Roadtrip Montenegro (12 days): mapped route, tips and itinerary
Would you like to travel around Montenegro? Use our fully planned itinerary and don't miss out on anything!
Unlike Croatia, the southern neighbor Montenegro remains less known, however it is an exciting and beautiful vacation destination which is most definitely worth a visit! The southern European country may not (yet) ring a bell for many, but it is highly recommended by those who have already visited the country, especially by nature and adventure lovers. You can hike along the glistening, sun-drenched bay of Kotor, go rafting, take a boat trip on the beautiful lakes or hike along the gorges and mountains of the Durmitor National Park. You will also find idyllic, historic towns with a panoramic view around every corner.
We have mapped out a tour through Montenegro that will guide you in 12 days along the most beautiful spots of the country. Below is an overview of what the route looks like.
Map of the 12-day Montenegro round trip
Day 1: From Dubrovnik to Kotor
Distance: 140 kilometer
You have the option to visit Dubrovnik first (If your flight lands here), after you do so, head to Montenegro for the start of the round trip. The final destination of the day is Kotor, but along the way you can make plenty of beautiful stops. For example, visit the beautiful seaside town of Herceg Novi, visit the impressive fort Mamula which is located on an island or go for a swim in the blue cave on the Luštica peninsula.
If you arrive at the airport of Dubrovnik (Croatia), it might be a good idea to plan a few days to explore Dubrovnik itself along with some other highlights of southern Croatia. If you want to know more about Dubrovnik, be sure to read our blog about Dubrovnik or download our travel guide for Croatia.
Day 2 and 3: Kotor and surroundings
Kotor is one of the most charming towns of Montenegro and also the most popular amongst tourists. The old medieval center is a true maze of narrow alleys where you walk between historical buildings that all have typical red roof tiles. Highlights are fourteenth-century Kampana Tower, the most prominent of all Kotor's historic remains, and the town's fairytale bell tower.
The nearby Orthodox churches of St. Luke and St. Nicholas are also worth a visit. Nevertheless, our favorite place is the castle of Saint-Ivan just outside the city. You have a beautiful view of Kotor and the azure bay, a must!
Also in the area around Kotor there is a lot to do. The glitzy marina of Tivat, for example, is a bit reminiscent of Monaco. The city has undergone an extraordinary makeover in recent years and transformed into a Mecca for rich sailors. It is also a great place to enjoy the bay of Kotor, the sun and the beaches or to explore the Vrmac peninsula.
Day 4: From Kotor to Budva
Distance: 128 kilometer
Today you go from Kotor to the idyllic Budva, which you will explore tomorrow. Along the road between the two seaside resorts there are some not-to-be-missed sights you will visit today. For example, at an altitude of 1100 meters you will pass the idyllic Njeguši, a town known for its local cheese "sir" and a smoked, dried ham known as "prsut". The perfect place to stop and have a bite to eat.
Other highlights of the day are the mountain peaks of the Lovćen National Park and the impressive fortress Kosmač, but the most beautiful stop is probably Cetinje. Cetinje was the official capital of Montenegro until 1946, but until today it is still the cultural capital of the country. The city is full of historical buildings and interesting museums. On the way make a stop at the mausoleum in the Lovcen National Park.
Day 5: Budva and surroundings
Budva is the most popular town in Montenegro, and with good reason! The citadel of Budva is breathtakingly beautiful and radiates romance, especially at sunset. You walk past ancient churches, Roman ruins and cute little houses with - again - red roofs.
The places you shouldn't miss in Budva are the nearby churches of Sint-Sava and Santa Maria de la Punta and also the largest church Sint-Ivan is worth a visit. In the meantime, make sure to enjoy the beautiful views.
However, most tourists who come to Budva do so for the beautiful beaches of the Budva Rivièra. Many people come here to enjoy the sand and pebble beaches like Slovenska Plaža and Bečići. Another good option is Mogren Beach, a beach that you can reach after a nice walk along the coast, and for those looking for a livelier beach should definitely go to Jaz Beach.
A beach popular with locals is Drobnji Pijesak with dozens of small beaches hidden along the entire coastline. As you can see, plenty of choice!
Day 6: From Budva to Ulcinj
Distance: 72 kilometer
Today, on the sixth day of the tour, you drive further along the coast from Budva. Along the way you will pass some of the most beautiful and photogenic places of Montenegro. You will visit the iconic Sveti Stefan, an island village connected to the mainland by a narrow elevated road.
Along, you will make a stop in the coastal town of Petrovac where you can enjoy the sun on idyllic sandy beaches. A little further on, the historic fortress of Stari Bar is also on the program before you end the day in Ulcinj. This is the southernmost point of your tour through Montenegro.
Day 7: From Ulcinj to Podgorica
Distance: 122 kilometer
Today you leave Ulcinj and the Montenegrin coast and drive into the mountainous inland. You end the day in the capital Podgorica, but along the way you make a stop in Virpazar, a charming town on Lake Skadar that is dominated by a castle.
There are many beautiful hiking trails in the area or you can make a nice boat trips on the lake. In the beautiful national park that surrounds the town, you can visit the famous Horsehoe Bend, the Montenegrin brother of the natural wonder in Arizona, United States.
Day 8: From Podgorica to Durmitor National Park
Distance: 204 kilometer
Today you will go to the beautiful northern part of Montenegro, away from the more touristic areas. On your way to the Durmitor National Park you will pass some not-to-be-missed sights. Highlights on the route are the Komovi Mountains and just after that the mountain massif Prokletije which is also known as the Albanian Alps. The sharp peaks provide postcard-like photos.
Don't miss the Morača Monastery and also visit the town of Kolasin, one of the most famous wellness and ski resorts in Montenegro. Before you arrive in Podgorica, drive through the Biogradska Gora National Park, a must-see for nature lovers. You will find one of the last 3 large forests in Europe and a series of 6 glacial lakes. The Đurđevića Tara Bridge is also a must-see.
Day 9 and 10: Durmitor National Park and the Tara River Canyon
Durmitor National Park consists of a spectacular landscape of high mountains covered with pine trees. The highest point in the park, with an altitude of 2523 meters, is Bobotov Kuk. A hike to the top is only for experienced hikers, but a good alternative is the mountain top Planinic. The hike to the top of Žabljak and back, which takes 8 hours, is also recommended for experienced hikers. You will have some of the best views of the park and the surrounding area.
Hidden between those steep peaks are a number of beautiful 'mountain eyes' or glacial lakes - eighteen in total. If you only have time to visit one, go to Black Lake (Crno jezero). This picturesque lake is surrounded by towering pines and is just a 40-minute walk from the centre of Žabljak.
The Tara River Canyon is the European version of the Grand Canyon. It is the epicenter of adventure in Montenegro and there are plenty of ways to explore this beautiful national park, from hiking and biking to climbing, kayaking, canoeing or swimming, you can do it all. The steep walls rise up to 1300 meters above the river accompanied with many waterfalls and caves. Of all the underground caves in the national park, the limestone cave Ledena Pecina is certainly the most beautiful.
If you want to see the gorge from above, be sure to take the challenging walk from Žabljak to the top of Ćurevac Mountain (1625 meters). There you have a spectacular view over the entire length of the gorge. Would you like to go rafting? Then there is a wide range of different tour operators and local guides who will be happy to accompany you.
Day 11: Plužine, Pivar river and surrounding
Distance: 86 kilometer
If you like to spend time on the water, in addition to a rafting excursion on the Tara, you should definitely go to Plužine, further west in Durmitor National Park. There, Lake Piva and the River Piraeus await you, where you can practice many water sports. Lake Piva is the highest artificial lake in the world and lies at an altitude of 685 metres above sea level.
Day 12: Plužine to Ostrog and Dubrovnik
Distance: 230 kilometer
Your journey through Montenegro may be coming to an end, but there are still some great sights to visit on your way back. Be sure to visit the historic town of Nikšić where you can visit centuries-old city walls, an orthodox cathedral and the former royal palace. Lake Krupac and Lake Slano are also beautiful spots in this part of Montenegro.
What you really can not skip is the monastery of Ostrog. The monastery was carved into the rocks at an altitude of about 900 meters. The white building seems to come straight out of a fairy tale. It rises above the steep, wooded hills all around and is absolutely worth a visit.
Video: The most beautiful places of Montenegro
Curious to see how Montenegro looks like? In this video you will see the beauty Montenegro has to offer. If you want to experience this in real life, make sure to book your trip and discover it for yourself!
Which car to rent?
- Are you still unsure which car to rent for your road trip?
- Do not rent a car that is too small, go for a comfortable car.
- Be sure to book an all-inclusive insurance policy so you can drive around in peace.
- A reliable car rental company is Rentalcars (very large offer).
- Read more tips about renting a car on vacation.
Don't miss out on anything in Montenegro with our travel guide
Like most of us, you don't want to miss out on anything during your vacation in Montenegro. Well, we have some good news, because we already did the research for you! Buy the travel guide Montenegro with a fully planned out round trip, and more than 70 highlights (+ GPS coordinates). Prefer to try it out first? Download your free preview travel guide Montenegro here.