Bar in Montenegro is many times an overlooked seaside town, less visited than Kotor or Sveti Stefan, yet it is a place for those searching off the beaten path. It is located 61 km (37,9 mi) to Kotor city, 30 km (18,64 mi) to Sveti Stefan and 52 km (32,3 mi) to the capital city of Podgorica.
Don’t let the fact that Bar is not a touristy town, dissuade you from visiting it. Once you are there, you will be convinced it was worth spending your time. The town is fascinating, full of historical spots, it has a beautiful climate, the oldest olive tree in the world, it hosts numerous festivals, cultural events, plenty of bars and lovely beaches which make a unique place in the country.
Bar doesn’t offer as many accommodations as other Montenegrian coastal towns, but still you can find several hotels, the majority have 2 and 3 stars. Some are situated on the seashore of Bar and its suburb. Besides hotels, there are also a great number of private villas and houses with very accessible prices.
Bar is one of the main olive oil production in Montenegro, so we recommend a purchase of extra virgin olive oil and other products made of olive trees.
Bar Montenegro Map
Bar, formerly known under the name Antivari, is an old town but there are no precise data of its origin (it is estimated to be founded between 6th and 7th century). The town was at that time very important spiritual, cultural and political center, later even the center of bishopric.
The settlement was found in constant battles, it was occupied for a long time by the Ottoman Empire, therefore Bar is home for the three main religions: Orthodox, Catholicism and Islam, which have influenced the development and appearance of the city.
Today, the town, also known as a Montenegrin Pompeii, is divided into two parts – the Old Bar and the New Bar. The Old Bar is an important historic site, whereas the New Bar is a modern town, the largest port on the Balkan Adriatic coast, important for the development of tourism, economy and sport.
Things to do in Bar
Here are some reasons why you should visit the town and what can you expect there. Among things to do we can mention:
Stroll through The Old Bar
The locals say if you don’t visit Stari Bar (The Old Bar), then it’s as you haven’t been in the town at all.
Old Bar, top attraction founded in the 11th century, is 4 km from the center and the coast and is located on a steep cliff, at the foot of Mount Rumija. Over the centuries the Old Bar was taken over by the Venetians, the Hungarians, the Serbians and the Ottman Empire. After a disastrous earthquake in 1979, which damaged the settlement, the community was fully abandoned. At this point, a new city (the New Bar) was built on the sea and has become an important port city in Montenegro.
Today, The Old Bar that lies in a very well preserved ruins (in recent years, restoration work has begun) is considered as an open-air museum in which no one lives. Every corner offers something amazing to see – it is famous for its old urban center surrounded by stone walls, the inside of the walls is rich in remains of sacral objects form the Middle Ages, an old city gate from 11th century, a great number of monuments, the church of St. Katarina and the church of St. Veneranda, a Turkish bathroom from 18th century, the remains of the church St. Nikola and more or less 240 buildings on a small area with narrow winding streets and irregular-shape squares.
Within the town are found all the different architectural styles which make the Old Town so important. The town can be easily explored within 2 hours.
Position of the Old Town offers several stunning viewpoints over the green valley of Bar, the new part of the town, the port, the sea and the Mount Rumija.
There is an entrance fee of 2 €.
2. Visit King’s Nikola Palace
The palace complex of Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš, located next to the promenade, facing the sea was built in 1885 and was given as a present from King Nikola to his daughter and her husband. Once a favorite royal summer residence is now the town museum, also it is used as a special place for literally events, art exhibitions and concerts.
The museum houses a collection of antiquities, folk costumes and royal furniture. The main part of the complex is the Big Palace with a ballroom, a smaller palace, a chapel, guardhouses and a winter garden. King Nikola was a yachtsman and in front of the palace was a wooden pier. He owned 10 yachts.
3. Admire The Old Olive tree – Stara Maslina
Near the Old Bar Fortress sits one of the region’s curiosities, an olive tree reputed to be more than 2,000 years old and more than 10 meters wide. It is the oldest olive tree in Europe. Impressive, right?
For 1 € entry, you can admire this natural masterpiece.
4. The Church of St. Jovan Vladimir
The huge architecture in Bar is the Orthodox church of St. Jovan Vladimir, located in the Old Bar. It was built at the end of the 20th century and dedicated to Jovan Vladimir, the patron saint of Bar. This modern cathedral is particularly proud of the gold that sits on its roof.
5. The Aqueduct
Below the Old Town, there is one of the most impressive features – the huge, stone arch bridge that crosses the valley. The bridge has 17 arches that are supported by 18 massive stone pillars.
The bridge, left by the Turks, is part of the remains of aqueduct from the 16th and early 17th century, through which the water was brought 3 km from a spring in Mount Rumija and supplied the whole town. It is the best-preserved aqueduct in Montenegro. There are only three of these left in the former Yugoslav states – the others are in Croatia and Macedonia.
6. Join the adrenaline sports
Montenegro is heaven for adrenaline lovers and Bar is just one of the places that offer adrenalin experience. Just outside the town, now there are open two canyons – Rikavac and Medjurečje canyon. Rikavac is a small canyon suitable for beginners, whereas Medjurečje canyon is more demanding, offers six hours of hiking through the water.
Try also diving in the Bay of Bar, which gives you the possibility to take a look at ships (King Nicolas ship, Austrian torpedo-boat and the German cruiser).
7. Relish exploring the Balkan’s largest lake
Just 30 minutes from Bar is Skadar Lake, the largest lake in Balkans. This place can never disappoint you, as it is a mixture of wildlife and tranquility. The National Park is a stunning place where you can see rare birds (best bird watching place in the European region with the biggest biodiversity), take boat trips, sightseeing of old churches, go kayaking, fishing, hiking, visit wineries and try some lake specialties (fish soup, smoked fish, etc…). There are a lot of islands, monasteries and fortresses in the park.
While Montenegro is mainly known for its beaches, Bar may not have the beaches of Budva but it has some beaches to cool off and enjoy a hot summer day. Bar has got 20 beaches with 9 km (5,95 mi) of length. There are some cobble beaches but the most famous is Sutomore with long, pebble beaches along which hotels and resorts are built. There you can find cafes, restaurants along the promenade, as well as a variety of facilities for children. You can hire loungers and umbrellas as well. Sutomore beach can become very loud with music, so if you search a quieter location, try Čanj beach, which is 1 km (0,62 mi) long and covered with sand. Also, Utjeha pebble beach is very popular. Kraljica plaža (Queen’s beach) was favored by Queen Milena, King’s Nikola wife, but only approached from the sea which makes this beach more exclusive.
The beaches in Bar, Utjeha and Dobra Voda are mostly uncrowded with private getaways, while Sutomore has a more lively vibe.
Did you know…?
Bar is one of the sunniest places of South Europe, with approximately 270 sun hours per year and 38 rainy days in a year, the climate has long and warm summers and mild winters. In July the average temperature is 26 degrees C, and in January of 10 degrees C.
How to reach Bar?
There are three airports you can fly into, two ferries or travel by train.
You can fly into the closest airport of Podgorica – the capital city (46 km / 28,58 mi), but also Tivat (60 km / 37,28 mi) and Dubrovnik (110 km / 68,35 mi).
There is a regular ferry service all over the year connecting the port of Bar and Italian ports of Bari and Ancona. Find more info here: http://www.montenegrolines.net/home
Bar has also a railway connection with Belgrade (Serbia). The train also stops in Podgorica and in the north of Montenegro (Kolašin, Mojkovac, Bijelo Polje). Find more info here: http://www.zcg-prevoz.me/
You can also choose bus services, which are regular and connect with other cities in Montenegro or Croatia. Find more info here: https://www.balkanviator.com/en/
Bar in Montenegro, offers much more than wonderful beaches. History and wildlife are around the corner, moreover the hospitality and warm of local people will make you feel special.