Do yourself a favour and make your next holiday destination Magical MONTENEGRO! Never heard of it? Don’t know where it is? Thought it was somewhere in South America or Italy…Get ready, because I’m going to let you in on a secret…this little package of surprises is the hottest up and coming place to visit that is entirely ﬂying under the radar and it would be madness not to make your way there NOW!
Montenegro meaning Black Mountain and founded before 11AD, is in Southeastern Europe bordered by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Albania and is on the Adriatic Sea. Her capital city of Podgorica (pronounced Pod-gor-it-sa) is a bustling urban metropolis with multilevel shopping malls, tree lined, pop-art decorated streets dedicated to cafés, restaurants and bars, a variety of hotels, a central square, park, jogging/walking/cycling tracks and even a sports stadium! This is all bordered by an extremely cute and liveable Old Town, vineyards, farms and historical bridges over the Morača and Ribnica Rivers.
If ever there was an undiscovered place with so much to oﬀer, this has to be up there with the best! I am quietly pleased that it has not been overrun with tourists as yet but her coastal counterparts have already, unfortunately, been inundated with the likes of large cruise ships and double decker tour buses. But…(sigh)… it was due to happen sooner or later and is excellent for the Montenegrin economy.
The former royal old capital of Montenegro is Cetinje (about 30 minute drive from Podgorica) and is home to the President and also many imperial and noble former parliamentary buildings and houses. Surrounded by leafy parks and mountains, Cetinje is an absolute delight with cobblestone streets, trendy boutiques, quirky slavic architecture, ice cream stalls, cafés and restaurants. It truly looks like a pretty little gingerbread town from a children’s story book! A few hours roaming this historic centre is wonderful and if that’s not enough to tempt you, it has also featured in the Bond Movie ‘Casino Royale’ with Daniel Craig! Too cool!
You will never be bored here in Montenegro, as there is so much to do and see along with such diversity that it does indeed oﬀer a melting pot of memorable moments! You like to ski? TICK
✔ Popular in the colder months, there are ski slopes and Swiss inspired chalets, ski lifts and tobogganing facilities set amongst the natural beauty of fragrant pine forests. Love wine? TICK✔ There are a multitude of diﬀerent wineries on the outskirts of the city oﬀering tours and tastings and I’ve become a huge fan of a drop of Montenegrin red which is, bizarrely, undiscovered and hugely underrated. Taste the ﬂavour and be converted!
Montenegro is dripping in history and even a walk around Podgorica can reveal monuments such as the Clock Tower and the Turkish church in the Old Town, dating back to the Ottoman empire. Even checking out the Communist neighbourhoods with its cold, hard grey apartment blocks and architecture makes this little city interesting! Take a short drive out of town to soak up some religion and visit the many ancient Monasteries built into the side of the mountains.
Foodies and party people are not left out and will revel in the trendy, fashionable area of Bokeška Street with its crammed bars and eating joints, complete with resident DJ’s spinning funky tunes every night!
Also on the ‘must-do’ list is a drive along the ‘Montenegrin Riviera’. This picturesque part of the Adriatic coastline begins in Ulcinj, travels past Bar and the very posh Sveti Stefen all the way to beautiful Budva where you will encounter pockets of sun kissed, summer seaside towns to explore along the way.
A special mention goes to Budva which has the gorgeous medieval Old Town of Stari Grad and a huge citadel by the sea and is popular because of the bustling night life, high rises and high end boutique shopping precinct. It’s fantastic. For even more eye-popping sites, turn inland to see the breathtaking villages around the magniﬁcent town of Kotor ( a personal favourite place of mine ever visited and which another blog is dedicated purely to this little slice of heaven alone), Tivat and Bijela set around the Bay of Kotor which oﬀer the captivating beauty and diversity of quaint Old Towns, pebble beaches and azure water.
Unbelievably great value for money (they use the Euro), friendly locals, great food and amazing scenery from a bygone era, this little country oﬀers many unique experiences with a chilled out vibe. Take a chance on your next ‘explorative vacay ‘ and visit this sleepy little slice of beauty tucked away on the Adriatic and savour the calm before the tourism storm.
“Montenegro…am I in Paradise or on the Moon?”…George Bernard Shaw