Hidden gems abound in Montenegro – a small country nestled beside Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Albania and a handful of other Balkan nations. Many refer to Montenegro as the “Pearl of the Balkans” and after visiting yourself, you won’t be arguing with that description. It offers a fascinating mix of natural beauty and cultural heritage – meaning both adventure-junkies and history-buffs will be enthralled on a trip there.
Locals are the most hospitable people in Europe, so you will be welcomed with open arms wherever you go. Since the country is only 13,812 km² (less than half the size of Belgium), it’s easy to head off-the-beaten-path to discover secrets that not many tourists know about, while remaining close to civilization. If you are someone who likes to wander without a plan, here are 10 hidden gems that you could stumble upon in Montenegro:
10 Hidden Gems of Montenegro
1. Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos
The Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos is a cultural monument in Lovcen National Park. The mausoleum is dedicated to Petar II Petrovic-Njegos – a prominent Montenegrin prince-bishop, poet, and philosopher, who played a significant role in the country’s history. The mausoleum was built on top of Mount Lovcen and it offers a remarkable view of the surrounding lands, especially at dawn or dusk when golden hour occurs.
You can visit this place (one of the hidden gems of Montenegro) with 360 Monte on their Great Montenegro Private Tour. After visiting Njegusi, your guide will help you conquer the over 450 steps required to reach the top. At one point in time it was the highest mausoleum in the world, as it stands at an impressive elevation of 1,660 meters. The views from the observation deck are sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to the Balkans.
2. Biogradska Gora
Biogradska Gora is where you can adventure in one of the last six primeval forests in Europe – home to countless natural wonders, including a pristine glacial lake. The national park is a hikers paradise with numerous trails leading to magnificent viewpoints. In summer the park comes alive with wildflowers and in winter thrill-seekers can go skiing. And not to forget the Moraca Monastery that is often visited en-route to the national park.
One way to tick Biogradska Gora off your list is to do the Best of Montenegro in 7 Days with 360 Monte. On day 4 of this tour, guests are driven to the park to enjoy some free time to soak up the atmosphere. The scenery on this drive is nothing short of spectacular. Another option, if you want to spend more time here, is to request a Tailor Made Tour in Montenegro with 360 Monte who can create the perfect itinerary for you.
Njegusi is a small village situated in the mountainous region of Lovcen, in southwestern Montenegro. It’s known for its traditional architecture and for being the birthplace of the country’s famous Njegusi cheese. The village sits on the slopes of Mount Lovcen and is home to around 200 permanent inhabitants. Visitors to Njegusi can take a guided tour of the village to see the old stone houses and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountains.
Not only will you get to try the cheese of Njegusi but you will also be served the best prosciutto in Montenegro, as well as a potential shot of rakija (brandy) to start the night with a bang. For those not joining a tour, another thing Njegusi offers is a plethora of hiking trails right on its doorstep. A couple of local taverns have accommodation too, allowing you to spend a night there. Or you can opt for an eco-house in the middle of nature.
4. Gornji Stoliv
Gornji Stoliv is the most romantic village in Montenegro. The location is idyllic, perched 250 meters above the Bay of Kotor, but it’s easy to miss because of its tiny size and population. For this reason many travelers to Kotor have never heard of the village, let alone visited it. And that is such a shame as Gornji Stoliv is home to the parish church of St. Elijah – boasting a gorgeous bell tower that dates back to the late 19th-century.
Getting to Stoliv is half the fun – it’s worth checking out just for the walk. A path runs alongside chestnut trees and camellia flowers for 40 minutes, making it a leisurely and picturesque stroll to enjoy in the summer or spring. Photographers will find this village particularly appealing due to the sweeping views of the Boka that are on offer – plus the lovely walk and the architecture of the village which is steeped in history.
5. Lipa Cave
Lipa Cave is a karst cave located by Cetinje. With passages and halls that stretch underground for more than 2.5 km, Lipa is undisputedly the largest cave system in Montenegro. Despite its size, the cave was only first explored properly in the 19th century and public access has only been a possibility since 2015. The karst rock formations and cathedral ceilings have been a hit with nature-lovers ever since tours to the cave first took place.
If you are planning on spending a few days in the beautiful Skadar Lake (which you should) then you will need to base yourself somewhere to go exploring. For this experience, you simply can’t go past the settlement of Karuc for a peaceful and enjoyable stay. This small fishing village is situated on the banks of the lake. The surrounding nature, in combination with the laid-back vibe, makes Karuc one of the top hidden gems in Montenegro.
The popular spiritual leader of the past, Petar I Petrovic-Njegos, had his winter home here. Winters are mild in Karuc without much wind, due to the natural curve of the lake, so you can visit all year round. The old fishermen storage houses in Karuc have been converted into seafood restaurants and holiday rentals. Popular activities on the lake itself include bird-watching, boating, and hiking to the nearby hills and forests.
Ulcinj is a charming seaside town located in the south that has an amazing local vibe. Known for its long stretches of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and Mediterranean climate, Ulcinj is a popular summer destination for domestic tourists. For internationals, it’s still one of those hidden gems of Montenegro that is yet to be spoiled by mass tourism. But this town is not just all about sun, sand, and sea, it’s a melting pot of different cultures.
First of all, Ulcinj is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic, with evidence of human settlements dating back to the 5th century BC. It’s been ruled by the Greeks, Romans, Venetians and Ottomans. This rich history is evident in the architecture and food, with a mix of different styles. But what really sets Ulcinj apart is its diverse population. The town is home to Montenegrins, Albanians, and a small population of Bosniaks, all coexisting in harmony.
8. Bjelasica Mountains
The Bjelasica Mountains are a true hidden gem. Not only are they fantastic in terms of landscapes, but they are home to some fascinating wildlife too. For example, did you know that the largest herd of wild sheep in Europe can be found here? Also, bears live in the mountains and seeing one in the wild would be a bucket-list experience if there ever was one. Throw in some awesome bird species and you have yourself a wildlife heaven.
9. Przno Beach
Przno Beach is nestled in the old fishing village of Przno, giving it a secluded feel. Sunbeds are available to lounge on, where you can soak up the Montenegrin summer sun while looking out at the cluster of cute stone houses with terracotta rooftops. The water is clean and crystal clear – you won’t be able to resist jumping in for a quick dip to cool down. The seafood restaurants nearby make it the perfect beach to combine with a lazy lunch.
Pop over to Il Brodetto to enjoy a delicious plate of fresh fish or seafood such as mussels, shrimp and octopus. The food at this restaurant is only topped by the views: spanning the bay, and the traditional fishing boats that bob up and down. This means a glass of wine will have to be poured to match the setting. From Montenegrin, to North Macedonian, to Serbian – you are spoiled for choice at II Brodetto when it comes to vintages.
10. Bukumirsko Lake
Bukumirsko Lake is steeped in legends. Some revolve around dragons while others talk about how God created the lake in order to quench the thirst of a traveler passing by. Whichever story you believe, one thing is for certain: Bukumirsko Lake is exquisite to see in real life. The lake is small but since it sits at the foot of jagged peaks, it’s highly photogenic. Bring your camera along for the hike there and leave with lasting memories.