A little known spot on the Montenegro coast sits Herceg Novi. It is just off the Adriatic Sea, and many travelers don’t recognize it as a place to explore when they make plans to visit Montenegro. But this little coastal town has all the charm you might expect of a seaside village, and more. From wonderful little breakfast spots to romantic dinners for two, there is plenty to do in Herceg Novi either as a quick spot as you pass through the Adriatic Sea or as a few day vacation in Montenegro. It will impress you with its beauty, affordable accommodations and dining, friendly people and lack of crowds. Scroll down to see what makes Herceg Novi so amazing for all kinds of travelers.
Where is Herceg Novi?
Herceg Novi is a northern coastal town in Montenegro off the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It is at at the entrance to the mouth of the Bay of Kotor and at the base of Mount Orjen. It is a little over an hour from Dubrovnik, which is one of the largest tourist destinations in the Mediterranean and about 2 and a half hours from the capital of Podgorica. Herceg Novi is also right beside the other seaside towns of Igalo and a more touristy Kotor which gives travelers more opportunities to visit this quaint coastal area.
Herceg Novi is known for being a quiet, beach town with much turmoil in its history. Although it is not near many of the typical tourist vacation spots of Montenegro, it is definitely worth a stop in your travels.
How do you get to Herceg Novi?
Herceg Novi is not one of the most traveled destinations in Montenegro, but traveling there is pretty simple. Most people use bus transportation or a rental car to get to this gem of the Adriatic Sea. There is one main road that goes up and down the coast of Montenegro called the Adriatic Motorway so it makes it pretty simple to get to Herceg Novi if you are already on the coast. There are many buses that are constantly going up and down the coast so it is easy to catch one.
If you are traveling from inland, you may have to rent a car, although there are bus transportation options available to you. You can also fly into some of the local airports like the Tivet Airport which has some flights from larger European cities as well as charter plane options. You can also fly into Dubrovnik which is in Croatia, meaning you will have to cross the border by bus or car to get to Herceg Novi. Lines at the border between the two countries can be long, especially in the summer months, so plan for driving delays.
The Tumultuous History of Herceg Novi
Although Herceg Novi looks like a quaint, quiet little seaside town, its history is anything but quiet. Over the centuries many different civilizations, governments and religions have ruled over the land, mostly because of its important location for trade and for military strategy. Herceg Novi started off under the rule of the Roman Empire, later breaking off with the Western Roman Empire. Rule then transferred to the Byzantine Empire and then the Serbian Empire who ruled the area for centuries until it was conquered by the Turks in 1482.
The Turks ruled for over 200 years, until it was taken over by Venice for over 100 years. It was ceded by Austria but then annexed to Russia. Napoleon Boneparte took rule in 1807 but Herceg Novi was annexed to independent provinces by 1809. Montenegrin forces overtook Herceg Novi but gave rule over to the Austrian-Hungry government until it was handed over to the Dalmatian crown.
The Serbian army entered the bay in 1918, and Herceg Novi was then claimed as part of the Serbian rule and later named part of Yugoslavia. After Yugoslavia was disbanded, it became independent as it is now, as the People’s Republic of Montenegro.
Exploring Herceg Novi
Although it is a beautiful coastal town, Herceg Novi isn’t a wildly popular vacation spot for tourists, especially those from the US. It is visited by guests mostly in the summer as a passing through point as they reach other, more popular beach destinations but that is what makes it so special. When visiting Herceg Novi you will be met by the same seaside hospitality as you would with other beachside towns, but without the crowds. There are plenty of things to see and do, day trips to take to other areas, as well as a plethora of fresh seafood at the local restaurants and markets to satisfy any traveler.
Restaurants to Visit in Herceg Novi
Admiral Cafe and Restaurant
The Admiral Cafe and Restaurant in Herceg Novi is right on the Herceg Novi harbor. It sits on top of the marina and offers guests fantastic 360 views of the Bay. Patrons can enjoy delicious fresh seafood, amazing views, and local wines with their meals. It was our first introduction to Herceg Novi right off the plane and it left a lasting impression on us with its views and phenomenal food. Some photos looked like paintings due to the amazing texture and detail, as well as colors.
The Gradska Kafana is a beautiful restaurant off the coast of Herceg Novi. Its outdoor seating gives amazing views of the bay, and the venue is often used for weddings and other large events. The menu is exquisite, as well. They offer traditional Montenegrin dishes as well as Italian cuisine, fish specialties, and amazing wines to be paired with it all. They have breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus as well as a huge selection of wines, beer, and liquor for guests. Prices are reasonable and the views are priceless.
Located in the Zlijecbi village, this restaurant has a medieval look and feel with the stone house venue and handcrafted tables. All food is cooked by villagers, and the restaurant prides itself on creating dishes in the traditional manner using an iron pan. You will be given a tour of the property and the kitchen, as well as brief history of the village before you are seated for a 4-course lunch. It has a guest minimum of 8, so groups are encouraged. We hiked the mountain of Orjen before descending down to the village to have our dinner and our group unanimously said that it was the best food we have ever had in our lives. The views and sunsets here are remarkable, so make sure to stay till dark.
Located off the Pet Danica Walkway, Restoran Kantula offers traditional Montenegrin cuisine as well as fresh seafood offerings. It is a quaint little restaurant that makes you feel like a local visitor with its unique foods, homey feel and convenient location.
One of the more elegant restaurants in Herceg Novi, Verige 65 is known for its modern architecture and design that you might find at a beach side resort versus a small beach village. It has full-paneled windows so guests can enjoy the view of the Bay of Kotor from inside the dining room as well as outdoor seating with swing seats, fireplaces, and a gorgeous view of the passing cruise ships. You will enjoy delectable fine dining with fresh seafood and gourmet desserts. This is definitely a romantic date night spot for you and your partner.
Cool Things to Do in Herceg Novi
Although Herceg Novi is right on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, it also sits at the base of Mount Orjen. This provides tourists with the unique opportunity to visit both the sea and the mountains of this majestic coast. If you come at the right time, you could swim in the Adriatic sea and ski in the mountains all in the same day.
Herceg Novi is technically a fjord, so it has both the rugged terrain of the mountains and the calming Adriatic sea. Montenegro Outdoors offers hiking tours to the peaks that surround Herceg Novi for all different experience levels. They also have you finish off your experience with a dip in the Adriatic Sea and a sailboat tour or kayak tour, as well as lunch and snacks throughout your excursion.
The climb to the top takes most of the day, but the terrain is so different throughout that you never get bored. My favorite part of the climb was walking through a wooded area and finding tiny wild strawberries to snack on.
We cannot say enough about the owners and tour operators of Montenegro Outdoors. Iljya and Natasha are incredibly welcoming, knowledgeable, fun and sweet, and will make you very comfortable in Herceg Novi. They will be your friends, tour guides and so much more. If you’re passing Herceg Novi, contact Montenegro Outdoors and let them show you the best side of this amazing town.
The Adriatic Sea provides an amazing experience to sail along the calm, crystal blue waters of the Bay of Kotor. Montenegro Outdoors offers different sailing experiences for guests. The five hour tour takes you all along the Montenegro coast, giving you ample opportunity to swim or snorkel along the coves and lagoons. A traditional Montenegrin lunch is provided, too. The three-hour tour includes snorkeling in the coves of Montenegro with snacks and light refreshments on board. You can even opt for a sailing class if you are so inclined!
Lustica Olive Farm Visit and ATV Adventure
On the Lusitca peninsula, you will find a sweet little family-owned olive farm of the Moric family, who will open their doors to you and feed you the most amazing home-grown and home-made traditional delicatessen (my favorite was the Montenegrin donuts). The house they host guests in is a traditional stone house (which stays remarkably cool during hot summers) with a few large tables that can host groups of people at the same time. You will love the local food of Montenegro and laugh at the coffee/tea cup fortune telling (ours was a big beetle).
If you want to see Herceg Novi from a completely different perspective with a little more high-speed action, you can venture off with Lustica ATV Adventure for an ATV tour around the mountain trails of Herceg Novi. You can see the Adriatic Sea and the gorgeous mountain terrain of Montenegro’s coastline.
Herceg Novi Old Town Tour
One of the biggest draws in any city in Europe is the long history and amazing architecture that comes with it. Herceg Novi is no exception. Herceg Novi old town is quaint and beautiful with content, well fed kitties sitting on each corner, churches and castles. Below are some of the points of interest in old town and outside that you might find appealing.
Kayaking is a popular activity in the Adriatic Sea and Herceg Novi isn’t an exception. With so many different bays around, you can kayak the shore, go deeper into the sea, or even cross the bay completely to explore another town. You can rent a boat or a sailboat to take you over to other parts of the sea to kayak into cave openings.
Blue Cave is a local wonder, because most beaches in this area are rocky, yet the bottom in Blue Cave is sandy, so the way the light hits it, the cave and water around it appears completely blue. There are lots of boat tours going to the blue cave, but we opted to kayak it. Bring a snorkel with you so you can explore the underwater life, but watch out for boats.
Must-See Things in Herceg Novi
The Sea Fortress, or the Forte Mare, was built in the 12th center by the first Bosnian King of Herceg Novi as a strategic military vantage point for the coastline. In the 1950s, the tower was converted to a movie theater, but now visitors can visit the fortress and see the unique passageways and interior that was designed so many centuries ago. Visitors can also climb to the top of the fortress for an amazing view of the Adriatic Sea below.
Kanli Kula Fortress
Another military strategy vantage point, this fortress was built by the Turks and used as a prison. Translated into English, Forte Kanli Kula means “bloody tower” and visitors can go down to see the dungeons and where prisoners etched their words and lives into the wall. On the top of the tower is a massive seating area that is used for movies and performances.
This is a popular camping site for many of those who can’t get enough of the great outdoors. But even if you don’t want to camp there, you can visit for an amazing view of the Adriatic Sea below, as well as the town of Herceg Novi. It is a gorgeous place for photo opps! The water is crystal clear and tide pools are fun to swim in.
Crkva Sv. Pantelija
The Church of Saint Panthelie, or Crkva Sv. Pantelija, is a wonderful tourist spot when you are visiting Montenegro. It is a Serbian Orthodox church. St. Panthelie is the patron saint of those who travel, so it is a wonderful place for all tourists to visit!
Pet Danica Walkway
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Herceg Novi, the Pet Danica Walkway spans almost 4 miles along the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It starts in Igalo and goes through Herceg Novi ending in Meljine. There are many places to walk down to the beach, visit shops along the way, and allows for gorgeous views of the shoreline. You will find bakeries, coffee shops, little restaurants, and other shops for souvenirs all along the way. The walkway used to be railroad tracks, but nowadays you can walk through the same tunnels the trains went through.
Day Trips from Herceg Novi
What is really wonderful about Herceg Novi’s location, and why so many governments fought for it, is that it is located in between some really amazing destinations and points of interests. So you can set up your base in Herceg Novi and easily take day trips to numerous bucketlist worthy spots:
Dubrovnik is a very well known and touristy city in Croatia. Every day thousands of people try to gain entry to the fortified city through the main gate. Not everyone makes it through due to overcrowding. Nonetheless, Dubrovnik is a must visit destination on the Adriatic coast due to its uniqueness and significance in history.
The town of Kotor is only over an hour away from Herceg Novi, yet it has a completely different feel to it. Plenty of cruise ships stop in Kotor which adds to the touristy craziness, but it’s a town worth a visit. Aside from having the most charming all stone Old Town it also has an amazing fortified wall trail leading to the top of the mountain (if you dare to climb that high).
On the other side of the bay, you can find Tivat, a place of Adriatic nautical tourism. One of the youngest towns on the bay, it still has plenty of attractions to boast, and even has its own airport that many local planes fly into. Tivat can be seen from many of the mountain tops in the area. All you have to do is spend the day hiking up and you will be able to see the whole bay.
Perast is an absolutely gorgeous town across the bay from Tivat and Herceg Novi. It is small, but it is a beauty and photo opps are unrivaled. A huge draw for tourists is the Lady of the Rock, an artificial island created by sinking old ships and building a rock base. The local legend says that seamen would throw a rock each time they would return from sea, and eventually an island emerged.
Lustica is a peninsula located across from Herceg Novi and is accessible by boat (faster) or car. The peninsula is hardly populated which makes it a beautiful day trip (we recommend a sailboat trip with Natasha and Ilija). There you can visit a Moric family farm, eat amazing local village foods, take an ATV tour through the peninsula (watch out for spiders) and swim in the beautiful turquoise waters of its rocky beaches.
Herceg Novi is a gem of the Adriatic Sea that many tourists don’t even know exists. This gives visitors the opportunity to visit a coastal, beach town without the hustle and chaos of many of the more touristy areas of Montenegro. The quiet beaches, gorgeous views, historical sites, and traditional restaurants will amaze you. A few days here will give you an experience you will never forget, making it worth the stop on your travels.
Now you can see how Herceg Novi is truly a hidden gem of South Eastern Europe, but ssshhhh, let’s keep it a secret, ok?
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