Europe (unsurprisingly) was the first continent we visited as a couple and it’s one we’ve been back to time and time again – we’ve explored countries in each compass point, from Norway in the North, to Italy in the South. Not forgetting our trips to eastern and western Europe…
However, until last September, we had only experienced a small amount of the endless beauty that the Balkans has to offer. We wanted to see and explore more of those rocky coastlines and beautiful turquoise seas! Cue our 10 day trip to Montenegro and Albania.
My, oh my – it was so much better than anticipated! Don’t you just love those places that really exceed your expectations, well if you haven’t done much research, these countries will certainly do that!!
Montenegro is slightly more developed in terms of tourism and having more suitable infrastructure (if you stay near Kotor, that is) but head further inland and you’ll be met with pure beauty and hardly anyone around – albeit a few more potholes in the roads and certainly less signage! The same goes for Albania. It was so pure and so untouched. We could visit beaches with only one or two others around – BLISS!
Now we’ve already given you a snapshot of what we got up to on our little Balkans roadie but we thought it might be nice to share our favourite spots and things to do in each country. So…
Starting with the country we visited first, here are our favourite things we got up to whilst exploring Montenegro!
(don’t worry, our Albania post will come later!)
1. Sveti Stefan Beach
First stop on the list, a beautiful beach located along the Montenegrin coast. A few miles south of Budva, you’ll find Sveti Stefan – a small islet surrounded by the most gorgeous blue sea. The water is so so clear and when we visited, it was as still as a mill pond – perfect for paddle boarding.
2. Budva Old Town
This is a must if you’re in Montenegro. Budva is about 30 mins drive from Kotor and is definitely worth a visit, even if it’s just for half a day!
Make sure to visit the Old Town, it features stone walls, cobbled streets and the most amazing spot to watch sunset from.
3. Old Town, Kotor
If this isn’t the main reason you’re visiting Montenegro, then I’d be shocked! Kotor is often the place you will see on instagram or travel ads for Montenegro and it is definitely as beautiful as it looks in the pictures!
Despite Kotor being slightly more touristy than the rest of the country (especially in the old town) it’s well worth a visit!
We’d highly recommend climbing the Old Town walls to the castle/fortress, you get the most amazing views of the bay from up high! It’s not what I’d class as a difficult walk, but it’s certainly not a stroll in the park… Also – go early to avoid the crowds, especially if a cruise is due in!!
4. Our Lady of the Rocks
Another popular spot you may have seen on your insta feed, and we can certainly understand why. The artificial island is home to a church and a museum.
We didn’t get a boat across to the island as the weather was pretty awful but we did drive along the coast and get a good look!
5. Lovcen National Park
Next up is a windy, but beautiful drive from Kotor to Lovcen. Lovcen National Park / Mountain takes about an hour to drive to – it’s certainly not very far as the crow flies but the roads are incredibly windy and you’ll want to stop every little while as the views are unbelievable!
Make sure you check the weather before visiting as we ended up in the clouds, not being able to see much once we were in the national park. But from what we’ve seen from pictures, it’s pretty stunning!
6. Pavlova Strana Viewpoint
Although a little out the way, this one is well worth it. You will be transported to a new world – to me it felt like being somewhere like the Amazon – where there is a u-bend surrounded by the greenest scenery and thousands of lily pads.
There’s not much room to stop near this viewpoint, so try and visit at a quieter time, such as first thing or later in the evening. Just make sure it’s before dark as the roads aren’t well lit!
7. Lake Skadar
This was certainly one of the highlights of our trip! The lake itself is beautiful but it was the remoteness of everything that we loved the most.
We booked an overnight stay in a winery a short drive from the shore. It was beautiful! Overlooking the lushest landscape I think we’ve ever seen. The weather was a little setback for us – it did not stop raining from the moment we arrived mid afternoon, until first thing the following morning. Although, we were still able to enjoy some local wines and a traditional Montenegrin dinner.
Lake Skadar sits in both Montenegro and Albania, and can be visited from both. But we’d highly recommend the winery we stayed at for an authentic experience. They even offer a free boat trip on the Lake. We went first thing and it could not have been better – the weather was perfect, crystal blue skies, still water and just us and the driver on the boat!
8. The Port in Tivat
If you’re interested in waterside eateries and beautiful boats, then this is the place for you! Super yacht’s like to dock here so keep your eyes peeled and you might see a celeb!
When can we go back?!
Montenegro is only a small country but we definitely only saw a very small part of it! There’s plenty of little hidden beaches, beautiful mountainous walks and the dreamiest landscapes that we haven’t even seen, let alone explored!
We really enjoyed our trip to the Balkans and will 100% be doing some more exploring of these countries when we’re allowed! I think our first stop will definitely be Croatia or Greece!
Adios for now,
Char & Mar x