In the former days of Yugoslavia, Herceg Novi was one of the region’s premier beach destinations. Nowadays, however, it’s often overlooked for the sandy shores and party-centric hubs further south along the Adriatic.
In the height of summer local tourists flood the hotels and resorts that line Herceg Novi’s waterfront. Visit even a little outside this time and you’ll be met with a wonderfully peaceful beachside town where the streets overflow with trees fruiting pomegranates and kiwis and enough fresh seafood to satisfy any appetite.
Herceg Novi may not be Montenegro’s main beach destination anymore, but there is more than enough to occupy a visitor for a few days without the crowds you will find in some of the country’s more popular seaside towns.
These are the best things to do in Herceg Novi during your visit.
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With the mountains on one side, the wild olive groves of the Luštica Peninsula on the other and the turquoise Adriatic stretching into the Bay of Kotor, there’s no better place to take it all in than from the water.
Kayaking trips start near the Herceg Novi marina and take you across the bay into the tranquil white-washed fishing village of Rose. Draped in magenta bougainvillea and grape vines, it doesn’t get more picturesque than this. For those seeking a bit of history you can paddle into an old submarine shelter or explore the decaying wreck of a fishing vessel that was ripped off its moorings during a storm and still sits alongside the bay.
For those looking to relax, pull up a chair under the fragrant trees and while away the afternoon sipping a coffee or local wine before taking a dip or a snorkel on the quiet pebble beach around the corner from the town. The water here is clearer than the mainland and you’ll most likely have the beach all to yourself.
As we paddled back into Herceg Novi, the jumble of buildings act like a snapshot of history. Our guide reminisces over evenings from his youth when sat with his friends on the patio of the Hotel Plaza, once the chicest place on the Adriatic, sipping cokes and grooving to live music. Now the large glass hotel, unmissable on the waterfront, sits abandoned and crumbling with one of the best locations in town, surpassed by the modern holiday apartments surrounding it.
Huge thanks to Lidija and Ljubo of Kayak Herceg Novi for inviting us on one of their excellent and informative tours.
Guided tours can be tailored for first timers, experts and families and is a great way to experience the area from the water. Kayaks can also be rented by the hour.
Guided tours start at €20. Kayak rental starts at €5/h or €25 for the day.
Perhaps not as grand as nearby Dubrovnik or Kotor but also not as touristy or expensive, Herceg Novi’s old town has some pretty winding stone streets hiding lovely flowered courtyards and, best of all in the intense Montenegrin heat, dozens of ice cream stands.
Once you’ve chosen your favourite flavour, follow the steep flight of stairs uphill to Kanli Kula, the old fortress and amphitheatre overlooking the bay.
Savina Monastery, also with great views over the water, can be reached through the leafy walkway above the old town.
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A boat trip is the easiest way to reach the Luštica Peninsula and tick off some of the best sights in the area. Boats leave several times a day from the main marina heading across to Žanjice Beach, the Blue Cave and Mamula Island before returning back to the beach for the afternoon. Stops can also be made at Rose on request.
On first sight Žanjice looks like a typical Mediterranean beach – pebbled shores, dozens of deck chairs with brightly coloured umbrellas and a few leathery skinned individuals that should possibly make use of said umbrellas – but if you wander to the far end of the beach it is perfectly peaceful with plenty of space to sprawl out in the sun. The water here is also incredibly clear.
Don’t miss out on lunch here – a fresh seafood meal and a chilled glass of local wine by the water is a must.
The blue cave sits on the further side of the Luštica Peninsula and is only reachable by boat. When light shines through the natural stone entrance the water lights up in a brilliant blue. During our visit the water was a little choppy with waves reverberating around the cave, but on a calm day if you get there early enough you are able to swim in the stunning blue waters before the boats arrive.
Previously used as a fortress and concentration camp, Mamula Island is soon to be developed into an exclusive resort. It is interesting enough to explore, just watch out for the seagulls which really get a kick out of dive bombing tourists. The boat stops here for about half an hour before returning to Žanjice for the afternoon.
Pajo Boats and Peter’s run boats daily from the Herceg Novi marina and Igalo. Just two boats are advertised as leaving in the morning but the boats from Igalo also stop at the edge of the pier. Be sure to confirm exact times and where to get the boat at the information stands at the entrance to the marina.
If you buy the ticket at the marina for the full day program – Žanjice Beach, Blue Cave and Mamula Island – it will cost €15. If you buy just a return ticket to Žanjice Beach at the marina then when you change boats for the Blue Cave buy the tickets to the other sights you will only pay €12 in total – €6 to Žanjice Beach return, €4 to the Blue Cave and €2 to Mamula Island. Be sure to confirm pickup times when changing boats.
The Luštica Peninsula which juts out to form the opening of the Bay of Kotor is part over developed beachside chaos, part remote wilderness with secluded swimming holes, you just have to find a place that suits you.
The Tivat side is built up and bustling and it seems half the country descends here come weekends to sprawl out on every inch of pebble at Blue Horizons and Oblatno beaches.
If you continue past this you’ll find yourself alone on a dusty track that seems to lead to nowhere and it is here that you’ll find the best spots on the peninsular – secluded beaches without another soul in sight.
After taking our rental car a little further off road than we probably should have, we stumbled upon the lovely little Dobra Luka – a protected bay with crystal blue water and just a few others to share it with, far away from the pumping music and crowds of Oblatno around the corner.
Public transport on Luštica is sparse. From Tivat, buses travel to Blue Horizons and Krašići but to go further afield, which we highly recommend, you’ll need your own transport or to come by boat.
If you’re in need of a little activity after all that lounging by the water and gorging on seafood, Mt Orjen just behind the town is the perfect place to escape the city or the sand for a day.
Hiking trails lead straight out from the old town or you can join an organised tour which run regularly in summer.
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Between Igalo and Meljine is a 7-kilometre promenade that winds past pebbled beaches, paved swimming areas, cute little fruit stands and a multitude of beachside restaurants.
It can get pretty rowdy in the evenings as visitors trickle down from the old town after a day at the beach but during the day it’s a great place to soak up life by the water.
If you are staying in Meljine which has a more laidback country feel, you can walk along here to reach Herceg Novi proper rather than going along the road.
The main Herceg Novi bus station is just above the old town on the main road. There are regular buses to Budva, Bar, Podgorica and Kotor, though some take the shortcut and cross by barge between Kamenari and Lepetane. Any bus passing through Risan or Perast is taking the long way around.
You won’t find any traditional hostels in Herceg Novi, but there are a number of affordable guesthouses available, many of which are small family-run establishments. Outside of Herceg Novi proper, Meljine and Igalo also make good bases for exploring the area.
Zemunella Guest House in Meljine is a great budget choice. Most rooms are set up like a small apartment with a kitchenette and small outdoor terrace area, while others have access to a communal kitchen. Set in a quiet street just a short walk from the beach, Zemunella also has a great location. Search for rates and availability here.
Guesthouse Gojkovic is set right in the heart of Herceg Novi with breathtaking views over the Adriatic. This friendly guesthouse offers spacious private rooms, shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. Search for rates and availability here.
If you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll find a number of other great places to stay in Herceg Novi whether you’re after a relaxed family-run place or a luxury resort on the waterfront. Search for other available properties here.