If Croatia looks like the new Italy, then could Montenegro, its smaller neighbor to the south, become the new Croatia? It’s hard to scroll through Instagram these days without spotting someone living their best life on the beaches of the Adriatic – but rather than enjoying the shores of Rimini or Puglia, it seems we’re heading just as much in Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split.
But what do the southernmost climates of the Dalmatian coast offer? This summer, I flew to Dubrovnik as a gateway to discover the unsung highlights of Montenegro.
The town of Bar, not far from the Albanian coast, may not be the most popular tourist spot, but its old town known as Stari Bar is an ancient urban marvel. Located on picturesque foothills 5 km from the new town, the medieval center is home to a monastery, best seen at sunset.
The Bay of Kotor is much more than its eponymous city. Just 5km north of the main center of the bay is the picture-postcard pretty village of Perast. It’s also a great option to base yourself and while you’re there, ogle the Church Islands across the bay.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful places to swim in the Adriatic, Sveti Stefan is a breathtaking islet just south of Budva. The site is attached to the mainland by a tombolo and although it is now a private hotel complex, the tongue of land serves as a beach facing north and south for the most idyllic swimming.
Check any Balkan in-flight magazine these days and you’ll find condo listings for the region’s newest real estate hotspot, Porto Montenegro. The resort is close to the Croatian border and is ideal for observing the bold and beautiful Balkan people. Book into new luxury hotels such as the Regent Porto Montenegro or maybe even invest in your own vacation getaway! Adriatic dream pad, anyone?
For a small country, Montenegro is full of biodiversity, especially due to its smallest national park. Located in the north of the country, it contains some of the last virgin forests in Europe and one of the three tropical forests on the continent. It’s a 90-minute drive from Podgorica and with hiking and camping in a mountain hut, it’s a dream for more intrepid hikers.
- Aer Lingus flies to Dubrovnik all year round from Dublin and operates an extremely popular summer service from Cork which ends this month and returns next Easter. From Dubrovnik, several bus operators head south to Montenegro.