Montenegro is a tiny country that packs a lot of punch. It is swiftly growing in popularity and becoming the latest hot destination since its bigger neighbor Croatia becomes overcrowded and expensive. But as for now, Montenegro retains its distinctive charm and offers tourists a huge variety of attractions to pack into their All-Inclusive Vacation Package Europe.
(Day 1): Bay of Kotor
(Day 2): Kotor
(Day 3): Budva
(Day 4): Bar/Stari Bar
(Day 5): Ulcinj
(Day 6): Niksic
(Day 7): Lake Skadar
Kotor, Budva, Stari Bar, Ulcinj, Niksic, Lake Skadar
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East of Herceg Novi, this extensive, forested bay is dotted with a blend of old Greek and Turkish settlements, and tiny, concrete hotels that time forgot. The eight-room Palace Hotel in Zelinka possess more character than most, and there is also a pebbly beach at just 50 meters distance. In Baosici, the house of Pierre Loti (the French sailor whose memoirs encouraged Madama Butterfly) is a good place to visit. He stayed here for a while on the shore and wrote another romantic short story. The house today is a ruin but has serene views. Aurora Hotel situated on the quayside in Herceg Novi is owned by Serbian film director Emir Kusturica and is packed with his wife’s artwork. There’s a vibrant cafe-bar and tiny cinema downstairs. For food, Konoba Feral, just below the castle in Herceg Novi, has some amazing Montenegrin wines from the Savina Monastery and serves outstanding as well as affordable grilled calamari, swordfish, and black risotto. Restoran Olimpija in Kumbor is a delightful family affair. Diners can hear mama in the kitchen while her sons are out front, and the local seafood and fish soup are amazing.
This jewel of Venetian Montenegro, with its pantiled roofs and mountainous city walls, is in danger of being flooded by tour groups but for the moment the shopkeepers are still keen to communicate. Hotel Marija was opened by Voljin Radanovic in 1995. Nowadays, his 17-bedroom mansion feels like over-modernized and the street outside can get noisy, but it is right in the center. Cats happen to be the unofficial symbol of Kotor and cat-lovers can check out the Cat Museum and the Cats of Kotor Shop, both of which are full of locally made moggyphernalia. When it comes to food, head straight to Bastion, which is a decent old restaurant that serves good-value fish dishes in the silent North Gate end of the city.
Budva used to be President Tito’s Benidorm, a long arc of beach mounted by 1960s high-rise hotels. Nowadays, it’s creeping upmarket, but the old Venetian city at the end of the beach which was restored after an earthquake in 1979 possess some peaceful streets and cafe-strewn piazzas. The Hotel Astoria is a modern boutique hotel constructed into the old sea wall, having an attractive roof terrace. The best sights include the citadel and the four churches, two Orthodox and two Catholic that stand together in the square below. Mogren beach is one of the best in Montenegro and is only 1km away from the old town, down a narrow path that keeps the crowds away. For somewhere unique to eat and drink, the Budva Beer and Bike Club host local rock bands.
Stari Bar stands 4 kilometers inland from the new port. It is a ruined Byzantine fortress-city that was first conquered by the Venetians and then the Ottomans, then later abandoned after an explosion at the starting of the 20th century. Locals refer to it as “our Pompeii”. Once you’ve explored the steep streets of the old city and wandered its 17th-century Turkish hammam, check out one of the world’s oldest olive trees - known as Stara Maslina. It is said to be over 2,000 years old and grows just below the city. Kaldrma is a famous restaurant here. It’s ragged, with an outside seating area of unstable furniture and shabby cushions, but the owner serves amazing japrak(stuffed vine leaves). There are no hotels in Stari Bar itself, but The Princess, situated just down by the archaeological museum in New Bar, is a comfortable place. You can ask for a room with a sea-view balcony and will soon forget the slightly corporate ambiance.
This lovely, 90% Albanian city in Montenegro possess a charming old town center, full of fountains. Explore Breguet mosque and the adjacent food market, with its evidently Ottoman flavor. On a rocky outcrop of Ulcinj’s old town, sits the 9-room Hotel Kalaja, which is owned by the Bushati family. It has amazing sea views and is only 200 meters from Malla Plaza. For food, Bazar is a balconeyed restaurant overlooking the main drag of the city. It is run by three brothers, who catch the fish every morning – the sea bass is exceptional. Wine lovers should board a taxi up to Vinarija Milovic, in the hills north-east of the old city, which is the southernmost wine producer of Montenegro– fill your suitcase with its Vranac Status Barrique.
Niksic is a tiny city located right in the middle of Montenegro. It is well situated for a stop on your way from the coast to the mountains. The town center is pedestrianized and the streets are dotted with lots of pretty cafes and restaurants. Niksic is nice to explore for a day but you don’t really need any longer. It’s also possible to consider it as a lunch break while passing through as the country is so compact that it can be crossed in a day’s driving.
Lake Skadar spans the border between Montenegro and Albania and is accessible from both sides. However, the larger part is situated in Monetengro. This huge lake area is a haven for bird watchers and a boat trip through the wetlands of the lake offers lots of opportunities to spot all kinds of wildlife including water snakes! There are some tiny villages with accommodation around the lakeside and also areas for camping. Visit a tiny island with a monastery and watch a beautiful sunset over the lake.