Montenegro: Discover the Charm of this Balkan Beauty
Where You Need to Go in Montenegro
Montenegro is probably not the first country that comes to your mind when you think about your next holiday destination. However, it is starting to earn a reputation as the next up and coming destination, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add it to your bucket list of places to visit.
“Why?” you may ask. Easy. Montenegro is one of the smallest countries in Europe, which means that you can easily explore it in just a few days. It’s affordable, under the radar (for now) and it has so much to see that it can satisfy any type of traveler. In other words, it’s the perfect country for busy people who don’t want to spend too much during their vacation and want to go somewhere that’s not clogged with tourists. What else could you ask for?
And of course, there’s also all the beauty and richness you’ll witness on your trip. The green landscapes, the blue ocean, the unbelievable traces of amazing history and culture. By the end of this article, you’ll have a hard time finding reasons not to visit Montenegro.
The Breathtaking Landscapes
Have you ever heard of any constitution that includes environmental protection as one of the country’s fundamental rights? Well, Montenegro is one of the few that does this, which might explain why you can find such exquisite landscapes all over this Eastern European country.
Green and blue: that’s all you’ll see at Lake Piva. This artificial reservoir, which is the most elevated in the world, was created in 1975 by Hydro Power Plant “Piva.” Although it’s worth a visit purely for the view, if you like a little bit of adventure, you definitely cannot miss this spot. Cruising, biking, and rafting are just three examples of what you can do there.
If you decide to take a cruise, you’ll get the chance to see even more of this beautiful place, reaching spots like the Oteša Cave and Podvođe.
Blue Grotto means “Blue Cave”, so you can imagine the type of view you’ll get if you decide to explore this spot.
You’ll be able to see the Blue Grotto from afar since the blue of the water is reflected all throughout the cave. It already sounds beautiful enough, but you need to go inside the cave to really appreciate its majesty. The water isn’t that deep, so you can safely swim, and if you bring some goggles you might even be able to see some fish swimming with you!
Budva, Lake Skadar, Ulcinj, Bečići: if there’s something you won’t have a problem finding in Montenegro, it’s beaches. In fact, the country has a total of 117 beaches along the coast. In other words, you’ll have 52 km of beach to explore on your vacation.
And by the beaches, you’ll have plenty of bars and beach clubs to go have a nice cocktail and enjoy the picture-perfect sunsets. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
The Mouthwatering Cuisine
The cuisine you’ll try out in Montenegro has strong influences from other food cultures, which makes it extremely interesting. It’s a mix of Italian, Austrian, Balkan, and Turkish. If you’re having a hard time imagining what that mix would result in, here are a few of the foods you’ll get to taste in Montenegro:
Njeguški pršut: a dry-cured ham that’s similar to the Italian prosciutto.
Cashew baklava: a pastry made with phyllo dough, cashews and other nuts. To try the best of the best, go to the restaurant Byblos, in Porto Montenegro.
Buzara: a dish with prawns, shellfish, and shrimp in a red/white sauce.
Black risotto, made with cuttlefish ink.
Octopus salad served with fresh vegetables.
As you can see, there’s a lot of seafood involved in Montenegrin cuisine. There’s a huge fishing tradition in the country, which you’ll be able to witness first hand if you visit the Bay of Kotor.
The Rich Culture
Now that you have a full stomach, you can explore more of the cultural side of Montenegro. If you’re a fan of music, dance, and tradition that’s been around for centuries, you won’t be disappointed.
Old Town of Kotor
There’s no better way to start the culture section of this article than by talking about the UNESCO protected city of Kotor. We mentioned the Bay of Kotor before but there’s much more to see in this town. In fact, our recommendation is that you save one entire day to explore it.
You can enter Kotor through three doors, one of which has been around since 1555. That alone says just how much history can be found in every corner of the town.
In the city center, there are churches, palaces, and many other buildings (like the Clock Tower) that you must visit. There are also several restaurants with delicious local Montenegrin food.
Perast’s Fascinada Tradition
We promised century-old traditions, and here is one: the Fascinada festival, that’s been happening for more than 500 years.
The festival celebrates Our Lady of the Rocks, a church situated on a man-made islet in Perast (where you can also go on a hike in the Old City Walls). It is celebrated every year on July 22nd during sunset and is a must if you happen to be there at that time.
At Fascinada, you’ll get to see local convoys marching towards the islet to the sound of local acapella singers. Every family participates: the men row the boats to the islet, while the women wave from the shore. And you can take part too by throwing a rock in the sea, a Montenegrin tradition that’s just as old as this festival.
If you visit Montenegro in May, be sure to go to the Budva Carnival. The main attraction at the three-day festival is the big Carnival parade, in which people from several different countries dress up in amazing costumes and parade through the streets of Budva.
But there’s even more to do, from open theater shows to concerts, puppet shows, masked balls, and fun competitions for all.
This is a great plan to make with your kids too, in case you’re doing a family trip!
The Unique History
When you think about how old Montenegro actually is, it comes as no surprise just how much history there is to discover in the country. The rich history of Montenegro is present everywhere you go and the following are just a few of the historical spots you should visit.
City of Stari Bar
In 1876 and 1879, Stari Bar was bombarded during the Montenegrin-Ottoman war. Then, in 1979, an earthquake hit Montenegro. Both of these events destroyed many of the buildings in the country.
Although a lot was rebuilt, there are still some places where you can see the ruins of the war and the natural disaster, and the old town of Stari Bar is one of them. There you’ll find the perfect mixture of beauty and destruction.
A few kilometers away there is the new town of Bar, where people moved after the disasters, and there’s a little bit more life.
The One-Of-A-Kind Nightlife
If you’re going to Montenegro in party mode, Budva is the perfect place for you. There are plenty of bars and clubs by the beach, for every age and music taste. Trocadero, Sparta, and Paris are three of the most popular night spots.
Besides that, during the summer you’ll see a lot of beach parties and music festivals going on. The Sea Dance Festival, for example, happens at the end of the summer in Budva and the City Groove takes place every June in Podgorica.
Know Before You Go
So, ready to pack your bags and get on your way to Montenegro? There are a few things you should know to make sure your trip goes as smooth as possible:
The official currency is the Euro. Credit cards aren’t accepted everywhere, but there are plenty of ATMs.
The timezone is GMT+2 and GMT+1.
Montenegro isn’t in the EU.
Montenegro is generally safe. Nevertheless, keep an eye on your things so that pickpockets don’t steal from you.
Renting a car isn’t too expensive and it’s the best option if you want to visit some of the more remote places.
U.S. travelers can stay in Montenegro for up to 90 days without any visa. However, tourist registration must be completed within 24h of arrival.
If you’re planning on crossing certain border points, such as Kamena Gora or the Orjen Mountains, you’ll need to lodge a specific application form with the local border police.
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