Pine-clad cliffs rising sharply above the Adriatic Sea, clear lakes cut out from the rock and old fortified towns commanding the coastline: Welcome to Montenegro. What might seem to be a small country is in fact a photogenic and breathtaking destination at the heart of the Balkans that is overflowing with experiences.
Literally meaning ‘Black Mountain’, Montenegro has only existed in its current form for 10 years, after seceding from Serbia in 2006. However, it has a rich and fascinating history that stretches back thousands of years. Having been the home of the Illyrians in antiquity, the area has since seen Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and other empires come and go, leaving behind fascinating historical sites and beautiful coastal fortresses, that along with vast forests, sturdy mountain ranges, friendly faces and red-tiled houses make up a magnificent Montenegrin montage.
Lord Byron called the coastline of Montenegro the ‘most beautiful encounter between the land and the sea’, and visits to places like Budva and the UNESCO Heritage Site-listed town of Kotor definitely confirm this poetic perception.
Budva faces onto to azure Adriatic Sea and is one of the most beautiful and developed cities along the country’s coastline. Right by the beach you’ll find the city’s Stari Grad (or Old Town), where traditional limestone houses with their iconic red roofs complement the sea and the hills perfectly. Explore the winding streets and the friendly cafés, or lounge by the beach, where you can either enjoy the gentle waves and the soft sand, or take to the sea either by boat or jet-ski.
Further inland you will find the stunning city of Kotor. Situated on the edge of a clear-blue bay and embraced by white beaches and dark, towering cliffs, the city is a site like no other place. Explore the old sites of the city, such as the beautiful preserved citadel, the Byzantine Kampana Tower, as well as the charming old market squares and seafronts that over the summer months are filled with locals out for a traditional stroll through the narrow streets.
If you want to explore the more unfrequented sides of Montenegro, then head inland to the capital of Podgorica, with its charming blend of old Ottoman and Byzantine buildings, and architecturally modern shops and museums. If you’re seeking natural bliss and tranquillity then head completely off the proverbial beaten track and go for a long hike along the wide pastures, stunning peaks and calm lakes of the Durmitor National Park.
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