Unlike Kotor, Herceg Novi is a lesser known small city in the Kotor Bay. It’s located very close to the borders with Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina, so often used, as a gateway for the people coming in or leaving Montenegro. We did the same, stayed in Herceg Novi and visited Mostar from there. It is even closer to Dubronik and many people even use Dubrovnik airport to visit Montenegro.
From here you can get to Kotor in an hour or 1.5 by bus.
Many people don’t consider this city worth visiting, but I think it is very cute and definitely worth spending at least a day to explore its cute old town. The city has a long history. It was first mentioned in documentary sources in the XIV century and has been under the Turkish, Spanish, Austrian, French and whoever’s not rule. Unlike Kotor and Budva, it is not crowded at all, especially the fortresses are rather quiet. When we visited the Kanli Kula fortress, there were only few people besides us and taking photos was very easy.
There are a number of people visiting this area for the beaches. If you ask me, don’t. sea here is not that great, as in most of Kotor bay and the beaches are definitely not too nice. Visit more Southern parts of Montenegro for great beaches and seaside areas with clean water.
If you are a budget traveler, as in most other cities, try to find accommodation outside the old city area. You have options of renting flats or going to small hotels. We opted for the second, unlike in the rest of Montenegro, as it was not expensive and about 15 minutes’ walk to the castles.
1-2 days are enough to see the major sites of this small city, including the three fortresses.
Climb the Kanli Kula fortress
I suggest starting with climbing up the Kanli Kula Fortress or Bloody tower in translation. The entrance costs 2 EUR. The fortress sits high above the old town. From the waterside area, you will have to climb quite a lot of stairs and steep streets. If you can’t do that, come here by car from the main road.
The fortress was called bloody for a reason. It has a very dark past. It was built in the XVI century during the Ottoman reign and served, as a prison. Its dungeons can still be visited. Overall atmosphere is quite gloomy and menacing.
However, we loved the views from the fortress. Due to its location, it has you can enjoy the views over the old town, as well as the bay.
The fortress has a big amphitheater, which is now used, as an open scene. This part is heavily renovated in the XX century and it doesn’t really have the old feel any more.
Unbelievably, a number of weddings take place here. People aren’t deterred by the bloody past of this place.
Explore the old town
From the fortress, walk down and explore the narrow streets of the old town. We basically did a few circles to look into the small alleys and enjoy the secluded staircases. In September the old town was by far not crowded and very pleasant.
Don’t miss the Belavista (beautiful view) square with Michael archangel church, which is a Serbian orthodox church not too far from Kanli Kula. It’s free to enter and admire it.
Also don’t miss the Clock tower, which is located close by. It was built in the XVII century, when the city was under Turkish rule, while the top part was done by the Venetians in the XIX century. It is a lovely sight. I have read that it’s possible to climb up for free, however, we didn’t see anyone on the tower or any way to climb it. So you could check yourself.
There are a number of other churches, museums, beautiful alleys and what not in the old city. Be sure to explore thoroughly and enjoy the atmosphere. Also, don’t forget to grab a burek and eat ice-cream 😊
Climb the Forte Mare (Sea Fortress)
The Sea fortress or Forte Mare is built exactly at the shore and has many steep steps. You can either come down from the old town through a pathway or climb up the numerous steps from the seafront. We came from the old town and then exited to the seaside promenade. The entrance costs 2 EUR. It was built in the XIV century by the Bosnian king Tvrtko for protection from invaders from the sea. The fortress was damaged and rebuilt numerous times. It took its current form in the XIX century.
It also has wonderful views, although of course not as wide, as from Kanli Kula. You can stay and enjoy the sunset here, if you have enough time. It’s definitely beautiful 😊
The fortress also often used for open air theatre and concerts.
Walk along the Promenade
Towards evening, when the sun is not that bad, you can walk on the promenade. It’s a lovely long pedestrian way and you can enjoy the sounds of water and beautiful views walking here. If you wish, you can walk all the way to Igalo through this promenade.
The Do Do café on the promenade near the Forte Mare has great ice-cream.
On the shore, not too far from the Sea Fortress, you will also find a Citadel fortress. It was unfortunately almost completely destroyed in 1979 by the earthquake. Currently, only ruins are left.
Eat the local food
We visited the restaurant Tri Lipe because of amazing reviews. It didn’t disappoint. Granted, it isn’t very cheap, but you can eat for 10-15 EUR per person. It also has a cute yard, where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
Of course, there are a number of other restaurants in the area and you can choose the one for your taste.
If you have more time in Herceg Novi
Visit the Spanish Fortress – Cost: free
If you have enough time on your one day in Herceg Novi or staying another day, definitely don’t miss the beautiful Spanish fortress. It’s quite a climb from the old town. You can also take a taxi, if you don’t want too much physical activity. Admission is free. Funnily, the Spanish started its construction during their one-year rule in 1538, the fortification was then finished by Turks. But the name of the fortress still remains “Spanish”.
Take a boat to the Blue Cave – Cost: about 5 EUR
You can visit the Blue cave from Kotor, as well as from Herceg Novi. The approximate cost of boats is 5 EUR.
It’s located about 20 minutes walk from the old town area. It’s an orthodox church dating back to the XI century.