The Balkans have become my favorite part of Europe to visit since my first trip there in 2015. There are so many places to go so why visit Montenegro? Honestly, I didn’t make it there until my fifth trip to the region and now I can’t wait to go back!
I took a forty-day trip through the Balkans in the fall of 2021 to celebrate my 40th birthday. I’d been wanting to visit Albania for years, so that was my first stop. My husband was meeting me in Dubrovnik, Croatia so spending a little time in Montenegro on the way there seemed like an easy option.
There was a bus that took me from Tirana to Podgorica, where I picked up a rental car and headed into the mountains. Little did I know pretty much the whole damn country is covered in mountains! After a few days in the town of Žablijak, I spent a night in the capital before making my way to Kotor.
I was worried Kotor would be a tourist trap because of its popularity. Within the first fifteen minutes of wandering through the old town, I understood why so many people want to visit! Its cobblestone streets and winding alleys are idyllic and picturesque. It was totally worth the time to visit.
Now that I’ve fallen in love with the country, I’m ready to answer the question, “Why visit Montenegro?” Decide for yourself if this is a place you want to visit. I bet it will be!
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Why visit Montenegro? 5 Reasons to Love This Country
The mountains are incredible! You’ll find opportunities for outdoor fun everywhere.
Montenegro’s beaches are gorgeous! All along the Adriatic coast, you can find places to soak up the sun near the beautiful, turquoise water.
The historic old towns are lovely and full of cultural sites. Many towns along the coast were settled more than 2,000 years ago!
Food in Montenegro is a great mix of cuisines! You’ll find fresh seafood, Italian pizza and pasta, Greek dishes, and traditional Balkan flavors. Take your pick!
Montenegro is incredibly affordable! You can have a wonderful time for at least half the price of visiting places like London or Paris.
Why Visit Montenegro? Reason #1: The Mountains & Forest
Montenegro is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Nearly 90% of the country is covered by mountains! They run right up to the Adriatic Sea in many places where you can go hiking and lay by the beach all in the same day. It’s glorious.
Inland you’ll find mind-blowing natural beauty -- craggy peaks, dense forests, and pristine mountain lakes. Durmitor National Park is a draw for outdoor lovers around the world. Tara Canyon, the largest and deepest canyon in Europe, is one of the major reasons visitors flock to the national park in the summer. You can go rafting, climbing, hiking, and biking during the summer and enjoy winter sports during the colder months!
Montenegro has four national parks that highlight the mountains in the country. There is no shortage of options for outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery! Whether you’d enjoy a multi-day trek or want to practice your photography skills, the mountains of Montenegro have something for everyone.
Why Visit Montenegro? Reason #2: The Beaches
I’m a nature lover through and through so the mountains and forest are reason enough for me to visit. However, if you prefer to soak up the sun on a pristine beach, Montenegro has that too! Along the Adriatic Coast, you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy a relaxing day by the water.
Kotor and Budva are two of the most popular places to visit in Montenegro. There is much debate about which is the better place to spend your time. If you have the flexibility, I vote to explore both! I chose Kotor because it seemed like a more chill vibe and the perfect combination of mountains, beaches, and interesting history. I was not disappointed!
There are also plenty of smaller, lesser-known towns along the coast where you can get away from the crowds that gather in the summer. One of the best parts about the beaches in Montenegro is the variety of options you have so close together. You can wander through a historic old town, get amazing food, relax on the beach, and go for a hike in the mountains all in the same place!
Why Visit Montenegro? Reason #3: Historic Old Towns
All along the Adriatic Coast you can easily access historic towns, some dating back to the 7th century BC! From Ulcinj in the south to Herceg Novi in the north, you’ll find remnants left behind by the Illyrians, Romans, Ottomans, and other empires that passed through here.
One of the biggest draws to Kotor are the well-preserved city walls. You can walk along and look down into the Mediterranean-style cobblestone streets and squares. Most of the old towns along the coast were settled by other seafaring cultures in the region -- the Greeks, Romans, and Illyrians.Further inland, you’ll find old towns captured or settled by the Ottomans in places like Podgorica and Nikšić. This is a fascinating contrast of cultures you see throughout the Balkans, but it’s on full display in Montenegro. History aficionados will love this place!
Why Visit Montenegro? Reason #4: The Food
It doesn’t take long to figure out that food is one of my favorite parts of travel! Getting to try the local cuisines is one of my favorite ways to get to know a new place. Montenegro’s diversity of flavors and cultural dishes matches its fascinating history.
Seafood is abundant along the coast, as you would expect. You can easily find a multitude of fresh fish as you walk through any of the lovely beach-side towns. Paired with a carafe of local wine -- yes, Montenegro produces incredible wine! -- you’ve got a delightful meal!
Because the coastal region was settled by other Mediterranean civilizations, you’ll find dishes from those areas as well. Pizza is everywhere and it’s as good as most I’ve had in Italy! You can find Greek dishes like moussaka readily available and traditional Balkan street food is plentiful. Further inland the flavors turn more toward the Turkish dishes of the Ottoman empire and the traditional Balkan dishes you’ll find throughout this part of Europe. I love the variety!Montenegro has its own specialties as well. In Žablijak, I was looking for traditional food and my server recommended I try Kačamak which is porridge of cornmeal, cheese, potatoes, and butter. It’s incredibly hearty and was perfect on the cold, snowy day I tried it, but it’s not a light meal! So, why visit Montenegro? To eat!
Why Visit Montenegro? Reason #5: It’s Super Affordable
The Balkans is a wonderful part of the world to visit. Full stop. It certainly doesn’t hurt that it’s incredibly affordable by Western standards. Most days you can easily get by with less than $50. That includes your accommodation!
During my time in Montenegro, I always had my own apartment. In Žablijak I had a cozy little cabin all to myself for about $21 per night. My little apartment in Kotor was inside the city walls and right in the heart of everything. It cost me about $23 per night. Of course you can save even more by staying in hostels, but I do like to have my own space, when it’s affordable.
Food in Montenegro is also really affordable. Street food, like burek and cevapi, are local specialties and you can have a meal’s worth for less than $5. One of the things I like about having my own place is keeping food around for breakfast and snacks. Groceries cost about half of what I’m used to paying at home in the US. Restaurant meals are usually less than $20, even for a nice seafood dinner with wine.
Public transportation is the best way to get around and won’t cost you much at all! The bus I took from Podgorica to Kotor cost me less than €10. The car I rented to venture into the mountains was only €15 per day (not including gasoline).
It’s hard to beat those prices for such a gorgeous and interesting place! If you want to see more on the cost of traveling to Montenegro compared to other parts of Europe, check out this article.
Planning A Trip to Montenegro and The Balkans
Hopefully you’ve now added Montenegro to your list of places to visit! Stay tuned for more content about this incredible country. Here are a few other resources about the Balkans to help you make the most of your time there:
Ah, I really want to go back to Montenegro after writing this article! Now when people ask, “Why go to Montenegro?” you can tell them all the things!.
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Now get out there. The world is waiting for you!
Which of these reasons makes you want to visit Montenegro? Where would you want to go first?
Share your thoughts in the comments!
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