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Best places to visit in Montenegro
Montenegro may be the smallest of the Balkan countries, but it is certainly up there with the most impressive. The landscape is striking at every vantage point – dramatic mountain peaks and limestone cliffs contrast with delicate UNESCO-protected parks and charming medieval-looking towns. There are many iconic landmarks and destinations to visit in Montenegro.
The island churches of Sveti Dorde and Our Lady of the Rocks replicate the famous landscape of Slovenia’s Lake Bled, and Kotor’s Old Town has a similar feel to it to Croatia’s Dubrovnik. Although there are similarities between Montenegro and other Balkan countries, Montenegro itself has some unique landmarks and national parks which will truly captivate you.
We have included some of the best places to visit in Montenegro and within this list, are the stunning national parks: Lake Skadar, the Bay of Kotor, Durmitor and Biogradska Gora National Park. Each park hosts a huge expanse of grasslands, alpine mountains and rich forests. That said, they all offer something to set them apart from one another, and help put Montenegro on the map.
Biogradska Gora has of the last remaining virgin forests in Europe. Durmitor features the deepest gorge in Europe, named Tara River Canyon. Lake Skadar separates Montenegro and Albania, and the lake itself was declared a protected park in 1983. And these unique characteristics that have applied to the national parks, continue with the cities and other destinations in Montenegro. Although small, the country has some of the most dramatic sites to visit and we have included six of the best places to visit in Montenegro.
Located in the western peninsular of the country, Kotor is a fortified town famous for its architecture and atmospheric views out to the Adriatic Sea. The town itself is charming, with cobbled streets, museums, churches, cafes and Venetian palaces on every corner. Kotor offers a contrast of quaint and small alleyways lined with historic architecture, against the expansive landscape that are reminiscent of Norwegian fjords.
The Bay of Kotor (known locally as the Boka Kotorska) is a breath-taking landscape of mountains, lakes and valleys. When the sun shines down on the Bay of Kotor, the lake glistens. Surrounding the bays are historic towns which have their own individual charm. These include Risan, Perast, Tivat and of course, Kotor.
Montenegro’s cliff top monastery might just be the most dramatic in Europe. The seemingly-impossible building itself is built up on the Ostroška Greda rock and was delicately carved around the cliff. In terms of architecture and presentation, this monastery is one of the most impressive landmarks in the country.
The Ostrog Monastery is located in the center of the country and although it was built in the 17th century (but after a devastating fire, it was restored around 1920), it is today, still one of the most popular pilgrimages for Christians. Many make the pilgrimage to say their prayers to Saint Basil of Ostrog who is believed to have been buried here.
Another impressive monastery in Montenegero is Morača which is also located in the central part of the country. Morača was founded in 1252 and is home to some of the world’s most accomplished religious artists from the 17th century. This is an active monastery so you may see some monks going about their daily life if you visit here.
Situated on the western coast is the most exclusive destinations – Sveti Stefan. Form afar, this small island may replicate Dubrovnik’s orange-roofed buildings and walled community, but it is far from that. Sveti Stefan is a small island which is connected to the mainland by a short causeway. To get across, you must be staying at the 5-star Aman resort which boasts its own beaches, spas and private excursions out on the ocean.
The islet itself is UNESCO-protected and, although the causeway remains closed to those who are not staying in the private resort, you can still see and photograph Sveti Stefan. In fact, it is regarded as one of Montenegro’s most photographed destinations.
Biogradska Gora National Park
As one of Montenegro’s four national parks, Biogradska is certainly a park to be praised in conservation today. It is one of few parks in Europe to home a virgin forest, which means it has been untouched or undestroyed by man. Considering that so many of Europe’s national parks have undergone deforestation, this is what makes Biogradska so special.
The park is situated in the central part of the country and can be accessed by train or car from any of the nearby cities. The park is definitely worth visiting, especially for those active travelers who are looking to do some hiking or skiing in the winter. The lakes in the park glisten in the sunshine and some views are just as spectacular as those in Canada, like Morraine Lake.
Durmitor National Park
Think the Jurassic landscape (minus the dinosaurs), and this is what Durmitor National Park is like. Vivid green mountains and grasslands, emerald azure lakes and dramatic snow-peaked mountains. There are around 18 glacial lakes and bodies of water within the park, including the Black Lake which is one of the most photographed landscapes in Montenegro.
As a result of glaciers and erosion, the Tara River Canyon inside the Durmitor National Park is home to Europe’s deepest gorge which is attractive for both hiking in the summer, and skiing in the winter. Because of its popularity with active travelers, hiking routes and paths are easily marked.
Budva Old Town
Located on the western coastline of Montenegro is a charming small town named Budva. With alleyways full of character and charm inland Budva Old town, and the Adratic Sea on its doorstep, this small town has so much to offer for a day visit, or even longer. The Budva Riveria encapsulates both natural beauty (sandy beaches and huge mountain faces), as well as architectural beauty – with an enchanting Roman Ruins and beautiful churches.
Other places in Montenegro include Slovenia’s capital – Podgorica, Perast (known for its churches, palaces and monasteries), Tivat (great for sailing and boating), and Kolasin (particularly good for skiing). With undisturbed coastlines, for those looking for beautiful beaches, head to Becici, Ulcinj and Sutomore among others.
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