At the entrance of the Bay of Kotor, under the foot of the imposing Orjen mountain range, you will find the coastal town of Herceg Novi.
Herceg Novi was once one of the top 3 vacation hot spots in the glory days of the former Yugoslavia. In the present day, wedged between the world famous, Dubrovnik and the most famous Montenegrin destination, Kotor, Herceg Novi is often overlooked.
Why should you visit Herceg Novi?
The appeal of Herceg Novi is in its refreshing authenticity. Unlike many touristic old towns in Europe, Herceg Novi’s old town is living and breathing because it is actually functional for local people. That is rare.
Hinting to its turbulent past, Herceg Novi has a diverse range of architecture. Throughout its history, Herceg Novi has been conquered by the Venetians, Turks, French, Austro-Hungarians, Russians and the Spanish.
Fun fact: Throughout history Herceg Novi’s name has changed multiple times. It was initially called ‘Sveti Stefan’ by the Bosnian King Stefan Tvrtko.
Come to Herceg Novi to experience the authentic, relaxed Meditteranean lifestyle by the Adriatic Sea. Wander the jasmine-scented streets, admire the pretty street cats, explore the times gone by and of course, multiple coffee breaks are mandatory. This city has a quiet, understated magic about itself.
If you are after an adventure, climb one (or all) of the three forts, swim in the bay, hike in the mountains or take a boat trip.
Herceg Novi is the type of place where a first-time visitor becomes a life-long vacationer, the relaxed lifestyle in such a picturesque part of the Balkans has people falling in love all the time. Previous visitors sometimes migrate here because they love it so much!
When to visit Herceg Novi?
Herceg Novi comes back to life in spring after a mostly dreary winter.
Visit from mid-spring (May onwards) for beautifully mild weather and in summer (July-August) for perfect swimming and sunbathing weather. Be warned that it can rain a lot in April and May.
Early autumn to mid-autumn (September – October) the weather remains hot and slowly gets milder. Autumn is a popular season for locals and other Europeans to travel because the crowds start to dissipate.
How long should you spend in Herceg Novi?
I personally recommend staying for 3-4 days if you want to fully experience what this region has to offer.
You can, however, have an incredible 1-day trip here if you are short of time.
Things to do in Herceg Novi
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the main town of Herceg Novi as well as the surrounding areas which I will share with you in a one-day itinerary, along with suggestions for a longer stay and other recommendations to make sure that you see the best of this coastal gem.
I am currently a local of Herceg Novi myself and have consulted other locals who have spent decades here to bring you this information as well as drawing from my own experiences.
1-day itinerary for visiting Herceg Novi
This itinerary will help you explore the best of Herceg Novi in a single day. Most of these recommendations are within walking distance from the old town.
In warmer weather (23°C+), I recommend starting your sightseeing early on in the day as the humidity can get quite unbearable and make the temperature feel a lot hotter than it is. It is ideal to spend the hotter part of the day enjoying one of the many cafes, walking by the sea or going for a swim.
Spanish Fortress | Tvrdjava Spanjola (Free Entry)
This defensive fortress sits at one of the highest vantage points in Herceg Novi. From here you get phenomenal panoramic views of Mount Orjen, the sea and the main town.
In 1538, Herceg Novi was briefly conquered by the Spanish and in the span of a year, they built the Spanish Fortress.
Herceg Novi was eventually taken back by the Turks and as a result, this fort doesn’t look how it originally looked.
In the present day, the interiors of Spanish Fortress are similar in appearance to Bar’s old town which makes sense as Bar was also ruled by the Ottoman Empire for a long period of time.
Bloody Tower | Kanli Kula (Entry: 2€ per person)
Kanli Kula was formerly a notorious 16th-century prison, complete with scratch marks on its dungeon walls. It truly earnt itself the name that literally translates to ‘Bloody Tower’.
In the present day, this fortress is used for more pleasant occasions such as music performances, live theatre and Herceg Novi’s Film Festival.
From this fortress, you get expansive views of the Adriatic sea and Bela Vista which is part of the old town.
Coffee in the old town at Gradska Kafana (coffee & cake = 3-4€ per person)
After climbing two fortresses, you have earnt yourself a break!
Head to Gradska Kafana, an enormous cafe/restaurant in a grandiose building with plenty of old-fashioned charm. This cafe is very popular with locals who often stop for a coffee here before work and on their lunch breaks.
The views at Gradska Kafana are some of the best in the entire old town, with 3 terraces offering different views of Herceg Novi.
The interiors are also very charming, making it is still a great place to stop even in bad weather.
Do yourself a favour and try their chocolate cake which has 3 types of chocolate in it, it is one of our favourites!
Wander the medieval old town | Stari Grad
Herceg Novi’s medieval old town was first founded in 1382 by the first King of Bosnia, Stefan Tvrtko, who was responsible for constructing Forte Mare (which is the next fort on your itinerary!).
There is, however, evidence that this region of Montenegro, surrounding the bay, was populated as far back as the 3000 BC.
Notable sites in the old town
- The clock tower in the old town has become a symbol of Herceg Novi (pictured above). It was built by Austrians in the 19th century.
- Climb the clock tower steps to visit Bela Vista, a quieter part of the old town and another great area to stop for coffee.
- St. Michael Archangel Church can also be found in Bella Vista. This tiny Serbian Orthodox church has a pretty mosaic of the Archangel above its door.
- The lower Bela Vista is a part of the old town that is completely untouched by tourism, it has one of the few Catholic churches in Herceg Novi, the Church of St Jerome and it also has incredible views.
Forte Mare (Entry: 2€ per person)
Conveniently located at the doorstep of the old town, Forte Mare is definitely the fortress to visit if you have to only choose one.
Climb atop this fortress to get stunning views of the Adriatic sea and the promenade.
Built in the 14th century, this fortress was used to defend Herceg Novi from invaders. When Herceg Novi was taken over by the Venetians in the 16th century it received its Italian name.
In recent times, up until around the mid-2000s, this fortress was well-known internationally as a famous electronic music nightclub. This club once drew crowds from far and wide, that visited Herceg Novi to get the chance to party in a fortress.
You can see evidence of this when you explore the insides of the fortress, where there is a bar area and bar tables on the walls.
Currently, Forte Mare is a tourist attraction. It is also used for special events like movie screenings for the Herceg Novi film festival and it is used as an open-air cinema in the evenings in July and August.
The open-air cinema is a really unique experience to have in Herceg Novi, this is highly recommended!
Lunch at Touch (Lunch and a drink for 1= 5-8€ per person)
Stop at Touch for lunch to try Herceg Novi’s freshest and tastiest fast food. They make great sandwiches, pizzas and pancakes. They even make their own bread for their sandwiches.
We personally recommend the chicken sandwich (it is called ‘pizza sandwich with chicken’ on the menu) with grilled vegetables and their pancakes, sweet or savoury.
Walk the promenade & Swim
The promenade is one of the best places to go for a stroll in Herceg Novi. It starts in Meljine and ends in Igalo, the full walk takes around 1-2 hours depending on your pace.
The easiest way to visit the promenade is on foot. Walk from the old town to the port.
The sea views are spectacular and the sea breeze will keep you cool on a hot day.
When the weather is hot I recommend going for a swim in the sea. There are no sandy beaches in Herceg Novi, instead, there are pebbly beaches. But I assure you, you won’t feel like you are missing out on that when you swim with bay and mountain views. It is a different experience (if you are used to sand) but an amazing one!
Walk along the promenade to find a beach to swim at, there are plenty to choose from. For a chilled out beach experience, we recommend Splendido, Galija and Amaro. If you are looking for a beach with a party atmosphere, head to People’s Beach Bar.
You can rent sunbeds at various spots along the promenade too. The usual price is 3€ to rent a sunbed for the whole day.
While on the Promenade eat Do-Do Gelato (1 scoop= 0.70-0.90€)
This gelato is not something you will want to pass up on! It is the perfect treat for warmer weather.
Do-Do Gelato is made in Herceg Novi with an Italian recipe and it truly rivals the gelato from Italy. My favourite flavour is Don Vito which is a vanilla-cherry-chocolate flavour.
You can also try Do-Do Gelato in Igalo which is at the end of the Promenade but we prefer their store which is by the port.
Catch the sunset and have dinner by the sea at Amaro Restaurant in Kumbor (Dinner and a drink = 8-15€ per person)
A 10-minute drive from Herceg Novi’s old town, you will find Kumbor.
This idyllic town is a great place to swim and catch the sunset with a cup of coffee or a nice meal.
I specifically recommend Amaro Restaurant. Their pizzas are extremely flavourful, some of the best in Herceg Novi! And their setup is unsurpassed, you can literally dine or drink your beverage of choice right next to the sea on the shoreline.
Marko and I like to visit here in summer for a coffee and to swim at the beach which is right next to the restaurant.
For a longer visit: Activities and sightseeing in Herceg Novi
Savina Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox Monastery, it is a sacred place hidden among thick green vegetation.
This monastery is not frequented by tourists and it is not a tourist site. It must be visited with the utmost respect as priests live here. Come for quiet prayer or to observe a peaceful, beautiful place of worship.
- Take a boat trip to Zanijce for 5-6€ return to experience beautiful secluded beaches outside of the bay, by the Adriatic Sea. It takes an hour to get there by boat but the time will fly for you while you enjoy scenic sea views.
- You can also take a tour that takes you around the bay including to sites like the Blue Cave. There are information stands about this around the port. These tours cost between 20-30€ and sometimes include lunch.
Day trip to Orjen Mountain & Vrbanj Adventure Park
In an easy day trip from Herceg Novi, find a distinct beauty waiting to be discovered in a day-long- hiking tour of Orjen mountain. Challenge yourself to conquer this mountain while exploring its unique, otherworldly-looking environment.
Tour Cost: 30€ pp (minimum tour group of 3), this includes a professional guide and transfers to and from the mountain.
Vrbanj Adventure Park
Located just underneath the mountains in Vrbnj, Adventure Park has 5 obstacle courses, including one designed for children. Climb, jump and swing into the forest!
Admission: 12€ for adults, 50% discount for locals of Herceg Novi.
How to get to Herceg Novi
The most convenient way to get to Herceg Novi from the airport is with a pre-organised transfer and the cheapest way is with a bus, this is not convenient by any means but it will save you some money.
Taking the bus from surrounding countries and cities in Montenegro is a great, cheap option, it can be time-consuming but the views while driving through this region are so beautiful, so it is a nice trip. Using long-distance buses is one of my personal favourite ways to travel.
During busier travel periods like spring and summer please keep in mind that when crossing borders to Montenegro by car or bus that you may have to wait, sometimes for a very long time.
Dubrovnik Airport is 29km from Herceg Novi which is a roughly 30-minute drive (not including border crossing wait times).
Tivat Airport is 23km from Herceg Novi and includes a car-ferry crossing, this roughly takes 50 minutes (also not accounting for traffic).
A taxi from either of these airports to Herceg Novi should never cost over 20-30€.
A pre-organised airport transfer should also cost around 20-30€, one-way. This is one of the most convenient options in our opinion as you can be picked up as soon as you arrive and get dropped off at your accommodation.
If you need help organising this feel free to contact me.
Taking the bus from Dubrovnik Airport or Tivat Airport are not the most convenient options but it is the cheapest option.
From Tivat Airport you can take a taxi for 5 minutes to the bus station or walk for over 40 minutes. From Tivat to Herceg Novi a bus ticket costs 3-4€.
At Dubrovnik Airport, the bus station is in the same area as the airport but there is no direct bus from the airport to Herceg Novi. You would have to take the bus from the airport to Dubrovnik’s main bus station and then get the bus to Herceg Novi. The ticket should cost between 11-14€
Taking the bus to Herceg Novi
Some surrounding cities have convenient buses that travel directly to Herceg Novi including Dubrovnik, Kotor, Belgrade, Sarajevo and Trebinje.
- Buses come to Herceg Novi from Dubrovnik multiple times daily and a ticket costs around 11-14€.
- Buses come to Herceg Novi from Kotor multiple times daily and a ticket costs around 3-4€.
- Overnight buses come to Herceg Novi from Belgrade multiple times during the evening and night. A ticket costs between 24-30€.
- Buses come to Herceg Novi from Sarajevo once or twice daily. A ticket costs around 24€.
- Buses come to Herceg Novi from Trebinje once a day at night (around 21:00). A ticket costs around 5€.
Be warned that locals do not typically pick up hitchhikers here. I often see travellers failing to hitchhike in this area and they end up practically walking to Croatia, please take the bus!
Where to stay in Herceg Novi
The best website for finding accommodation in Herceg Novi is Booking.com.
If you are travelling without a car
If you are travelling without a car, we recommend staying within or near the old town as it is more convenient for sightseeing.
Taxis are fairly inexpensive within the main city at around 1€ per km + a 1.30€ service fee. To organise a taxi either get your accommodation provider to call on your behalf or go directly to a taxi rank. There are taxi ranks near the old town (left of Gradska Kafana) and at the main bus station.
I personally recommend Guesthouse Villa Stari Grad, in the old town because the location is amazing.
If you are travelling by car
If you are travelling by car, I recommend staying somewhere around Herceg Novi, not necessarily in Herceg Novi’s old town as parking can be inconvenient.
You may wish to stay somewhere along the promenade or the beach. Some great options include Savina, Igalo, Meljine and Kumbor.
Try and book a place with its own designated parking as it will make your life a lot easier.
Where to eat in Herceg Novi
Aside from the places I mentioned in my 1-day itinerary, I have a few more suggestions of places to eat and drink. Some of these are walking distance from the old town and others are easier to reach by car.
Locals who are taking their visiting friends and family out for a meal would typically treat them to Tri Lipe, Seki Nautilus or Olympia because these are reliably impressive places to dine and they are a little bit fancy.
Bakeries | Pekara
Pekara Meljine | 0.50-1.50€ per item
A short drive from the old town, this is one of the best bakeries in Herceg Novi. Their cheese burek is heavenly!
Pekara Stari Grad | 0.50-1.50€ per item
Adjacent from the market, Pekara Stari Grad is the best bakery in the old town area of Herceg Novi.
Zdravo Bakery & Cake Shop | 1.50-2.00€ per generous slice
A 10-minute drive from Herceg Novi’s Old Town, you will find our favourite place to eat cake!
With their pastries and cakes cooked on their premises daily, everything is super fresh and tasty.
They have an amazing range of cakes from more traditional types to very modern types.
Restoran Olympia | 8-15€ per main meal
Restoran Olympia is a 10-minute drive from Herceg Novi’s Old Town.
It has one of the best ranges of traditional Montenegrin and Balkan food in Herceg Novi! It is traditionally furnished and has cosy interiors with a fireplace roaring through the colder seasons.
We recommend their cheese platters and hamburger steaks (pictured below).
Babic | 8-15€ per main meal
Babic serves up the best BBQ in Herceg Novi, it is extremely popular with locals. They also serve some traditional meals.
Tri Lipe Restoran | 7-25€ per main meal
Tri Lipe is a well-established restaurant, located between the old town and the port. They serve up BBQ and a wide range of seafood that never disappoints.
Seki Nautilius | 4-30€ per main meal
This restaurant is located at the end of the Promenade in Igalo.
Seki Nautilius is one of the most popular and well-known places to dine amongst locals and tourists. They offer pub-style dining with generous portions. With over 200 different items on the menu with all types of cuisines from BBQ, seafood, pasta and pizza and importantly, they do it all very well! There is something for everyone.
Not to be confused with the pizza place nearby called ‘Nautilius’.
Lounge Bar Grad | 3-5€ per main meal
A short walk away from the Old Town, Lounge Bar Grad is the new kid on the block.
They are serving up delicious American style burgers and pizza alongside amazing views! They even offer the traditional dessert Priganice (which is like a Balkan doughnut).
Cooking for yourself?
Head to the market which is within the old town to stock up on fresh, local produce.
Nightlife in Herceg Novi
To the left of the Clock Tower in Herceg Novi’s old town, you will find Kafe Bar Kino.
If you would like to end your evening with a drink or two, this place is a strong favourite among locals. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, people are friendly here and young people especially tend to speak a very high level of English.
In warmer weather, you can sit outside with your beverage of choice and enjoy people watching in the pretty old town.
Pivnica (The Brewery)
Open only in summer, the best seat in the house is along the promenade. This is the most popular place for locals who don’t want to go to a nightclub. Music stops at 1 am and last drinks are at around 2 am.
If you don’t like the noise and chaos of a bar or nightclub, Gradska Kafana is perfect for a few quiet beverages. They also have an instrumental band or acoustic performers in the evening sometimes.
Stanica (The Station)
Stanica is a cafe-bar in a former train station, that has held on to its old charm. This is another great place for some quiet drinks by the sea.
Souvenirs in Herceg Novi
Pasara Arts and Crafts is a small souvenir store that locally makes unique handmade souvenirs. I have bought some really cute gifts here in the past and highly recommend buying a souvenir from here.
Other practical tips for visiting Herceg Novi
Currently, parking around the old town is a bit confusing for tourists. The ‘easiest’ payment is made through mobile phone (SMS) but not all tourists have a sim card to use internationally.
If you don’t have a mobile you can use, you need to find a kiosk, where you can purchase a parking ticket. Kiosks are like small newsstands that sell newspapers, magazines, drinks and snacks. Ticket prices vary depending on the zone and season. In summer, it costs between 0.60-0.80€ per hour.
The city recently announced that they will be installing parking payment machines, I will update this post when that finally happens.
What to wear
When sightseeing in the old town wear sturdy walking shoes. The tiles can be very slippery even when dry. I do not recommend walking around in thongs/flip-flops in this area.
In the warmer seasons, it can get very humid and the temperature can feel a lot hotter than it actually is. Keep that in mind when choosing your outfits. I personally recommend wearing something fairly lightweight and having layers to put on when you go inside a building or for when the sun goes down.
People smoke indoors throughout the Balkans and it is very common in Herceg Novi.
If you are sensitive to cigarette smoke, as I am, you may prefer to be seated outside when drinking coffee or dining.
Want more? We also made a video about visiting Herceg Novi
If you have any questions about visiting Herceg Novi please feel free to contact me via Social Media or Email and I’ll do my best to help you!
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