Pint-sized Montenegro is less than 200 miles wide, but there’s nothing small about its stunning scenery. In fact, Montenegro actually means ‘black mountain’ – a nod to the rugged peaks that stretch across the country. Add to this the primeval forests of Biogradska Gora and the largest lake in southern Europe, and you have an epic wilderness just waiting to be explored.
Montenegro’s sun-kissed coastline borders the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. There are plenty of secluded sandy bays nestled in the foothills of looming mountains. The coast is also studded with picturesque port towns, many of which are renowned for their fascinating ancient monuments.
Popular Ports in Montenegro
You’ll be spellbound by the beauty of this coastal port, which Lonely Planet designated as the world’s most beautiful city in 2016. Built around the serene waters of southern Europe’s largest fjord, and encircled by misty mountain peaks, Kotor is surrounded by natural beauty.
Kotor itself is stunningly picturesque, too. Enclosed within its medieval walls you’ll discover narrow cobbled streets, crumbling stone buildings with brightly painted shutters and small squares lined with orange trees. The town is packed full of architectural marvels, including Venetian palaces and the towering St Tryphon Cathedral. There’s plenty of local shops, restaurants and cafés where you can refresh yourself.
One of Kotor’s top attractions is Our Lady of the Rocks, a beautiful church and museum on an artificial island in Kotor Bay. Enjoy the views of Kotor and the mountains as you explore this tiny island. Inside the church you’ll find silver statues of body parts, which sufferers donated to the church in the hope of having their ailments cured.
Bar is a port town bordered by the ocean and forested green mountains. It effortlessly combines the ancient and the modern, for this thriving modern city is located right next to the atmospheric old town of Stari Bar. Meanwhile, the picturesque Long Beach is just a stone’s throw away.
In Bar you’ll get a taste of contemporary Montenegro life, with marble boulevards lined with shops and restaurants, as well as vibrant local markets. Bar is also a great place to try some regional specialities, including black risotto or buzara, a delicious seafood platter.
Drive a mile or so inland, towards the foothills of the Rumija Mountain, and you’ll discover Stari Bar, a once-great fortified town that was destroyed by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. You can now explore the archways and ramparts of these atmospheric ruins, and marvel at the panoramic mountain views. A picturesque town of bougainvillea-draped alleyways has grown up around the ruins, offering places to eat, drink and shop.
What are the best cruise ships for a Montenegro cruise?
Montenegro is a popular stop on many a Mediterranean itinerary, so when it comes to choosing a ship to take you there, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here are two of our favourite, tried-and-tested options.
Marella Discovery 2
Visit Montenegro on the newest ship in the Marella fleet, Marella Discovery 2. This cruise liner is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities and wide range of entertainment. Active adults will love the climbing wall and jogging track, while others will prefer chilling out by one of the two pools. Teenagers will rave about The Hide Out, a teens-only hangout spot, and your younger ones will love the kid’s club. The wide range of food on offer, from Italian to Asian, will suit all tastes. Another great thing about the Marella Discovery 2 is that all-inclusive is standard policy for trips, so most of your food, drinks and activities are included in the final price.
If you really want to visit Montenegro in style, we recommend cruising into one of its ports on the Marella Celebration. Get into the holiday mood by pampering yourself at the two-storey Oceans Beauty Salon and Spa, or relax with a cocktail by the outdoor pool. Try a delicious Asian meal at Kora La, and make sure you attend one of the weekly black-tie-and-cocktail-frock dinners at Mistral’s. Bookworms will enjoy relaxing in the library, but there are also lots of upbeat events, like karaoke nights and musical shows.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Skadar Lake Cruise
On the other side of the mountains near Bar lies Skadar Lake, the largest lake in southern Europe. Take a boat trip across the vast lily-covered waters, relaxing as you enjoy the scenery. You’ll catch sight of quaint lakeside villages and small islands rising from the blue waters; several with monasteries perched on the slopes. Skadar Lake is a birdwatcher’s paradise, so look out for some of the rarer species, including the Dalmatian pelican. Once you’re back on dry land, refresh yourself with a traditional Montenegrin lunch at one of the lakeside villages.
Blue Cave by speedboat
Travel by boat across the glassy waters of Kotor Bay, passing dramatic mountains and fairytale villages. After 45 minutes you’ll reach the Blue Cave, hewn into a craggy cliff face. The water inside is a luminous blue colour, which is how the cave gets its name. After a refreshing swim in these vibrant waters, the boat continues on to Zanjice Beach, an unspoilt pebbled bay surrounded by greenery.
On this excursion you’ll pass pretty coastal villages and stunning mountain scenery on a trip to the Luštica peninsula, where you’ll stop at a traditional olive farm owned by the Moric family. You’ll be shown around the picturesque groves and learn about how the family cultivates and harvests their olives. After that, you’ll wander towards the rustic village of Tići, returning to enjoy a spread of bread, homemade olive oil, seasonal fruit and local brandy.