Daily trip to Montenegro
Heroic-looking highlands, pretty blonde bays overlooking the royal blue Adriatic Sea, antique Venetian villages and UNESCO walled cities.
Montenegro might be small, but this gorgeous nation has a huge array of natural and man-made wonders.
Once overlooked in favor of more well-known Mediterranean nations, Montenegro is fast gaining a reputation as a great travel destination. It’s easy to see why.
Mountainous hinterland nestles deep canyons, gushing rivers, glacial lakes and primeval forest, popular for adventure activity. The serpentine coast skirts glistening ports, from palazzo-embellished Perast in UNESCO-protected Bay of Kotor, to Tivat, a swanky super yacht marina.
New cruise ship routes, more flights, a popular land border with Croatia and whisperings amongst trailblazing travelers are drawing an influx of tourists to this honeypot. Abuzz with new five-star luxury hotels, such as the highly anticipated Chedi, and new high-end international restaurants, headlined by Nobu, Montenegro is the emerging icon of the Adriatic.
Beaches, glitz and history blend in equal measure in the most-visited destination in Montenegro. Budva Riviera is a playground of shiny super-yachts and pulsating nightlife. By day, it’s glamor at the beaches. Jaz beach is effervescent during Sea dance festival in summer.
Ancient history is there in the waterfront stone old town, Stari Grad, where marble streets and Venetian walls jut out of crystalline waters. Views from the Citadela are unparalleled, by day or while dancing the night away.
An amble through Budva Museum, the town walls, churches and Gallery of Modern Art allows sense of place.
Tip: For a breather, head six kilometers out of town to the charming village of Krapina, a hidden nature’s oasis unknown even to many locals. Pojata makes a charming lunch stop.
The fortified city acts as gatekeeper to the Unesco Bay of Kotor, Montenegro’s crowning glory. Stari Grad’s soul-stirring feat of enchanting churches and centuries-aged fortresses is given new lease of life by buzzing cafes, restaurants and bars.
Swimmers will delight in pristine waters at the pebble bay. Olive groves burrow the 300 meter-long Žanjic beach, while Uvalo Veslo is for adventurers seeking cliff-jumping and strong swimming currents.
Tip: For a touch of the quaint, Rose village hamlet at the tip of the peninsula serves a clutch of authentic summer al fresco dining spots, with glorious views.
Kotor old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a living breathing museum. The rabbit warren Old Town is a showcase of crumbling churches, Venetian-inspired architecture where the palazzo of wealthy seamen dot the shores.
The region’s proud seafaring history is portrayed in the Maritime museum of Montenegro, one of the most comprehensive museums on the Adriatic coast. The beauty of Kotor lies in its ancient relics brought to life by locals who still inhabit the town and frequent it’s offerings.
A steady 1,200 meter ascent of the 14th century town walls rewards visitors with magazine cover views across the deeply-indented fjord-like Bay of Kotor, coined Boka Bay.
Tip: No coastal trip is complete without sampling local delicacies. Visit the waterfront Galion restoran for squid-ink risotto, seafood bouillabaisse and monkfish dishes, washed down with Vranac Montenegrin wine.
Sveti Stefan island graces global magazine covers. It’s easy to see why. A red-roofed tangle of irregularly shaped whitewashed stone villas is suspended above turquoise sea, linked to a pink-sand beach by a jetty.
Formerly a fishing village jutting out on a peninsula, the walled island was a haven for families needing protection from invading Turks and pirates in the 1400s. Churches and ancient inscriptions are peppered throughout.
Tip: Now owned by the exclusive Aman resorts, only paying guests can enter the island, but a reservation at the on-site Nobu restaurant is good way to get a look in. Nearby, Crvena Glavica is a set of seven beaches of coarse flame sands, where clothing is optional.
This eye-catching stone town of Perast is a photogenic marvel of palazzos, exquisite from every angle.
The highlight floats offshore, where two picturesque island churches take centre-stage. Boat trips depart regularly from Perast.
Tip: Feast at Hotel Conte, a beautifully appointed and authentic waterfront property with residences on the Bay of Kotor. The seafront terrace serves extravagant seafood platters, fresh from the Adriatic.
The youngest kid on the tourist scene is a stark contrast to the ancient fishing villages of the Bay of Kotor.
Positioned on a sunny peninsula at the foot of Mt Vrmac, Tivat was once the region’s center of salt manufacturing and a strategic naval base. Today, it hosts an international airport and is undergoing a jetset-lifestyle renaissance thanks to its new superyacht marina.
Porto Montenegro, a massive redevelopment of the old naval base and shipyard, is a burgeoning tourism hub, drawing in huge foreign investment and the international nautical community.
Tip: It’s impossible to miss the regal Regent porto Montenegro hotel, an elegant boutique building occupying a strategic corner of the marina.
Coffee and cake refueling stops are a must here, before visiting the Naval Heritage Collection museum. The Regent spa is unadulterated bliss on the harbor, while the cuisine is of international gourmet standard.