Montenegro, with its dramatic landscapes, historic towns, and pristine beaches, offers some of the most scenic drives in Europe. Whether you’re winding along the Adriatic coast or navigating the mountainous hinterlands, a road trip in Montenegro is an experience to cherish. Here are six of the best routes to consider:
The Bay of Kotor Loop
Starting Point: Begin your journey in Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This ancient town is renowned for its well-preserved medieval old town, winding streets, and historic buildings. Before setting off, it’s worth exploring the Kotor Fortress and the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon to immerse yourself in the town’s rich history.
From Kotor, head northwest on the E65/E80 towards Perast. This short drive of approximately 12 km (about 20 minutes) will take you along the bay, offering serene views of the water juxtaposed against towering mountains.
As you continue on the E65/E80 from Perast to Risan, a distance of about 10 km (around 15 minutes), the road will guide you along the edge of the bay. Here, you’ll be treated to more picturesque views, making every moment of the drive a visual delight.
From Risan, stay on the E65/E80 and make your way to Herceg Novi. This stretch, covering about 25 km (roughly 35 minutes), offers a slightly more open road with expansive views of the broader bay area.
The final leg of your journey will take you from Herceg Novi back to Kotor. Following the E65/E80 southeast for about 42 km (approximately 1 hour), this stretch completes the loop, bringing you back to where you started, but with a heart full of memories.
In Perast, take some time to wander its narrow streets. The town is home to the Baroque St. Nicholas Church. Additionally, you can take a boat to the two islets: Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George. The former houses a church adorned with beautiful frescoes and a quaint museum.
Risan, on the other hand, offers a glimpse into Montenegro’s ancient past. It’s particularly known for its Roman mosaics, making it a haven for history enthusiasts.
Herceg Novi is a coastal town that boasts several fortresses, including Forte Mare and Kanli Kula. The old town is a delightful maze of narrow streets, squares, and historic buildings. The Savina Monastery and the views from the city’s seafront promenade are not to be missed.
Highlight: The panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor stand out as the highlight of this route. The bay, with its reflective waters mirroring the surrounding mountains, provides a serene backdrop for a leisurely drive. The historic towns en route, each with its unique story and charm, add depth to the journey, making it an unforgettable experience.
The Bay of Kotor Loop is more than just a drive; it’s a journey through time and nature. With each twist and turn, travelers are treated to a new vista, a new story, and a deeper connection to Montenegro’s rich heritage. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply someone looking for a scenic drive, this route promises to leave you spellbound. Safe travels!
Adriatic Coastal Drive: Exploring Montenegro’s Riviera
Your journey begins in Ulcinj, one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic coast. With its rich history dating back over 2,000 years, Ulcinj is a blend of various civilizations. The town is famous for its beautiful beaches, especially the Long Beach, which stretches for over 12 kilometers. The Old Town, perched on a hill overlooking the sea, is a maze of cobblestone streets, squares, and ancient buildings.
From Ulcinj, drive north along the Adriatic coast on the E851/M2.3 towards Bar. This stretch is about 30 kilometers and should take approximately 40 minutes. As you drive, you’ll be treated to views of the shimmering sea on one side and rugged mountains on the other.
Continuing on the E851/M2.3, make your way to Petrovac. This segment is around 40 kilometers and should take about 50 minutes. Petrovac is a small coastal town known for its sandy beaches and historic landmarks, including the Venetian fortress of Kastio.
From Petrovac, it’s a short drive to Budva, one of the most visited destinations in Montenegro. Following the E851/M2.3 for about 20 kilometers (roughly 30 minutes), you’ll arrive in Budva, a town known for its vibrant nightlife, historic old town, and beautiful beaches.
The final leg of your journey takes you to Tivat. Head north on the E80 for approximately 25 kilometers (around 40 minutes). Tivat is famous for its luxury marina, Porto Montenegro, which is often compared to Monaco for its opulence.
In Bar, explore the Old Town of Stari Bar, a place where history comes alive. The ruins of this ancient town tell tales of the numerous civilizations that once called it home. Don’t miss the Bar Aqueduct and the Church of St. Catherine.
Petrovac offers a more relaxed ambiance. The town’s bay is adorned with two islets, Katič and Sveta Neđelja, which are worth a visit. The boardwalk, lined with cafes and shops, is perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Budva is a must-visit for its vibrant atmosphere. The Budva Riviera is famous for its beaches, especially Mogren and Jaz. The Old Town, with its Venetian walls and narrow streets, is a testament to the town’s rich history.
Tivat provides a luxurious end to your journey. Apart from Porto Montenegro, visit the Renaissance Summer House Buća in the center of the city and the mysterious Island of Flowers with its 12th-century monastery.
The highlight of the Adriatic Coastal Drive is the ever-changing landscape. From the sandy beaches of Ulcinj to the luxury yachts in Tivat, this route offers a glimpse into Montenegro’s diverse coastal beauty. The drive, with the Adriatic Sea as a constant companion, is a visual treat, making every moment memorable.
The Adriatic Coastal Drive is a journey that showcases the best of Montenegro’s coast. With each town and city offering its unique charm, travelers get to experience the rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty that defines the Montenegrin Riviera. Whether you’re looking to delve into history, relax on a beach, or indulge in luxury, this route has something for everyone. Safe travels!
Durmitor National Park Circuit: A Journey Through Montenegro’s Wild Heart
Route: Žabljak – Black Lake – Tara Canyon – Đurđevića Tara Bridge – Žabljak
Begin your adventure in Žabljak, the highest town in the Balkans. This mountainous town is the gateway to Durmitor National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Before setting off, take a moment to breathe in the crisp mountain air and prepare for the natural wonders that lie ahead.
From Žabljak, drive a short distance of about 3 kilometers south to reach the Black Lake, one of the 18 glacial lakes in Durmitor National Park. The drive should take less than 10 minutes. The lake, surrounded by pine forests and with the reflection of the Durmitor massif, is a sight to behold.
After soaking in the beauty of Black Lake, head southeast on the P5 for approximately 23 kilometers (around 30 minutes) towards Tara Canyon. This canyon is one of the world’s deepest and is a testament to the raw power of nature. The Tara River has carved its way through the limestone to create this magnificent gorge.
Continue on the P5 for another 10 kilometers (roughly 15 minutes) to reach the Đurđevića Tara Bridge. This architectural marvel spans the Tara River and offers panoramic views of the canyon below. The bridge is also a popular spot for bungee jumping for those seeking an adrenaline rush.
Finally, make your way back to Žabljak by retracing your steps on the P5. This return journey of about 33 kilometers should take around 45 minutes.
At Black Lake, take a leisurely walk around its perimeter. The trail is well-marked and offers varying views of the lake and its surroundings. If you visit during the summer, you might even fancy a cold swim.
In Tara Canyon, there are several viewpoints where you can stop and marvel at the sheer depth and beauty of the gorge. The azure waters of the Tara River contrast beautifully with the greenery of the forests and the gray of the limestone cliffs.
The Đurđevića Tara Bridge is not just a stop-off but a destination in itself. Apart from the views and bungee jumping, there are cafes nearby where you can enjoy a meal or a drink with the canyon as your backdrop.
The highlight of the Durmitor National Park Circuit is undoubtedly the raw, untouched beauty of nature. From the serene Black Lake to the awe-inspiring Tara Canyon, this route offers a deep dive into Montenegro’s wild heart. The ever-changing landscapes, from dense forests to rugged cliffs, ensure that there’s never a dull moment on this drive.
The Historical Route: Delving into Montenegro’s Rich Past
Your journey commences in Cetinje, the historical and secondary capital of Montenegro. This town is a living museum, with every street and building echoing tales from the past. Before embarking on the road, take some time to explore landmarks like the Blue Palace, Cetinje Monastery, and the National Museum of Montenegro.
From Cetinje, drive towards Lovćen National Park, which is approximately 15 kilometers away and should take around 30 minutes. As you ascend, the road offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, transitioning from townscapes to dense forests and mountain vistas.
After exploring Lovćen and perhaps paying a visit to the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, head towards Njeguši Village. This drive is about 13 kilometers and should take roughly 25 minutes. The serpentine road that descends from the mountain to the village is an engineering marvel and offers breathtaking views at every turn.
From Njeguši Village, continue your journey to Kotor. This segment is approximately 25 kilometers and should take around 40 minutes. The road winds down the mountain, offering glimpses of the Bay of Kotor as you approach the town.
In Lovćen National Park, apart from the mausoleum, there are several hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty. The views from the top, especially from the mausoleum, are unparalleled and offer a panoramic vista of Montenegro.
Njeguši Village is renowned for its traditional Montenegrin cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste the village’s famous smoked ham and cheese. The village, with its stone houses and pastoral setting, offers a glimpse into Montenegro’s rural life.
Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of history. The old town, with its medieval walls, narrow alleys, and ancient buildings, transports you back in time. Key attractions include the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the Maritime Museum, and the fortifications that snake up the hillside.
The highlight of The Historical Route is the seamless blend of nature and history. From the historical landmarks of Cetinje to the natural beauty of Lovćen, followed by the culinary delights of Njeguši and the ancient charm of Kotor, this route offers a holistic experience of Montenegro’s heritage.
Lake Skadar Scenic Drive: Embracing Nature’s Serenity
Route: Virpazar – Rijeka Crnojevića – Ostros – Virpazar
Kick off your journey in Virpazar, a quaint fishing village located on the shores of Lake Skadar. This village, with its stone houses and bridges, serves as a gateway to the lake. Before setting out, consider taking a boat tour of the lake or visiting the local market to get a taste of the region’s fresh produce.
From Virpazar, head towards Rijeka Crnojevića, which is approximately 20 kilometers away. This drive, taking around 30 minutes, offers scenic views of Lake Skadar’s northern shores. The road meanders along the water’s edge, providing glimpses of the lake’s diverse birdlife and floating meadows.
After spending some time in Rijeka Crnojevića, continue your journey towards Ostros. This segment, covering about 15 kilometers, should take around 25 minutes. The route takes you away from the lake for a short while, offering a change in scenery as you drive through Montenegro’s hinterlands.
Finally, loop back to Virpazar from Ostros. This return journey of about 35 kilometers should take roughly 45 minutes. The road brings you back to the lake’s shores, completing your scenic circuit.
In Rijeka Crnojevića, take a moment to admire the old stone bridge, a symbol of the town. The town also offers boat tours, providing a different perspective of Lake Skadar and its intricate waterways.
Ostros, while a smaller settlement, offers a chance to experience local life away from the main tourist hubs. It’s a great spot to relax, enjoy the tranquility, and perhaps engage with locals to learn more about the region’s traditions.
The undeniable highlight of the Lake Skadar Scenic Drive is the ever-changing views of Lake Skadar itself. As the largest lake in the Balkans, its vastness and beauty are awe-inspiring. The lake’s clear waters, dotted with lily pads and frequented by a myriad of bird species, make it a nature lover’s paradise. The drive offers a harmonious blend of aquatic vistas, mountain backdrops, and quaint villages.
The Wild North: Venturing into Montenegro’s Untamed Beauty
Route: Pljevlja – Biogradska Gora National Park – Kolašin – Mojkovac
Your expedition begins in Pljevlja, a town that carries the weight of centuries. Known for its historical monuments, including the beautiful Husein-paša’s Mosque and the ancient Roman site Municipium S, Pljevlja offers a glimpse into the region’s rich past. Before you hit the road, spend some time exploring the town’s cultural landmarks.
From Pljevlja, set your course for Biogradska Gora National Park. This drive, covering approximately 60 kilometers, should take around 1 hour and 15 minutes. As you approach the park, the landscape transforms, revealing dense forests and pristine lakes.
After immersing yourself in the beauty of Biogradska Gora, continue to Kolašin. This segment, spanning about 20 kilometers, will take roughly 30 minutes. Kolašin, often referred to as Montenegro’s air spa, is known for its fresh air and alpine beauty.
Your final destination on this route is Mojkovac, a mere 20 kilometers from Kolašin. This short drive of about 25 minutes takes you further into Montenegro’s northern wilderness.
In Biogradska Gora National Park, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Lake Biograd. Nestled in the heart of the park, this glacial lake is surrounded by ancient forests, some of which are over 500 years old. The park also offers several hiking trails, each unveiling a different facet of its natural beauty.
Kolašin, apart from its alpine charm, is a gateway to the Bjelasica Mountains. If you’re visiting during winter, the town becomes a ski haven. In other seasons, it’s a hub for hiking, mountain biking, and rafting.
Mojkovac, while often overlooked, carries historical significance, especially from World War I. The town is also close to the Tara River, offering opportunities for river rafting and other water-based activities.
The essence of “The Wild North” route lies in its untamed landscapes. From the ancient forests of Biogradska Gora to the alpine beauty of Kolašin and the riverside charm of Mojkovac, this journey offers a deep dive into Montenegro’s wild heart. The route is a testament to the country’s diverse landscapes, from dense woodlands to rushing rivers and towering peaks.
Montenegro, often overshadowed by its popular neighbors, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Each road trip offers a unique perspective of the country’s rich heritage, natural beauty, and warm hospitality. So, pack your bags, rent a car, and set off on an unforgettable Montenegrin adventure! Safe travels!