With neighbouring countries such as Croatia emerging as the hottest and trendiest holiday destinations in recent years, Montenegro has often slipped under the radar. However, Montenegro has started to receive the attention it deserves and is fast developing a reputation as a fantastic travel destination with a unique landscape, stunning coastline, unspoiled beaches and rich, cultural heritage. No wonder Montenegro has been dubbed the ‘jewel of the Adriatic’ and the ‘pearl of the Mediterranean’. Here are five reasons why Montenegro should be your number one travel destination for 2019:
Escape the crowds
Although tourist numbers are increasing, Montenegro remains one of the more affordable and less congested holiday destinations on the Adriatic. In contrast, Croatia’s popularity and reputation has led to inflated prices, heaving towns and overcrowded beaches. Montenegro’s summer months are less busy than those of Croatia and as a result, prices are more reasonable and within budget. Enjoy Montenegro’s picture-perfect beaches mirroring the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea without the disappointment of jampacked, litter riddled beaches as is often the case along the Mediterranean. The popular town of Budva is a great example of how Montenegro strikes the perfect balance of having a lively, buzzy atmosphere without becoming overcrowded or unwelcoming.
The inimitable mix of idyllic beaches and medieval towns set against the backdrop of rugged mountains sets Montenegro apart from its European neighbours. Few destinations offer such diverse landscape and outstanding natural beauty. From the blue waters of the popular Jaz Beach, near the town of Budva, to the impressive mountainous terrain, Montenegro promises something for everyone. Admire the looming mountains from below in the fjord-like Bay of Kotor or venture into the mountain ranges themselves to discover challenging hikes, spectacular scenery and superb views. Montenegro’s unique fusion of picture-perfect beaches, crystal clear waters, diverse wildlife and dramatic terrain make it the perfect, all-encompassing travel destination.
Steeped in rich history dating back to the days as a Serbian principality, part of the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the kingdom of Yugoslavia, Montenegro finally declared independence and became its own republic in 2006. Montenegro’s striking scenery is complimented by its impressive array of UNESCO protected medieval towns, quaint Venetian towns and ancient ruins. Discover the Austro-Hungarian fortifications of Kotor; wander the streets of Budva’s charming Old Town and take in the panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea from the Citadel; or take a boat trip to visit abandoned World War Two submarine caves. The historic pilgrimage site, the Ostrog Monastery, carved into a vertical mountain cliff 900m high, offers unparalleled views onto the Bjelopavlići plain. The monastery, visited by millions each year, is a truly remarkable sight to behold. The picturesque old stone town of Perast, a UNESCO Heritage protected town, is often compared to Venice with its 16 churches and 17 grand palazzos. One of Perast’s main attractions is the 17th Century Roman Catholic Church set on one of its two islets in the Bay of Kotor – Our Lady of the Rocks. Montenegro is a fascinating place to visit where history is truly in abundance.
Montenegro has developed a formidable gastronomical reputation in recent years. Drawing influence from Mediterranean cuisine, Montenegro offers something for everyone ranging from simplistic, no frills dinning in atmospheric, family-run taverns to culinary finesse at gourmet restaurants. Be sure to visit Ćatovića Mlini, one of Montenegro’s most famous restaurants, famed for its traditional Montenegrin seafood. Be sure to try Crni Rižot – squid ink black risotto – and to sample the fruity spirit Rakija to get the proper Montenegrin culinary experience. Foodies will revel in Montenegrin cuisine and will have no difficulty finding some of the finest, freshly caught fish from the Adriatic Sea.
With five extensive national parks and a wide range of activities on offer, Montenegro is paradise for adventure lovers. Durmitor is the largest of Montenegro’s national parks and is known for its staggering canyons and glacial lakes – such as Crno Jezero. Durmitor is home to some great mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as Europe’s deepest canyon, the Tara River Canyon, which has a 1,300m drop. White water rafting along the Tara River Canyon is a must for adrenaline junkies. Lovcen national park, nestled in the Dinaric Alps mountain range, is home to the mausoleum and resting place of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. At an altitude of 1657m, the mausoleum boasts breathtaking views and so it is no surprise that it is one of Montenegro’s most important attractions. Biogradska Gora national park, with its unique ecological features and biodiversity – home to one of the three remaining ‘virgin forests’ – is fantastic for hiking and fishing. Equally, sailing along the Montenegrin coastline is a fantastic way to explore the Balkan country and access places such as the Blue Grotto off the Lustica Peninsula.