Montenegro is one of the hottest travel destinations in Europe at present. National Geographic Traveler has recently included Montenegro among the “50 Places of a Lifetime”- and they could not be any more accurate. Montenegro is really a true gem in Europe with its diverse landscape and nature. It has a picturesque coast with beautiful beaches and many well-preserved ancient old towns as well as mountainous northern region that has the deepest canyon in Europe and pristine alpine lakes, rivers and forests.
Many of those people who have already seen Italy, Croatia, the French coast and the Greek islands are searching new, exciting and less traveled place in the Mediterranean. These travelers are now discovering this small, but yet so many ways beautiful Balkan country. Tourists abandoned the country for many years because of the Yugoslav war that were fought in neighboring countries during the 1990’s. Today, the tourism in Montenegro is growing very fast, so I recommend you to see the country when it is still genuine and mostly untouched by the big crowds!
1. City of Kotor
Kotor, the medieval city listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List is located along one of the World’s most beautiful bays. The old town of Kotor dates between the 12th and 14th century, and has a vivid history as a city of traders and famous sailors. Wedged between stunning mountains and a moody corner of the Kotor Bay, Kotor is a destination that impresses everyone who enters the city. Kotor old town is a maze of centuries old buildings and churches, Venetian palaces, museums and narrow cobblestone streets. With its living history, Mediterranean charm and romantic ambience, this place will steal your heart and does not give it back…
2. Lake Skadar
The Magical Lake Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and the only national park in Montenegro which is dominated by aquatic and wetland ecosystems. Today, Lake Skadar is renowned as one of Europe’s top bird habitats with staggering 280 different species. It’s also a blissfully beautiful region with steep mountains, old island monasteries, clear waters, and floating meadows of water lilies. Skadar lake cruises and bird watching are a real treat for nature lovers and for travelers seeking outdoor-activities or just people who want to enjoy these wonderful landscapes.
3. Durmitor National Park
The rugged and stunning Durmitor National Park, is both the largest national park in Montenegro, and also its most famous one. The national park includes limestone peaks of the great mountains (like Durmitor massif), unique canyons, clear rivers, glacial lakes and beautiful dense alpine forests. In Durmitor, the visitors can enjoy unique unspoiled nature with numerous activities, such as hiking, biking, rafting, and mountaineering. During the winter season it is also a major ski resort. Durmitor is Montenegro’s second UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site.
4. Sveti Stefan
Sveti Stefan – once a small fishing village – now one of the most luxurious resorts of the world that has offered hideaway for world famous stars, such as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, “Rolling Stones”, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone as well as Madonna. The iconic island of Sveti Stefan is Montenegro’s most-photographed site. The island is connected to the mainland by a narrow trail and surrounded by two beautiful sandy beaches and a beautiful park trails with olive trees, cypresses and wisteria.
5. Tara River
Tara River Canyon, the deepest in Europe and second deepest in the World after the Grand Canyon, is truly a breathtaking sight. The canyon at its deepest is around 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) deep, 82 kilometers (51 miles) long and stretches from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Montenegro. The big part of Tara canyon within Montenegro is protected as a part of Durmitor National Park. The Tara River plunges through the canyon forming rocky and pebbly terraces, sandy beaches, high cliffs, and more than 80 large caves along the canyon. Rafting in the turquoise waters of Tara River is an adventure that should be on everyone’s bucket list.
6. Herceg Novi
The charming city of Herceg Novi is the entrance of the beautiful Bay of Kotor. Its old town Stari Grad has centuries old squares, elegant churches and formidable fortresses to explore. Down in the harbor, the pebbly beaches offer access to swim in the bay’s best and cleanest sparkling waters in the almost-constant sunshine of the Adriatic coast. Herceg Novi is one of the newer towns on the bay, founded only in 1382. Not as popular among tourist as the city of Kotor, Herceg Novi is less crowded and more peaceful than its big brother.
Perast is a peaceful and small baroque town in the middle of the Kotor Bay. During 17th and 18th centuries, the great times of seafaring, successful sea captains built magnificent villas in Perast. The town has also its share of sacred monuments, such as the Churches of Saint Nicola (Sveti Nikola) from 15-17th centuries and the famous islands in front of Perast where the church Saint George (Sveti Djordje) from the 12th century and the baroque style Church of Our Lady of the Rock (Gospa od Skrpjela) build in 1630.
8. Biogradska Gora
One of the oldest protected areas in the world – the unique and gorgeous national park of Biogradska Gora is located in the central part of Bjelasica mountain massif, between two beautiful rivers of Tara and Lim. Biogradska Gora has very rich and diverse flora and fauna, featuring unbelievable 2000 plant species, 90 species of trees, 200 species of birds, 80 species of butterflies and many mammals, such as deer, bears, foxes, and wolfs. The area of 1600 hectares of virgin woodland in Biogradska Gora is one the last three remaining primeval forests in Europe. Many of the trees in these virgin forests are over half a millennium old, with some of them reaching to dizzying heights of 60 meters (197 feet).
9. Monastery of Ostrog
One of most exquisite places in Montenegro is the Monastery of Ostrog. This magnificent and unique monastery is lies above the Bjelopavlic valley, carved deep and high in the mountain wall. It was built in the 17th century by Saint Vasilije who lies buried in the Monastery. Ostrog is a place of pilgrimage, visited by people of all religions searching help and guidance in their problems by praying in front of the relics. This historical shrine really looks like it is keeping some old secrets in this remote place. The terrifying climbing up to the monastery by the narrow mountain road is also an experience of its own – however – according to an old legend, Saint Vasilije is protecting all visitors who come here, so no deaths have ever been recorded on this road…
10. Tara Bridge
Djurdjevica Tara Bridge or simply Tara Bridge was built between the years 1937 and 1940 and represents marvelous combination of nature and engineering. Astounding 172 meters (564 feet) above the Tara River, this bridge was the biggest vehicular concrete arch bridge in Europe when it was completed. The bridge is a great place to view the beautiful landscape of the stunning canyon where the Tara River runs.
3 Tips for Montenegro
- Eat where the locals do – you will get better food with cheaper prices
- The roads can be little scary sometimes – but usually are in good shape
- Prepare enough time for the destinations – the vast national parks cannot be seen in one day