Montenegro (meaning the Black Mountain) is a small coastal country in Southeastern Europe overlooking the Adriatic sea. Even though it covers an area of just 13,812 sq mi, this little gem of nature is rapidly becoming one of the more attractive travel destinations in the world. The key to its increasing popularity lies in its undefinable essence. It is not just a beach-heavy summer destination, Montenegro also provides UNESCO-protected medieval towns and national parks, breathtaking verdant mountainsides, lakes, rivers, hiking and rafting opportunities, etc. The list is practically endless.
In case you have never visited, I’m here to help you ascertain why Montenegro has to be on your list of must-see destinations for years to come. Get your travel backpacks ready, for we are on our way.
Anyone who ends up reaching the seaside of Montenegro has to pay Kotor a visit. There are not too many fortified medieval towns preserved quite as well as it is. Even though many empires have ruled it over the centuries, the mark left by the Venetian Republic, at least architecturally, is the most enchanting one. But you would have to do yourself a favor by visiting Kotor’s Old Town and its 12-century Saint Tryphon Cathedral (UNESCO protected) in order to witness it. Of course, all sure-footed hikers are more than welcome to climb to Kotor’s hilltop fortress in order to capture one of the most staggering views on the bay. It is not without reason that the bay is called the Bay of Kotor.
A little further down the road from Kotor lies the mesmerizing little town of Perast. Much like Kotor’s old town, Perast also looks like a lost part of Venice which decided to drift away to Montenegro. In case you are a history buff, this UNESCO World Heritage site will be a real treat for you. Apart from being ornamented by 16 churches and beautiful old palazzos, Perast is home to two historically significant islands -The Island of Saint George and Our Lady of The Rocks. The former is a natural islet with the Saint George Benedictine monastery on it dating way back to the 12th century. In addition to the monastery, the island also contains the old Perast’s nobility graveyard. Our Lady of The Rocks, on the other hand, is a man-made island. The story behind how the islet came to be is pretty remarkable, but it is best to leave it to the locals to pass it on to you.
Montenegro has four national parks in total. Out of all of them, the smallest one is indeed the prettiest. Biogradska Gora National Park is home to one of the very few remaining virgin forests in Europe, stunning crystal clear glacial lakes, swift streams, and green meadows. Located in the region of Bjelašica (central Montenegro) right in between the rivers Lim and Tara, Biogradska Gora has one of the most mature and lushest eco-systems in the area. Hiking through the park would allow you to stumble upon 500-year-old trees, 10 kinds of mammals, 220 different plants, 150 kinds of birds, as well as 86 types of trees. Available summer activities include mountaineering, fishing, hunting, blackberry, and raspberry picking.
Lake Skadar belongs both to Montenegro (two-thirds) and Albania (one-third). Interestingly enough, it is shaped like a dolphin. Apart from historical reasons, this lake gained its reputation by being one of the most important and largest bird reserves in the whole of Europe. It is home to more than 250 species, including the endangered Dalmatian Pelican. Did we mention that it is the largest lake in the Balkans? Even if you are not an outdoorsy type of person, villages and fortresses surrounding the lake will help make your experience a cultural and historical one. Illustrious wildlife, accessibility (which can be reached easily from all sides), and rich history, definitely make the Skadar lake one of the must-see attractions in Montenegro.
If there ever was a paradise on earth, Durmitor National Park must have belonged to it. It hosts more than 160 bird species, dozens of mammals, and countless types of butterflies (reportedly, the largest variety in Europe). Since the National Park is located in the Dinaric Alps, mountaineers all over the world fling themselves here to explore the Durmitor Massif and its highest of peaks. Hikers are provided with 18 different glacial lakes to explore, whereas rafting enthusiasts can make the best of what the Tara River has to offer. Also, Tara River canyon has the second deepest gorge in the world!
It is a privilege to be able to witness nature’s most stunning landscapes. Some of them are located right here in the Durmitor National Park. Here, in the heart of Montenegro.
Nature has no borders. No matter the size of a country or a region, nature has its way of expressing its timeless beauty. Montenegro is the perfect case in point. From grand mountain slopes and lakes, all the way down to untouched seasides, it has it all. UNESCO protects many of Montenegro’s sites for obvious reasons. Therefore, if you are uncertain about where to go the following summer, do consider giving Montenegro a shot.