Thick forest, black mountains, deep canyons, and dreamy beaches on the Adriatic coast – these (and much more) are the things that embody Montenegro. While you have to share the most beautiful places in neighbouring Croatia with countless other tourists, Montenegro’s versatility has remained undiscovered by most holidaymakers – until now!
Montenegro is (still) a relatively unknown holiday destination in the Balkans. But why is this? In terms of the diversity and beauty of its landscape, Montenegro is in no way inferior to its hyped-up neighbour, Croatia. Would you like to hear more about Montenegro? In my travel magazine, I’ll introduce you to the country, which you should definitely keep on your radar over the next few years!
An Overview of Montenegro – the journey and other important info
For almost 90 years, Montenegro was part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, before it was finally declared independent in 2006 after a referendum. Because it belonged to Yugoslavia for so long, many different ethnic groups, such as Serbs, Albanians, and Croats, still live within Montenegro’s borders today. The impact of this diversity is noticeable in the culture of the country, as well as in the different languages, which are spoken in Montenegro.
Montenegro is one of the smallest countries in Europe, which is perfect if you want to get to know the country and its people fully during your stay. Despite its size, Montenegro offers unbelievable scenic variety, which makes the country interesting not only for beach lovers, but also for those of you who like to stay active, love culture, and enjoy exploring. Did you know that southeast Montenegro is home to the deepest canyon in Europe? Or, that bears and wolves roam free in the depths of its unspoiled ancient forests? Or, that there are even ski resorts in Montenegro? Montenegro has these unique features to thank for its spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Are you looking for the most beautiful beaches and bays on the Adriatic? No problem! In Montenegro, unspoilt natural phenomena are only a few hours away by car from lively coastal towns.
Travel and entry requirements
The quickest, cheapest and least complicated way to travel to Montenegro is generally by plane. You can fly via stopoverto the capital city, Podgorica, or fly to Tivat which very close to the Bay of Kotor, again with a stopover along the way. Alternatively and I think much better, you could fly directly to Dubrovnik from Dublin, and drive over to the breath-taking Bay of Kotor. It will take you about one hour, and the drive is stunning. Then you can also choose to stay the night in Dubrovnik and can tick that one off the list too :D
As an Irish passport holder, you don’t require a visa to enter Montenegro for stays of up to 90 days. If you would like to stay in the country for longer than 90 days, you must apply for a visa.
Getting around Montenegro
The most popular way of exploring the whole of Montenegro is by hiring a rental car. In most cases, rental cars aren’t too expensive and renting a car is generally uncomplicated. The only thing you need is a valid driver’s licence. However, you should keep in mind that some streets in sparsely-populated areas, such as in the country’s mountainous regions, can be uneven and poorly signposted. If you want to tour these areas on your own, you need to pay a little more attention. Throughout most of the country, and particularly along Montenegro’s coast, driving around poses no problem.
If you don’t want to hire a rental car or you would rather stay in one place, you can use the network of interlinking buses and trains to go on excursions. A journey costs between 50 cents and 5€ depending on the length of your journey.
The most impressive places in Montenegro
The possibilities for your holiday are as diverse as Montenegro itself. You can choose to sunbathe on a beach on the south coast, go sightseeing in Montenegro’s lively towns, or go on an adventure in the wild landscapes of the north. In fact, you can do all of the above in the same holiday! Now, I’m going to tell you about a few of the highlights on offer in this Balkan country.
The most beautiful places on Montenegro’s coast
You are guaranteed to find romantic towns, extensive, well-kept beaches, and clear waters on Montenegro’s coast. Most coastal towns are very good for tourists from all over the world and offer a wide variety of hotels and restaurants for visitors. Pretty places like Ulcinj, Petrovac and Budva offer a perfect mix of beach holiday and sightseeing in the Oriental-style towns in the region. In Ulcinj, near the Albanian border, you can find the longest sandy beach in Montenegro. Budva is the tourist centre of Montenegro and it boasts the most beautiful island hotel in the world, Sveti Stefan. Staying overnight in this resort is an unaffordable dream for most of us, but you can afford a visit to the adjacent beach without breaking the bank.
Generally, a holiday to Montenegro is cheaper than going to Greece or Croatia. This means you can expect your holiday money to go a long way. You can find good hotels in tourist centres from just 40€ a night. The restaurants serve typical Montenegrin cuisine and you can eat very well and cheaply, whilst discovering their delicious traditional cuisine.
The Bay of Kotor is further west, towards the Croatian border. The bay resembles a fjord and boasts a brilliant view. The town of Kotor is also worth seeing. It is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its old-world beauty. Perast is another possible day trip destination. The wonderful Old Town here tempts you to admire it as you stroll by. Buildings from the Middle Ages and charming sacred buildings amaze you as they take you on a journey back in time. You should also visit the Porto Montenegro Marina, in the Bay of Kotor. Here, you can enjoy a magical view of the sun setting behind luxury yachts.
Stunning nature in Montenegro’s national parks
There is also memorable scenery not too far from Montenegro’s vibrant coastal towns, which is not to be missed. Lake Skadar, which is the biggest lake on the Balkan peninsula, is close to the capital, Podgorica. It became a National Park in 1983 because of its unique flora and fauna. Excursions to the lake are on offer from local agencies and can be booked during your holiday.
Lovćen National Park in southwest Montenegro will attract those among you who love active holidays. You can hike to Petar Petrović Njegoš’s Mausoleum, which is the highest Mausoleum in the world. It’s not only a quiet spot, but there is also a great viewpoint. On clear days, you can even see the outline of Italy in the distance. The great thing is that you can manage the route, even if you’re an inexperienced hiker. You can even book day trips, which take care of transport and meals, in the bigger towns.
Located in the north of Montenegro, the Durmitor National Park is a little more secluded. The massif, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is great for skiing in the winter and for hiking through almost pristine nature in the summer. At 1,300 metres, the Tara River Canyon, found in the Durmitor National Park, is the deepest canyon in Europe. It’s a stunning sight!
Another of Montenegro’s highlights is Lake Krupac, which attracts water sports enthusiasts and bathers in the summer with its warm, clear water. Niksic, the second biggest city in Montenegro, is near this lake and it is worth a visit. The city dates back to the 4th century, so there are many historical monuments and buildings for you to admire. You can while away the evenings in one of the city’s countless restaurants, drinking a Niksicko beer. This tasty beer is well-known even outside the country’s borders. From Niksic I would recommend a trip to Ostrog Monastery, which was built into the cliff face. The monastery is one of the most important religious sites in the country and it is visited by pilgrims and tourists alike.
Montenegro – a diverse Balkan beauty
Beaches, historic towns, breath-taking national parks – who would have thought that the small country of Montenegro would be so diverse? The Balkan countries tick all the boxes and surprise me over and over again. If you’re looking for a holiday off the beaten track, Montenegro is the place for you. I am sure that we will hear much more about Montenegro as a holiday destination over the next few years. The most beautiful places on earth don’t stay undiscovered for long! ;)
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