Travel tales

Why Montenegro should be on your travel list

Sveti Stefan beach on the Adriatic coast in Montenegro

There are plenty of destinations that hold long-term spots on my travel wish-list. Places where I’ve researched what I want to see and pored over photos and blog posts. Places that are just waiting for the right combination of time and money to make the dream trip a reality. And then there are other destinations. Places that I might not know much about or have thought of visiting until circumstances conspire to put them on my travel radar. And once I know about them I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of visiting there before. Montenegro was definitely one of the latter. Croatia was on the list for sure, but Montenegro? I can’t say I knew much about it other than the name and that it was in the Balkans. But when we were looking for somewhere to spend a relaxing week in the Mediterranean in May it kept cropping up.

On the Adriatic coast in Montenegro

The Adriatic coastline

As Croatia’s lesser-known neighbour, Montenegro shares a lot of the same architecture, scenery and climate. But where Croatia’s popularity has rocketed – bringing crowds and high prices along with it in some areas – Montenegro is still relatively unknown. It’s got its own patch of the Adriatic coastline, historic walled towns, beautiful lakes and mountains. Back in the 1970s it was the place for celebs and royalty to visit. But the Balkans conflict put an end to that, and since then the turbulent history and a lack of tourist infrastructure have helped keep it under the radar until now. But once my flight was booked and I started to research what there was to see out there, I could see it wouldn’t stay like that for long.

Kotor, Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Bay of Kotor

Montenegro is one of the world’s youngest countries (only beaten by Kosovo and South Sudan). After the break up of Yugoslavia it joined up with Serbia and was part of ‘Serbia and Montenegro’ until it got its independence in 2006. You can still see signs of the communist legacy, like deserted concrete former state-run hotels, and the fact that visitors still have to register with the police. But there’s a lot of redevelopment going on – the road outside our apartments was being relaid, there were new hotels and apartment blocks springing up along the coast. The country is investing hard as it tries to join to European Union. You can already use euros here though – the currency used to be the Deutschmark after it gave up its own currency to fight inflation, so when Germany changed over to euros Montenegro did too.

Local beer and the church in Kotor by night

The local beer and the church in Kotor’s old town

Montenegro isn’t very large in terms of area but it packs a lot into its 14,000 square kilometres. Apparently its size causes no end of trouble for cartographers as its name is much bigger than its area, so it’s hard to fit on a map. There’s over 300km of coastline along the Adriatic Sea, with resorts ranging from the party town of Budva to tiny pine-fringed beachside villages. There’s the fjord of Kotor with its red-roofed Venetian-style walled towns. There’s the towering mountains which give the country its name – Crna Gora in Montenegrin or Monte Negro in Venetian–Italian, meaning black mountains. There’s also rafting in the Tara River Canyon, the second deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. Or fishing in the giant clear expanse of Lake Skadar on the Albanian border.

Beach in Montenegro

Sandy beaches in Montenegro

So that’s beaches, historic towns, mountains, lakes and canyons all in an area half the size of Wales. Montenegro has certainly got the looks to become a hugely popular destination. In ten years time I can just picture boutique hotels in the abandoned palazzos, luxury super-yachts filling shiny new marinas, those bumpy mountain roads replaced by smooth new highways. Which is why I’d say go there soon. While you can still see where Montenegro has come from as well as where it’s going.

Is Montenegro on your travel radar?

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Why Montenegro should be on your travel list – On the Luce travel blog

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43 Comments

  • Reply
    jo addison
    June 18, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Monteneggro is definitely on my travel radar. I have been thinking about it for a long time now. I had thought about it this year for a family holiday with our 3 year old and 4 month old but thought my 3 year old would like a sandy beach to dig in. did you see any sandy beaches when you were there? Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

      The beaches are a bit of a mix between sandy and pebbly but you should be able to find sandy beaches in Ulcinj, Bar and the Budva Riviera. We were based inland in Kotor but it was less than half an hour to a few different beaches and there are plenty of accommodation options on the coast itself.

  • Reply
    holidayaddict
    June 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I looked at both Croatia and Montenegro before I settled on Sorrento for our break in May. To be honest, it was the promise of a visit to Pompeii that swung it, but now I’m more convinced than ever that Montenegro needs a trip sooner rather than later. I’ve also considered a cruise round the Adriatic, but I keep bottling out of booking one! Either way, I think next year is the year for Croatia and Montenegro. Looks gorgeous!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      We so have the same taste in holidays! Last year was Sorrento and Pompeii then Montenegro this year. Did think about trying to see a bit of Croatia on this trip too but decided to leave that to a longer trip so hope to get out there next year. I’ve heard good things about the island-hopping cruises but I’m not the biggest boat fan so that might be a step too far!

      • Reply
        holidayaddict
        June 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm

        Ha ha! I am so copying your trips! I quite fancy island hopping myself – can’t decide. In our case it’s probably my other half who might not be a big fan of the boat!

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Peaks and Passports
    June 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Now it is! But airfare sure isn’t cheap from Denver… looks like for now I’ll have to stick closer to home and travel to Montenegro vicariously through you!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      After all my US posts from your side of the world I’m back to my side for a bit! If you can ever get cheap flights to the UK though the cheapest way to get to Montenegro is to fly to Dubrovnik just over the border in Croatia (ours was £80 return from London with easyJet).

  • Reply
    aBitofCulture
    June 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I’ll be looking forward to your Montenegro posts – I was just up the road in Dubrovnik and that stretch of coast is beautiful.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      We didn’t see quite as much as we could’ve as the last couple of days weather were terrible, but the coast and the Bay of Kotor were gorgeous.

  • Reply
    restlessjo
    June 18, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Good tip about the flight to Dubrovnik, Lucy. How did you do the transfer- car hire?
    I looked at Montenegro years ago, as Croatia doesn’t have sandy beaches, but we ended up in Dubrovnik and haven’t managed to go back that way since then. 🙂

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      We hired a car but there are plenty of transfer companies that aren’t too expensive. It was useful to have the car to explore a bit though. It’s about 1.5 hours journey between Dubrovnik and Kotor including the border crossings – it’s one of the few places in Europe where you still get your passport stamped!

  • Reply
    Browsing the Atlas
    June 19, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Montenegro wasn’t on my radar…until now. It looks beautiful!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

      It was lovely – I suspect it’s going to get a lot more well-known in the next few years.

  • Reply
    Anna
    June 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Nice to see you’ve found Montenegro. I’ve also been there and thought it was an interesting place to visit. It does seem odd that Croatia gets all the tourists. But just like Albania, Montenegro is just waiting to be found by everyone. I like the pictures you’ve taken!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:34 am

      I think Albania’s even less discovered – it’d be interesting to see that too at a really early stage of tourism.

  • Reply
    Maddie
    June 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Montenegro has been on my Europe wishlist for a really long time, need to get around to making it a reality before it changes too much! Your photos are stunning

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Maddie, I can’t believe that I never really new much about Montenegro until this trip – loved the country though and the region so look forward to seeing more. Croatia next definitely then maybe further afield to Albania?

  • Reply
    Viaggiando con Bea
    June 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I really wish to plan my next holidays in Montenegro. I love your pictures
    Bye Bea

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thanks Bea, hope you get to make it to Montenegro soon!

  • Reply
    Anita Mac
    June 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    When I was in Croatia last summer, everyone told me I need to get to Monenegro. I just didn’t have enough time in the schedule. I absolutely fell in love with Croatia so can only imagine that Montenegro would also be a fabulous destination. The climate, the people and the landscape – should try to find my way back to that neck of the woods. Love going to the places that have had less tourist infiltration!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

      Yes it’s interesting to see places when they are just on the cusp of becoming ‘discovered’. This trip has definitely ignited my interest in this part of the world so hoping to make it out to Croatia next year.

  • Reply
    Chelsey
    June 20, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Montenegro looks absolutely beautiful; I will have to add it to my list! 🙂 Can’t wait to read more!

    -Chelsey, The City’s Heartbeat

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:36 am

      Thanks Chelsy, the scenery really was stunning, I loved the combination of lake, mountains and beaches all so close together.

  • Reply
    Shelley
    June 21, 2013 at 5:20 am

    We passed through Montenegro on a bus from Albania to Croatia last summer, and when I saw it out the windows, I desperately wished we’d made time for a stop there. The water and nature was absolutely stunning. We’ll def be heading back there in the future!!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:35 am

      There’s so much to see in that region this was only a taster but I’ll be heading back too and hope to spend a bit longer exploring.

  • Reply
    Paige Kane
    June 21, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I am looking forward to hearing more about Montenegro! It’ll probably end up on my wicked long list of places to visit!

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 21, 2013 at 10:34 am

      The travel list is ever-growing isn’t it – I’m sure I add places at twice the pace I tick them off!

  • Reply
    The Travelbunny
    June 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    Montenegro is a great destination. We stayed in Budva which is a great little town and so compact. I’d like to revisit and now that Tivat airport has opened it’s so convenient.

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      June 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      We did a quick stop in Budva while we drove along the coast – there’s so much building work going on there now, probably now the airport’s there, wonder if you’d recognise it in a few years?

  • Reply
    Irene E.
    June 28, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Reblogged this on Irene's Blog and commented:
    Wow! I want to go there..

  • Reply
    coolifedesign
    July 23, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Great post and you wrote it on my Bday! I wanted to visit Montenegro for some time and this must be a sign hehe
    Best,
    Jimmy

    • Reply
      Lucy Dodsworth
      July 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Must be fate then! Hope you do get to make it out there soon, it’s a fantastic country.

  • Reply
    Hotel bibione
    October 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    It is a pleasure to admire a new travel destination blooming on the Adriatic coastline. Montenegro is gorgeous and quite popular nowadays.

  • Reply
    marissatejada
    April 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Nice post! Planning on going soon. Love the Balkans.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      April 22, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks – I’m hoping to get back and explore more soon too, it’s a beautiful area and changing so fast at the moment.

  • Reply
    roosendansontour
    March 25, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Since I’m going to work and live in Montenegro soon, this post makes me look forward even more to explore & live in this beautiful country!

    • Reply
      Lucy
      March 25, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Fantastic – it’s a great place, hope you enjoy exploring!

  • Reply
    Daniel
    January 11, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    I have visited Croatia three times now from Australia in my eight European trips since my twenties as fell in love with the place on first trip. The Slovenian(Piran) , Croatian and Montenegrin Riviera is the nicest in Europe and I mean more beautiful than Italian, French Riviera’s or the Greek coastline. There are over 1200 islands in Croatia and they are close together so no long strenuous boat trips and the waters are very safe with no sharks or whales etc. Piran, Porec, Rovinj, Opatilja, Plitvice, Sibenik, Krka, Makarska, Pucisca, Bol, Hvar, Vis. Funnily enough most Aussie’s I meet do the well known locations first but I’m always amazed at how many come back saying Croatia is their favorite destination.

    • Reply
      Lucy
      January 12, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      So much to see! Thanks for the suggestions, there are a few new ones to me there so I’ll check them out.

  • Reply
    Tanie Bilety
    August 12, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    I wish there would be more flights to Montenegro from Poland :/ by car its more than 15 hours… Best connections is from Berlin… eh..

    • Reply
      Lucy
      August 14, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      That’s such a shame – we hired a car and drove from Dubrovnik as there are a lot more flights from the UK to Croatia than to Montenegro.

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