How long was your stay?
How did you travel?
Tell us why you traveled to this destination.
We were on a backpacking trip through the Balkans from Croatia to Albania. Montenegro was the best next step after Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Give us all the details! Tell us where you went and what you did on your trip.
We started our trip by taking a local bus from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Kotor, Montenegro where we stayed for three nights. We arrived in the late afternoon and stayed one night in the town center. Kotor is a medieval fortified town situated on a big lake and surrounded by mountains. Fortified meaning the town center, which used to be the whole town, is surrounded by walls meant to protect the city(similar to Dubrovnik, Croatia but much cheaper).
On our first night, we were in search of a local beer from a shop to enjoy next to the lake. Funny enough, we actually had a hard time finding that in the city walls, so we head out of the protected city and back towards the bus station, where we knew a grocery store would be. The grocery store was closed (it was a Sunday) but luckily there were some cans in the gas station nearby. We grabbed a Niksicko and wandered toward the lake, hoping to find a nice spot to sit. Half-following the map and half wandering aimlessly, we actually found a really great place where we could dip our feet in the water and look out at the incredible view. The point we found is on the most southerly tip of the lake off a dirt path from the road Njegoseva. It was so peaceful and so beautiful which plenty of things to look at. That night we had dinner at Ladovina kitchen and wine bar. It was a tad expensive for the area, but the pizza was very good.
On our second day, we changed hostels because we didn’t love the vibes of the first one, though they did have a pool that we enjoyed for about 10 minutes the night before. The hostel we really wanted to stay at ended up being full so we found another one situated on the lake outside the walls. It ended up being a big party hostel where we didn’t get much sleep so I won’t recommend the hostel. What I would recommend though, is a sunset stand-up paddle board tour on the lake. Many hostels and tour agencies offer this kind of thing so book it through whoever you want. There wasn’t much of an actual sunset to watch because the sun goes behind the surrounding hills quite early, but being on a paddle board in the middle of the lake is such a fun experience, not to mention absolutely gorgeous. You pass by a very old Catholic Church that sticks out into the water which is pretty cool to see from that angle, and seeing the hills, the town, and the castle from the water is really special.
On our third day, we hiked up to Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni, aka Kotor Fortress. This was awesome. The castle is by no means fully intact anymore, but the hundreds of stairs and some strong walls are still standing. We went up the back way, which consisted of some nice switch-backs up the mountain which had a cafe along the way with a great viewpoint of the city and lake from above. When you reach the top, you come across an old church that reminded me a lot of the old churches you find around Turkey. Because this trail goes up the back side, you technically have to sneak into the castle through a hole in the wall. *Disclaimer* We were told about this trail by one of the hostels but there is a sign on the wall next to the hole that states you are not allowed to enter the castle this way, even though there is a ladder leading up to the hole. I would recommend this trail only because the views are amazing and you don’t have to climb up hundreds of steps, rather you walk up the hill on a nice trail. But, to contribute to the community and follow the laws, you should probably pay for a ticket and climb the stairs like you are supposed… Anyways, the castle is very cool to see and you just can’t beat the views of the city from behind the fortress walls, the lake, and the surrounding hills from high up. The stairs are pretty tiring, but local people sell beverages and snacks on the way up and at the top, through a very warn down wall that perfectly supports a little shop like this, but be aware that the prices are more expensive than if you bring the drinks yourself, but remember that the people had to carry up the coolers themselves, so respect the prices!
On the fourth day, some friends we met in Bosnia met up with us and we decided to go on a road trip around the country. Montenegro is a very small country so we were able to drive around the whole thing in just three and a half days. There were five of us and some had a time crunch, so if I were to do it again, I would choose to spend an extra day— but I’ll get to that in the next section! It was fairly easy to rent a car in Montenegro and the price was fairly good. We had to put down a hefty deposit, made even heftier after the owner of the car realized that I, a 5’ 2”, skinny white girl, would be driving his 4Runner… that wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world, but I’m a good driver and we made the deposit work and even ended up getting the whole deposit back in the end. We rented through our hostel and I believe many places in the area offer similar deals. We set off in the late morning, after some small setbacks with the rental company, but we made it to our first stop with plenty of time.
The first stop was the town of Niksic! The same town where the beer is from. We were excited about visiting this town because of that, but also because we had heard there were very nice lakes here. And there were! We first checked into a hostel called Hostel Evropa and then head over to Krupac Beach on the lake called Krupacko Jezero. We were glad to have found such a nice hostel with such a friendly owner, who gave us this tip. We thought we would only get to drive past the lakes but he told us about this beach. We went for the sunset and even swam. The water was pretty cold and there was a lot of seaweed, but it made for a very fun time with my friends. And seeing the way the sun hit the rocks on the edge of the lake was just glorious.
The next day, we head out early to drive through Durmitor National Park. This was absolutely incredible. The route we took was from west to east; Niksic to Savnik then through the National Park all the way to Zabjak. This drive was one of the coolest drives I’ve ever been on. The road was unpaved at times, very narrow, and kind of scary with quick turns and little space. Luckily, we had a 4Runner which didn’t have any issues, and probably because we left so early, we didn’t have any problems trying to pass anybody and we barely had any traffic coming from the opposite direction. We stopped many many times along the way to take in the views of the rolling hills and valleys. One viewpoint is called Katun Plitki Do and some of the mountain passes were called Bobotov Kuk and Previn Sedlo. This area of the world is just brimming with craggy mountain rocks, thick green plains of grass covering rolling hills, and deep sections of the canyon. This National Park is absolutely breathtaking and we loved every minute of it. At some point, we parked at a little cafe so we could walk up one of the hills and a park ranger told us we needed to pay for entry into the park. We were very confused because one of the hikes on the opposite side charges a fee to enter, but we decided on a different hill so we didn’t have to pay. It turned out that you had to pay for entrance to the national park either way, but this was quite confusing, to be honest. We ended up paying for the tickets and went on our way. The trail we followed was extremely steep and somewhat slippery. One of my friends and I stayed back because of our bad knees, but three of our friends went all the way to the top and had magnificent views of the surrounding area. It was a little dangerous so I would suggest following the popular trail rather than an off-the-beaten-path trail unless you’re a very experienced hiker. It took most of the day to drive through the park, including all of the stops we made along the way.
At the end of the day, we made it to the nearby town called Zabljak and stayed at a hostel called Hostel Highlander. By the recommendation of the hostel, we ate dinner at Krcma Nostalgija which had really great local food. For sunset, we went back to the edge of the National Park to a lake called Titova Pecina. The lake is small enough to take a walk all the way around, there were families walking the trails, but we had a great time walking around the lake’s bank skipping rocks. After a good night’s rest, the last day of our trip began. We kept going clockwise around the country, and with the suggestion of another hostel owner, we went a little out of the way just to stop at the Tara Bridge – Djurjevic Bridge. This was amazing too. The bridge goes over a huge gorge. There are zip lines you can take across the gorge but there were long lines and we didn’t have much time, so we decided just to walk back and forth across the bridge to take in the views. They were stunning. A bright blue river flows 1,200 feet below with mountains everywhere you turn. It was also easy to catch a bus from here back to Zabljak, we said goodbye to one of our road trip friends so he could go back and hike more of Durmitor.
After this, we drove all the way down to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. The capital is known as one of the most boring capital cities in Europe, and I don’t want to say anything bad about this city, but we didn’t do anything except hang out at the amazing hostel and have a beer at the bus station, where the last two of our road trip friends picked up bus tickets to leave the next morning. The hostel we stayed at was called Hostel Q and was really the only reason I would suggest going to this city. It was a great stopover before our last day driving back to Kotor.
The next morning, it was just my boyfriend and I left in the car and we went all the way back to Kotor. Along the way, we stopped at one last viewpoint to break up the journey. It was called Rijeka Crnojevica and it was glorious. We left Podgorica very early in the morning so we could make it back in time to return the car, so we made it to the viewpoint around 10 am and we were the only ones there. The views were of these really cool hairpin turns of the river with many hills surrounding it. Montenegro is covered in hills and mountains and everywhere you look is gorgeous. This was a great place to take a break and see some final views of luscious nature. We made it back to Kotor by noon and we were exhausted but full of smiles. We couldn’t believe how beautiful this country was and we were so grateful to have been able to rent a car for such a cheap price and see so much of the country.
Would you recommend this trip to a friend?
What was the highlight of your trip?
The highlight of the trip was definitely Durmitor National Park. I actually couldn’t believe how beautiful this area of the country was. The whole country is amazing but this area specifically was like nothing I’ve ever seen.
If you were to take this trip again, is there anything you would add or do differently?
I would definitely choose to stay another day or two or even more to hike around Durmitor National Park. We only drove through it and stops at a lot of viewpoints, but it would have been so cool to experience this landscape by walking some of the hiking trails around.
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