The Budget Savvy Travelers

Herceg Novi | Day Trip From Dubrovnik to Get Away From the Crowds!

Dubrovnik, Croatia is typically jam-packed full of tourists. Escape the crowds by visiting Herceg Novi, Montenegro to enjoy a relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. We love Dubrovnik, Croatia as much as anyone else but sometimes it gets a bit too crazy with all of the people.

Although it’s the closest city to Dubrovnik, no one seems to talk about visiting Herceg Novi, Montenegro very much. Unfortunately,  it’s a destination that is overlooked by more popular, touristy destinations. However, Herceg Novi is probably one of the best-kept secrets for travelers to explore on a day trip from Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik, Croatia has become completely inundated with tourists and cruise ships, making it most unenjoyable | Dubrovnik Croatia | Best Day Trip to Get Away From the Crowds

Herceg Novi is only about a 1-hour drive from Dubrovnik. Why not take a beautiful day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia? Enjoy our day-tripper’s guide to Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Some of the best things to see in Montenegro are inland, away from the sea.

Dubrovnik Croatia | Best Day Trips for Serious Fun!

Herceg Novi, Montenegro shares many similarities to Dubrovnik, Croatia but without the crowds | Dubrovnik Croatia | Best Day Trip to Get Away From the Crowds

Many may not think to explore the Balkan’s inland, but there is so much that lies beyond the beaches and the Adriatic Sea. During the off-season months, when the sea is too cold to enjoy, we like to venture off into the country and see all the treasures that are a short ride from the coast.

Herceg Novi is charming and nice and quiet!

Motel Yugoslavia, Sutorina

After hearing so many great things we decided to extend the day trip over an entire weekend. During this time, we stayed at Motel Yugoslavia. Situated about 1.5 miles from the Croatian border, and about 45-minutes from Dubrovnik, Croatia, this motel is in a very convenient location! However, there are many great places to stay right in the Old Town of Herceg Novi too.

Motel Yugoslavia located about 1.5 miles from the border is a decent budget option |Dubrovnik Croatia | Best Day Trip to Get Away From the Crowds

The motel enjoys a charming view of the tall, lush green hills. The guest rooms are named after one of the former Yugoslavian republics or a Montenegrin city. We stayed in the Herceg Novi room.

Funny enough, the cheapest rooms are named Slovenia and Croatia, while the most expensive rooms are Serbia and Montenegro rooms. During check-in, the receptionist was genuinely apprehensive about putting a Croatian in the Serbia room. We heard she even asked our colleagues if it was OK for them to stay in a Serbia-inspired room. The group laughed. Of course, they said, “It is no problem.”

Old Town Tour | Herceg Novi, Montenegro

After settling into the hotel and enjoying a brisk swim, we jumped back on the tour bus and headed to the Old Town in Herceg Novi. The plan was to learn some history, take a few snapshots, and enjoy a walking tour through the small, but extremely charming Old Town.

Part of the allure of this area is that it sits at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor amidst a dramatic backdrop. The tallest mountain range and tallest mountain along the Adriatic Sea are located here. Both are called Orjen. The highest peak is Veliki kabao. It stands at about 6,200 ft.

Starting at the top of the Old Town and working our way down to the Sea, we stopped to admire as much as we could absorb.  One of the first things we noticed while walking along the narrow stone streets were two intimidating forts: Mare Fortress and the Spanish Fortress. At first glance, these forts provide some medieval flair to the otherwise Mediterranean seaside atmosphere.

As we reach the sea, we notice a wonderful palm tree-lined promenade and a large water polo pool in the harbor. Throughout the weekend, we end up spending quite a bit of time in this area as it’s the heart of the town. This area features cafe bars, cozy kafanas (family-style restaurants, but with a bit more drinking), and night clubs.

Dining Locally Along the Sea

Enjoying the scenery, we ended up walking nearly the entire length of the promenade and decided to stop for dinner at Konoba Kruso. Mainly specializing in local dishes, we feasted on a smorgasbord of mouth-watering food served family-style.

Sitting directly on the water, this outdoor patio (which is really like a pier) makes for a truly exclusive and memorable dining experience.  Sailors can pull up and dock their boats or yachts directly at the restaurant.

Vrbanj Adventure Park

The following morning, we drove about 45-minutes deep into the mountains of the Herceg Novi municipality. The plan for the morning was to explore Vrbanj Adventure Park.  Along the meandering road, we passed small farmhouses in the green valleys.

Locals were working their farms or catching a bit of relaxation in the shade. We were even forced to stop a few times to avoid hitting cows and goats. We were getting off the beaten path—which is always a good thing!

Somewhat hidden in beech and black pine forest, the brand new adventure park features bridges, rope climbs, zip lines, and many other creative apparatuses. For example, one part included hopping on a wooden toboggan sled and ziplining through the air for about 50 feet.

From easiest to hardest, the park’s divided up into five sections, With limited time, we only were able to get through the first two very family-friendly sections. The course gets progressively higher and even more challenging for adrenaline junkies. We can’t wait to go back!

Sailing Regatta Race

After visiting the adventure park we came back down to sea level and met at the newly constructed Marian Lazure. The former Venetian medical institution is now a posh new boutique hotel and marina. This was the starting line for the race.

Taking part in a 3-hour sailing regatta was quite entertaining. We weren’t required to do any of the heavy-lifting because we were merely spectators. We were simply asked to switch which side of the boat we sat on during tacking. Twelve sailboats competed in the competition. Our sailboat came in second, respectively.

Forte Mare | Party to Kick Off Summer Sailing Season

In the evening we were invited to commemorate Herceg Novi’s first sailing regatta and celebrate with the winners of the race. A city-sponsored cocktail hour with live music was held at Forte Mare or sea fortress.

The atmosphere was lively and magical with the sun fading on the surrounding hills. We enjoyed the sea views and laughing with new friends about the day’s fun events.

Our Lady of the Rocks | Bay of Kotor

The next morning we departed from the Škver Harbor on a 1.5-hour scenic boat cruise. The tour took us to Our Lady of the Rocks which is one of the most popular attractions in Montenegro.  It lies serenely in the Bay of Kotor.

There are plenty of scenic cruises available that will take you from Herceg Novi to Kotor Bay.

This small island surprisingly began as a simple pile of rocks. According to local legend, the islet was made over many centuries by hand. On July 22, 1452, local seamen took an oath after finding an icon of Madonna and Child on the rock while at sea. They promised that upon their return from each successful voyage, they would lay a rock in the bay. A tiny Orthodox chapel now sits on the site.

Restobar Jadran | Herceg Novi

Following the scenic cruise, we headed back to Herceg Novi where we enjoyed a great meal at Restobar Jadran. The restaurant sits at the entrance to the Škver Harbor and overlooks the water polo pool.

The restaurant’s location is very unique because it sits above the professional water polo pool. There aren’t many places where you can enjoy some fine dining while watching a water polo match.

Herceg Novi should pique your interest if you’re looking for a coastal Balkan destination that offers scenic views, a charming Old Town, opportunities for adventure, fabulous fresh seafood, and interesting history.  Not to mention, it’s extremely quiet and it’s a great way to get away from the crowds in Dubrovnik. It’s worth stopping by for a week, a weekend, or even as a day trip from any nearby location.
We loved our time in Herceg Novi. We hope we’ll be back soon!

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