Guide To Herceg Novi, Montenegro: 15 Fun Things To Do and See

Herceg Novi is worth visiting, and not just as a pitstop on the route from Dubrovnik to Kotor.

Herceg Novi may not be the oldest city, nor is it the richest or most beautiful. Many cities are more desirable but there is no city easier to belong to than Herceg Novi.

Although known as the ‘city of a thousand stairs,’ these numerous staircases should not be seen as an obstacle but rather as a form of recreation. Due to its narrow streets and limited parking, the easiest way to reach beaches or other destinations is often on foot, which does require good physical fitness.

It’s these very narrow alleys, cobblestoned passages, and the promenade that lend Herceg Novi its unique charm and elegance, setting it apart from other cities on the Montenegrin coast. You can also visit Herceg Novi outside the tourist season, when the city lives its usual life.

It’s particularly beautiful in February, during the ‘Days of Mimosa’ festival, one of the most significant tourist and promotional events in the country.

15 Wonderful Things To Do In Herceg Novi

The majority of activities and experiences mentioned can be enjoyed during all seasons.

1. Pet Danica Promenade

The scent of the sea and pine trees is just as it always was, and the man-made beaches are a new addition for me, and a great one at that. There’s also the old, concrete Topla beach. Along the promenade, there are cafes and restaurants.

This promenade stretches from Meljine to Igalo and is 6 km long. It’s named after five girls, all named Danica, who fought in World War II. All five of them perished.

On the part of the promenade between Škver and Topla beach, there’s a tunnel. If you hold your breath and run through the tunnel, they say your wish will come true.

Maybe it’s worth a try. I haven’t tried it, so I can’t guarantee it. What I am sure of is that it’s worth visiting Herceg Novi. Come in the summer for swimming, in winter for the mimosa festival, and in spring or autumn for a walk through the numerous staircases (scalini), between stone houses, or along the coast by the sea, with the scent of pine trees accompanying you.

2. Gradska Kafana (Town Tavern)

It’s the most beautiful, spacious terrace in the city, surrounded by the greenery of the city park. It offers a view of the sea. The building is in the style of Viennese Secession.

It used to be a Sokol house. It’s the perfect place to have a coffee and gaze out to the open sea.

3. Old Town

From the Town Tavern, streets branch out – Njegoševa Street descends on the right side, towards the coast, while on the left side is the pedestrianized Nikola Đurković Street, paved with stone. It leads directly into the Old Town, which was our destination.

At the beginning of the street, on the right side, there is a life-sized statue of the chimney sweep Rudolf Rudi Karužić. The people of Novi remember this unusual, short man. He always acted as if he was very busy. Allegedly, he never had time to clean anyone’s chimney and would schedule appointments for a much later date, the same date for everyone. He was small, stuttered, loved women, and serenaded them.

The people of Novi told jokes about him. The inscription on the monument reads – We remember our originals. This refers to the town’s eccentric characters, like the chimney sweep himself. Tourists rub his nose hoping their wishes will come true.

4. Clock Tower

The Clock Tower, or ‘Toru’ as the locals of Novi call it, stands tall above the city gate. This spot used to host the western gate with a defensive tower, both built by the Turks, like the walls connecting Forte Mare and Kanli Kula. 

The exact construction dates are unclear, as the Turks were present here for about 200 years, from 1482 to 1687. Scholars believe it was built sometime between the mid-16th and mid-17th century, but the specifics are unknown.

There’s an inscription to the left of the city gate stating that Mustafa Aga built the tower in 1667, but scientists think this marks a reconstruction after an earthquake. The Clock Tower itself was built later, during the Austrian rule in 1856. Even later, in 1938, stairs leading to the gate were added.

5. Black Madonna

Inside the gate, under the Clock Tower, in a niche on the right side as you head towards Belavista Square, stands a statue of the Black Madonna, carved from olive wood. This very olive tree is credited with saving three warriors from Perast. 

According to legend, they took shelter behind the olive tree during a battle against the Turks in 1687. A cannonball struck the tree, saving them. In gratitude, the people of Perast carved the sculpture of the Madonna from that olive tree.

6. Belavista

Passing through the gate, you emerge onto Belavista Square – meaning ‘beautiful view.’ Officially, it’s called Herceg Stjepan Square. Here stands the Orthodox Church of Saint Archangel Michael, built from stone from Korčula.

At the time of its construction in the late 19th century, the city was under Austrian rule. The people of Novi bought the land in the Old Town, collected money for construction, and built the church.

The square also hosts the city library, the city archive, the Serbian consulate, and a beautiful stone fountain. There’s also a bust of Aleksa Šantić. Parallel to this, Marka Cara Street leads to the churches of Saint Jerome and Saint Leopold.

The square also houses a music school and a monument to the Heroes of Naval Battles in the Adriatic Sea, with an anchor and cannon.

In Marka Cara Street is a ginkgo biloba tree, which arrived here in an unusual way. Before World War II, the father of the man in whose yard the tree now stands worked at the post office.

Three seeds fell out of a package from America, and he planted them in his yard. One of them grew into a large tree, the first of its kind in the Bay of Kotor.

7. Kanli Kula

Kanli Kula, or Bloody Tower, was built when the Turks ruled the city in 1539. It was also used as a prison. Now, it serves as a summer stage. It’s open for visits from May to September, with an entrance fee of 2 euros.

8. Španjola

Further north is the Španjola fortress or Upper Town, which is a bit more of a walk and is neglected. There’s no entrance fee.

The Turks built it, but the Spaniards briefly captured the city in 1538, renovating the bastions of the fortress, hence its name. Later, the Turks demolished it and built a new one on the same foundations.

9. Forte Mare

For individual visitors, the ticket price is four euros, and for groups of 10 or more visitors, the price per person is three euros. Last year, the price for individuals was two euros, and for groups, it was one euro per person.

Forte Mare, or Sea Fortress, is situated along the coastline. It was constructed at the end of the 14th century. It’s believed that King Tvrtko I, the founder of the city, laid the foundation stone.

The Turks later added to it, but its current appearance is largely due to the Austrians.

However, some remnants from the Bosnian period have been preserved, although not many, as the Bosnians used wood for construction. Today, it hosts an open-air cinema.

At the base of the fortress is a spring that was exploited in 1687 for a quicker conquest of the city. The Turks held the city, but the forces of the Holy League cut off its water supply, hastening its capture.

It might sound incredible, but there used to be a disco named Fusia here. I visited it while I was traveling through Montenegro as a student.

10. Škver

Descending from the fortress to the shore leads to Škver. This is the city’s port. Here, there’s a swimming pool built on the water. We were surprised when we looked towards the sea from Forte Mare and saw a walled pool below.

At Škver, there’s a statue of King Tvrtko, the founder of the city. It’s said that Herceg Novi has two main squares located on either side of the Clock Tower.

One is inside the walls – Belavista, and the other is outside the walls – Nikola Đurković Square. I would add a third – Škver. Or, if that’s too many main squares, then Škver is the heart of the city.”

According to some sources, they didn’t rebuild it but simply placed a plaque with an Arabic inscription. The Spanish fleet that captured the city in 1538 was led by the Genoese Andrea Doria. The Spaniards easily took the city, and the Turks quickly surrendered it.

The next year, it was captured by the famous Hayreddin Barbarossa, who led the Turkish fleet and was the terror of the Mediterranean. He conquered many cities, but failed to take Kotor.

11. Savina Monastery

This monastic complex consists of three churches – the small and the large Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, which house works of the famous Kotor Gothic school, and the Church of Saint Sava located on a hill about 300 meters from the monastery’s dormitory, after which the monastery is named.

The dormitory holds a rich collection of church books, vessels, and icons, a cemetery, and a beautifully paved approach.

The small Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos contains the oldest frescoes in the Gothic style. The large church boasts one of the most monumental iconostases.

The monastery is situated on an elevation south of Herceg Novi, close to the sea, and is surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation.

The exact time of the complex’s origin is not determined, though it is known that the current Savina Monastery dates back to the 15th century.

12. Mamula Island

On maritime charts, Mamula Island is known as Lastavica, but it is widely recognized by the name ‘Mamula’ after the Austrian general and governor of Dalmatia, Lazar Mamula, who fortified it in the mid-19th century.

Mamula is a small, uninhabited island located at the very entrance of the Bay of Kotor, between the Cape of Oštro and Cape Arza.

It’s circular in shape, with a diameter of 200 meters, covered in low vegetation and numerous agaves, and features a beach and a dock on its northern side. It is one of the largest fortresses on the Montenegrin coast, or indeed in the Adriatic.

13. Rose

Rose is a small fishing village located on the northwestern coast of the Luštica peninsula, facing Herceg Novi. It is a typical Mediterranean town with houses closely packed and lined up in front of the quay – ‘riva’.

Given its position and protection from the winds, Rose historically served as a shelter for sailing ships. The entire area of Rose, as well as the Luštica peninsula, is rich in archaeological findings.

Particularly notable are the hydro-archaeological excavations that have unearthed cannonballs, anchors, ceramics, and even an old Spanish ship from the early 16th century, which sank while transporting ceramics from the Bosnian dynasty.

The village itself is surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation: pines, cypresses, oaks, oleanders, laurels, olive trees, carob trees, and maquis.

There is also a small, beautiful sandy beach ‘Malo Rose’ near the port, shaded by olive groves, facing north. It’s an ideal spot for those who want to relax in peace, dreaming of bygone centuries.

You can get there by tourist boat. During the summer months and bathing season, tourist boats operate several times a day.

14. Blue Cave

The Blue Cave is one of the most beautiful, attractive, and interesting caves among the series found on the Luštica peninsula, located between Zlatna luka bay and Mokra gora cape.

It gets its name from the unusual blue color of the water, which results from the reflection of sunlight inside the cave, through a smaller opening and off the cave’s dome.

This effect is especially noticeable on clear, sunny days, particularly in the morning. When you jump into the water, you’ll feel that it is unusually warm and very clear. The sea water temperature inside the ‘Blue Cave’ is often several degrees warmer than the water outside.

A visit to this cave is a mandatory part of sightseeing tours through the Bay of Kotor. During the visit, swimming is organized, which is certainly an unforgettable experience in such a place, drawing nature and sea enthusiasts back time and again.

To reach the Blue Cave, you can take a boat or a tourist taxi boat.

15. Beaches in Herceg Novi

Although Herceg Novi and its surroundings have plenty of beaches to suit everyone’s taste, one of the most frequently visited by tourists during their stay in this part of Montenegro is actually located across from the city.

Žanjice Beach can be reached in two ways – by boat or by land. A boat ride from Herceg Novi takes about 40 minutes. If you choose to travel by land, it will take you around two hours to reach the Luštica peninsula, where the beach is located.

Considering that Josip Broz Tito, the former president of SFR Yugoslavia, chose the Mirište cove for his private, secluded beach, Žanjice is often referred to as the ‘Presidential Beach.’ Surrounded by olive trees and known for its unreal shades of blue, this beach draws the attention of both locals from Herceg Novi, Igalo, Meljina, and numerous tourists.

The water’s exceptional clarity allows for visibility of numerous sea urchins on the seabed, so caution is advised when entering the water.

At Žanjice, there’s an option to rent sun loungers and umbrellas for complete enjoyment. Visitors also have access to catering facilities, as well as numerous activities and other amenities. Besides discovering the beauty of diving, pedal boat rental is also available.

The beach is covered with sand and pebbles in certain areas. Nearby is Mirište, another famous beach on the Luštica peninsula, known for its rocky landscape.

For those interested in exploring this part of Montenegro, it’s noteworthy that near Mirište are fascinating cliffs, as well as the former prison or fortress Arza.

During the season, boats leave from Žanjice Beach for excursions to the Blue Cave and Mamula Island.

Where to Eat in Herceg Novi

While there are many good restaurants, these few stand out:

Verige 65 

Verige 65 is renowned for its modern architecture and design. With windows stretching from one end to the other, guests can enjoy the view of the Bay of Kotor. This fine dining establishment is perfect for a romantic night.

Admiral Café and Restaurant

Admiral Café and Restaurant in Herceg Novi is located right in the Herceg Novi port. Here, tourists can indulge in delicious fresh seafood, incredible views, and local wines paired with meals.

Ribarsko Selo

A restaurant that has it all: stunning views, ample space for relaxation, and one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. The food is exceptionally fresh and tasty. You can choose your seafood directly from the tray with fresh fish on ice in the restaurant. After dinner, guests can enjoy swings with a beautiful view of the bay.

Restaurant Kantula

Located on the popular ‘Pet Danica’ promenade, Restaurant Kantula offers traditional Montenegrin cuisine as well as a wide selection of fresh fish.