Julie Montenegro 17 Comments

While planning our itinerary to the Balkan Peninsula, we had a decision to make. Spend several days in northern Croatia, visiting Zagreb and Plitvice Lakes, or go south to Montenegro. After seeing photos of Kotor, Sveti Stefan, and the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro was the winner. And it blew away our expectations. We spent 2 days in Montenegro, just enough time to learn that this country is filled with surprises and is so much fun to explore.

2 days in Montenegro is not enough time to see everything, but it is enough time to enjoy a few of the many highlights. Ideally, five days or longer is perfect, which is enough time to explore the coastal towns, relax in Kotor, and then go inland.

Whether you have one day, two days, or more, we have some great ideas for how you can fill your time in this amazing country.

2 Days in Montenegro

We entered Montenegro from Croatia on a 10-day road trip through the Balkan Peninsula. From Dubrovnik we drove south, making a very short pit stop in Cavtat (this was a place that we found to be overrated and crowded, even in April) and then crossed the border into Montenegro.

This very busy two-day itinerary mirrors how we spent our two days in Montenegro, with some minor changes of how we would do things differently.

Day 1: The Bay of Kotor

Today will be spent exploring the Bay of Kotor and nearby sites, including Herceg Novi, Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks, and Kotor.

Herceg Novi

If you are arriving from Croatia, Herceg Novi makes the perfect place for a morning break or lunch before driving around the Bay of Kotor.

Herceg Novi is a small coastal town that sits near the mouth of the Bay of Kotor. It is a compact town with only a few main sites worth visiting here, so it’s a quick stop but very much worth your time.

Stroll through the charming Old Town, see the clock tower, and then walk uphill to the Kanli-Kula, a fortress with one of the best views over the city.

Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi Street

Herceg Novi View


With more time, you can visit the Savina Monastery, a quiet spot with a church and an old cemetery.

Savina Monastery

Savina Monastery

A highlight for me was photographing the Savina Monastery with the Bay of Kotor in the background. Getting to the viewpoint is a bit of a challenge. We drove down a very narrow, one lane road that on Google Maps is written in Russian characters (Wymckn nyt). This road ends at a gravel road. I walked down the gravel road and then down a series of long, stone staircases until I came to the viewpoint over Savina Monastery.

If you have more than 2 days in Montenegro, you could spend most of a day in Herceg Novi. With more time, consider making the boat trip out to the Blue Grotto or exploring Mamula Fortress.

We ate lunch at Portofino, an Italian restaurant with an unbeatable location, right in the main square of the old town (Trg Herceg Stjepana). Dine on pasta and seafood and enjoy the view of Archangel Michael’s Church.

Bay of Kotor

From Herceg Novi, drive east to the Bay of Kotor. The Bay of Kotor almost resembles the fjords of Norway or New Zealand, with green cliffs plunging into the blue water of the bay. A two-lane road meanders along the edge of the Bay of Kotor, passing through small towns and villages. It’s a very scenic ride so take your time and enjoy the view.

Bay of Kotor Drive

Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks

Not quite halfway around the Bay of Kotor you will arrive in Perast. This is a gorgeous town. It’s worth a quick stroll, but the most popular thing to do here is to take a boat out to Our Lady of the Rocks.


While in Perast, we were approached by numerous boat captains offering to take us out to the island. In fact, we had not even stepped out of our car before boat captains were volunteering to take us out to the island. We did not accept their offer, not at first, thinking this was a scam. Prior to arriving in Perast I read that there was a ferry out to Our Lady of the Rocks. However, it was quicker and just as economical to hire a private boat. For €15, we hired a small boat to take us the 200 meters out and back to Our Lady of the Rocks (expect to pay €3 to €5 per person).

Our Lady of the Rocks is a Catholic church built on an artificial island. On July 22, 1452, a fisherman found an icon of the Madonna and child on a rock jutting out of the bay at this location. The people of Perast decided to build a church at this spot. Rocks were dumped here and the church was built on top of the artificial island. It was a small church at first, but every year more and more rocks were dropped, enlarging the island. The tradition continues today, and every July 22 local residents fill their boats with rocks and drop them around the perimeter of the island.

A visit here takes 30 minutes. If you want to see the inside of the church, you must pay €1 for a guided tour.

Perast Boat

Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks Church

Before leaving Perast, climb the bell tower of the St. Nikola Church. The view is supposed to be amazing (we missed this because it was closed during our visit).


The rest of the day is spent in Kotor. Kotor is a small medieval town. Like Herceg Novi, it is very compact and you can walk the old town in an hour or less. It is filled with restaurants, shops, and small museums. In town, we recommend seeing St. Tryphon Cathedral, St. Nikola Church, and the clock tower. Some people may enjoy the Cats Museum (there are cats all over the place here!).

Kotor Old Town

St Tryphon

But the one thing you must do while in Kotor is climb the city walls. Built between the 9th and 14th centuries, a series of ramparts and fortified walls were built around Kotor and up St. John’s Hill. Climbing these walls provides excellent views over the city and the Bay of Kotor. Wear sturdy shoes and bring water. It’s a strenuous climb on uneven steps and cobblestone paths. It takes about 90 minutes to walk up to the Castle of San Giovanni and back.

Kotor Sunset

City Walls

The Castle of San Giovanni is a great spot to watch the sunset, if you don’t mind walking down uneven stairs at twilight.

For those who are looking for even more adventure, consider hiking the Ladder of Kotor. This hike is 6 to 8 miles round trip, depending on how far you choose to hike up the mountain. Even though we managed to squeeze this in today, starting in the mid-afternoon, we do not recommend starting the hike so late in the day. This could be done the morning of day 2 (if you don’t mind missing out on some of the activities on day 2).

Ladder of Kotor

Today ends with dinner in town. We highly recommend Ladovina Kitchen and Wine Bar. The food is excellent, the best we had in Kotor. This restaurant is located within walking distance of the old town, on Njegoseva near the traffic circle with E80.

Day 2: Mount Lovcen and Adriatic Coast

Today is a busy day and it helps to get an early start (9 am or earlier).

Today starts with a scenic drive for one of the best views over the Bay of Kotor. From Kotor, head south out of town on P22 and turn left on P1 for a winding, climbing road that takes you high into the mountains behind Kotor. After a series of tight switchbacks you will have a stunning view over the Bay of Kotor.


Lovcen National Park

Continue the climb into Lovcen National Park. Mount Lovcen is one of the highest peaks in the area. The views from up here are breathtaking, especially if you are lucky enough to have clear weather. It was cloudy while we were here, but it was still incredibly beautiful.


Lovcen National Park


To get here, we turned right from P1 onto a narrow, one lane road. There was a street sign here for Lovcen National Park but the road is unnamed on Google maps. See the map below to follow our route.

Map to Lovcen


From Mount Lovcen, drive east to the town of Cetinje. Cetinje was the former capital of Montenegro. We had lunch here, although it was an interesting experience trying to find a restaurant that actually served food midday. As we walked through the main part of town, we passed café after café filled with people drinking beer and cocktails, but no one was eating food. It was the strangest thing. Finally, we found a small pizza place and had lunch here (Pizzeria Obelix).

Lake Skadar National Park

From Cetinje, you have the option to visit Lake Skadar National Park. Just 30 minutes away, Skadar makes a nice detour if you want to go off-the-beaten-path and see the wetlands of Montenegro.

Lake Skadar


Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan is one of the coolest looking walled towns in Montenegro and we just had to see it. It was built as a fort in 1442 and now it is a luxury resort owned by Aman Resorts. Access to the Sveti Stefan is limited to those with reservations at the resort.

Sveti Stefan


Even though we could not go onto Sveti Stefan, we still enjoyed seeing it. Within walking distance is beautiful Milocer Beach, the perfect place to spend an afternoon on a hot summer’s day.

Milocer Beach


Just 15 minutes north of Sveti Stefan and Milocer Beach is the party town of Budva. Located on the coast, you could spend the afternoon on the beach here and then hang out at one of many nightclubs in the evening.


From Budva, it is just a 30-minute drive back to Kotor.

With More Time

Durmitor National Park

Located in northwestern Montenegro, Durmitor National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the place to go for white water rafting, hiking, camping, and numerous other outdoor activities.

Ostrog Monastery

The Ostrog Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox Church built into the side of a rocky cliff. To get there, it is a 2-hour drive from Kotor.

Spend Longer on the Coast

There are more coastal towns to visit, such as Tivat, Bar, and Ulcinj. You could modify this itinerary by visiting Lovcen National Park and the Ostrog Monastery on day 2 and then spend a 3rd day (or more) exploring the towns on Montenegro’s Adriatic coast.

Where We Stayed

Residence PortofinoWe stayed in Kotor at Residence Portofino. We had the penthouse suite, a three bedroom, three bathroom apartment with kitchen and living room. From our balcony we had awesome views of the Bay of Kotor. This place is a great value for the money…clean, quiet, spacious, and modern. To get here, it was a 7-minute drive from the Old Town on a very narrow road along the Bay of Kotor. It was a bit nerve-wracking passing cars on this road, with a drop off right into the water.

Narrow Kotor Road

If you have any questions about how to spend 2 days in Montenegro, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about Montenegro

PLACES TO GO ON THE BALKAN PENINSULA: Spend a few days exploring Dubrovnik, stroll the streets of the fairytale town of Mostar, explore Plitvice Lakes, spend a few days in Montenegro, and hike to the highest point on the Adriatic Sea, Vidova Gora. Learn how to put this all together in our Balkan Peninsula Itinerary.

BALKAN PENINSULA ITINERARY: Learn how to combine Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina into one epic road trip in our 11 Day Balkan Peninsula Itinerary.

ISTRIAN PENINSULA: With 3 days, you can go on a whirlwind tour of the Istrian Peninsula of Croatia. Learn how to visit Pula, Cape Kamenjak, and Rovinj.

DRIVING IN EUROPE: If you have plans to rent a car in Europe, read our article Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Europe for lots of helpful tips.


Planning a trip to Montenegro? Read all of our articles about Montenegro on our Montenegro Travel Guide.



Montenegro 2 Day Itinerary

2 Days in Montenegro


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Comments 17

  1. Avatar for Díana Ospina
    Díana Ospina

    Hola ,voy en septiembre con mi esposo ,llegamos a Atenas y empezaremos a subir hasta Croacia y regresamos a nuestro país desde Belgrado, no podemos rentar automóvil porque mi esposo no renovó su pase de conducción, tengo pensado hacer la siguiente ruta,Atenas (3) , Meteora (2), Tesalónica (2), Ohrid (2), Tirana (3), Kotor (2), Dubrovnik (3), algún otro sito de Croacia (2), Belgrado (2), serían las noches en cada sitio y creo que todavía nos quedan 2 dias más,por favor denme su opinión si está bien y es una ruta lógica, gracias

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Overall, your route looks great. However, Belgrade is rather far from Croatia and if you are dependent on public transportation it could be hard/take a lot of time to get there. After Dubrovnik, you could head north to Plitvice Lakes and leave from Zagreb. If you must have Belgrade as an end point, after Dubrovnik you could go to Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and then continue to Belgrade (Sarajevo would be closer if you can swap it for Belgrade). I’m not sure how to do the route using public transportation but I imagine it would be a combination of buses and trains so you will have to research these routes and maybe adjust the itinerary. But it looks like a very interesting route through this part of Europe! Cheers, Julie

      En general, tu ruta se ve genial. Sin embargo, Belgrado está bastante lejos de Croacia y si dependes del transporte público puede ser difícil o llevar mucho tiempo llegar allí. Después de Dubrovnik, puedes dirigirte al norte hasta los lagos de Plitvice y salir desde Zagreb. Si debes tener Belgrado como punto final, después de Dubrovnik puedes ir a Mostar, Bosnia y Herzegovina, y luego continúa hasta Belgrado (Sarajevo estaría más cerca si puedes cambiarlo por Belgrado). No estoy seguro de cómo hacer la ruta en transporte público, pero imagino que sería una combinación de autobuses y trenes, por lo que tendrás que investigar estas rutas y tal vez ajustar el itinerario. ¡Pero parece una ruta muy interesante por esta parte de Europa! Saludos, Julie

  2. Avatar for Joseph McAvinue
    Joseph McAvinue

    Hi Tim and Julie, I’m just back from my covid delayed trip to the Balkans, Italy and Malta and once again your guidelines and photographs have provided inspiration for me and a cheat sheet for my photos. Suffice it to say I’ve copied many of your photos from Plitvice, Mostar, Montenegro, Dubrovnik, Vintgar gorge, Slovenia and San Moreno, raising admiration from my friends on my ability to get such great photos. Selfishly I have kept your involvement completely out of the discussion and kept all the praise for myself. I’m not sure if I’ll get another holiday, but I really want to thank you both for the fantastic job you’ve both done as my unpaid tour guides. Take care, keep on trekking, and all the best to you and your children.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Joseph. Thanks for writing in! I’m glad we could inspire your travel photography and I hope you can travel again soon! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Tultul

    Hello, we are arriving on a Saturday around 8 o 9pm to Dubrovnik and heading straight to our hotel in Herceg Novi.
    The plan is to rent a car at the airport and drive there.
    Can you describe what we need to do or get so we can cross the border with the car?
    Is that a long complicated process?
    I just saw in one of the comments something about green car/card so I am a little worried.
    Maybe it’s easier to rent a car in the next day in Herceg Novi?
    Many thanks for a great guide!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, you will need a green card to drive in Montenegro. It is usually obtained directly through the company you rent the car from, but you should still confirm this when you rent the car and when you pick it up. But it’s very easy to get since rental car companies supply it (at least in our experience). I think it would be easier to rent a car in Dubrovnik and drive to Herceg Novi, rather than trying to get a bus at that late hour. You will go through a border crossing to enter Montenegro so you will need your passport and will show the green card. We got through the border very quickly and you probably will too so late in the day. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Aniruddha

    From your experience, Can you please share if we can get a tour from either Herceg Novi or Perast to do the blue grotto and our lady of the rocks at the last minute or do we need to book in advance. We are visiting in June 2022. I’m hoping I don’t need to book in advance as I’m not sure yet when we will be at either of those places during the day.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You should be able to do this at the last minute, without a tour. That’s how we did it. We showed up in Perast and hired an available boat captain, of which there were several. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Wynoma de Faria
    Wynoma de Faria

    Hello…myself n s group of friends planned an itinerary starting from Belgrade n driving southwards covering these small towns…as I was reading about Kotor v/s Budva…think Kotor is more for us but our tour operator suggests we stay in Budva…could you please suggests some economical accomodation 5/7 rooms in Kotor?
    We plan for Mid May if COVID situation goes well, we are seniors with interst in history culture food..
    Will await your reply.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I don’t have any recommendations for where to stay in Kotor, other than what we listed in this post. But if you visit Booking.com, you can filter Kotor properties by price or take a look at the 2 and 3 star properties. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Aniruddha Takalkar
    Aniruddha Takalkar


    We have been following your website recently and have to say you have some great content. We are a family of four too and currently planning a trip to the Balkans for summer 2022. Would love to get your thoughts on below and see if you recommend anything different based on your personal experiences.
    After spending a couple of days in Dubrovnik, we plan to drive to Kotor starting mid-morning and expect the reach Perast around 2 pm depending on how long the border crossing takes. Once in Perast we plan to do combo tour the Lady of the Rocks, Blue caves, etc. and then drive further to Kotor. We then plan to explore the old town, have dinner and spend the night at a BnB or hotel. Next morning we plan to do the hike up to the Kotor fortress.
    Not sure how long it will take us to complete that but once we are done we plan to drive to Kravice waterfalls in Bosnia which I think are about 3:5 hours away, maybe 4 depending on border crossing time again. Spend a couple of hours at the waterfalls and then drive to Mostar to spend the night.
    Can you please let me know if this plan is even feasible or would you do something different?
    Appreciate your guidance!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Your plan sounds great to me. It looks like you have given yourself plenty of time for driving and for activities. There is nothing that I would change. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Cris


    My (adult) son and I will be visiting end of September. My plan as it stands is to rent a car and drive from Dubrovnik and spend 4 to 5 days in Montenegro, returning on day 5 to Dubrovnik.
    I have read some stories about issues with the green card at the border; what did you folks do?
    Would you suggest staying at the same place in Montenegro and doing daily drives or staying at different locations?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      We obtained the green car through our rental car company, Europcar. The green card should be issued by your rental car company when you rent the car. Kotor makes a great home base to explore Montenegro. However, if you want to visit Durmitor NP, it might be better to spend one or two nights near the park just so you are not driving back and forth so much. Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Greg

    I am glad that you wrote about Herceg Novi. In my opinion, this is the best place to relax on the Bay of Kotor. In addition to the interesting attractions of the Bay of Kotor, you can also visit Dubrovnik.

  9. Avatar for Alya I Sherman
    Alya I Sherman

    Hi and thanks for this!
    We’re going to Croatia in July and will spend 2 days in Montenegro so this is super helpful.
    with 2 nights do you suggest staying in one location like you did?
    We’re currently booked 1 night in Kotor and 1 in Budva so that we can stay late into the night & not have to drive back but, is that a mistake?

    Thanks in advance!
    Alya (AlyaBuzz)

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      No, I don’t think that is a mistake, especially if you plan to stay late in Budva. It’s not a far drive back to Kotor, but if you plan to go out to dinner and/or have some drinks, staying in Budva is a good idea. Have fun in Montenegro! Cheers, Julie

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