Montenegro, which is located in southern Europe in the western Balkan region, is a tiny and not so well-known county, but anyone who visits it is immediately drawn to its varied landscapes and is thrilled by its ancient archaeological sites. After Yugoslavia disbanded, Montenegro began its difficult and war-ridden path to independence until it was officially declared a country in 2006. At that point, it set itself a goal of rebuilding itself and branding itself as an attractive tourist destination.
Indeed, after a very short time, the amazing diversity of Montenegro's natural and cultural treasures, such as the long coastlines, mountain ranges, turquoise lakes and the wealth of ancient historic buildings, has made it the "Balkan Pearl." Here are some of the most recommended places this mountainous country has to offer every traveler and nature lover.
The ancient city of Kotor, which was named a “World Heritage Site” by UNESCO, is one of the most preserved medieval cities in the Balkans, which was able to preserve the cities original streets, buildings and walls as they were in the 14th and 15th centuries. A stroll through the squares and alleys with the colorful architectural characteristic of this city will bring you back in time to the unique and magical atmosphere of the place. The road to the city itself is no less mesmerizing - the view of Boca Bay and the fortified city that stretches out to the road is as breathtaking as the trip to the bay itself.
One of Montenegro’s most impressive national parks is Durmitor National Park, located in the north of the country. With the highest mountain ranges in the western Balkans, holding 2,500-foot peaks, green pine forests, and clear glacier lakes that give a real Alpine feel to this Balkan and Mediterranean country. Apart from the fresh air and breathtaking scenery, you can discover the wonders of the region through footpaths, cycling, swimming in the lake, and even a rafting trip on the River Tara located at the bottom of the deepest canyon in Europe, the Tara Canyon.
A few kilometers from the town of Kotor in Boca Bay lies the small and ancient town of Perast, decorated with uniquely built church buildings. Excellent fish restaurants, mountain views and Boca Bay at the foot of the city are some of the attractions this area has to offer, but undoubtedly the biggest attraction is a trip to the small island in front of the city called "Our Lady of the Rock" and next to it to the Historical museum about the place. You can get there by way of small taxi boats that leave every few minutes.
Between the city of Bar and the city of Podgorica, sits Skadar National Park, where one of Montenegro's most spectacular lakes, Skadar Lake, is located. This lake is also the largest on the Balkan Peninsula and its beauty derives from its connection with the Adriatic Sea through the Bojana River which flows between the large mountains and separates them. The lake is home to many migratory birds and is considered one of Europe's largest bird-watching destinations. Surrounding the park are small villages where you can taste the fine local wines.
15 minutes from the lively city of Budva, is one of the most famous beaches in Montenegro - the Sveti Stefan beach. The beach boasts a unique and impressive natural phenomenon: from it stretches a thin sandstone that connects to a small cliff island. On the island, an ancient village was built which became a lavish hotel and resort of the same name. Many Hollywood stars like Sophia Loren, Sylvester Stallone, and Elizabeth II have stayed at this hotel. On both sides of the coastline, long sandy beaches stretch out surrounded by clear turquoise waters, where you can sunbathe, dine in lovely restaurants and cafes, and go scuba diving.
At a height of 900 meters above sea level, carved into a huge and vertical cliff, lies the magnificent Ostrog Monastery. This monastery is an unimaginable vision of man's architectural ability. It was built in the 17th century over Bjelopavlići plain, through many carvings made in the cliff rocks and includes two main churches: the upper and more spectacular church dedicated to the Holy Cross and the lower church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The place has undergone many twists and changes such as fires and battles, but to this day it is considered one of the most popular monasteries in the Christian world.
Not far from the old town of Cetinje, in Lovćen national park which covers 6,400 acres, lies the national symbol of Montenegro, Mount Lovćen - the heart of the country. You can reach the mountains’ spectacular summit, which towers above the coastal city of Kotor, through marked footpaths in the park, leading you between its spectacular green landscapes, and at its end, you’ll be able to see the Petar II Petrović Njegoš 'Mausoleum. It is recommended to reach the mountain in the early hours of the morning to witness an impressive sunrise and even catch a glimpse of Italy from a distance.
On the southern coast of Montenegro is the town of Bar, where you can explore historical sites which are over 1000 years old. The city has one of the largest and vast markets in Montenegro called Pjaca, where local merchants dressed in traditional costumes offer their wares such as citrus fruits, olives, cheese and olive oil. The area itself is known for its numerous olive trees, over 100,000 olive trees to be exact, that include a 2,000-year-old olive tree considered to be the oldest in Europe.
Montenegro, bordering its southwestern side with the Adriatic Sea, boasts long and impressive coastlines, and some of its most beautiful beaches can be found next to the coastal town of Ulcinj. One of the most well-known beaches is Big Beach, 60 meters wide, 13 kilometers long and characterized by fine, soft sand, reminiscent of flour. Another equally beautiful beach is the unique Ada Bojana beach, located at the intersection of the Bojana River and the Adriatic Sea, in a nature reserve overgrown with lush vegetation
Another unique town on Boca Bay, near the city of Kotor, is the town of Tivat. If you want to settle in a quieter and calmer atmosphere than the other vibrant coastal cities - this is the place for you. However, this city has two of the most popular attractions in Montenegro: its vast botanical garden, rich in unique tropical plant species and the prestigious Porto Montenegro marina, surrounded by bars and restaurants that boast local cuisine.
If you want to feel the real and simple village life of Montenegrin and Balkan residents, a tour of the National Park area of the Prokletije Mountains will give you such an experience. At the foot of this mountain range, shared by Albania and Kosovo, are green grass valleys where you can discover the traditional shepherds' culture of the nearby villages’ residents.
Although the smallest of the four national parks of Montenegro, this park has amazing natural treasures. In the mountainous park of 54 square kilometers, there are 6 beautiful ice lakes, the most spectacular of which lies at the entrance of the park and the other five are at an altitude of 1,820 meters. In addition to that, the park is rich in cultural and historical heritage which includes archeological sites and settlements from the 9th-century Ottoman rule.