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Montenegro—you’ve probably never heard of it, but neither have many other people, and that’s part of its charm. Easy to reach on a cheap flight from the UK, with a very low cost of living, this is one place to visit that won’t blow all your tax savings in one foul sweep.
Montenegro is sandwiched between Serbia and Albania on the coast of the achingly beautiful Adriatic Sea. It is known for its delicious seafood, cooked with an Italian influence. It’s unbeatable when paired with local Montenegrin wines such as Vranac or Pro Corde,which are cheaper than the cost of a bottle of Evian back home!
Culture and History
Kotor is right on the protected waters of the Bay of Kotor, close to the Lovcen National Park and surrounded by rocky peaks and forested hills. If God were planning an outdoor adventure park, it would probably look very much like this. Hiking, kayaking, cycling and outdoor adventures surround this charming city with its landmark domed churches and red-tile roofs.
Kotor has several unusual places to stay such as the four star boutique Hotel Astoria in the UNESCO Listed 13th century Buca Palace. For Montenegrin charm, it’s hard to beat the Apartments Parteli, just 250 metres fromthe beach, or the Apartman Na Pjaci Od Muzeja in the Old City, which has a courtyard and all mod cons.
Kotor Bay is actually the southernmost fjord in Europe and is suitably impressive.The protected waters make it the ideal place for yachting, fishing, waterskiing and wakeboarding. Hire a boat complete with skipper, watersports equipmentandfuel for a very affordable day’s adventures on the water. Alternatively, kayak to the island of Our Lady of the Rocks with a church on top. Unlike the neighboring island of Sveto Dorde, with its ancient Benedictine monastery, Our Lady is actually a manmade island in Kotor Bay which was created by sinking numerous old ships and filling them in with rocks!
You’ll probably want to start by orientating yourself with a stroll around the best preserved medieval walled town anywhere in the Mediterranean, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 20-meter high walls are over 1,000 years old and the cobblestone alleyways and streets are even older. Head uphill and start the 1,000 step climb to the fortress. It’s a great workout and the views across Kotor Bay are worth it. This is the first stretch of a 15km hike up Vrmac mountain which peaks at 710m above sea level.
After dark, Kotor has a surprisingly lively nightlife, due to it being a backpacker haven. When the pubs, taverns, cafés and bars finally close around 1 a.m., the nightclub Maximus, just outside the city walls, is just warming up.
If you fancy putting your feet up on a comfy lounger on a sandy beach, head down to the Almara Beach Club at neighboring Tivat.Kick back and relax or snap your fingers for beach waiter service when you fancy a few beers. Did I mention that swimming is excellent in the clear blue Adriatic waters? The snorkelling and diving near the cliffs at Tivat are pretty awesome too.
Head inland through Montenegro’s dramatic mountain scenery to explore the natural attraction in Durmitor National Park. Hiking trails abound around the glacial lakes, and outdoor adventure companies offer a variety of activities.
The ultimate attraction is white water rafting down the Tara River Canyon, the longest in Montenegro and the second deepest in the world. Rafting trips are wild as you grapple with the flow through stunning gorge scenery. The river is an unusual turquoise colour due to the glacial minerals it carried down from the ice melt. In summer, guided rafting tours cover 18km of river. In between spells of rafting you can swim in tranquil pools and enjoy a lunch of local cuisine.
Hiking in Montenegro
Hikers and trampers will want to tackle the big four hikes of Montenegro. Take your pick from guided walks to Lake Skara Waterfall, Orijen Mountain Hike, Vrmac Ridge Walk or the Obod Pools and Caves Hike, available through companies such as Undiscovered Montenegro and Wilderness Travel. Happy trails!
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