up the car later, something unthinkable in other countries with more developed tourism.

We caught the bus 20 minutes to Ulcinj where we would spend another few days. Ulcinj is unique in that it is actually made up of nearly 70% of Albanians. The little Montenegrin words I had picked up along the way felt useless as Albanian words were being thrown around left and right.

We got a place right by the Kryepazari Mosque and as we were back in a seaside town, we finished the night off with a seafood dinner at Restaurant Taphana in Ulcinj's high up Old Town, offering the best views of the Adriatic at twilight, as well as a walk down by the beach.

A well-lit mosque with a tall minaret under a full moon in Ulcinj, Montenegro. Montenegro itinerary.A moonlit scene of the old town in Ulcinj, Montenegro, showcasing historic buildings and a bright moon in the night sky. Montenegro itinerary.

Day 5: Ulcinj

We were awoken by the faint hum of the call to prayer and after all this travel, decided a lazy morning was in order - not getting out until midday. Our laziness expedition continued as we wandered along the road above the beaches and parked ourselves at Sapore di Mare, one of the many beach clubs. There we sat on reclining beach chairs, took in as much sun as we could, read our Kindles, drank beer (Nikšić of course), and watched the Adriatic Sea do its thing.

Tip: If you have the time, make sure to drive further down the coastline toward Albania and stop at Long Beach or some of the other beaches on that stretch.

We headed back to town for what turned out to be one of our favorite dinners at Konoba Savana. Ran by a jolly corpulent Albanian guy, we chatted with him about life as he brought out plates of local cheese, olives, ajvar and bread. He toasted the end of our trip with some rakija on the house. And just like that our Montenegro trip would be forever imprinted in our minds.

A man photographing the modern Freedom Monument in Ulcinj, Montenegro, with the sea in the background. Montenegro itinerary.

How could we forget the random Yugoslavia-era monuments that appear in random place? This one is in Ulcinj.

Add-ons for 7 Day or 10 Days

If you have another few days in store, I suggest adding these places on to your itinerary:

### Heading further on to Albania?!

Check out our Gay Tirana Guide!