Situated in the Balkans on the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is a country once part of Yugoslavia, which is slowly regaining its tourism appeal after the tragic civil war. It borders Croatia (Jewel of the Adriatic sea) and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the north, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east, and Albania to the south.

Montenegro is one of those European holiday destinations that seem ever-so-slightly too good to be true. At less than two-thirds the size of Wales, you’d expect it to have a few things going for it. It turns out, however, that this tiny Balkan country has managed to squeeze a slew of natural, historical and cultural wonders befitting a sweeping dynasty into a decidedly petite 13,812 km2. Its natural wonders are especially instrumental in the country’s tourism increase, with a picturesque coastline that easily gives Croatia a run for its money.

Montenegro is the pocket rocket of Southern European vacation destinations – compact, but with a whole lot of bang for your buck. It’s also the youngest member of the European Union.  Here’s why Montenegro should be on your must-visit list in 2019:

Petrovac Harbour, Montenegro
Petrovac Harbour, Montenegro

The gorgeousness astounds

You get ‘wow that’s pretty’ pretty and then you get ‘why am I tearing up right now?’ pretty. Montenegro falls into the latter category. This tiny little country sneaks up on you with sparkling turquoise lakes, verdant national parks, awe-inspiring ravines and crystal-clear oceans dotted with sun-drenched islands. Not to mention hidden coves, bustling little coastal hamlets and the beaches… In fact, Montenegrin beaches are so astounding it actually deserves its own heading.

The beaches

Jip, Montenegro’s beaches are that epic. The pebbly shores along the Montenegrin coastline are privy to some of the most epic oceanside scenery in all of Europe. So, aside from the sweeping ocean views, you’ll be treated to views of mountains that jut sharply from the waters, as well as ancient walled villages that cling to the rocks overlooking the waters below. EPIC.

Related: Need a beach break? Europe is your answer.

It smells lovely!

Bet you didn’t see that one coming did you? However, the fact is that Montenegro is a treat for all the senses – including the olfactory. Depending on where you go and during which season you visit, you could be treated to salty breezes, mossy mountain drafts or the herbaceous scent of wild herbs, conifers and alluring Mediterranean blossoms.

Traditionally dressed locals in Old Town, Podgorica, Montenegro
Traditionally dressed locals in Old Town, Podgorica, Montenegro

The food (#yummmm)

Montenegrins like to cook and love to eat. Pack your stretchy pants and get ready to go home with at least 5 kg of holiday weight. Modern-day Montenegrin cuisine is a melting pot of cultural influences inspired by Turkey, Austria, Italy and the rest of Montenegro’s Balkan neighbours. Think fresh seafood with lashings of garlic and tart lemon juice, and small plates of squid-ink risotto paired with bone-dry white wine, served overlooking the ocean. Or how about some cured prosciutto from the famous little village of Njeguši, paired with stone-fired bread, stuffed peppers, and plump olives; followed by cashew baklava and a bracing shot of grape brandy?

The locals are wonderful

Not all Balkan cultures are created equal, and while it is possible to enjoy a holiday despite a less-than-hearty welcome it’s always nice when the people are, well, nice. This is very much the case in Montenegro. These folks don’t scoff at tourists. You are far more likely to be swooped up in their revelry than you are to get the side-eye.

This is sailing central

If you love sailing, you’ll adore Montenegro. Sailing is a national pastime and it’s easy to see why. The country gets 250+ days of sunny weather per year and there is so much to explore offshore. Think pirate bays, hidden coves, idyllic islands and more!

Laurel leaf, Montenegro, Europe
Berries and leaves, wild nature, Montenegro

It has a fascinating history

Montenegro has sat on the borderline between east and west since the split of the Roman Empire more than 16 centuries ago. This is why you find such a colourful combination of Roman structures juxtaposed against monasteries, churches and mosques of all religious persuasions. Not to mention the fact that it managed to survive independently of both the Eastern Bloc and West as a non-aligned communist state. Given all that, you can imagine the interesting historical tapestry against which its culture developed.

You can head into the wild

If you’re not too keen on big crowds and prefer to go off the beaten track, you can still have a wonderful holiday in Montenegro. The Durmitor and Prokletije mountains, as well as the Biogradska Gora forest, offers plenty of outdoor adventures. Here you can hike, kayak or ride a horse, and join in the day-to-day comings and goings of smaller, less touristy villages.

It’s not crazy expensive (yet!)

As a tourist destination, Montenegro has only recently begun to come out of its shell. Chances are it will be the bell of the Balkan ball pretty soon, but in the meantime savvy travellers can still enjoy affordable rates on accommodation, activities, transport and more. Best to get there soon though – it’s becoming trendier as we speak!

Kotor, Montenegro - Europe Travel
Church of St. Lukes, Montenegro

What it lacks in size, Montenegro certainly makes up for in scenery, culture and history! Want to head to Montenegro with us? Head here.

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