Get lost in 1,000-year-old towns with cobbled streets, chill out in quiet fishing villages dotted along the coast, and dance the night away in swanky open-air nightclubs. Traveling in Montenegro also means beautiful, raw nature experiences. In an area covering just 13,938 km2, you can catch your meal in Balkan's largest lake, sunbathe on the longest beach of the Adriatic coast, get on board a boat and sail around Europe's southernmost fjord, explore the continent's largest bird sanctuary and one of Europe's last remaining primeval forests.
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Mountains, lakes and ocean
Montenegro or Crna Gora (which means black mountains) is indeed a mountainous country with plenty of options if you like your travel with a side of outdoor adventure. You’ll find excellent hiking spots with well marked trails on the countryside of Biogradska Gora, around Kolašin, in Lovćen National Park and not least in Durmitor National Park listed by UNESCO as a site of natural and cultural heritage. With 23 mountains over 2300 meters of altitude and surrounded by the wild rivers Piva and Tara the whole Durmitor area gives you perfect conditions for hiking, climbing, biking and whitewater rafting.
With Mediterranean climate along the narrow coastal belt between Croatia and Albania, continental climate in central Montenegro and alpine climate to the north and east in the mountainous regions on the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia, Montenegro also has an exceptionally varied plant and animal life. Spend a day at Lake Skadar famous for its diversity of fauna with 270 kinds of birds inhabiting the area and around 50 different species of fish living in the Lake or catch a glimpse of bears, wolves, wild boars, deer and eagles in the surrounding mountain regions.
Still Montenegro's most popular holiday destinations lie along on the 300-kilometer coastline between Croatia in the west and Albania in the east. If you want a tan and a swim don’t miss the Budva Riviera with its beautiful coastal towns and fine beaches, including Bečići, Petrovac, the old Roman settlement Budva, and the very photogenic peninsula Sveti Stefan known for its exclusive hotels and holiday resorts attracting movie stars and sports celebrities.
Kotor and Podgorica
The tiny fortified town of Kotor is also something quite special with its churches and palaces dating back from Venetian rule. You probably won’t regret climbing to the top of the San Giovanni Fortress offering you magnificent views of both the town and the Bay of Kotor.
With only 650.000 inhabitants and being a country of natural beauty Montenegro might not be your first choice if you are on the look for some urban action but the small capital of Podgorica is actually quite good fun and easy accessible from the coast.
Montenegro is in general a pretty easy country to travel in. An extensive bus network makes it easy to go to the farthest corners of the country. Although the train network isn’t as widespread as the bus there are a few very beautiful rides that you might want to check out, like the one from Bar on the coast, through Virpazar on Lake Skadar to Podgorica and all the way to Serbia.
With olive oil and milk
Your food experiences in Montenegro depend on what region you are traveling to. By the Adriatic Sea and the Bay of Kotor you get fish and seafood prepared with plenty of olive and often served with polenta. Around Lake Skadar the best catch is the carp prepared with dried plums, apples and quince. The mountain kitchen around Durmitor is rustic and the food as well as the way it’s prepared characterized by old traditions. Try lamb ispod saća – which means prepared under a bell-shaped lid so that the meat stays juicy. Montenegrins are generally also fond of dairy products. Homemade cheese and milk are used in various ways in a variety of dishes, such as lamb cooked in sheep's milk. Try also kajmak, a sour, lightly salted cheese made by skimming the top layer of boiled milk and then cooling it down. It’s also quite yummy to eat your kajmak on bread for breakfast.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t know much about Montenegro, which is one of the newest independent countries in the world. Montenegro emerged as a sovereign state after just over 55 percent of the population opted for independence in a referendum in May 2006. Until then Montenegro had been in the union of Serbia and Montenegro - itself created only three years earlier out of the remnant of the former Yugoslavia.