Nikola rubbed his tiresome eyes, and picked us up in front of a gelato shop just ten minutes away from Herceg Novi’s Old Town plaza.
We needed a ride back to our hotel, as we were rushing to the next one located in Kotor. When Nikola unexpectedly stopped his cab at a gas station, not to refuel his car but to wash his face, we bought him a cup of espresso, chatted and laughed with him throughout the entire ride so he wouldn’t fall asleep.
The twenty-seven-year-old driver was on his way home after a long shift when he stopped for us in the hills of Herceg Novi. He could’ve said NO when we requested Kotor as our final destination. But the season was slowing down and he needed the extra cash. It was endearingly obvious that Nikola was more than simply a nice guy when he divulged upon Montenegro’s political strife, its road to independence, his own divorce, the Yugoslavia wars, and the Montenegrin mafia that set local people’s cars and shops on fire. By the time we reached Kotor, we were worried about his ride back not because he was sleepy but he became a friend. Hopefully the caffeine had kicked in as we left Herceg Novi with a mind fiercely stretched wider than before.
Pleated in lush hills, perched above Bay of Kotor is the placid little town of Herceg Novi, often overlooked by travelers busy roaming between Budva and Kotor. For centuries, Italians referred to this laid-back coastal municipality as a “new castle” at the seat of Mount Orjen. At the time, this part of present-day Montenegro belonged to the Ottoman Empire, the Albania Veneta of the Republic of Venice. Its stormy past has influenced Herceg Novi’s multicultural architecture and cuisine. There’s more than enough to see and do for an exquisite 24 hours, but even climbing up and down the town’s iconic skaline (long staircases) is already a satisfying trek for those who adore small town vibes and bucolic allure.
The Savina Monastery is a Serbian Orthodox sanctuary situated in the the midst of winding hills in Herceg Novi. Inside, there are several relics originating from the Nemanjić dynasty, like the cross of Saint Sava and relics of Empress Jelena. Step outside and you’ll soak in the breathtaking view from the Savina cemetery.
43 Braće Grakalić, Herceg - Novi, Montenegro
Kanli kula (Tvrđava Kanli Kula)
bb Prve Bokeške brigade, Herceg - Novi 85340, Montenegro
Up the street from Savina Winery is Kanli Kula, which means “bloody tower” in Turkish. It’s an open-air amphitheater originally built in 1539 as a cistern used to catch and store rainwater. Later, it became a prison which explains its gory name. With seating over 1000, Kanli Kula now hosts film and art festivals and cultural events.
FG2Q+C29, Herceg Novi, Montenegro
Boasting 600 years of history, Herceg Novi’s Old Town features the famous staircase located at the center of the town’s main plaza. Founded by the king of Bosnia, Tvrtko I Kotromanic, Herceg Novi became a trade connection and rivaled Dubrovnik. There are several significant churches to admire, like: Church of Sveti Arhandjel Mihajlo and the Church of Sveta Jeronima. In addition, you can be inspired by numerous art galleries and the national library. Be sure to bring comfortable shoes since Herceg Novi is known for skaline, or narrow alleys, that are essentially incredibly long staircases.
CGXQ+WMV, Pet Danica Walkway, Herceg Novi, Montenegro
Banja Bar not only serves up one of the best seafood dishes in town, it also encompasses a spectacular view of the sea. On the menu, you’ll find meats, vegetables, fish, salads, and soups. But the best are grilled octopus with a perfect squeeze of lemon, freshly served and slightly charcoaled. Paired with beachside breeze from Bay of Kotor, the entire meal transforms into a waterfront dream.
Sunbathe by the water
CGXQ+WMV, Pet Danica Walkway, Herceg Novi, Montenegro
After a tasty lunch at Banja Bar, walk along Pet Danica Walkway and you’ll encounter crowds of sunbathers along the shoreline. So before heading out for the day, be sure to wear swimsuit underneath if you want to spend some time in the sun or water. You can also walk westward toward Igalo resort. Along the way, you’ll spot several hubs and resort bars. Herceg Novi’s beaches are relaxed and family-friendly. The texture leans on the rocky pebble side rather than smooth and sandy.
Stepiniste 28, Stepenište Iva Andrića, Herceg - Novi, Montenegro
Tri Lipe is a sit-down restaurant in midst of quaint and lengthened alleyways. It displays typical Montenegrin dishes on the menu: grilled squids, meats and fries. But what captivates eager crowds are the takeaway hamburgers that you can order at an open counter outside of the restaurant where the meats are barbecued on a smokey grill. Afterwards, similar to a hotdog stand, you can self-serve a variety of vegetables on top of patties and buns.
Palih boraca 57, Banja Luka 78000, Bosnia & Herzegovina
For a brewtiful cup of specialty coffee, head over to Fabrika, where you’ll find high-quality roasts of selected Arabica and Robusta varieties. The café’s interior is on the smaller spectrum, but don’t be fooled. The outdoor terrace exudes Bohemian rustic charm, embellished with a glistening disco ball.
Lazure Marina & Hotel
Braće Pedišića bb, Herceg Novi (Meljine) 85340, Montenegro
Constructed on a former 18th century Venetian Lazaret and has since then been beautifully restored, Lazure Marina Hotel is a luxurious stay tucked in the bejeweled Herceg Novi. The preserved landmark itself has been renovated into one of the best hotels in Montenegro, facing the crystalline waters of Boka Bay.