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A Montenegro guide - beautiful beaches and a rich cultural history

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Montenegro is one of Europe's smallest countries, however, despite its small stature it packs a punch with incredible landscapes and pristine beach resorts. Most visitors are drawn to the Bay of Kotor and the rest of the coastline; however, it's also worth exploring the mountains and canyons inland too.  

Richard Rowels

My Destination local expert on

Montenegro

What to see and do

 

Montenegro has straddled east and west ever since the Roman Empire split in two and thanks to this it has a rich cultural history. The architectural landscape is a mix of solid fortresses, mosques and minarets, intricate Orthodox monasteries and ancient Catholic churches. Head five kilometers south of Budva, the main holiday center in Montenegro, to see the impossibly picturesque island Sveti Stefan for the biggest 'wow' moment on the entire coast. Resting in a cliff face 900m above the Zeta valley, the Ostrog Monastery is also definitely worth a visit.

 

Culture

 

As you might expect in one of the world's newest countries (Montenegro has only been a nation since it declared independence from Serbia in 2006), Montenegrins are proud of their nationality. Most locals belong to the Orthodox Church, with mosques found in the Albanian areas. Visitors are able to visit religious buildings, however, you will need to dress appropriately.

 

Outdoor activities

 

Montenegro has emerged as an 'adventure tourism' destination in recent years and you can choose between beach or mountain activities. Hike around the peaks of the country's national parks, Durmitor National Park is particularly beautiful. You can also try your hand at white water rafting along the Tara River Canyon (incidentally, the deepest river canyon in Europe). This World Heritage Site is also home to snowy peaks that make skiing in the winter in this area an option. On the beach you can try your hand at a range of watersports including jet skiing, parasailing, snorkelling, pedaloes and rafting. Budva is a prime spot for these, although kayaking around Kotor Bay is also enjoyable. Other activities on offer include mountain biking, horse riding, diving, sailing, kitesurfing and paragliding.

 

Where to stay

 

Montenegro has been marketed as a luxury destination so hotels can be overpriced and in some areas it can be tough to find anything under 50 euros in peak season. Rooms and apartments in private houses offer a cheaper alternative to the big hotels. The main holiday centres are coastal towns like Budva and Kotor, but if you're on a budget stay in one of less popular towns as the touristy destinations can be a lot more expensive. Montenegro is small enough that you can easily drive to the main areas.

 

Food and drink

 

In tourist areas, traditional meals have largely been pushed out by pizza and pasta and prices are higher than in neighboring countries. Traditional restaurants are called konoba and on the menu chances are you'll see grilled kebabs, goulash and cabbage leaves stuffed with mincemeat. Hams and cheese are particular local delicacies to taste and Njegusi is known for producing some of the best. Restaurant portions are normally huge, the fresh fish and seafood are particularly good and there are some good local wines and beers.

 

Practical information

 

Montenegro's towns are generally safe but its roads can be dangerous. Many aren’t very wide and have steep drops to one side. If you are driving, keep calm, stick to the speed limit and don't let the random tooting scare you. Watch out for venomous vipers at Montenegro's ruins in the summer and head straight to a medical center if you are bitten. Check with police before photographing any official building they are guarding.