Perast is a UNESCO Heritage protected town in the centre of the Bay of Kotor. It's a beautiful, Mediterranean town that embodies the bay's prosperous past. A short walk through Perast takes you past a long line of palaces and churches. Some of the stone buildings have fallen into ruin and others are hotels or homes of local families. This is a lovely, quiet place to stay any time of year and it's car-free in summer which means it's not congested. Parking at either end of town and a shuttle service makes carrying your bags a breeze. There are several waterfront restaurants which are perfect for long dinners on warm, summer evenings, whether you're staying here or in one of the villages nearby. Perast is also home to one of Montenegro's top attractions: Our Lady of the Rocks, a church island whose history goes back over 500 years. Put Perast on your list of places to visit!
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/perast
It wouldn’t be a trip to Montenegro without visiting the country’s most popular destination, Kotor. The UNESCO World Heritage Listed Kotor Old Town is among the most enchanting walled cities on the Adriatic, and a worthy rival to Dubrovnik or Split. Medieval Roman churches, Venetian palaces and towering Byzantine towers reveal the legacy of the many different empires that have occupied Kotor over the centuries. Under the shadow of the legendary St. John’s Fort, the myths and tales surrounding Kotor will keep you enthralled, while the sheer beauty of the orange-roofed houses, narrow lanes strung with laundry and resident Kotor cats will have you reaching for your camera at every turn. Entering the Old Town through the gates still marked with Venetian insignia feels like taking a step back in time. The best way to experience Kotor is by ambling along the cobbled streets in the early morning before the crowds arrive. Climb up to St. John’s (either via the official trail or via the Ladder of Kotor) for a birds-eye view of the rooftops and turquoise bay beyond.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/kotor
Montenegro is synonymous with the coast and the bay, but the dramatic landscapes of the country’s interior are equally as impressive. Almost the entire eastern half of Montenegro is mountainous. Durmitor National Park in the northern corner is the premier destination for hiking, kayaking, and other adventure activities. Durmitor sits on a plateau 1,500m above sea level, surrounded by high mountains, glacial lakes and deep canyons. The 150km-long Tara River that flows through the park offers some of the best water rapids anywhere in Europe. Trails are plentiful – the most famous being the day hike to the summit of Bobotov Kuk. The nearby alpine town of Žabljak (the highest town in the Balkans) is an ideal base for visiting Durmitor and is beautiful in its own right, with wooden cottages, meadows, and roaming flocks of sheep. This part of Montenegro is particularly beautiful in late spring when the wildflowers come into bloom.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/durmitor
Smaller than Durmitor but offering similarly spectacular mountain scenery, Lovcen National Park sits above Kotor at the south-eastern tip of the bay. From the western side, you can catch a panoramic view of the entire bay – and the best sunset in all of Montenegro. The highlight of Lovcen is visiting the Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. Dedicated to Montenegro’s most beloved national hero – a prince, poet and philosopher who was born nearby in Cetinje – it’s a surreal piece of architecture that can only be accessed by climbing a very long set of undercover stairs. The design, which includes a chapel adorned with 200,000 gold tiles and a pitch-black burial chamber, has divided Montenegrins. Some people love it, others hate it. Whichever way you fall, you’ll agree that the view from the round viewing platform at the back of the mausoleum is hard to beat. There are two ways to reach the mausoleum: Along the highway from Cetinj, or via the perilous Kotor Serpentine, an 8km stretch of road with no fewer than 16 hairpin turns. As you zig zag your way up (or down) the serpentine, you get unmatched views of the bay.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/lovcen
Located close to Montenegro’s second-largest city, Niksic, Ostrog Monastery is the country’s most sacred Orthodox Christian site and a major draw for pilgrims from around the world. Even if you don’t have a religious bone in your body, I’m sure you’ll agree that the monastery is an absolute marvel. Shimmering white against a bed of ochre stone, Ostrog is perched on a mountain cliff 900m above the lush Zeta valley. The upper monastery dates back to 1665 and is dedicated to St. Basil. It comprises numerous candle-lit cloisters and open balconies set within two large caves, which gives the impression that the monastery has been carved out of the rock. Viewing Ostrog from the marked lookout points in the valley below is one thing, but climbing the stairs to see it up close is another. The more impressive feature is a set of colourful iconographic mosaics made by pressing tiny pieces of shimmering glass and stone directly into the surface of the rock.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/ostrog
Biogradska Gora National park lies in the north east of Montenegro. It's the smallest of the national parks of Montenegro, but it's so important because it's one of only three remaining virgin forests left in Europe and trees in the park are up to 400 years old. There are lots of reasons to plan a visit to Biogradska Gora. It's a great place for families, with an open-air noddy train ride and boats that you can hire to row around the lake. It's an outdoor and nature lover's paradise too. There are lots of hiking and biking trails, horse-riding and jeep safari tours you can take through the park. Or if you just want to kick back and do some light sightseeing and spend lots of time relaxing in a Jacuzzi and getting massages, Biogradska Gora is the perfect mountain retreat to relax. You'll find excellent hotels in nearby Kolašin and no crowds.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/biogradska-gora
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Skadar is the largest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, covering an area of over 500 square-kilometres. Despite its size, it’s a true hidden gem in Europe that has somehow managed to avoid the limelight. It’s a nesting ground for endemic and migratory birds (more than 280 species in total). On the other side of the lake, the Albanian city of Skadar is the gateway to the Accursed Mountains. There are a couple of different ways you can take in the beauty of Skadar. The first is by riding the train from Podgorica to Bar, the last leg of the Belgrade to Bar route, which is counted among the most beautiful train rides in the world. The train runs directly across the lake via a narrow-gauge railway. Virpazar serves as the main gateway to Lake Skadar National Park and you can always find someone who’s willing to take you out on the water for a couple of hours. From the lake, you can spot Besac Fortress, one of the oldest fortifications in the country. May is the best time to visit Skadar for bird watching. In summer, parts of the lake are covered with a bed of pretty water lilies. Lake Skadar looks incredible from afar, which is why you must stop at the Pavlova Strana viewpoint near the town of Rijeka Crnojevića for a panorama of the marshes and the waterway’s horseshoe bend.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/lake-skadar
The Blue Cave on Lustica Peninsula is one of the must-see attractions while you’re on the coast. The Blue Cave is the largest of many sea caves on Lustica Peninsula. It’s called the Blue Cave because the way the light hits the sandy bottom and reflects up through the water makes the whole cave look blue. It’s very beautiful and it’s a lucky quirk because almost all of the coast here is rocky, not sandy. You can see the blue light shining out of the cave when you approach, but to really see it you’ve got to go inside and get underwater. Don’t forget your snorkel or goggles when you come here! The water is only about 5 metres deep and then goes much deeper further inside the cave. This part is rocky rather than sandy and if you bring your snorkel or goggles you’ll be able to see some small fish swimming about. The ceiling is about 9m high so there’s plenty of room for boats to come in. The tour boats will come and give you a chance to get out, have a swim, snorkel and explore before they set off again. You can explore the cave for 10-15 minutes and then head off to the next stop.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/tivat
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The island of Sveti Stefan is the poster child of Montenegrin tourism, and it’s not difficult to see why. This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Montenegro. Located off the country’s central coast, just south of Budva and the Bay of Kotor, Sveti Stefan started life in the 15th century as a humble fishing village. Built on an isolated islet, the whole town was fortified to afford its residents protection from pirates and Ottomon invasions. Sveti Stefan is now joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway – but it’s off limits unless you happen to be a guest of the Aman hotel. That’s right: In 2008, the entire island was rented by Aman, who transformed the stone village into a 5-star resort. Sveti Stefan is best viewed from afar anyway! Shady paths along the chalk-coloured cliffs that line the coast north of the causeway are a great place to walk and watch the sun go down over the island. The Church St. Sava, a 20-minute drive up a steep road in the hills above the coast, affords the best views of the island. While you’re up there, also visit Praskvica Monastery, a charming monastic complex with gardens and resident goats.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/sveti-stefan/
Right by the Albanian border at Montenegro's southern tip, Ulcinj is an ancient seaport that was once infamous as the Adriatic Sea's pirate capital. Today, Ulcinj is a unique Montenegrin town with a largely Muslim population and some beautiful mosques and excellent Middle Eastern restaurants and coffeeshops along its peaceful seaside promenade. The area is also known for its beaches. Long Beach (Velika Plaža) as the name implies, is the longest beach on the Adriatic Sea (13 km) and it stretches from Bojana to Port Milena in Ulcinj. One of main activities in last years is kite surfing. Beautiful 13 kilometer – long sandy beach, with winds almost every day during the summer, makes it an ideal place for kite surfing and other related water sports such as windsurfing. No wonder that even The New York Times included Long Beach in a ranking of top travel destinations for 2015. Do not forget to visit Ada Bojana, the magical island created by a river delta of the river Bojana. 4,8 km2, Ada Bojana has a triangular shape, and it is bordered by Bojana river from two sides, and Adriatic Sea from the south side. Exotic and beautiful, Ada Bojana is also a perfect place for nudism.
Find out more: www.visit-montenegro.com/ulcinj
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