Top 10 places to visit in Montenegro - off the beaten path
Hidden bays on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, mountains with dense forests, and blue rivers are some of the top places to visit in Montenegro. Slightly larger than Connecticut (USA), Montenegro has 294 km long shorelines. Thanks to its enormous land formation, Montenegro holds the largest canyon in Europe, that of the Tara river.
Tourism in Montenegro is rising for travelers who love to go off the beaten path. Although the tours in Montenegro can be short in length, the diversity of natural beauties is epic. During the summer, the coast is busy with tourists, yet one can find unique things to do in Montenegro when driving further inside the country. Transportation in Montenegro is heavily dependent on buses, which sometimes take extra time to get you to your favorite destination. Therefore traveling by car is the best advice to explore hidden gems.
When considering visiting Montenegro, many immediately think about the beach and sun. Kotor and Budva are the most popular tourist destinations in Montenegro. But if you like to be outdoors and discover the local culture and tradition, you should travel to these must-see places.
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Zabljak is a village in northern Montenegro in the middle of Durmitor national park. The area has tens of glacial lakes, and the famous Black Lake is only 2 km away from the center of the village. As an alpine village, Zabljak has lots of days with snow and is a good destination for skiing. Savin Kuk ski center has a slope of 3,500 meters long, with a ski lift and two chairlifts. Hiking here is thriving, and various levels of trails are accessible to people. Bobotov Kuk is the symbol and the highest summit of the national park. Another thing to do in Zabljak is mountain cycling.
Biogradska national park is in the northeast of Montenegro, within Kolasin municipality. The forest reserve surrounding the Biograd river is one of the only in Europe. To point out the unique species of plants, fungi, and mammals co-living in this ecosystem. As a result of these rare phenomena, Biogradska NP is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage of ancient and primeval beech forests. Things to do are hiking to Bjelasica massif, walking around Lake Biograd, cycling, or skiing at the resort town of Kolasin.
Tara river canyon
Tara river canyon is the largest in Europe and second in the world, only after Grand Canyon in the USA. With a deep up to 1,300 meters and 140 km in length, Tara river is a unique place for outdoor enthusiasts. One can explore the canyon by rafting in the clear waters. While it may be an extreme sport during winter, summer is the best time to enjoy it at a calm pace. Rafting activities start near Durdevica Tara bridge. This landmark of Montenegro was built during the Yugoslavia era and is a must-see. Next to the bridge, you can also jump on a zip line over Tara river. Another place to spot the beauties of Tara river is the Vidikovac viewpoint near the village of Zabljak.
Piva river flows in northern Montenegro and offers the best scenic drive in the country. Covering a distance of 35 km long, you will see high bridges, deep canyons, and emerald lakes. The town of Pluzine located near the dam presents the best of Lake Piva. Near the town, you can hop on a boat ride around the lake. Continuing driving north, you will pass through Orthodox monasteries and tunnels and reach the border of Bosnia & Hercegovina.
Virpazar is a tiny pearl on the shores of Skadar Lake. Skadar Lake or Liqeni i Shkodres is the largest in the Balkans, shared between Montenegro and Albania. Travelers choose it as a day trip to get away from the hot days and relax in the pristine nature. A boat ride into Crmnica river and Skadar lake is highly recommended to admire the water lilies. Also, Virpazar is a great place for tasting local food and wine.
Karuc is another little hidden gem of Montenegro. Camouflaged in dense forest, this village floats gently in the waters of Skadar Lake. Karuc resides in the northern part of the lake, next to Pavlova Strana viewpoint. Tourism in Karuc is focused on family-stay houses, where you can eat delicious fresh fish. Hop on a boat for a slow ride, and bring a pair of binoculars for birdwatching. Over 280 species of birds live in the paradise of Skadar Lake.
Plav is an alpine town resting at the foot of the Accursed Mountains. It’s about 2 hours away from Podgorica, and you can also drive through the border crossing Cijevna – Grabon. Besides Montenegrins, Plav is inhabited by Albanian ethnicities. The town is a popular hiking destination, part of the Peaks of Balkan. Additionally, trails starting from Plav town lead you to the wild peaks of the Accursed Mountains. Many hikers challenge themselves by hiking to the highest summit in Montenegro Zla Kolata, or Tre Kufinjte summit (three borders of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro). Moreover, you can go swimming or fishing in Lake Plav or Lake Hrid.
Grebaje valley is in southern Montenegro, on the foot of the Accursed Mountains. This mountain range is also known as Bjeshket e Namuna (Albanian), Prokletije (Montenegrin), or the Albanian Alps. Grebaje village is one of the best natural places to visit in Montenegro because it is the starting point to the Karanfili massif and Vajusha (Taljanka) summit. Looking down from the valley these untamed mountains look extremely beautiful. Often travelers choose to hike to Vajusha peak as it’s easier and more accessible through the summer months. Vajusha peak is on the Montenegrin – Albanian border and offers the best views of the Accursed Mountains. Karanfili massif is a challenging hike and is recommended to hike it with a local guide.
Stari Bar (Old Bar) is a fortress in the town of Bar, the largest port of Montenegro. During the past 1,000 years, the old town changed administration between the Byzantine, Serbian, Venetian, and Ottoman empires. The last built a 3-km long stone aqueduct. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 1979, but it has been renovated. Balanced against high mountains and olive groves, Stari Bar offers panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea.
Buljarica is one of the best beaches in Montenegro, also an off-the-beaten-path destination. Composing an area of a 2 km long rocky beach, Buljarica is more of a public beach where one can relax and be away from noisy places. Additionally, there are places where you can rent beach beds. A cool thing to do is take the hiking trail to Luchica beach. Perhaps you can rent a bike and cycle the concrete path that stretches through the forests. Here you can enjoy the best panorama of the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro.