Montenegro is an enchanting and (still) quiet country, a good itinerary will help you discover almost all of it very easily, but it is important to choose the best places to stay in Montenegro, so as to optimise your time.
Depending on the time available, you may decide to stay in one place and make day trips from there, but it would be much better to choose two different areas and stay 3 or 4 days in each.
In this article we will analyse the advantages of 4 of the best areas to stay in Montenegro:
- The bay of Kotor
- The Durmitor National park
- The Lake Skadar
- The Coast: Budva or Ulcinj
The best places to visit in Montenegro are all easily accessible from these areas.
MONTENEGRO WHERE TO STAY: Accommodation summary
Below is a summary of the best places to stay in Montenegro in terms of hotels and air bnb, and then you will find a detailed analysis.
The accommodation I choose are always taking in consideration the value for money the property offers, based on the location, the design of the place, and any special features that make the place unique. I also tend to pick smaller accommodation that can really help you to appreciate the heritage and history of the different places.
HOT TIP: If you’ve never used Airbnb before you can use this link and you can get up to £40 off your first stay!
|BAY OF KOTOR||KOTOR OLD TOWN||BOUTIQUE HOTEL HIPPOCAMPUS||CHECK THE PRICE||UNIQUENESS AND CHARM|
|BOUTIQUE HOTEL ASTORIA||CHECK THE PRICE||DESIGN WITH CHARACTER|
|KARAMPANA SQUARE THREE BED APARTEMENT||CHECK THE PRICE||AMAZING VALUE FOR MONEY|
|ALONG THE BAY||CASA DEL MAR - AMFORA||CHECK THE PRICE||INCREDIBLE POSITION|
|CHECK THE PRICE||A QUIET HIDDEN SPACE|
|VILLA STOLIV||CHECK THE PRICE||GROUPS OF FRIENDS - LARGE FAMILY|
|DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK||HOTEL SOA||CHECK THE PRICE||EXPLORING AND HIKING|
|VILA TARA||CHECK THE PRICE||CONTEMPORARY CHALET|
|CHALET LILY||CHECK THE PRICE||FEELING ISOLATED|
|LAKE SKADAR||HOLIDAY HOME RADUS||CHECK THE PRICE||DISCONNECT FROM EVERYTHING|
|ECO RESORT CERMENIZA||CHECK THE PRICE||FAMILIES OR GROUP OF FRIENDS|
|APARTEMNT DEJIC||CHECK THE PRICE||AMAZING VIEW|
|BUDVA OR ULCIJINI||PALATA VENEZIA||CHECK THE PRICE||CHARMING|
|THE BEACH HOUSE WITH THE MAGICAL SUNSETS||CHECK THE PRICE||POSITION DIRECTLY ON THE BEACH|
|HOTEL ASTORIA||CHECK THE PRICE||TO BE CLOSE TO EVERYTHING|
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO: KOTOR BAY
The Bay of Kotor is an incredibly scenic corner of Montenegro. The coast opens up just enough for the sea to enter to form a bay. The bay, protected in this way from the sea, is often as calm as a lake and the mountains that reach up from it give the bay with an almost fairy tale flavour.
The Bay of Kotor alone is worth a trip to Montenegro, but it is important to evaluate where to stay in Kotor bay based on what you like to do on your holiday.
The bay is dotted with charming villages where the largest is Kotor with its beautiful walled old town which is probably the best place to stay in Montenegro if you can only pick one.
The most difficult decision in this area is whether to stay in vibrant Kotor or along the bay. It is no coincidence that this area is included in the UNESCO world heritage site list.
Kotor Old town
Old Kotor is located on the coast but, enclosed by its high defensive walls, visitors feel more like they’re visiting a mountain village than a village by the sea.
The old town has a special ambience with its small streets that open onto pretty squares.
PROS: Staying in Kotor is an excellent solution especially for those who do not have a car, and for those who want everything at hand. Many tours depart from Kotor, so you can easily use public transport or join an organised tour.
In Kotor old town there are a large number of restaurants and bars, or with a taxi it is not difficult to travel along the bay for dinner. During the day you also have the option to hop on a “Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Bus” and visit the other villages on the bay this way.
CONS: Cruise ships disembark every day at the port of Kotor, so in the summer months the small old town is stormed, but don’t panic, most of the time after a quick tour they disperse along the bay on some tour organised by the cruise.
In summer, bars and restaurants play loud music until late, keep this in mind because it affects most places in the old town.
Accommodation in Kotor old town
There are few hotels inside the fortified wall of Kotor, if you are looking for a place with original charm, but modern, with stylish furnishings, and welcoming, functional rooms, the Hippocampus hotel will not disappoint you.
A small boutique hotel with only 11 rooms where the staff are kind and attentive.
All rooms are carefully decorated and can accommodate an extra bed for a child.
Breakfast is served on the rooftop restaurant (where later you can indulge in a drink and enjoy the magnificent view even if you are not staying at the hotel).
Unfortunately, being in the old city, you will have to park outside the walls and carry your suitcases up to the entrance.
A tip to finish: ask for a quiet room to minimise the noise from nearby pubs and restaurants!
The Astoria boutique hotel is another gem in the heart of Kotor.
Located inside the old Boka building (protected by UNESCO), this small hotel with only 9 rooms has been completely renovated and offers design interiors with a strong style and character.
It is worth spending a little more for the superior rooms, which are larger with pleasant seating.
Some rooms have a sea view, but if you are on the fourth floor you have to take into account that the lift only goes to the third.
Parking is free (but must be reserved in advance with the hotel) but, like for the hotel Hippocampus, outside the walls.
This 150 sqm apartment. it is located within the walls of Kotor.
It is delightfully renovated, with 3 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen, and an incredible price for the quality it offers!
There is also a small balcony that directly overlooks the square that bears the same name, Piceta Karampana.
It is located on the second floor without a lift, a small inconvenience for a truly enchanting place.
The bay of Kotor
Choosing to stay along the Bay will give you, especially in low season, the privilege of enjoying an enchanting place almost alone.
The bay of Kotor lacks long sandy beaches, but almost all Kotor bay hotels offer access to the sea via small pebble beaches torn from the sea, or terraces from which you can immerse yourself directly in the crystal clear water.
PROS: the villages along the bay are quite small and there are many small accommodation solutions that contribute to making you feel much more isolated if you are looking for a quiet and peaceful break.
CONS: without a car you will have to rely heavily on public transport (your host should be able to give you the most updated timetable), or Taxis.
HOT TIP: the company Red Taxi, receives amazing reviews and has really good prices, if you need to use taxis you can contact them through whats app and even pre-book!
Kotor bay accommodation
This hotel is a little paradise on earth. This is the hotel in which we stayed on the Bay of Kotor.
There is a strip of private beach with a single row of beds and umbrellas that make you feel you have the bay just for yourself. The room’s balcony has a crazy view of the bay … everything seem there to make your stay unforgettable.
The staff were very kind, the breakfast served in the restaurant on the ground floor or on the terraces overlooking the sea just outside, is great with a very rich buffet, and an excellent a la carte selection.
The restaurant also offers lunch (with a reduced menu) and dinner.
The rooms are very large with a relaxation area that offers an extra bed if desired. Most of the rooms can accommodate up to 4 people.
The best thing is that the hotel is far from the main road, to get there you take a side street, so it is very quiet and even with the windows open you are not disturbed by traffic noise.
There are only a few rooms over 3 floors (no lift), but some are on the rear with a mountain view, be sure to book one on the front! We didn’t use it, but there is also a sauna and a hot tub!
Once you pass the town of Kotor, the coast becomes much quieter, with mainly residential areas suitable for relaxation, and with small gems such as Palazzo Sbutega.
Refined design interiors are flanked by a renovated structure keeping the characteristic old elements intact such as the stone walls.
The back garden is organised with different sitting areas, sunbeds, and a small swimming pool. The rooms as well as the common areas are treated with attention to detail and show a careful choice of furnishings and decorations.
With independent access there is also a self contained pool villa that can accommodate up to 4 people.
On the front there is no private beach, but the sunbeds and seats are placed on the classic swimming dock where a comfortable ladder facilitates access to the water.
This villa, which can accommodate up to 14 people, is not on the list because it is a luxurious place or with design interiors, but for the fantastic location and the value for money ratio.
The villa is located about 8km from Kotor, and is built on a platform that juts out into the water, in fact it is surrounded on 3 sides by the sea.
The five bedrooms are basic but functional. The living room and furnishings are generally very traditional, but what makes the place special is the large veranda, complete with BBQ grill, which opens up in front of the house by the sea.
From here, a small ladder gives direct access to the sea or, if desired, to the side there is a crumb of pebble beach.
From this part of the coast it is very easy to organise water taxis to reach other areas of the coast e.g. Perast can be reached in 10 minutes. If, on the other hand, you are driving, there is space to park 4 cars.
Things to do in Kotor bay and from there
Whether you decide to stay in Kotor old town, or in Kotor bay, you will have at least 3/4 days to fill. Using this area as a base you can easily visit:
- Hike Kotor city wall
- Perast and the lady of the rocks
- The Blue cave
- The Mamula fortress
- Herceg novi
- Lovcen national park
- Lipa cave
- Ostrog monastery
All these destinations are about an hour’s drive from Kotor except the monastery which takes about 2 hours. Many tourists try to see everything in 2 days, if you want to it is possible, but if you really want to appreciate the views and the still authentic atmosphere of these places, I recommend that you stay in this area at least 3 or 4 days.
Some people also like to organise day trip to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is a precious little gem and it is really easy to reach from Kotor, but I recommend you spend at least 2 days there to be able to see everything it has to offer.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO: DURMITOR NATIONAL PARK
Durmitor National park is certainly one of the best places in Montenegro to visit. Even if you are not a lover of the mountains, you should not miss a stop in this area.
There are hiking routes for everyone and spectacular scenery. Tourism has obviously also arrived here, but in a soft way, with polite people who appreciate nature.
Zabljak is the ideal town to use as a base for exploration. Located right at the gates of the Durmitor National park, in winter it also turns into a ski resort which, even if it cannot compete with the Dolomites, can certainly offer a good solution especially for those who are just starting out.
Durmitor National Park accommodation
The Soa hotel is a small hotel that has been renovated for about ten years.
It comes with modern and pleasant interiors, and offers ample, unattended, parking right on the front.
The rooms are well organised although perhaps a little small. The breakfast, which unfortunately is not served in the restaurant with the pleasant view, but on the ground floor, is plentiful and rich with sweet and savoury choices, plus the possibility of ordering some a la carte dishes.
The hotel is in a perfect location, the center of Zabljak can be reached in 5-10 minutes on foot and the entrance to the park for visiting the Black lake in 15-20 minutes.
In the area there are many chalets and mountain houses, but none look as good as Villa Tara.
Composed of two independent apartments, one with 3 bedrooms, the other with two, it reinterprets the mountain style in a modern key.
The finished wood panelling takes the place of rustic wood and large sliding windows flank the stone walls.
The three bedroom apartment in particular has a beautiful living room with fireplace in a double height ceiling space.
A patio equipped with BBQ and a large and functional kitchen complete the setup. Located just outside Zabljak and about 3km from the Black lake, it has all the features for perfect relaxation.
The chalet Lily is a typical mountain chalet, but with a Nordic flavour.
The furnishings are rustic and solid, but refined and combined in a very pleasant way.
Muted colours create a refined and relaxing, but at the same time functional environment.
This is the perfect place to isolate yourself in nature, it is located about ten minutes by car from Zabljak (or a pleasant walk in summer)
The front of the chalet offers a large terrace where you can rest after the long treks in Durmitor National Park
Things to do in Durmitor National park
The scenery is so beautiful that in this area you could even dedicate yourself only to hiking, remaining enchanted by the extraordinary beauty of still little-known places.
The routes are so well marked that the park is sometimes criticised for being too accessible to inexperienced people, who venture, insufficiently prepared, into high mountain walks.
However, it would be a shame not to take into consideration the other interesting activities in the area:
- Hike the Black lake
- Take picture at the bridge over the Tara river
- Join a white water rafting tour
- Zip line over the Tara river
- Visit Biogradska Gora National Park
If you have decided to arrive in this area by public transport, do not worry because it is easy to join organised tours from Zabljak that will help you discover some of the less connected areas.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO: LAKE SKADAR
Speaking of Montenegro, it is easy to be repetitive in the description of so much enchanting natural beauty, but Lake Skadar is no exception.
The lake is located 2/3 in Montengro and 1/3 in Albania, and is the largest lake in southern Europe. Not yet part of the Unesco world heritage sites, but still declared a National park.
Many people choose to visit the lake in a day from Kotor, as it is just over 1 hour drive, but if you decide to stay here you will really have the opportunity to switch off and immerse yourself in nature … in the few free moments from all the available activities in the area.
Deciding to stay a couple of days at lake Skadar is an excellent alternative to staying on the coast. The beaches of southern Montenegro are still easily accessible, but here you have the possibility of an even less touristic and more relaxing stay, without forgetting that even on the Skadar lake there are organised beaches if you need to cool off in summer.
Lake Skadar accomodation
If you are looking to switch off completely this is the place for you.
It is located on the shores of the Skadar lake, but far from everything. It can only be reached by boat or by foot.
The owner will show you a safe parking place and then accompany you to the villa. Once you reach the villa, all you have to do is let yourself be enchanted by the view and cool off in the waters of the lake.
The lake is accessible for a swim directly from the villa.
The villa is not luxury, but with rustic exteriors and interiors it integrates perfectly into the surrounding environment.
Breakfast is included but you can also ask for a full board.
WiFi is not available, so there is really no excuse not to unwind
This resort with magnificent local stone houses is not directly on the lake, it is about 2km away, but the extraordinary views and hospitality compensate.
It is located within a vineyard that the owners manage. It is a small complex of 5 independent houses perfect for families or groups of friends who want to be together, while maintaining a little independence.
The pool is perfect for entertaining children on hot summer days. Breakfast is included, and dinner can also be requested.
The cuisine is a delight of local products and the wine comes directly from the vineyard.
The owners also organise tours and there are bicycles available for guests.
This apartment, perfect for 4 people, combines proximity to the centre of Virpazar (a few minutes walk) with an enviable position directly on the lake.
There is also a private place to park your car. The apartment is furnished with traditional elements in a more modern context.
The interiors are almost all custom made to integrate perfectly into the space, the apartment is not luxury and could be considered too basic for long stays (no microwave or dishwasher), but perfect for a few days of peace. It comes with some basic items such as tea or sugar.
The livingroom has a large balcony with comfortable seating to enjoy the superb view.
Things to do in lake Skadar:
Lake Skadar is a slow burn: Some visitors are disappointed by the daily visit to the lake, for many it is just another lake where to have a cruise for a couple of hours.
When you instead stay for a couple of days and dig a little below the surface, that’s when you really begin to appreciate its rustic charm. You can rent bicycles or kayaks to reach the beaches or try to spot Dalmatian pelicans and pygmy cormorants. All without missing a tour of the various wineries where you can taste genuine food and locally grown wines.
Here some of the things you could do from Lake skadar:
- boat tour around the lake
- visit fortress and monastery around the lake
- kayaking and paddle boarding
- visit the Lipa cave
- visit Budva
- visit Sveti Stefan (only if you have a restaurant reservation)
- visit Ulcinj and the south coast
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MONTENEGRO: BUDVA AND ULCINJ
Budva and Ulcinj could not be more different as a locality, but for those who do not want to give up the sea life with the typical long sandy beaches they are the best option.
Budva is not far from the bay of Kotor and by deciding to stay here you can easily reach the same attractions. Budva old town is a very pleasant ancient village for a stroll with a beautiful seaside promenade that will lead you to the exclusive Sveti Stefan.
Sveti Stefan, an ancient fortress from the 1800s made famous in the sixties and seventies by the large number of celebrities who visited it, was transformed in 2009 into one of the most exclusive resorts in the world, and you can only enter if you stay there.
An alternative option, to get a look around, is to book a dinner in one of the different restaurants, this will allow you to visit without squandering your holiday funds!.
For the rest, Budva is very orientated towards party life and despite the large organised beaches that could top the list for families with children, the overall charm is diminished by the extremely touristic aspect.
Ulcinj on the other hand, located on the southernmost coast of Montenegro, lets visitors discover other facets of a country that has not yet lost its traditions and influences.
Near the border with Albania, it is affected by Muslim influences that are found in everyday life from food to the beach dedicated only to women.
Ulcinj old town is small with few “attractions” but it fascinates with its views, which open up between the ancient streets and little squares.
The long sandy beaches alternating with smaller and secluded rocky beaches are what makes it perfect for a relaxing few days stopover, completely different from the glittering lights of Budva.
Accomodation in Budva and Ulcinj
In Ulcinj there are no real design hotels, which is why my choice fell on the Palata Venezia where, although the interiors are a little old fashioned, the context is certainly charming.
The hotel is located in the heart of Ulcinj old town, in an ancient fortress. Once you enter it seems to be a small village, with the two little squares dedicated to the small swimming pool and the restaurant bar.
The view from the room terraces is amazing and the hotel is an oasis of respite from the people who flock to the nearby beach.
Fortunately, the hotel reserves umbrellas and sun loungers at the beach, which is therefore accessible for free to guests.
Being located inside the walls, you cannot reach the entrance by car, but park immediately outside the walls. The friendly staff can help you with your bags if you let them know.
For those with mobility challenges it should be considered that there is a steep climb to return from the beach.
If when you read the name “The beach house” you are thinking of a glamorous house in front of the ocean, well you would be disappointed, but if you like the idea of falling asleep with the noise of the sea then you are in the right place.
The name couldn’t be more precise, the beach house is right on the beach, with its own few steps directly onto the sand.
It is situated near Ulcinj long beach, 20 min by car from the old town.
The interiors are not stylish, but modern and functional. The touches of colour balance nicely the wood structure that make it a little bit too rustic.
The bedroom is set with a double bed and a bunk bed, but it feels a little too small, while the living room with open kitchen is a good size and has big sliding doors opening on an amazing veranda on 2 sides.
In Budva there is certainly no lack of choice when finding accommodation.
But, you have to evaluate the position well. The city is very touristic and the ideal is to find a place that offers parking and a private beach.
Obviously the best is to have a sea view room, but close to the old town and away from the noise of the music of the bars…the task is not easy!
Here the choice falls on the Astoria hotel because it combines a good location within the walls of the old town and close to the private beach.
Having only 12 rooms, the atmosphere is intimate and pleasant. The rooms are starting to show signs of wear and tear, but the terraces and the view make up for it!
Lovely touch: the possibility to have breakfast by the beach!
Things to do in Budva or Ulcinj
From Ulcinj you begin to be a little further away from attractions such as Durmitor National Park or Ostrog Monastery, but there are still several beautiful places and activities within reach, if you decide to stay in Budva instead then you will be a little closer to everything:
- visit lake Skadar
- visit Bar ruins
- Canyon Međuriječ
- Podmaine Monastery
- take part of a kayaking or SUP tour
- Kotor bay
- Sveti Stefan
- Locevan national park and Lipa Cave
Enjoy your trip to Montenegro, I’m sure this little precious country will enchant you!
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