Small Town Montenegro
Kotor may get all the glory, but there are plenty of other great towns to explore in Montenegro. I hopped in a Mercedes and got deep into all the towns that make up this tiny Balkan country. Here’s my guide to the best!
Exploring The Small Towns of Montenegro
With a name that means ‘Black Mountains,’ driving in Montenegro is either an exciting experiment in motoring or a nail-biting journey through twisty mountain roads. If you want to know if you’re up for it, check out my post about roadtripping this country. The biggest benefit of taking on the winding roads? The flexibility and freedom to explore whichever town you wish, whenever you want, for however long you want. I did exactly that, and here’s what I found.
This town bustles with tourists by day and throbs with the beat of electronic music by night. A hotspot for Russians and other Balkans, there are two sides to this city. One side is the insane high-rise towers, shopping mall, and seemingly unplanned building that’s happening all over town. The other side is tucked into ancient stone walls, in the Old Town (or Stari Grad). If you’re like me, you’ll beeline for the Old Town and not leave unless it’s to sunbathe on one of Budva’s 30+ beaches.
Sleep in Old Town if you can. I stayed at the Montenegro Hostel right in the heart of Old Town and it was a great value. Waking up in a 9th century building and wandering through narrow alleyways for a coffee is a perfect way to start the day (and it sure beats the craziness of the mall in town).
The most obvious thing to do is party: there are nightclubs plastered along the beachfront. Of course, I had zero interest in partying (I was still recovering from my few nights in Hvar). The next best thing? Go to the beach! The city beach (and the most accessible) is Mogren Beach. Skip the first part of this beach and continue walking through to what’s commonly called Mogren 2. It’ll be crowded, but it’s convenient. You can jump on a boat and get ferried over to Jaz Beach. This is the longest beach in Montenegro and it’s a pretty stretch of white sand.
It’s one of the most iconic spots in Montenegro: A medieval town juts into the water, connected to the coast only by a tiny land bridge. The geography that kept this hamlet protected during feudal wars now keeps out the paparazzi. It’s been appropriated by Aman Resorts, and only a reservation (at over €1,000/night!) will get you past the gate. However, you’re free to spend time on the rocky beaches on either side of the land bridge, and you can climb the hill and find that perfect photo spot.
Petrovac is chock-full of Russian tourists, but even the hordes can’t detract from the charm of this whitewashed coastal town. Even with the crowds, Petrovac has a more lackadaisical vibe than Budva. And the pretty 16th-century fortress and the church perched on a tiny island lend a sense of history that’s conspicuously absent from it’s neighbor to the north.
There are plenty of self-catered apartments in Petrovac that are worth considering if you like a kitchen in your digs. Check AirBnB or Lonely Planet for recommendations. Aim for proximity to the beach so you can take full advantage of the pretty, flower-drenched promenade.
Once again, the beaches reign supreme in Petrovac. If you want a dose of history, there are Roman Mosaics you can view to fully understand how old this town is. Don’t miss watching sunset at the Kastio fortress – it’s one of the prettiest (and cheapest!) things to do in town. You can also kayak out to Katič & Sveta Nedjelja islands to explore that little church up close and personal.
Bar in itself isn’t worth a stopoff for very long, but don’t miss the amazing Stari Bar (Old Town) that sits in the hills behind the city. It’s a great afternoon exploring the ruins, then load up on a delicious Montenegrin meal just outside the stone walls.
This is the southernmost city in Montenegro, and it’s only just making it’s way onto the tourist map. It has several excellent stretches of beach, but it’s also the nude beach capital of Montenegro, so beware! I learned this the hard way when I found myself desperately searching for somewhere to look as I trudged down the sand in Bojana Island. I needed to be directed to the non-nude portion by a helpful lifeguard (who tried to get me to strip down first, natch).
If you’re looking for budget accommodation, don’t miss the awesome Hostel Pirate just up the hill from town. It’s not super easy to find, but the hosts offer bus station pickup and are just amazing. Deanna not only gave me the full lowdown on things to see, she even accompanied me to the beach the afternoon I arrived!
If you don’t mind rocks and crowds, you can check out Valdanos Beach just north of Ulcinj town. I didn’t love it when I visited, and the beaches south are sandier, wider, and longer (which makes them feel less crowded). Velika Plaza is near town and a popular spot, or you can make your way to the beaches in Bojana Island (just be careful where you go, there are tons of nude beaches in this spot).
Which of these towns sounds the most interesting to you? Let me know in the comments!