Monday, January 24

A Local Guide to Montenegro: Sights, Beaches, Food and Places to Stay | Montenegro Vacations


From green lakes to the azure coast of the Adriatic and the massive mountains to the north, Montenegro has a definite wow factor.

People come here in search of unspoiled nature and to escape the crowds and apart from certain places along the coast this is easy to do. At Lake Skadar, one of the largest lakes in southern Europe, is the village of Virpazar, with many boat trips available. But if you just drive along its southwest shoreline with an inflatable kayak, you can paddle across a vast expanse of water and it feels like no one else is there.

Further north, the Durmitor Mountains and Biogradska Gora National Park offer spectacular scenic hikes with only a handful of other hikers. The payoff is the epic views and the feeling of stillness and majesty that I don’t think can be matched in many other places.

Monuments

A view from the city of Kotor.
A view from the city of Kotor. Photograph: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

In the wetlands of the northwest is Rijeka Crnojevića, a city and a beautiful river, and the heart of old Montenegro. The old royal capital was in Cetinje. I love the palace of the last king of Montenegro, now the King Nikola Museum. You have a good idea of ​​the aristocratic, refined but still very Montenegrin and Slavic way the family lived.

The city of Kotor, in the bay of the same name, is protected by Unesco, and for a reason. It has incredible historical architecture and is in a spectacular location, with dizzying mountains on either side of what is often referred to as a fjord, but is actually a sunken river bed. The walk to the fortress of San Juan offers exceptional views.

Further north, towards the Bosnian border, the town of Plužine sits next to Lake Piva, one of the largest man-made lakes in the former Yugoslavia. Its sparkling blue waters and rugged gray mountains would not look out of place in Canada or New Zealand.

At the southern end, the old seaport of Ulcinj, with its walled old town, has an astonishing history, as it was on the Silk Road. It has been part of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, and its population is mainly Albanian – it has a very different feel and identity to the rest of Montenegro.

Beaches

Jaz beach.
Jaz beach. Photograph: Stevo Vasiljevic / Reuters

My favorite is Jaz Beach, north of Budva: it is one of the longest beaches in Montenegro and hosts summer concerts and festivals. Another personal favorite, except for July and August, is Buljarica, a little further south. It is a large sandy bay backed by wetlands and a beautiful place to watch the sunset.

In the middle is Perazića Do, which is marred by a huge unfinished hotel, but as you look away from the construction site, the beach is beautiful.

Velika Plaža, in the south beyond Ulcinj, is a very long sandy beach. There are a variety of kitesurfing clubs along the sand, and not far away are the Ulcinj Salt Flats, visited by a variety of migratory birds, including a large flock of flamingos.

Food and drink

Tavern Badanj restaurant in Virpazar
Tavern Badanj Restaurant

One of my favorite restaurants is Konoba Galija (+3 823-346-1717, no website) in Buljarica. There is always fresh seafood, delivered by your small fishing boat, which docks on the beach.

Badanj Tavern Virpazar is where I usually eat, and it’s great for breakfast pride (donuts with cheese and honey), before going kayaking or taking a boat trip on the lake.

In Kolašin, on the way to the Bjelasica mountains, Savardak The restaurant always has a fire and serves cooked meat. under the clock (under a cast iron hood), for maximum flavor and juiciness. This is an essential gastronomic experience in Montenegro.

Adrenaline junkies will love the zip line in Plužine, and right next door is the restaurant and guesthouse. campaign. You can walk along the zip line and have a strong drink afterwards: it offers hearty typical Montenegrin dishes: excellent trout and meat dishes.

Montenegrin wine is fantastic, abundant and part of the culture. Most families make their own, and there are about 60 professional wineries – Lake Skadar is home to some of the best. Recently discovered Lipovac, between Virpazar and Cetinje, which is housed in elegant contemporary buildings but makes wine in traditional clay amphorae.

Where to stay

At Stari Bar, Old bazaar It is a new and elegant hotel with spa and restaurant (double rooms from € 61 B&B). It is newly built but blends in with the Ottoman environment. Hotel Conte in Perast (doubles from € 75 B&B), it has a restaurant in the waters of the Bay of Kotor, where you can eat fresh fish by candlelight.

Emma Heywood and her husband, Ben, own Unknown Montenegro, an activity holiday company based in Villa Miela near Skadar Lake


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