Bar Budva Kotor Montenegro Perast Podgorica Ulcinj Žabljak

Meet Montenegro – Darling of the Balkans

Last Updated on November 14, 2019.

Meet Montenegro, one more “pearl of the Mediterranean”, or according to me,

darling of the Balkans.

Road to Budva Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Chilling just south of Croatia and north of Albania, Montenegro is one of the most manageable and pleasant countries to travel around in this part of the world. Having recently returned from a couple of wild nights down in the south with my Balkan Tours crew and a two-day girls’ retreat in its mountains, I can safely say it has become one of my absolute favorite countries to spend time in and a place I wouldn’t mind setting up shop for a semi-extended period of time. Unlike its neighbors to the north and east, Montenegro didn’t have much fighting (or any) on its soil during the most recent Balkan wars so infrastructure, though not perfect, is in place and most of its cultural treasures well-preserved.

Tara River Canyon Durmitor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Perfectly petite, strikingly beautiful, absolutely charming, and loved by many throughout the region, allow me to introduce to you to some of the cool places that make up this little darling also known as Crna Gora, or Black Mountain.



Holding the esteemed title of “least visited capital in Europe”, Podgorica is a place you will probably end up at some point either on your way in or way out of Montenegro. For a capital, it’s surprisingly (but not really) cheaper than most of the other places on this list, and even though it doesn’t have any “wow” factor whatsoever, I found it to be interesting enough and worth spending at least a night or two in if you have the time.

City center Podgorica Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Podgorica Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

A casualty of Nazi and Allied bombings, much of the city was destroyed during World War II but a small sliver of Ottoman-ness remains in Stara Varoš. The old clock tower (below) is probably the main sight to see in the city which is nothing spectacular,  but there is a bomb ass restaurant called Pod Volat just off to the left that’s totally cheap and totally Balkan.

Stara Varoš Podgorica Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Shopska Salad Podgorica Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Saborni Hram Hristovog Vaskrsenja is a newly-built Orthodox church in the center that’s pretty good-looking, or at least was on its way to being good-looking when I was there last year. Aside from those three sights (because you really should include that restaurant as a sight, it’s awesome), I have nothing else to recommend at this juncture because we stopped “sightseeing” and just went to have drinks at a cool retro Yugoslav dive bar called Titograd.

Ok, so four sights…Go to Titograd and ask for Toni. He made great mojitos and a mix CD for me with his name written on it which is the only reason I remember this information. Thanks if you’re reading this, Toni. Anyone who mixes Roxette and The Godfather theme song in the same place is alright with me.

Church Podgorica Montenegro



Budva is the place I thought I would enjoy the most on my first jaunt through Montenegro, but that wasn’t the case. It’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but too saturated with Russians (like me) and tourists-of-the-obnoxious-variety for my liking which made Budva feel like “just another resort town”. Would love to give it another chance though as I know there is a lot I missed that can easily change my mind, but until then…how sweet was this guy’s hat?

Street Photography Budva Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Budva beach Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

On the brighter side, the old town there is pretty cute and the one thing Budva and its surroundings does have that lots of places along the coast don’t (specifically north) are semi-sandy beaches which I suppose anyone hankering for a day at the sea would find attractive. Pretty tasty seafood as well…

Walls of Budva Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Seafood Budva Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy


Sveti Stefan

The famed Sveti Stefan was also another major disappointment. Not because it wasn’t ridiculously gorgeous like I had anticipated – it absolutely was. But because you can’t actually access the little nugget unless you are sleeping there or have reservations for lunch or dinner at its predictably pricey restaurant.

Sveti Stephan Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

I should also mention that its sexy private beach pictured above will also set you back 50 euros if that’s where you want to tan your buns. I’m going to get there someday, but in the meantime I’ll just have to settle with this awkward photo taken by Yomadic on its rocky south side. What an amateur.

The Blonde Gypsy Sveti Stefan Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy



Kotor is a lot of things, but a “poor man’s Dubrovnik” it is not. Whoever came up with that was sadly misinformed. Or blind. Or all of the above.

Old Town Entrance Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Old Town Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Cruise ships may be coming and dumping a crazy amount of day trippers into the city for only few hours without pumping any money into the local economy whatsoever, but still, Kotor has managed to stay much more real than Dubrovnik. In fact, I think it should be called “the smart man’s Dubrovnik”.

Kotor Bay Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

During the high season you won’t be able to escape the crowds really anywhere along the Montenegrin coastline, but stick around for more than a day in Kotor and I promise it will be much more worth your while than Budva. There are seriously priceless views all around, especially once you climb to the top of St. John’s Fortress, and if you speak to the right locals you can get taken around Boka Kotorska (Kotor Bay) on a leisurely, private boat ride for a reasonable price to take it all in from a different perspective.

View above Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Top of fortress Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy



If a “leisurely boat ride” from Kotor tickles your fancy, one spot you can easily hit is very Venetian Perast.

Perast Bay of Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Center Perast Montenegro Boka Kotorska © The Blonde Gypsy

If you want to pass on a private boat, another option is to just drive there or catch a local bus that costs under 2 euros and takes 20 minutes or so. However you get there, one thing you really must do is sail over to Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George Island just off its shore. Our Lady of the Rocks is apparently the only artificial island in the Adriatic Sea created by local citizens way back in the day by transporting the stone over enemy ship wrecks or something of that nature. Google it.

Our Lady of the Rocks Perast Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Bay of Kotor Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy



I’ve never been one to dream about having a house with a white picket fence, but hanging around Žabljak in northern Montenegro kind of changed that. Switch “house” to pimped-out cabin and “white picket fence” to a dog named Dino and a miniature pig that wears boots (Google it), and you might get a better idea of where you can find me in a couple of years if all goes to plan.

Zabljak Durmitor Montenegro Mountains © The Blonde Gypsy

Žabljak is a great place to start your exploration of the north. It’s the highest municipality in the Balkans at 1,456 meters and in the heart of Durmitor National Park. Down the road you have Crno jezero, or Black Lake, and within 30 minutes you can be out party rafting in Tara River Canyon, UNESCO world heritage site and the second deepest canyon in the world. In winter it’s all about the skiing and snowboarding.

Durmitor Tara River Canyon Rafting © The Blonde Gypsy



While I can’t claim to have seen all of Montenegro yet, I’m going to go out on a real limb here and say Ulcinj in the far south is one of the most interesting towns in the entire country – and also one of the cheapest.

Mala Plaža Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

A place of legends (like real-life pirate ones), a place to spend some lazy beach days, a place to party it up, a place to fall in love. Most visitors to Montenegro (minus Balkan ones) tend to miss this town which is really a shame as it has a lot to offer and tons potential to become one of the country’s top vacation spots.

Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Its biggest draw is of course the fact that it’s there where you will find those beautiful, sandy beaches you were looking for all along. While Mala Plaža (“small beach”) in the Old Town is the easiest to get to, it’s, well, small and can get extremely crowded in the summer months. Velika Plaža (”long beach”), on the other hand, it’s, well, LONG – thirteen kilometers to be exact – making it the largest stretch of sandy beach on the Adriatic coast and yours for the taking as it remains mostly undeveloped.

Velika Plaža Beach Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Kites Velika Plaža Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

Sounds amazing, and it is, but be forewarned. Unless you are staying at a hotel or guesthouse near Velika Plaža, don’t mind extremely long walks on the beach (remember, 13 kilometers), have made a cool taxi driver friend you can call up on demand, or have your own set of wheels to take you where you want to go…it can be really annoying trying to get there from the center of town which is about four kilometers away. Public transportation between the two may exist, but even the locals were skeptical about its efficiency and judging by the layout of the land there it would still be a mission to get from the closest main roads to the various beach clubs or empty stretches of sand, especially in the summer heat.

This is frustrating for the independent traveler who wants nothing to do with driving a car while on holiday, but until some infrastructural improvements are made, it’s the only way you will be able to see the best that this area has to offer. Beautiful Valdanos Bay (below) and its surrounding olive groves – some of the largest in Montenegro – to the north of the Old Town as well as birdwatchers’ paradise, Lake Šas, towards the Albanian border included.

Valdanos Bay Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

And then there’s Ada Bojana. The bohemian two square-mile island formed where the Bojana River meets the Adriatic Sea famous for its nudist enclave and “anything goes” atmosphere. Even if you don’t even up staying there or aren’t into nakedness, a trip down to Montenegro’s southernmost trip for a peaceful stroll-around and delicious meal at one of the area’s many great seafood restaurants is a definite must.

Ada Bojana Ulcinj Montenegro © The Blonde Gypsy

This is the end of my brief introduction to magnificent Montenegro, I hope you enjoyed it and/or found it useful. I also hope this is not the last time you visit this post because it is a work in progress as I fully intend on adding more great places to visit after I return from traveling around it some more. Or maybe you have some more suggestions?


  • Reply
    June 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Love the photos of Kotor Bay- so beautiful. Montenegro has been at the top of my travel wish-list for a while now.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

      It’s a gem for sure! Can’t wait to get back there and see more.

  • Reply
    June 14, 2014 at 2:00 am

    I admit to really knowing nothing about Montenegro, but after looking at these photos I would love to visit there! It is quite charming and beautiful.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 8:54 am

      It’s amazing, hope you guys make it there someday!

  • Reply
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    June 14, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Man I regret not spending time in Montenegro! Years ago I hitchhiked through from Albania to Croatia and didn’t stop except for to switch cars. Your pics are so pretty!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 8:53 am

      Thank you! Big mistake but then again perfect excuse to come back for more :) You can easily spend a week or three bumming around the mountains and coast of Montenegro.

  • Reply
    June 16, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Been to Budva? I’m going there at the end of the month; first time in Montenegro and looking forward to it. Great photos as always.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Did you read the post? :) Been to Budva, it wasn’t my favorite but it’s nice and I think you will enjoy – lots of beaches around it and tons of Russian babes.

  • Reply
    June 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Hope you guys get to the Ostrog Monastery! Sveti Stefan is a little snobby but I would throw out the $$ to spend one night there as long as it didn’t kill the budget.

    lol btw, what are you doing with your hands in that Sveti Stefan pic?

    • Reply
      June 17, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      Getting ready to punch Nate/Yomadic in the face for not knowing how to take a proper photo with an iPhone.

      Ostrog Monastery is on my radar, hopefully soon. Would love to check out Aman Sveti Stefan as I’ve heard great things about their resorts and I can only imagine that sort of luxury in that setting. Someday :)

  • Reply
    June 18, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Awesome tips and pics! Montenegro is on my travel list and can’t wait to check it out.


  • Reply
    June 25, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I have a friend from Montenegro and she has been telling me to go there, she lives in Budva, but I was always a little unsure, after reading your post though : why the hell have I not been there yet?!

    Great sum up of Montenegro, love the pics and most of all thanks for making me want to go there now!

    • Reply
      June 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      You have a friend in Budva and you haven’t visited yet?! That is a bit crazy ;) Glad you liked it and I hope you do get there – it’s really an amazing country.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Great article! Going to Montenegro in June as part of my honeymoon

    • Reply
      April 26, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      Aw, well congratulations in advance and have the best time! Wonderful spot to do so.

  • Reply
    April 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    I spent a few days in Kotor last summer and can confirm that it is every bit as stunning as it looks in these photos :)

    • Reply
      April 26, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Yep, no photoshopping here – Kotor is stunning all the way around :)

  • Reply
    Jon Dunn
    November 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Superb article and photos. I spent a week there this time last year and adored it – though I never made it north of Podgorica in that time.
    I stayed in Kotor and visited Perast, Budva and Herceg Novi from there, then down to Bar to look at the ruined Ottoman stronghold of Stari Bar and spend some time on lake Skadar, where I was lucky enough to see Dalmatian pelicans on the lake.
    I still get pimples even now thinking about how wonderful it all was.

    • Reply
      November 10, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Indeed sounds like a wonderful experience and like I said, makes me want to revisit Skadar! Also Stari Bar – have yet to check it out yet, just the center near the train station.

  • Reply
    Oriana Rose
    April 6, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Informative post- I’m planning on going here in the end of May and Ulcinj sounds like the perfect spot.

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