Montenegro… could you point it out on a map? Well I know I couldn’t until a few weeks ago!
With little time to read up on this small country before my last-minute trip I was in for a very pleasant surprise… Montenegro is beautiful! Not only does it offer breath taking nature, it also boasts lovely historic cities, good food, decent services and a friendly population on top.
Montenegro is one of Europe’s smallest countries with fewer people than your average city (roughly 630,000). You can find it on the Adriatic sea, bordering the much more touristy Croatia. And maybe it is because of Croatia’s popularity that Montenegro is now finally showing up on travelers maps. With more and more cheap flight options to the region and before it becomes a well known destination, now might be the ideal time to explore this little gem!
If you love the outdoors, great beaches, historic towns with cute little restaurants and a wide range of activities from a simple hike to bungee jumping, rafting and scuba diving, then you definitely want to put Montenegro on your list!
It is surprisingly difficult to create a short list of Montenegro’s highlights but these are a few of the places that make Montenegro well worth a visit:
Bay of Kotor
If you only have time to visit one area of Montenegro then make sure it is the bay of Kotor. It is a butterfly-shaped bay with beautiful blue water, a mountainous backdrop and medieval and Venetian-era towns. The area is perfect for hiking or mountain biking and with a wide selection of water sports on the bay and a good selection of beaches it really has something to offer to everyone.
Some of the highlights around the Bay of Kotor not to be missed:
Kotor was my favorite town. It is situated on a secluded tip of the bay and its old town is where you have to be. Built between the 12th and 14th century, it is absolutely stunning with its narrow, cobbled streets and medieval architecture. It is a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site and very well preserved.
Climb up to Kotor’s castle of San Giovanni (castle of St John in English) for an amazing view over the town and the bay.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island in the bay.
As the story goes, sailors from the nearby town of Perast would lay a rock in this very spot after every successful voyage so that a church could be built on top of the rocks. It took them two hundred years to create the base for the beautiful little church.
I cycled around the bay past medieval towns and then all of a sudden found myself in this modern, luxurious marina which is part of the town of Tivat. With its large yachts, luxury waterfront properties, international dining options and expensive boutiques it’s quite a change from the rest of the Bay but not a bad one! Porto Montenegro has a lovely atmosphere and is well worth a visit.
Almara Beach Club
I went here for a quick drink but ended up spending the entire afternoon at this trendy beach club.
Almara Beach Club, which is accessible by land and by sea, is located on the Adriatic sea, only a short drive or boat ride away when you are staying on the Bay of Kotor.
It offers a great mix of options to keep you entertained all day: a lovely beach area, a trendy bar, a wide selection of seating areas (I installed myself on a very comfortable couch!) and a high quality restaurant. On top of that they often organize big parties with world famous DJ’s
For more information visit Almara.me
Tara River Canyon
The Tara River Canyon, or Tara River Gorge, is the longest canyon in Montenegro and the deepest river canyon in Europe (1300m at its deepest). The canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a popular spot because of it’s stunning scenery and great rafting opportunities.
The Monastery of Ostrog belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church and is the most important Orthodox site in Montenegro. The monastery was founded in the 1600’s by, and dedicated to, Saint Basil who was buried here.
It is unique and a stunning sight because it is carved almost in its entirety into a mountain cliff.
Lake Skadar, a karst lake on the border of Albania and Montenegro, is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. Its beautiful waters, rocky shores and wetlands play host to lots of wildlife, traditional fishing villages, islet monasteries and pristine beaches.
Lake Skadar has been a protected National Park since 1983 and the area is home to Montenegro’s wine country.
Whether you are into kayaking, hiking, swimming, boat cruises, culture, or wine tasting, this area has a lot to offer.
Cetinje is the old capital of Montenegro. It is also where the official residence of the President of Montenegro is located.
Cetinje is a quiet town, full of culture and medieval architecture. You won’t want to spend more than a day here but with its proud history and good museums it is worth exploring.
Accommodation & activities in Montenegro
There is so much to do in Montenegro that you might be overwhelmed, especially if you are in the country for only a few days.
Still not convinced? Check out this brilliant video and I am sure you will be on the next flight out! 😉
But, go sooner rather than later because it now still is a very inexpensive destination that hasn’t been discovered by mass tourism yet!
Featured image and above image by Letsgotomontenegro.com