Beautiful beaches, lively resorts and stunning scenery – you will discover all of this on holidays in Montenegro, one of the most under-the-radar spots in Europe.
With gorgeous beaches, forest-clad hills and mountains and lakes like a mirror, Montenegro is absolutely easy on the eye. However, a wealth of natural beauty is not all the country has going for it. You will also find incredibly friendly locals, sights that are centuries-old and resorts that have all the bells and whistles for holidaymakers on Montenegro holidays.
The town of Budva represents the primary resort on the Budva Riviera of Montenegro. It is a vibrant place with a handful of world-class beaches to choose from. The old town is characterized by bell towers, Venetian houses and shady piazzas, while the newer section of the city is home to swanky boutiques and pavement cafes.
A short distance down the road is Becici, a modern town with a great sandy beach and surrounded by pine-cloaked hills. At the end of the promenade you will find al fresco cafes and find ecclectic shops in the old fishing village.
Further down south is Petrovac. It is a sleepier settlement than its neighbors, making it a great choice if you want to take things a little easier. It is the beach that is the main attraction here – it’s sandy and follows the curve of a horseshoe-shaped bay.
Montenegro’s climate is Mediterranean on the coast, with conditions in the mountains being alpine. The normal summer beach front temperature is 27 degrees Celsius (81 Fahrenheit), and this is the season (July through August), when the lion's share of guests come here on Montenegro holidays. Individuals who can't endure the late spring warmth should set out inland toward the mountains, where summer evening temperatures drop as low as 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit).
In shoulder seasons (May through June and September to October) you can expect sunny days on the shores of the Adriatic – the ocean is sufficiently warm to swim and normal daytime temperatures are 20 degrees Celsius (69 Fahrenheit).
In low season (November through April), numerous inns and eateries along the coast close totally. The climate stays gentle, with the normal daytime winter temperature being 7 degrees Celsius (44 Fahrenheit). Inland, there is significant snowfall in the mountains, with the normal daytime winter temperature in Kolašin, a popular ski resort sitting around 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).
Visit the busy port of Kotor, sitting toward the end of Kotor Bay. There's a bounty to suggest in this UNESCO-listed old town, including its Venetian buildings, 17th century clock tower, 12th century Romanesque church, maritime historical center, chic boutique lodgings and fish diners.
It's possible to hire a private yacht for the day and sail around the Bay of Kotor on holidays to Montenegro. Ringed by sensational mountains, this wandering narrows is frequently depicted as Europe's southernmost "fjord", however it is in actuality a submerged river gully. Its shores are specked with waterside towns made up of hundreds-of-years-old stone houses and angling harbors packed with shaded wooden pontoons.
On the Bay of Kotor, Perast is comprised of old stone manors, looking out on two minor islets, Sveti Đorđe (St. George) and Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks), each topped by a church. The islets can be reached by pontoon from Perast's waterfront.
Southeast of Budva, this medieval stone town, on an fortified islet, linked to by a highway, is a luxury resort. Initially developed amid the Yugoslav years, when visitors included Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, it was revived as the 5-star Aman Sveti Stefan in 2009.
A 700-year-old town with much to offer, Herceg Novi is an absolute must see. Visit the interesting Savina Monastery and the shorelines on Luštica Peninsula, which look out on the passage to the Bay of Kotor and are accessible by boat.
Medieval walls surround Budva's old town which is comprised of interesting cobbled back streets, lined by Venetian-period structures, many now housing eateries, bistros and gift shops. East of town, Slovenska plaža is a long narrow shoreline lined by large modern hotels.
Climb, bicycle, kayak, pontoon or paraglide in the dazzling Durmitor National Park, which has been granted UNESCO World Natural Heritage status for its frozen landscapes, high pinnacles, thick pine woodlands and some of Europe’s deepest gorges. The highlight is the Crno Jezero (Black Lake), a 3 kilometer (2 mile) stroll from the national park office in Žabljak.
The greatest lake in the Balkans, Lake Skadar, on the Montenegro and Albanian border, is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands and is a haven for birdwatching, home to around 270 species, many rare or endangered. The National Park office is in Virpazar – from here you can take a vessel trip over the lake, and eat fresh carp at waterside eateries.
On holidays to Montenegro travel up the rough mountain massif of Lovćen, towering above Kotor. Its crest, at 1657 meters (5440 feet), is home to the Njegoš Mausoleum, devoted to the Prince-Bishop and artist, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. From here, you'll appreciate terrific views, both inland and down onto the Bay of Kotor. The national park office is in Cetinje, which used to be home to the Montenegrin royals and capital of Montenegro.
Investigate the Biogradska Gora National Park, home one of the last three wildernesses in Europe. The primal timberland traverses 5400 hectares (13,343 acres) between the Lim and Tara rivers. You can likewise discover falcons taking flight in the Bjelasica Mountains. The national park office is in Kolašin.
Broadly considered the best beach in Montenegro, Jaz, west of Budva, is a 1.2 kilometer (0.7 mile) of fine pebbled shoreline, complete with sun loungers, overlooking a turquoise narrows. Outdoors shows are now and again arranged here – The Rolling Stones played in 2007, and Madonna the following year.
The highlight of inland Montenegro, at 82km (51 miles) long and a profundity of 1,300m (4,300ft), is the sensational Tara Canyon. The deepest gorge in Europe boasts unlimited rapids for rafting and canyoning. There's also bungee bouncing and zip-lining off the Tara Bridge, a five-arch span offering astonishing views down into the ravine. The closest towns are Kolašin and Žabljak.
You'll be stunned by the 17th century Ostrog Monastery, which is incorporated with a vertical bluff between Danilovgrad and Nikšić. Inside, in a chapel cave, lie the remains of the founder of the religious community, St Basil of Ostrog.
Montenegro's biggest wine maker, Plantaže is best known for its intense red Vranac wine. Vranac signifies "black horse", which in the past was viewed as the epitome of magnificence, just like this wine. Visit Plantaže's Šipčanik wine basement, amongst Podgorica and Lake Skadar, to taste their wines and buy jugs to bring home on your holidays in Montenegro.
Stroll around Ulcinj, one of the most historic towns on the Adriatic drift. Its top attractions incorporate the Balsica Tower and Renaissance Church Mosque, which is additionally home to the City Museum. The 12 kilometer long (7 mile) Velika Plaža is a fine sandy shoreline, which remains largely undeveloped.
For a Montenegro holiday you will find the best hotels in Montenegro in Kotor and Budva. While Kotor offers a fine choice of boutique lodgings, in refurbished medieval stone structures in the old town, Budva is known for its enormous modern hotels with sports facilities, which date from the Yugoslav-period, and are step by step being revamped to incorporate modern interiors and wellbeing centers. The nation's most prestigious lodging is the 5-star Aman Sveti Stefan, occupying a completely rebuilt medieval town on a small island, near Budva. In both Kotor and Budva, the best inns are often fully booked reserved in high season (when costs rise in turn), so advance booking is essential.
In Montenegro a bed and breakfast is known as a pansion, and is by and large a lower level hotel. Numerous guests like to book a room in a private house, or a self-catering apartment, both of which tend to offer higher standard and better value.
For holidays to Montenegro, the coast enjoys mild winters and hot summers. November through March represent the coldest months. Things start to warm up in April with the heat peaking in July and August when the mercury regularly reads into the high 20s.
Day trips into the mountains offer a break from the heat. Temperatures here can be up to 7 degrees cooler than on the coast. Montenegro is reasonably wet in the winter, but summers only experience four to seven showers per month, and they are brief.
The national carrier is Montenegro Airlines. Montenegro flights leave from different European capitals (Belgrade, Moscow, Paris, Rome and Vienna) year-round for Podgorica Airport and Tivat Airport. In summer there are extra flights, including a connection from London Gatwick to Tivat.
Flight times to Tivat: from London are 2 hours 40 minutes and to Podgorica: from London - 4 hours 15 minutes (with stopover); New York - 10 hours 30 minutes (with stopover).
Montenegro has rail connect with Serbia for travelers. Trains run from Belgrade, Serbia to Bar (twice daily; travel time - 11 hours.
The Adriatic Highway is being joined into the Adriatic-Ionian motorway, which will run the distance from Croatia down into Greece.
Once you have in Montenegro navigating your way around is straightforward. Buses connect all major Montenegrin towns. Autoboka runs three services per hour between Kotor and Budva. The 24 kilometer (15 mile) journey costs just €3.
Although there is only a single passenger-carrying railway line, it follows a gorgeous route between the port of Bar and Bijelo Polje on the Serbian border (en route for Belgrade).
Montenegro is still one of Europe's hidden treasures…however, how much longer? Autonomous since 2006, the nation has been quietly building up its young tourism industry and is presently being vaunted as one of Europe’s hottest new destinations.
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