Wonderful Montenegro

Kotor Bay in Montenegro
Wonderful views of Kotor Bay. Photo courtesy of The National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro

There is something quite therapeutic about watching a golden beach being lovingly picked of its tiny bits of rubbish by an old man who deserves instead to be lying back and watching the world go by.

Seven days solid, we took a break from the hurly burly world, grabbed a sun lounger, enjoyed the pristine sands and just chilled and each day, the loyal litter picker braved the heat.

It was hard not to have fun in the wonderful Balkan country that is Montenegro. Half the size of Wales and with prices a couple of decades behind the rest of Europe and with unspoilt scenery, mighty mountains and genuinely warm hearted people, this place is near perfect.

Now is the time to head to see for yourself, before everyone discovers the secret of this sleepy, safe and wonderful country and before it becomes as popular as neighbouring Croatia.

With husband Kenny and our children Ruaridh (15) and Flossie (13) in tow, we flew into the main airport of Tivat, before jumping into a hire car and off to the Adriatic coastal town of Ulcinj and the upmarket and all-inclusive Azul Beach Resort.

With accommodation and packages to suit differing finances, the resort is a stone’s throw away from the beach, has multiple swimming pools, bars and food outlets as well as sports facilities and top entertainment, with children able to get away from their parents in the exclusive kids club.

We stayed in the premier accommodation, which not only meant an upmarket and spacious room with a balcony, but scrumptious meals in a choice of restaurants and unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks.

Lipa Cave in Montenegro
Inside the Lipa Cave. Photo courtesy of Lipa Cave

So, it was hard to tear ourselves away from such luxury, but with such a fantastic country on our doorstep, it would have been rude not to explore.

Montenegro is a mountainous country, but it has adapted to ensure its safe and easy to travel around and new coastal routes have been built to make exploring smooth.

On our doorstep was Southern Europe’s largest lakes, Skadar, a magnificent 44 km long and 14 km wide water course inside a beautiful national park at Virpazar, a small rural village, packed with restaurants serving local fish dishes and stalls selling homemade crafts.

Here you hop into a traditional wooden boat and take a leisurely cruise along the massive expanse of water amongst reefs and surrounded by an area rich in wild and bird life.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours and there are medieval monasteries in the distance to spot and if the weather is good, the water is very inviting for a swim!

Montenegro oozes history and one of the best preserved towns is Stari Bar, unique because nearly all of it is a ruin. Originally, containing 240 buildings in total, it is perched on the very steep cliff in the bottom of the mountain Rumija, with two well preserved churches, a Turkish bathroom and the oldest olive tree around, an impressive site for this well gnarled trunk.

The narrow streets are packed with individual shops and restaurants, all which can be seen from the new town and its luxury hotel, the Stara Carsija, where you can enjoy fabulous old fashioned service in beautiful surroundings mixed with modern amenities.

The food is divine too, with fish soup lamb in milk, juicy spiced meat kebabs, pancakes and delicious sugar filled cakes and desserts.

Slovenska Palace Hotel in Montenegro
Stunning accommodation at the Slovenska Palace. Photo courtesy of The Slovenska Palace

Montenegro’s architecture is influenced greatly by the Venetians and the town of Budva is a great example of this with the old town full of narrow streets, a well preserved medieval walled city, rubbing alongside modern hotels and lively nightclubs.

A chance to cool down and see a great natural cave is a must at Lipa, where you can take a 60 minute tour of its beautiful and wild system of 2.5 km of passages and halls and see all the fantastic rock formations.

We stayed in the Slovenska Plaza in Budva, a hotel built to resemble a holiday village and split into two parts, with the accommodation in wooden shuttered white rooms, smart restaurants and luxury swimming pools and spas.

Close to the centre of the town, it’s a perfect spot to explore the country’s jewel in the crown, Kotor, a maze of winding alleyways with a mountain backdrop and Venetian architecture. It’s a tourist hotspot in the summer, with the town’s population of 13,000 squeezed out by visitors keen to see the strikingly beautiful buildings.

You can stroll the piazzas, promenade and marina or hop aboard a speed boat and take in the wonderful views from the great expanse of water. If you have the energy, a hike up to the San Giovanni Fortress awards a lovely view.

Nearby the small village of Perast is just the place for people watching, climb up the 16th century bell tower of St Nicholas’s Church or nipping across to Our Lady of the Rocks and another striking church, something the old man on the beach would no doubt be proud to take care of.

For more tourist information on where to stay, go and eat in Montenegro, please visit: www.montenegro.travel.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.

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