All the best parts of this unspoilt nation
Montenegro. Even the name sounds intriguing, and this small Balkan country lives up to the exotic connotations. This is a spectacularly beautiful country filled with historic sites, outdoor adventures and stunning scenery. With our essential guide Montenegro travel guide, we’ve selected all the best places you need to visit and things to must do to have the holiday of a lifetime.
Bordering the Adriatic Sea on its southwest coast and surrounded by the other Balkan countries, Montenegro often gets overlooked for its ever-popular neighbour to the west – Croatia. But in recent years, its natural beauty, fascinating culture and abundance of outdoor activities have brought Montenegro into the world’s spotlight. The country’s rich culture incorporates traditions and influences from throughout history, with different traditional cuisines throughout the country revealing the breadth of cultural influence. Now is the perfect time to visit this nation, while landscapes and culture remain unspoilt by the influence of modern tourism.
One of the most exquisite areas to visit and the first stop on this Montenegro travel guide is the coastal region, particularly around the port and the city of Tivat. Porto Montenegro is set within the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site framed by jagged mountains and golden sand beaches. One of the most incredible sights is of the medieval towns that seem to hold on to the mountainside for dear life. They are best viewed from the sea, and a cruise from the Kotor Harbour around the Mediterranean waters is one of the best ways to enjoy this part of the world.
Tivat itself is a place where ancient stone buildings and olive groves jostle for space, while the friendly, vivacious locals enhance the city’s charm. The villages in the surrounding area offer great insight into the authentic local way of life – the fishermen in the village of Bigova use old-style techniques to bring in the day’s catch, while the village of Gornja Lastva takes in traditional stone houses and a Baroque-style church. The latter’s August festivities bring together some of the best artistic, gastronomic and cultural traditions from across the country, with exhibitions of local paintings and folk dancing events.
Five-star seafront living
The five-star Regent Porto Montenegro occupies a privileged coastal location in the Boka Bay against the backdrop of the mountains. The bay is home to a super-yacht marina that has recently undergone a multi-million-pound redevelopment, transforming the former naval base into one of the most elegant places in the country. The marina is a dazzling sight, particularly in the evening where the yachts stand proud against the starry night sky and the twinkling lights of the port. The sophisticated area includes top-class restaurants, designer shops and a yacht club, as well as a great entertainment hub with live music and regular cultural exhibitions and events. The Regent Porto makes the most of its situation with a stylish Mediterranean design, guest rooms offering expansive views of the sea or mountains and a range of signature restaurants and cafes.
The second stop on this Montenegro travel guide is the city of Kotor. While Tivat is an attractive location place with top-class modern amenities, Kotor is totally enchanting. The UNESCO World Heritage site has been standing since the Middle Ages and retains many medieval features including a spectacular Fortress and a maze of tiny streets and picturesque squares in the atmospheric Old Town. The Catholic Cathedral of Saint Tryphon is situated on one of these squares – this astounding Roman monument is one of Kotor’s greatest treasures. A number of small churches are also dotted around the city while the remains of the ancient Sea Gate and Town Walls enhance the historical feel. The city’s Maritime Museum is well worth a visit, explaining the city’s past as an important naval power through a series of fun exhibits that showcase weaponry, uniforms and models of ships.
Just down the road from Kotor, discover the old Baroque town of Perast which offers another glimpse of the rich Montenegro culture. For an excellent way to enjoy the country’s natural beauty, the nearby Lov?en National Park is the place to go. The huge expanse stands high on the black mountain that gave Montenegro its name, with more than six thousand hectares of woodland that is home to stunning scenery and a variety of wildlife. Bird lovers, keep your eyes peeled for the many birds of prey that frequent the skies around these parts.
The National Park is a beautiful place to enjoy a hike, or you can follow one of the many mountain biking trails that cover the mountains. In fact, the whole of Montenegro is a haven for those seeking a bit of adventure, as there is plentiful opportunity for cycling, hiking, kayaking, sailing, rafting, canyoning or horse riding. There are ski resorts in the north of the country while the National Park at Durmitor offers the chance to go mountaineering or rafting.
History and religion
For such a small country, Montenegro has a wealth of cultural sights and the Ostrog Monastery in the centre of the country is one of the most spectacular. Situated high up in the clouds and wedged into the mountains, this 17th-century building welcomes around a million visitors and pilgrims every year and it is one of the standout experiences in this Montenegro travel guide. It is widely believed that this is a place where miracles can happen and that if you pray here, among the colourful frescoes that line the walls, then your prayers will be answered.
In the sweeping landscapes below the mountains lies the city of Cetinje – Montenegro’s former capital. This is an interesting place for a short visit to gain some more insight into Montenegro’s history and visit the country’s National Museum, of which two of the sections are housed in the former parliament buildings.
Another of the country’s most spectacular monasteries can also be found in the centre of the country. Set within a deep canyon and yet more dazzling scenery, the Orthodox Monastery of Mora?a was founded in the 13th century, and a visit here still feels like stepping back in time.
After you’ve got your cultural fix, it’s time to get away from it all at the Skadarsko Lake, the last stop on this Montenegro travel guide. As the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula, this is a restful area characterised by beautiful calming waters and lush green landscapes. The abundant wildlife around the wetlands makes it a great location for birdwatching or fishing. Alternatively, you can take a swim or enjoy a sunbathe on the shores of the lake and enjoy the wonderful climate. The region around the lake is also home to some of the best preserved monasteries, churches and fortresses from across the ages, while there are plenty of small fishing villages where you can experience an authentic slice of the local life.
From fortresses and monasteries set deep in the mountains to world-class dining and shopping or sailing across the Adriatic, Montenegro really is the place that has it all. Follow this Montenegro travel guide and enjoy this Balkan beauty and make your friends jealous by discovering one of the few places in the world that is truly unspoilt.