Find out everything a tourist needs to know about the southernmost city of Montenegro Ulcinj and Ada Bojana island, which is a few kilometers from the city. There will be not only an overview of the beaches, but also attractions, the best restaurants, as well as features of Ulcinj that everyone should know before the trip.
Table of contents:
- Ulcinj: general information
- Brief history and about religion in this part of the country
- How to get there
- Best Restaurants
- Overview of beaches in Ulcinj
- Accommodation: rating of hotels and apartments in Ulcinj
- What to visit in Ulcinj: top attractions
It will be difficult for you to plan your dream trip to Montenegro without these websites
Ulcinj: general information
Some general information:
- Ulcinj is an ancient city and was founded in the 5th century BC. This is one of the most ancient cities in Montenegro. Illyrian tribes came here from the south earlier than to the rest of the territory of the modern state.
- Today the population is about 10,000 people.
Good to know:Most resort towns die out completely in winter, everything closes there and absolutely nothing works. This is not about Ulcinj. The city lives all year round and you can come here even in the winter months.
- Ulcinj coordinates on the map: 41.92310183484638, 19.205657466564944
And this small town has several statuses at once with the word “most”:
- It is the southernmost city in the country
- The longest beach in Montenegro is located in Ulcinj – 13 km
- This is the most Albanian region of the country, here Albanians make up more than 50% of the population
- And the most Muslim region.
And here it is necessary to tell about religion and history of the city.
Brief history of Ulcinj, a bit about religion
Very briefly, as in Wikipedia you can read in detail yourself.
- The only city in the country where the “cyclopean masonry” of the old city walls has been preserved.
- For you to understand all antiquity, this masonry was used in Colchis in the Bronze Age. And this is the 7th – 5th centuries BC.
And then the history of Ulcinj repeats the entire history of this region. Hundreds of wars, military conflicts, conquests, attempts at independence and much more. Starting from the 2nd century BC. these lands were conquered by: Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans.
It’s important to know:Approximately from the end of the 16th century until the 19th century, the Turks – the Ottoman Empire – ruled here. They built a huge number of mosques and brought their faith to the Balkan Peninsula. During the 300 years of their rule, almost 90% of the local population were Muslims. Since the 16th century, these lands have been predominantly inhabited by Albanians, not by Serbs or Montenegrins.
And today more than 50% of Albanians live in the city, everyone here knows Albanian, many signs, street names are in Albanian. And the majority of Albanians are Muslims, so Islam is more common here. There are no such number of mosques as in Ulcinj anywhere else in Montenegro.
At the same time, all religions coexist perfectly together here. And it is absolutely safe for tourists of other faiths in Ulcinj. If you don’t know, you won’t even notice that every second inhabitant here is a Muslim.
- Details about religion in Montenegro, how they coexist and what a tourist needs to know.
How to get to Ulcinj
The location of the city on the map of Montenegro is perhaps the only disadvantage for tourists.
- 70 km from Podgorica airport
- 85 from Tivat airport
It seems like not far, but far by local standards. And all other resorts in the country are much closer to airports. It is not convenient to live in Ulcinj and travel around the country. It is much easier to make daily trips while living in Budva, everything is at hand within 30-40km.
If you are interested mainly in a beach holiday, then here you will get it to the fullest.
Ulcinj has excellent bus links to Podgorica, Budva and Bar. From the first two cities, about 10 flights run daily. Buses depart from Bar every 40 minutes.
Therefore, if car rental or transfer does not suit you, then it is better to go from Bar and Budva to Ulcinj. And how to get to these cities, I’m sure no one has any questions.
- Where to find the schedule, how to buy tickets and much more in the article: Trains and buses in Montenegro.
- Ulcinj is also a convenient city for a visa run and trips to neighboring Albania. The border is only 15 km away. For details on how to get to Albania from Montenegro, read the link.
Food service is very well developed in Montenegro. The number of cafes, restaurants and taverns is simply enormous. At every turn. Delicious food and great servings everywhere. I will only recommend those places that I like and where locals like to go.
- La Tavola – cozy restaurant. The menu is predominantly Mediterranean cuisine: pasta, pizza, steaks, soups, salads. Coordinates: 41.92893, 19.20676
- Dulcinea – best sea food restaurant in town. Mussels, grilled octopus, sea bass, squid. For such restaurants, prices are low: dinner for two with a bottle of wine is about 40 euros. Other restaurants are much more expensive. Coordinates: 41.9232, 19.20159
- Konoba Barutana – another sea food family restaurant in the old town. Always delicious and great servings. Coordinates: 41.92302, 19.20074
All these places are marked on the map of Ulcinj attractions, which will be below in the chapter about attractions.
Overview of beaches in Ulcinj
There are only two beaches in the city: Velika Plaza and Mala Plaza. Which is translated as Big and Small Beach. But actually there are more. And below is an overview of all the main beaches.
- Mala Plaza – the main city beach. It is located right in the center under the walls of the old city.
- Coordinates: 41.92294, 19.20565
- Beach length: about 300 meters
- Surface: sandy
- There are sun loungers for 15 euros per day (2 sun loungers and an umbrella).
- The beach is free
Author rating:Great beach in the city center. Classic city beach with a promenade, cafes and restaurants. There is only one drawback: there are a lot of people during the season 🙂
- Liman 1 and Liman 2. Two very small beaches, just on the other side of the old town. There are areas with concrete platforms, where there are paid sun loungers. And the beaches themselves are pebbly with not the best water entry, especially for children.
- Liman 1 – 41.92553, 19.19957
- Liman 2 – 41.92716, 19.19706
- The length of each beach is 50 meters.
- During the season there is no place at all to sunbathe with your towel. And there are no free sun loungers either.
- Both beaches are free, only sun loungers are paid.
Author rating:My opinion is that you need to go here to sunbathe purposefully on a sun lounger. Since they stand on a separate platform on the side (you can see in the photo), people do not walk between the sun loungers there, as on the city beach. There is some kind of privacy.
- A beautiful forest path begins along the sea south of Mala Plaza. There are three beaches, very small. These are all beach bars. What it looks like: they made flat or wooden platforms on the rock. There are bar and sun loungers on them. You can’t just come here with a towel. But swimming here is not comfortable at all. Often there is no water entry.
- Skalice beach: 41.921063840742605, 19.208537968782593
- Ibica beach: 41.92073658877761, 19.21052277339153
- Sapore di Mare: 41.919659162731875, 19.211314439801484
- Women’s beach: 41.919937419569024, 19.213496772615137. Women’s Beach used to be just for women. But in recent years everyone has been allowed here :).
Author rating:This is a special kind of vacation. Young people without children will like it more. Since no one rests with children here. There is no place to walk. Just laying in the sun with music and a cocktail.
And of course the longest beach in Montenegro Velika Plaza. Here’s what you need to know about it:
- Located outside the city. It is inconvenient and far to walk here, everyone comes by car. Beach center coordinates: 41.89436, 19.29021
- The beach is 13 km long! Dark gray fine sand similar to volcanic. The width of the beach is 200 meters.
- The beach is divided into a dozen or two smaller beaches, but this border is conditional. The section of the beach closest to Ulcinj is called Miami. It is 5 km walk from the city center one way.
- The most infrastructural section of Velika Beach is closer to Ulcinj. The first 1-2 km.
- The beach is free
Helpful:Velika plaza is already on the plain, and unlike the rest of the coast, there are no mountains that close the beach from the wind. Therefore, there are winds here, and it is also the center of kitesurfing and windsurfing in Montenegro. On the beach (closer to the center and to Albania) there are kite centers, equipment for rent and instructors.
Author rating:This beach has enough space for everyone. And even in the high season it is free and comfortable here.
All about Ada Bojana island in Ulcinj
A small island 14 km from Ulcinj, right on the border with Albania. The peculiarity of the island is that the Buna River, which flows from Skadar Lake, splits when it flows into the Adriatic Sea. And the land at the mouth of the river is the Ada Bojana island.
- Coordinates: 41.86188912726453, 19.347226810859983
- The beach of Ada Bojana is sandy all along the sea. Length: about 1.5 km.
- The island has a hotel, a campsite, 3-4 restaurants, a mini-shop that is open only during the season.
It’s important to know:Ada Bojana is an island for nudists and the largest nudist beach in Montenegro.
There is a regular beach for people in bathing suits, and there are signs, but most of it is for nudists. Auto camping is also for nudists. And the only hotel too. Rather, clothing is required on the territory of the hotel, but it is nudists who come to the hotel and clothing is already optional outside the territory.
And another important point: at the entrance to the island, they charge 3 euros per person for entry. Hotel guests are exempt from paying the fee. The payment booth is located on the territory of the island, 100 meters from the only bridge to Ada Bojana.
Tip:There is nothing special to pay here, and you can get to the island for free. Cross the bridge and immediately after the bridge to the right there is a path that will lead you to the main beach of the island. And if you are relaxing on Velika beach near the island of Ada Bojana, you can swim across the river, walk along the beach and back. At its narrowest point, the river is 50 meters wide.
What you need to know before vacationing on Ada Bojana:
- The beach is very dirty and it seems that no one cleans it. Every year it only gets worse. A million plastic cups, beer cans and a billion cigarette butts.
- The river around the island is fresh, and the banks are swampy. Every day after sunset there are just clouds of mosquitoes. Be sure to have repellents and a fumigator. They eat you alive.
- In general, if you are not a nudist, it does not make sense to go here. There are no mountains and the beach is average. Any other beach in Montenegro is no worse.
And if you are a nudist, here is an article where you will find a rating of nudist beaches in Montenegro.
Accommodation: rating of hotels and apartments in Ulcinj
In general, there are no problems with accommodation in Ulcinj. In the city you will find apartments, hotels and apart-hotels for every taste and color. In season, prices are higher and there is less choice. Below I will tell you a few subtleties that will help you choose accommodation.
- On the map above: zone 1 is Ulcinj itself and its center, where 90% of tourists stay.
- A lot of apartments can be found in zone 2 along the main road near Velika plaza.
- And here it is important to understand: that in zone 2 there is almost no infrastructure, restaurants, shops. Most tourists stay here to get closer to Velika Beach. But it’s almost 2 km to walk to the beach. And in the evening after sunset on the second day you will go crazy with boredom.
- Therefore, I recommend everyone to stay in Ulcinj near Mala Plaza. And already by car / taxi / on foot to go to the Velika plaza if you wish.
- Keep in mind that the city of Ulcinj is built on hills, which means that you will have to constantly walk uphill. Especially inconvenient for those traveling with children.
- And there are almost no sidewalks.
Rating of the most popular apartments and hotels in Ulcinj:
And you will find a rating of good and budget hotels in Montenegro in this article.
What to visit in Ulcinj: top attractions
It is difficult to say that Ulcinj is rich in sights. It is definitely inferior to Budva and Kotor in this regard. But there is something to visit here, there are more interesting places and locations than in most small resorts of the Bar Riviera, such as Sutomore, Dobra Voda and even Bar.
Below is a map of Ulcinj attractions, all the beaches and restaurants from this review are also marked there:
The old city of Ulcinj, also known as Ulcinj Fortress
The main attraction of Ulcinj, of course, is the old town. It is located in the very center and is well preserved. The size of the old city is smaller than in Budva or Kotor, but this is the case when the attraction is no worse. It has its own special atmosphere. In fact, this is a fortress, which is surrounded by a defensive wall around the perimeter.
The old city of Ulcinj is conditionally divided into upper and lower. Look at the photo below. then the part on the right, which is on the cape near the sea, is the lower city, and the one closer to the center of Ulcinj with high walls (left) is the upper city. This is the citadel, it is visually higher.
What you need to know about the old town of Ulcinj:
- Map coordinates: 41.92463235527013, 19.201105593586934
- Much of the old town is free. But in the upper town part of the wall, the citadel and several museums are paid. To see all the main attractions of the fortress you will need to pay.
- Ticket price: from 0.5 euros for getting to know the 3d model of the fortress, up to 3 euros for entering the citadel. There are 3 museums here: each 1.5-2 euros for admission.
- How much time to plan: you can quickly run through the streets in half an hour. Schedule 2 hours, this is enough to go through all the main locations and drink coffee with a view from the city walls.
Below is a list of the main and most interesting sights of the old city of Ulcinj: the main ones are marked on the map.
- Illyrian wall (Cyclopean masonry)
- north gate
- north bastion
- south gate
- South Bastion
- Venetian palace
- Balsic Tower
- Monument to Miguel de Cervantes
- Pirate Museum
- art gallery
- Museum of Local History Ulcinj
- Ethnographical museum
- And another dozen or two locations. Do not forget that within the walls of the old city there are many more restaurants and excellent taverns.
Author rating:10 out of 10. Even without visiting the paid attractions of the old city, it’s wonderful here. The place is a must for everyone to visit. Narrow medieval streets, cool views of the city. Personally for me, it’s more comfortable here than in the old town of Budva.
Path of Health from Ulcinj to Velika plaza along the sea
Very beautiful hiking trail that starts from the Albatros hotel. You can just walk along it, or you can use it as the shortest road to Velika Plaža.
- Path start coordinates: 41.91920628410058, 19.215218003190284
- The trail is about 2.5 km long.
- Walk at a leisurely pace for 40 minutes
- On the way there are small beaches on the rocks, which were in this review above. For example Ibiza and women’s beach.
Author rating:I recommend to everyone, the walk is good and easy. Please note that from the center of Ulcinj the entire route will be about 4-5 km one way. And this is 8-10 km back and forth.
There are no more attractions in Ulcinj itself. But there are a few places that I recommend visiting.
- Observation deck on Ulcinj and a monument from the times of socialist Yugoslavia: 41.924036916443086, 19.205780616700654
- Old shopping street: 41.92839032466846, 19.206413877590467. There are many shops, cafes, various commercial facilities and pavers on the road.
Abandoned Saltworks with Pink Flamingos
In the immediate vicinity of Ulcinj (only 5 km from the center) there is a very interesting location: an abandoned salt works.
This saltworks was built about 100 years ago. The process was simple, a vast territory of tens of square kilometers was flooded with sea water from the Adriatic. Then the water was evaporated for several months in the scorching sun. And the rest of the salt was collected, refined and sold like regular table salt.
Good to know:Ulcinj is the southernmost and sunniest region of Montenegro. They say there are 300+ sunny days a year here. According to personal feelings, less, but I will not argue with specialists.
During the years of Yugoslavia, all this fell into disrepair. The salt works were completely abandoned, but the fields remained. And over the next 20 years, birds have chosen them. Today, more than 280 species of birds live here. Some of them are migratory, with seasonal migration from Siberia to Africa. And some live here all year round.
The most amazing thing is that pink flamingos nest here all year round and if you are lucky, you can meet them.
Important:In 2019, this territory was officially taken under state protection, the Ulcinska Solana Natural Park (Ulcinska Saltworks) was established. Now it is a reserve on a par with Lake Skadar.
Things to know before visiting:
- Entrance and parking coordinates: 41.91837, 19.24967
- There is a guard at the entrance. It may write you down in a journal, it may not.
- Entry is free as of early 2023. But work began on the territory of the salt works. There is a feeling that they want to put everything in order here. And perhaps someday they will charge an entrance fee.
- At the entrance there is a complex of administrative and industrial buildings. Everything is in an abandoned state.
- Here you can also find the main warehouse where all the unrefined salt was brought. By the way, the mountain of salt still remains, but it has already petrified, you are unlikely to pick a piece for yourself 🙂
- This entire part of the salt works with abandoned buildings can be easily walked in 30-60 minutes. And then the most interesting.
- In fact, this is only the beginning of the park. The fields where the sea was evaporated are 8-10 km from here. Between them there are paths, almost everywhere even paved. Only to move on them on foot, in the heat, without shade and trees – it’s terrible. Take water with you, hats are a must.
- By the way, to the first tower where you can watch birds from the entrance is 3.5 km one way. And that’s just the first one 🙂
- If you are lucky during your visit, the white house at the entrance (pictured below) will be open. They give bicycles for free (for now). There are about 10 bikes available. If you could take one for yourself, then you should definitely go deep into the saltworks and try to meet flamingos.
- Walking is a dubious pleasure.
- It is highly recommended to have binoculars with you.
Author rating:A fascinating place, a mix of an abandoned factory, huge salty fields and an ornithological reserve. If you are not lucky with bicycles, then an hour will be enough to go around all the abandoned buildings. And if you managed to take a bike and you found a flamingo, you are lucky and you will definitely remember this visit. In any case, the place is interesting and unusual.
If during your visit to the Ulcinj saltworks they already take money for entry or bicycles, write in the comments, it will be useful to all readers.
- 10 km from Ulcinj is the beach resort of Dobra Voda, an overview is available at the link. If you want and have the time, you can spend a day here.
In conclusion: Ulcinj is one of my favorite cities on the coast in Montenegro. If it were closer to all the popular resorts, I’m sure there would be no end to tourists. It is impossible to compare Ulcinj with Budva or Kotor, it is different, there is a different atmosphere, other beaches and nature, slightly different people and architecture. Albanian flavor is already felt here. Come to Ulcinj – it’s very cool here, and it’s not only a beach resort, it’s a city with history.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Montenegro
- Flights at the best prices with discounts
- Car rental in Montenegro (cheaper – only by bus):
- Discovery Cars – a large international resource
- LocalRent – work with local rental companies. Leader in car rental in Montenegro.
- Hotels and apartments all over the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card with internet in Montenegro
- Taxi and transfers from Montenegro airports: Intui.Travel