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The Balkans by motorbike, part III: What to see in Montenegro

Montenegro with the coast on the Adriatic Sea, surrounded on the north by Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the east by Serbia, Kosovo and Albania on the north, is still associated by many people with the wild and dangerous land. And yet it is a small, quiet country, luckily not commercialized and crowded as Croatia, and offers no less in terms of tourist attractions. For us, its mountainous shape, combined with beautiful beaches, bays, lakes and the remarkable monuments, make Montenegro our holiday paradise. Therefore, and due to the interest, in continuing the Balkan tale, this part is solely about Montenegro. We dedicate this post to all the lucky ones who are about to visit it.

Having in mind both the riders and cyclists exploring the Balkans, as well as the car crews and whole families, below is the list of top spots of Montenegro, which we believe will make your vacation in this tiny, charming country unforgettable.

Recommended Places in Montenegro

The land border of Montenegro is only 614 km. It gives you an idea of how tiny it is. When having two weeks off, seeing the most important treasures of this country seems to be quite workable. Obviously, without taking away the pleasure of discovering the undiscovered and reaching places unknown to any guide book. Such explorations are most compelling and we encourage to them, so let the following list only outline the key directions. Attractions are presented in the order in which we visited them while riding from the north, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, only returning through Croatia.

 

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Map of the trip to the Balkans

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Map of the trip to the Balkans: 46.747177, 19.787250
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Transalpina - Taming the Path of Giants
Sebeș, Județul Alba, România
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The Table of the Giants (Masa Jidovului)
Masa Jidovului, Județul Sibiu, România
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Urdele Pass
Rânca, Județul Gorj, România
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Transfagarasan - 100 km of fabulous road in Romania
Bâlea Lac, Avrig, Sibiu, Romania
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Balea Lake
Cascada Capra, Comuna Arefu, Județul Argeș, România
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Poenari Castle
Cetatea Poienari, Comuna Arefu, Județul Argeș, România
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The road from Budva to Lovcen
Lovćen, Cetinje, Montenegro
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The city Dolovi
Lovćen, Cetinje, Montenegro
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The map of the road from Lovcen to Kotor
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The route to Sveti Jure
Sveti Jure, Biokovsko Selo, Chorwacja
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Pag
Pag, Croatia
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Statue of Rocky Balboa in Zitiste
Rocky Balboa, Zitiste, Vojvodina
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Sunny Ranch
Sunčana Reka Recreation Centre, Mali Zvornik
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Mausoleum at Gucevo Mountains
Gučevo, Banja Koviljača
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The road From Lake Piva to the Monastery of Ostrog
Pivsko Jezero, Plužine, Czarnogóra
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The Valley of Olt river
Brezoi, Vâlcea County, Romania
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Bradisor dam
Brezoi, Vâlcea County, Romania
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The Groapa Seaca pass
Brezoi, Vâlcea County, Romania
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The valley of Jiu river
Brezoi, Vâlcea County, Romania
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The Monastery of Ostrog in the Rock Cave
Manastir Ostrog, Danilovgrad, Montenegro
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Stari Bar
Stari Bar, Montenegro
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Kotor in Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro

 

Durdevica Bridge in Tara River Canyon

Bridge over Tara made a great impression on us, especially the view of Europe’s deepest canyon overgrown with lush greenery, cut with the blue ribbon of the river. We have presented it quite meticulously in the previous part of the coverage. To summarize the most important facts, Durdevica bridge was once the highest on the Old Continent (now Millau Viaduct in France is higher). Five arch construction is placed 170 meters above the Tara river, and its length is approx. 360 m. For us it is a kind of “gateway” to the lovely land of the National Park Durmitor.

 

Tara River Canyon

 

If you have a little more time we recommend accommodation at the camping located near the bridge and abseiling on the inclined rope over the canyon. By opting for this attraction with the group you can negotiate prices. And of course, the kayaking and pontoon rafting organized there seem to be an unforgettable experience (our failure!).

Durmitor National Park

Yet this is where we experienced the most wonderful adventure of the trip to the Balkans. And it was there that we experienced the most wonderful adventure of the whole trip to the Balkans. The road through the Durmitor Mountains, the Celtic phrase for “Dripping Mountains” is simply a dream route for two wheels, leading through the land of limestone rock crowns, karst wonders and picturesquely scattered pastoral huts, surrounded by cows and sheep. The latter, moreover, dominate in this land, and the whole herd can march through a narrow street right in front of your vehicle.

 

Durmitor

Durmitor is the highest range of the Dinaric Alps, with the peak of Bobotov Kuk, towering here at an altitude of 2 523 meters above sea level. Numerous hiking trails invite hikers to the discovering explorations and encounters with wildlife, including reportedly bears and wolves.

Enjoy a movie with a fairy-tale land of Durmitor:

View the full photo gallery and description of the route through the Dinaric Alps in Montenegro

Pivsko Lake and Piva River Canyon

Straight from the wonderful land of Durmitor Mountains we speeded to a new unusual land. First, through the gold clearings between the hills, then through the bottlenecks rock tunnels (which even had intersections!), we reached the Piva River Canyon and Pivsko Lake. Our friend patted his stomach since the morning at the thought of arriving at this miracle of nature, which is as the name suggests (in English: “The Beer Lake”) probably a natural reservoir of the much-loved hop substance. Sorry, but the fans of beer will be disappointed, because the water is not with the percentage, it is just unbelievably turquoise. In contrast to the white cliffs of the canyon it does make a great impression!

 

The route in rock tunnels captured in the film:

 

See photos and video of the route from Pivsko Lake to the Monastery of Ostrog.

The monastery of Ostrog in the rock cave

From Pivsko Lake the road leads to the Monastery of Ostrog, called “The Place of Wonders.” This is a famous aim of the Orthodox pilgrimages to the relics of St. Wasyl Ostrogski, the founder of the monastery in the seventeenth century. It was during the Turkish invasions. He decided, together with other monks, to build a monastery inaccessible to the enemy. 900 meter high rock cave in the Ostroških greda massif at an altitude of 960 m a.s.l. seemed to be perfect. Today, to the buildings on the mountainside leads the route of an extremely sharp turns, and the destination bestows with scenic views.

 

The Monastery of Ostrog

Skadar Lake

We reached the Skadar Lake by crossing or passing the city of Podgorica, which is the current capital of Montenegro. We did not stop there for a long time, because we did not see much reason for it, and there was a lot more beautiful places in Montenegro. The only thing that could attract us there would be the need for some major shopping. We rode toward the coast, near the border with Albania, where our goal was the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, Skadar Lake, also called “Skadar Marshes.” The tank is 50 km long, 14 km wide, but relatively shallow, averaging 5-8 m of depth, and only here and there is a hole 90 meters down. So much technical data, because what’s really impressive is the amazing view and legendary route along the massifs surrounding this multi-colored water eye!

 

Skadar Lake

 

Skadar Marshes is a veritable land of unique flora and fauna. In the water lives a population of nearly 50 species of fish and over a few hundreds of species of: grebes, herons, wild ducks, geese, divers, eagles and pelicans. For me, both at sunset, when the valley was bathed in a pink glow, and at dawn in golden splendour, this place was one of the most beautiful and romantic I have ever seen. When we arrived on motorcycles by these lake, it was already dark. The night found us somewhere on the narrow path above the cliffs, because finding the accommodation place turned out to be not so trivial. At some point we rode completely down to the shore and there we discovered a very beautifully situated Donji Murici camping. Spartan sanitation were compensated by hosts with refreshments served at arbor on the lake shore, where we admired donkeys strolling on the beach and a cow grazing between the tents. You can find out more about the adventure and about the route itself in a dedicated post about crossing Skadar Lake. I only wish we had enough time for a fabulous boat trips to nearby islands (there are about 50 of them!), on which there are even few-centuries-old fortresses and monasteries. The most famous tourist destinations are the islands: Beška, Starčevo, Moračnik, Žabljak Crnojevića, Vranjina.

Our Skadar adventure was captured in the video:

 

 

Sandy Beach at Safari Camping

Let’s be honest, Balkan holidays without getting wet in the Adriatic Sea would not be holidays in the full sense of the word. After a quick research, we learned that the best one is the Great Beach located near the town of Ulcinj, because it’s sandy, and in addition the longest one on this side of the Adriatic. The town itself is not compelling, we actually went there only for shopping, enjoying the perks of accommodation mainly on the Safari Camping. And those charms refer primarily to the cold pine tree grove and the close proximity to the 13 km long beach with a pleasant, fine sand. The beach is spacious, equipped with comfortable lounge chairs, and even VIP roofed cottages with couches. To this day, we remember tasting a pleasant wine in the evening, stretching our necks – a little tired of continuous riding – on comfortable sun beds. Equipment and prices of Safari camping can be checked on their website.

 

Sandy Beach at Safari Camping

Stari Bar

Stari Bar is a medieval, historic city, largely ruined and abandoned. Before the sixteenth century, before it was invaded by the Turks, Stari Bar was experiencing its splendor as one of the largest city-states at the Adriatic. It had its own coat of arms, flag, coins. The earthquake in 1979 led to the final destruction and abandonment of the city by the locals. Today you can visit the preserved bastions, stroll along the mighty walls, sightsee the museum or go to nearby moody pubs and markets.

 

Stari Bar - Montenegro

 

Sveti Stefan near Budva

Sveti Stefan, a town approx. 6km from Budva, was said to be the icon of Montenegro, the most famous postcard motive of this country. For us it was just a beautifully situated island full of little stone buildings with red tile roofs, which we admired from afar on motorcycles. The island itself is dedicated to celebrities and guests of the luxury hotel complex located there, or possibly to organized tours. Thus, for most people this peninsula, once a fishing village, is simply a photographic model worth capturing with the lens during a tour on the Montenegrin coast.

 

Sveti Stefan
Source of photos: http://hotelwonderfull.blogspot.com/
Lovcen National Park
In the background the Budva Riviera

 

Lovcen National Park and the Mausoleum of Peter II Petrović-Njegoš

Lovcen National Park and a route leading to it are in our opinion very atmospheric. We covered them in separate post with a map and guidelines. From Budva and the coast we rode through Cetinje (the first capital of Montenegro) to Kotor. Then we entered into a unique world of Lovcen National Park, where we passed white walls of ancient settlements, cut through lovely groves and carved up curves over the panorama of mountains and sea. The route culminated in a special palce, the tomb of the former ruler and Orthodox bishop Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. He requested a burial at the Jezerski’s top in the Lovcen Mountains cordillera. Not only the stone building carries its own unique mood, but the landscape itself confirms the belief that one might want to arrive there. At the same time, due to natural and historical reasons, the Lovcen National Park is the birthplace of Montenegrin statehood, just like the Mount Olympus to Greeks.

 

Mausoleum Of Sveti Stefan
Image source: otwartyhoryzont.wordpress.com

 

The route through the Lovcen Park captured with the GoPro’s eye:

 

 

The Bay of Kotor and the Old Town of Kotor, Perast and Risan

Not without reason the Bay of Kotor is called the Black Pearl of the Adriatic. It is considered the most beautiful place not only of the Balkans, but of the whole Europe. 30 kilometer circuit tongue of blue water cuts between the hills, creating a fabulous landscape.

 

Kotor, The Pearl Of The Adriatic
The name “Boka” comes from the Italian bocca, a mouth. This shape apparently is visible from the bird’s eye view.

 

Video from the beautiful motorcycle route to the Bay of Kotor.

 

 

The Bay, harbor and picturesque old town, obviously do make an impression, however for motorcyclists, nothing beats the route itself that leads to this fabulous land. Driving up the serpentine we relish more and more beautiful views. The route from the slopes of Lovcen to Kotor is described and marked in a map in a separate post, we highly recommend to take a look.

Sleeping in travel Enjoyable and attractive is the fact that Montenegro is still a lot less commercial than Croatia. Accommodation can be found at very attractive prices, even in the most famous places, such as the Bay of Kotor. However, in this case, instead of deciding on a pension or even a hostel, it is worth to get to the area inhabited by locals and ask for accommodation. It’s best to approach some local lady sitting on a bench or working by the house. Probably she will indicate another lady, a neighbor who can help. Such a room can be much cheaper and in addition offer a surprisingly beautiful views.
Are you also captivated by Montenegro?

The list above is a total classic of holiday destinations in Montenegro. The real adventure begins when stepping ahead from the beaten path. You can find an old Orthodox monastery, a charming village, the mysterious ruins. If you discovered something interesting to see, or have questions and look for clues, we invite you to express yourself in the comments below.

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One Response

  1. Ann
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    Montenegro, a lovely country, we cycled through the Durmitor National Park last year, just lovely, highly recommended! :)

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