The most common question I got from my friends when I went to travel the Balkans was: “You’re going to Monte what now?’ Back then I didn’t realize that I was visiting a part of the world that isn’t well known by the average tourist, let alone average person. I must admit that Montenegro is a country you would forget about existing, unless you’ve been there.
Squeezed in between the borders of Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo lies Montenegro: country of mountains, wine, wildlife, fjords and beaches, home to some of the loveliest people in the world. This eco-country, as they like to call themselves, has something for every tourist but is lacking some of the fame cities like London or Barcelona have. Following are some of the touristic highlights of the country’s coastal side, which are so versatile you could call them different worlds.
Kotor – the western world
The city (and bay) of Kotor is one of the more touristic places of the country. Cruise ships arrive daily, bringing new guests from all around the world. The region of Kotor gives you many, many reasons to visit: the medieval town, fortresses, the cheap prices and last, but certainly not least, the most southern Fjords of Europe: the bay of Kotor.
The many attractions in this region, combined with the gorgeous landscapes are the reason this part of Montenegro is compared to the more Western kind of tourism, and although this country is reasonably undiscovered, tourists are all you will find here during the summer. Lucky for us this is not the new Dubrovnik yet, so if I say tourists, I mean a tolerable amount of people who’ll ooh and aah about the same things you are.
Highlights: Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the old town center, the bay of Kotor, Perast.
Budva – The party world
Beaches, parties, cultural heritage and mass tourism is what you can expect from Budva, a town 1 hour from Kotor. With 35 beaches in the area, Budva attracts a major amount of people. During the summer the coastal area, called Budvanska rivijera, is filled with young, mostly Eastern European tourists who party their asses off. Personally I don’t like this kind of tourism so I can be short and sweet on this one: if you like to have fun at night and lay on the beach the very next morning, then do pay them a visit!
Highlights: Stari Grad (Old Town), Sveti Stefan, Mogren Beach, Budva Citadel.
Ulcinj – The other world
All the way in the south of Montenegro, close to the border with Albania, you’ll find something a bit more rough but nice. Ulcinj town serves more as a tourist destination of the Albania and Kosovo area, but in a far less organized way than Dubrovnik or Kotor. From Ulcinj it’s easy to do day trips to Podgorica and Shkoder (Albania).
When I was there I found that most of the normally touristic areas where deserted, such as big parts of the Old Town, which wasn’t maintained at all. At one point we spent €1 on a 3 in 1 museum deal, including the citadel, where we ended up spending the entire time alone on the platform, overlooking the Adriatic sea, at night we were a restaurant’s only guests.
The city beach and 14 km Velika Plaza (long beach) were not so deserted. Many people from the area go on holiday on this part of Montenegro, and because sandy beaches are not everywhere to find, this beach is instant paradise. Taxi boats drive on and off, giving their passengers the opportunity of a day trip to the beach. Although there were a lot of people, it didn’t seem crowded at all. The beach also didn’t have much other attractions which added to the relaxed vibe.
Highlights: Velika Plaza, the old town, the museum and citadel in Old Town
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