A trip to the Balkans would not be complete without a visit to the mountainous, former Yugoslavian country of Montenegro. Although it is small, with a population of only 600 000, it has a whole lot of beauty and character for you to soak up. Adding to its charms is relative lack of tourists. Compared to it’s neighbour, Croatia, it is still yet to be discovered by the hoards, especially if you venture inland into untouched Montenegro.
We drove towards Lovcen National Park via some perilously narrow, hairpin curves up the mountainside on the way inland. Of course we stopped multiple times at insanely beautiful viewpoints of the bay along the way.
Before long, we reached a sweet little village called Njegusi (good luck pronouncing that one). This town looked like it was trapped in time. No department stores or fast-food chains. Just sporadically spaced, triangular houses and a whole lot of green space. We stopped here at an historical eatery (opened in 1888) for coffee and traditional cheese and prosciutto sandwiches.
Lovcen National Park
Our next stop was the Mausoleum where the accomplished Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar II Petrovich Njegos is buried. It’s located on the second highest peak of mount Lovcen. He was a well-loved king who spoke multiple languages and enjoyed writing poetry in his spare time. The Masuleum is very impressive, it’s made from marble with gold tiles on the ceiling.
At the viewpoint behind the tomb, you can see six countries on a clear day, Serbia, Bosnia, Albania, Croatia, Italy, and Montenegro. So cool!!
The trip continued towards Cetinje, the old capital of Montenegro. I really liked this quirky, artsy town. It is the historical, cultural and religious epicentre of Montenegro, with national museums and schools of fine arts. Locals congregated in the town square and enjoyed the sunshine, while art students met their friends with their easels in tow. We visited the town’s monastery which supposedly houses the right hand of John the Baptist, although it wasn’t on display the day we visited. I would love to come back here to stay for a few days and get off the more touristy coast.
After a enjoyable traditional lunch in Cetinje, we visited the small town of River Crnojevica in central Montenegro. The fact that it’s located on a river made it a strategically important trade-route location in the old days. It was peaceful and charmingly run-down. There wasn’t so much to see here but it was the perfect place to relax and recharge after a busy morning. We enjoyed the pleasant cafes and watched the small boats cruising on the water. We chatted to friendly locals and walked across the old bridge.
We got back in the car and I had a cheeky snooze on the way to the next stop, Sveti Stefan. This island (or peninsula?) is a luxury resort for the ridiculously wealthy. Just visiting the beach costs an outrageous amount. The famous Montenegrin tennis player Novak Djokovic had his wedding here, supposedly his room cost 1200 GBP per night.
We continued back along the coast to our last stop, the city of Budva, a bigger, more upmarket, party-based alternative to Kotor. The old town is nice but feels busier, more touristy and more commercialised than Kotor. It has a more crowded-city feel to it. It’s sometimes known as the Monaco of the Balkans, for its glamour and casinos. Apparently Russian tourists like it a lot here.
On the way out of Budva, we visited a viewpoint behind a gas station, that also had a graffiti filled abandoned building with really cool street art. It was great finishing off the day with some urban culture.
We arrived at back at the hostel at about 8pm or 9pm. I promptly collapsed in bed after a massive day of exploring untouched Montenegro.
The tour cost 35 euros and was a whole lot of fun. All of these places are worth checking out if your visiting this gorgeous country.