by Sacha Bunnik
Gaining full independence in 2006, Montenegro has been quickly trying to modernise itself to be like the rest of Europe.
Montenegro has some of the most mountainous and rugged terrains in Europe and is still considered to have some of the best pristine wilderness areas remaining in southern Europe. The highest mountain is over 2500 metres high and the country’s coastline along the Adriatic Sea is spectacular.
Most people only visit Montenegro for the day, either from one of the many cruise ships that plough the Mediterranean or by coach from nearby Dubrovnik in Croatia. Dennis and I had the pleasure of visiting Montenegro on a day trip as part of our Jewels of Dalmatia tour.
One of the highlights of any trip to Montenegro is a visit to the historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Kotor. It is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.
Located on the stunning Bay of Kotor, the combination of being on the water and surrounded by high mountain peaks makes Kotor one of the most popular places to visit in Montenegro.
The focal point of Kotor is the old town that dates back over a thousand years, the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (built in 1166) and the ancient protective city walls (stretching over 4 kilometres long).
The old town has become a bit touristy with many cafes, restaurants and shops all catering for the day tripping tourists.
Just before we reached the old city of Kotor, our coach stopped at a scenic lookout, giving the most amazing vista of the Bay of Kotor, the old town and the church on the island just outside the old town (Church of Our Lady of the Rocks). After we left Kotor we headed into the mountains to get another perspective of the city, this time from above.
The road up the mountain was an engineering masterpiece; it had about 30 turn backs and bends, but once at the top you get a bird’s eye view of Kotor and the surrounding areas.
Our next stop was a small village tucked high up in the mountains, where we got to sample some local dried hams, fresh baked breads and liqueurs. They explained how they smoked and dried the ham, which was both interesting and tasty. This stop was a lot of fun; the liqueur tasting might have something to do with that.
The last stop on our day trip was to the pretty coastal town of Budva where people have lived for over 3,500 years making it the oldest settlement on the Adriatic coastline.
The old town is built on a peninsula that juts out into the sea and has been greatly influenced by Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and Venetians that have all ruled the city at one time or another. Budva and the surrounding coastal villages have become popular places for locals to enjoy their summers on the coast.
Montenegro is a real surprise package. Most people including myself knew very little about this country beforehand, but after visiting would love to see and experience more.
Explore our Jewels of Dalmatia small group tour here.
Or see more of Montenegro in our Jewels of Dalmatia tour YouTube clip below: