At 5,333 square miles, Montenegro is one of the smallest countries in Europe. But with crystal clear lakes, pretty bays, the deeply-blue Adriatic Sea, gorgeous rolling highlands, and charming Venetian villages, Montenegro is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. In the past, tourists preferred other more well-known Mediterranean countries to visit. That meant Montenegro’s beauty was a well-kept secret. With an abundance of natural wonders, sites of historical interest, and fabulous nightlife to greet visitors, it’s no wonder many are flocking to memorable Montenegro.

01Kastio

Ancient fortress Castello in Petrovac na Moru, Montenegro NataGolubnycha / Getty Images

By climbing the old steps of Kastio, a small Venetian fortress in Petrovac, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the beach and the surrounding dramatic limestone cliffs that reflect in the turquoise water below. Make sure you have a camera at the ready. Even if you don’t, you’ll never forget the spectacular view. The 16th-century Venetian fortress itself is an impressive sight. You’ll find the entrance to Kastio by the Petrovac harbor.

02Blue Grotto

close up image of blue grotto in Adriatic Sea RussieseO / Getty Images

Swimming in crystal waters inside a secluded cave is an experience you won’t forget. The Blue Grotto cave in Luštica Peninsula allows you to do both. The 29-foot-high Blue Grotto gets its name from the mesmerizing effect the reflecting light has on the clear water. There are various kayak and boat tour operators in the vicinity that provide trips to this magical cave.

03Kotor City Walls

Gurdic Gate and bastion, entrance to the Old Town of Kotor, Montenegro fotokon / Getty Images

The fortified town of Kotor is situated on the Adriatic coast, with the imposing limestone cliffs of Mount Lovćen in the background. If you’re up for a day of walking, you’ll love exploring the medieval city walls that encase this beautiful place. The first fortifications were built in the 9th century, leading up to St. John’s Hill. By the 14th century, there was also a new protective loop. Further additions were made right up to the 19th century.

04Black Lake

Montenegro, Black Lake in a Durmitor Park OlgaVolodina / Getty Images

In Durmitor National Park, you’ll discover eighteen glistening glacial lakes atop a spectacular mountain range. The most impressive of these is Black Lake, and it’s only a two-mile walk from the small town of Žabljak. Black Lake is the largest of the lakes and the most visited attraction of the national park. Behind the lake is the mighty Međed mountain peak. The shadow casts an inky color on its waters, hence, the lake’s dark name.

05Tara Canyon

Tara Canyon in Durmitor National Park bathed in sun rays. VikaValter / Getty Images

Situated in Durmitor National Park, this mighty canyon is approximately 4,265 feet deep. That’s only about 656 feet shorter than the Grand Canyon! The best views are from the Tara River, which is the force behind the creation of the canyon. Rafting along the river is one of the most popular tourist activities in Montenegro. If you want to see the canyon from afar, you’ll have to climb over 5,331 feet to the top of Mount Ćurevac, as it provides the best view.

06Lake Skadar

Meandering river at Rijeka Crnojevica at the Skadarsko national park in Montenegro. Jeroen Mikkers / Getty Images

Covering both Montenegro and Albania, Lake Skadar is the largest freshwater lake in the Balkans. With floral fields, lakeshores surrounded by lilies, rolling green hills in the background, and an abundance of wildlife to spot, this area is a paradise for any nature lover. With so much beauty, it’s no wonder the Montenegrin royal family used to have their summer residence here. There’s a lot more besides nature around Lake Skadar, though. By taking a boat tour, you can travel through the wetlands and discover island monasteries, fortresses, ancient monuments, traditional fishing villages, and secluded beaches.

07Njegoš Mausoleum

Beautiful panoramic view at the memorial Njegoš in Montenegro Kroshanosha / Getty Images

The star attraction of Lovćen National Park is this spectacular mausoleum interring Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. The 19th-century prince, bishop, philosopher, and poet is regarded as one of the most important figures of Montenegrin and Serbian literature. Even if you’ve never heard of Njegoš, his mausoleum is well worth a visit. It sits atop Mount Lovćen’s second-highest peak, Jezierski Vrh, so prepare for a hike. After climbing the 461 steps to get to the entrance, you will see two giant granite guards protecting the tomb. Inside the mausoleum, you’ll find a statue of Njegoš resting in the wings of an eagle.

08Gospa od Škrpjela

Our Lady of the Rock is small artificial island in front of Perast, Montenegro. istankov / Getty Images

Gospa od Škrpjela, which translates to “Our Lady of the Rocks,” is a tiny, scenic man-made islet. It was created by using sunken old and seized ships loaded with rocks. According to legend, the island’s construction began after locals had found an image on-stone that resembled the Virgin Mary. On 22 July of 1452, people started placing large rocks around this stone, and the tradition has continued to the present day. Each year on the same date, locals row over to the island that’s increasingly expanding over time. In the summer, you can hire a boat to ferry you to the site.

09Ostrog Monastery

Monastery of Ostrog, Montenegro (aerial view) vpopovic / Getty Images

Located in Central Montenegro, this Christian monastery miraculously rests in a cliff face approximately 2,952 feet above the Zeta valley. Gleaming white, the monastery is the most critical site for Orthodox Christians in Montenegro. Along with numerous pilgrims, millions of tourists flock to this jaw-dropping site every year. Ostrog Monastery has become so deeply entrenched in the Montenegrin psyche that it has become common for Montenegrins to “swear to Ostrog” when promising to do something.

10Budva

The Old Town of Budva, Montenegro (aerial view) vpopovic / Getty Images

Situated on the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, Budva is both historical and glamorous. For a dose of history, check out the marble streets of the medieval stone town Stari Grad on the waterfront and explore the town’s Venetian walls, narrow winding passages, and old churches. To experience the glitzy side of Budva, head out in the evening to explore the vibrant nightlife. You’ll find pulsating clubs in the Budva Riviera area. You’ll also see the super-yachts of the super-rich moored in the water. Another key attraction of Budva is its glorious sandy beaches. Jaz Beach is a particularly popular place where you can get a bronze tan.