Note: this is NOT in order of importance! I've tried to include places from different parts of the country, for different personal tastes. I haven't yet included anything from Podgorica, Niksic or Cetinje, but I will change this list over time to include tourist interest from the larger towns in Montenegro! There cannot be many countries in the world which contain so much packed into such a small space - beaches, ski centres, ancient heritage, forests, canyons, lakes, national parks - thankfully so far relatively unspoilt by human hand.
Mrtvica Canyon, about 40 minutes' drive north from Podgorica, in the area of Međuriječje, starts a walk that takes you the 25km length of the Mrtvica river canyon from the village of Mrtvo Duboko to Velje Duboko. In places the canyon walls are sheer and the path is hewn into the rock. The walk takes you steadily upstream through different terrain, clearly signposted. About half-way along the canyon is a spot called the beach (plaža) which is an ideal place for a picnic, although during the height of summer this short part of the river runs underground. Also not to be missed is the Gate of Desires (Kapija želja), two tall boulders by the riverside propped up against each other in lush mossy woodland. The walk along the entire canyon and back is demanding but possible for a one-day trip, but the canyon is also accessible from the Niksic end via Lukavica.
The Ice Cave in the side of the mountain peak of Obla Glava is about 3-4 hours walk from Black Lake, near Žabljak, at a height of about 2200m. This is a circular route, which can be partially covered with snow as late as May. The view of the Durmitor massif is breathtaking during the walk and the cave itself is a wonder to behold. It is recommended that you visit early in the tourist season, as the large number of walkers there tend to leave their mark on the ice stalagmites. The descent into the cave is not for the faint-hearted, requiring the visitor to climb down backwards down footmarks in the snow, but it is well worth the effort. Also, the peak of the mountain is not that far from the cave opening.
Lake Biograd towards the north of Montenegro, about two hours' drive from Podgorica is part of the Biogradska gora National Park, wooded mountains containing primeval forest and with a unique climate. The lake itself is situated at 1,094m asl with the massifs of Sinjajevina and Bjelasica surrounding it. It has a visitors' centre, cafe and many signposted walks, including one around the perimeter of the lake. Rowing boats are available for hire. One disappointment for me is that when the area is at its most beautiful (autumn, as the leaves are changing colour) the national park seems to be closing down in preparation for winter, so not much is open. On the next visit I plan to explore south of the lake, where there is a river and waterfall.
Prutaš and Bobotov kuk - these peaks in the Durmitor massif have had a particular pull for me. I completed the walk to the top of Prutaš, and then Bobotov Kuk (2524m), camping by Lake Škrka (Škrčka jezera). There is a picturesque walk from there along the Sušica canyon to Lake Sušica (Sušičko jezero). It has impressive views in almost every direction, from the stripy rock formations of Šareni pasovi, azure waters of the lake and the bare grey rock summits of Bobotov kuk and Bezimeni vrh. The climb to Bobotov kuk, known as Durmitor National Park's highest peak, is intense, but in my opinion Prutaš is the more enjoyable hike.
Lake Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans, forms part of the border between Montenegro and Albania. The lake is known for the diversity of bird life, migratory and non-migratory, but is also rich in heritage - fortresses bear witness to the battles against the Ottoman Empire, and many islands house Orthodox monasteries. Cruises start from many places along the shore, including Virpazar, Vranjina and Plavnica. The lake is included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, and parts of the lake are marshy, others covered in lilypads with yellow and white flowers. The symbol of the lake is the Curly Pelican which is one of the success stories of environmental protection in the Lake Skadar National Park.
Kotor Town is a prime example of Mediterranean architecture with white-stone buildings towering over thin alleys. Besides its churches, cafés and restaurants within the town limits, the tourist can also climb to St. John's Fortress overlooking the town and the Bay of Kotor. The carnival during August is a grand spectacle with troops from many countries taking part. Although there is no beach near the town, one can find small hidden beaches a few kilometres further along the coast. To the east mountains rising 1000m above the town dominate the view, and to the west the blue waters of the Bay of Kotor.
Kayaking on the Tara - one of the unmissable activities in Montenegro: one of the deepest canyons in Europe, with exciting rapids and strong currents. I went a couple of times on the stretch from Brštanovica to Šćepan polje, which took about 2 hours. The water temperature is a fairly constant 8°C. Most companies offer rafting rather than kayaking - the river is fastest earlier in the year, and the season usually starts 1 May. By August the river is rather tamer, but still enjoyable and still cold.
Lovćen is in some ways the spiritual home of Montenegro, holding a special place in the country's history. This mountain, overlooking the sea on one side, and the bare-rock interior of Montenegro on the other is site to the mausoleum of its poet-leader Petar II Petrović Njegoš, author of The Mountain Wreath, an epic poem describing the 14th-century struggle (eventually unsuccessful) of the Serbian state against the Ottomans on Kosovo Field. A stone staircase tunnelled out of the rock takes you from the restaurant by the car park high up to the mausoleum and chapel on top of the peak, Jezerski vrh.
Kapetanovo jezero (Captain's Lake) is only an hour's drive from Nikšić, and is also within walking distance of the end of the Mrtvica canyon at Velje duboko I have visited it several times and it was truly breathtaking. Lake Manito is a short climb into the mountains from here, and well worth a visit, with wonderful views. For those with more energy, there is a climb to the peak of Stožac, at an elevation of 2141m). One cafe operates next to Captain's Lake, for those who require a caffeine boost, and it is also a suitable place for camping, although it gets cold at night.
Kotor Bay. The whole bay deserves a special mention because of many gems here - the towns of Herceg Novi and Kotor. The largest fjord in Southern Europe consists of three bays (technically it is actually a submerged river valley), with a rich maritime history inextricably linked with, among others, the Venetian Republic, Illyrian tribes and Roman invaders. The high mountains rising sharply out of the sea provide impressive views wherever you decide to swim here. The mountains here rise to as much as 1,000m with the walks starting at sea level.