Which town has the best Montenegro beaches? Where is the best place to stay along the Montenegro coast? This is what I heard many backpackers ask while I was on holiday in Albania in 2019. I found myself asking the same questions too. Montenegro’s small coastline only has 72km of beaches, so it can’t be that hard – right??
But making the decision was difficult as I kept hearing different reports from travelers. Everyone had different experiences, tastes and therefore different perceptions. So I decided to check it all out for myself. I crossed over the border from Albania into Montenegro and Ulcinj was my first stop.
Ulcinj is the most southern major coastal town, very close to the Albanian border.
This coastal town is quite a built up area with lots of apartments to rent. There is one long main street with shops, restaurants and bars. Then right along the foreshore (town beach) it's completely lined with restaurants. It has casual dining during the day, but pumping with loud music and lots of people by night.
There is a quaint little old medieval town perched on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the town beach. It contains mainly restaurants with views and only a couple of hotels. Nice to stroll through the old town day or night. Don’t miss the magnificent sunsets from here.
However, the beaches are a different story. The town beach is jam packed with umbrella’s and people. You’ll be lucky to find a spot by 10am. I didn’t swim here as it was overcrowded and the water level was quite low (below hips) for at least 100m out.
South of Ulcinj
So I decided to walk southwards along the coast. Initially, I came across a few beach bars – sections of sunbeds and umbrellas owned by a particular bar/cafe where you must pay for the sitting privilege. They provide easy access into the water (concrete platforms or access steps into the water). Plus you have the convenience of ordering food and drinks from their bar/cafe.
I did stop at Ladies Beach for a short while. Sorry guys, ladies only! I only stayed a short while because I wasn't really impressed. The beach was about 15m wide, but somehow they still managed to jam pack it with sunbeds. Most people lay on concrete. Also, I was disappointed to see the water had a film of oil floating on top. All that sun cream that people lather onto their bodies slips away into the water when they go for a dip.
As I continued walking further down the coast, it started to become more remote. People found random spots along the way and eased their way into the water off the rocky coastine. Ideal if you prefer privacy.
After 1.5 hours of walking, I finally reached Long Beach (Velika Plaza). It really is long – about 12km long. It’s a flat, sandy beach that’s also lined with sunbeds/umbrella's owned by hotels or bars/restaurants. It’s not an attractive looking beach with brownish coloured sand. Plus you still have to walk out for miles to find deep water. But it still attracts the crowds who need cooling off. Or to do fun stuff like rent Jet Ski’s, kite surf or play on the inflatable water slides.
Now in case you're wondering, I didn’t have to walk all the way back to Ulcinj. It’s only a 10-minute taxi ride costing about EUR5.00
North of Ulcinj
As an alternative, a 10 minute drive north of Ulcinj is Valdanos Beach. Great spot to get away from all the tourists, even though the beach is lined again with sunbeds/umbrellas. But it’s less busy and touristy. I avoided the southern end of the beach. This is because near to the small boat pier, I found the water to be dirty that end. I do however, recommend a stroll among the olive trees or to the lighthouse.
Depending upon your budget, personally I think the best idea is to do a boat trip to caves and secluded beaches. I enjoyed that much more.
Further up the coast is the semi industrial port town of Bar. This coastal town is much lower key than Ulcinj and without the noisy nightlife scene.
The town beach is a long narrow pebbly beach filled with sunbeds/umbrella’s, bordered by apartments overlooking the sea. Seems to be a favourite destination for locals as there were many carparks along the way.
But if the less than idyllic scenery of a large port and ferry terminal in the distance is going to disturb you, I would recommend to venture 9km north to a coastal village called Sutomore.
A more beautiful stretch of beach when viewed from a distance. However, its still overcrowded in the height of summer and its busy with restaurants, bars, apartments and beach huts.
You can reach Sutomore by public bus from Bar (12 minutes). But it drops you off on the main highway and you have to walk down to the beach. Alternatively, rent a car for ease of reach. Then you could do some other exploring to find a secluded beach.
While in Bar, I do recommend you go and visit Stari Bar – the old town about a 15-minute drive inland. It’s an abandoned ancient town/fortress but still cool to explore through it. The town also has a cute cobblestone main street line with café's and shops. You must try the fresh pomegranate juice, which they are famously known for.
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This town goes up a notch. It’s a ritzy, glitzy coastal resort full of apartments and 5-star hotels. It is dotted with little Montenegro beaches along a 10km stretch from the old town to Sveti Stefan island. Again, all lined with sunbeds/umbrellas. You can basically choose a different beach every day.
However, I preferred Mogren Beach, which is just north of the old town, as it had two sandy beaches with adequate public beach space. Handy for those who don’t want to pay for a sunbed/umbrella. At the end of the second beach is a rocky outcrop where you can do cliff jumping if you like a bit of excitement.
The most famous beach in the area is in front of Sveti Stefan island. The island is now privately managed by the luxury hotel chain Aman. All the rich and famous have stayed there. But it does not have any beaches as it’s a rocky outcrop. The beaches on the mainland that face the island will set you back 100 euro for an umbrella and two sunbeds! Maybe another day...
TG Tip: I recommend that one evening you make the effort to watch the sunset from high above Sveti Stefan Island. I quite enjoyed sipping on a cocktail from Hotel Adrovic.
St Nikola Island is a short ferry ride from the old town. There is only one stretch of beach, which is basically facing the mainland. Don’t think that this destination will help you get away from the hordes as this beach is also lined with many sunbeds/umbrellas.
Budva has a cute, well preserved old medieval town on the waterfront. Narrow cobblestone streets lined with glitzy shops – namely jewellery shops. I found the restaurant were more expensive here too, compared to the other two Montenegrin towns above.
Personally, I felt this coastal town was too touristy and too large for my liking. But it will suit others who like glam and nightlife.
Kotor is not really on the coastline but inland a little situated on a bay (Boka). I’ve included it as it’s quite a popular destination for tourists, especially for the vibrant medieval old town.
Kotor itself has no ‘beaches’ here as such as the marina is located right in front of the old town city gates.
There is a small pebbly beach on the southern end of the bay (south of Kotor old town) however it’s not attractive. The closest decent little beach is Kotor Beach in the new town called Dobrota (walk north of the old town Kotor, over the bridge).
As I drove around the bay, I did see a couple of tiny remote beaches but you really need a car to reach these places as you see them. The other option is to take the Blue Line Bus and work out where is the closest stop.
However, I mainly saw randomly placed concrete platforms where you can access the water via steps. Some were privately owned for hotel guests only and others were public.
Kotor old town is colourful in the choice of restaurants, locally made handicraft stores and daily hordes of cruise ship passengers.
Definitely worth the stop just for the spectacular views of the bay but it's not your typical beach holiday destination.
TG Tip: make the effort to walk up the old fortress walls to the Castle of San Giovanni for a birds eye views of the bay. In the morning is best – for photographs and to avoid the heat of the day
Montenegro beaches summary
If you don’t like overcrowded town beaches, be prepared to venture out further afield – to rocky beach bars or to Long Beach (sandy beach). This place also suits people who like a busy night life.
For a quieter low key beach holiday. Can choose different beaches nearby by bus or car. Don’t forget to visit Stari Bar.
The place to be dressed up and be seen. It is a ritzy glitzy town with lots of hotels. Many beaches to choose from. Has at least one sandy beach at Mogren Beach.
Not your typical beach holiday destination per se but can still take a dip in the bay via the many concrete platforms. Worth visiting for the old medieval town and the walk up the fortress for a birds eye view of the Boka (bay).
Which of the above Montenegro beaches or town would be your favourite type of coastal holiday?