When it comes to magic, wonderment and adventure, you can't do much better than Montenegro. Sat on one of its perfect beaches - the glittering Adriatic Sea on one side and the country's spectacularly charismatic coast on the other - it's easy to think you might be lost in a fairytale.Add bustling resort towns, personality-bursting cities and splendid natural assets, and you've got a unique location that is really quite different from anywhere else in the world.
At a Glance
Montenegro, the very name has something of a spellbinding quality, conjuring up images of spectacular sunsets, long summer evenings and a fascinating land unlike any you're used to. Picture first the coastline, which stretches for only 100km from one end to the next. While it's small, there's certainly a lot to talk about. Sharp cliffs edge away into a terrifying plunge before smoothing out into beaches or juddering upwards as mountains. Here, casual holidaymakers can mingle into the crowds, enjoying the atmosphere while their more intrepid counterparts sidestep into the mountains in search of adventure. It really is a fascinating place, offering something for everyone.Every now and then along the coastline, you'll encounter a little walled town, sporting great history, charm and amenities for all the tourists. Budva, Becici and Petrovac are examples of these. Each has its own selection of characteristics and nuances - Budva with its 3,500-year story; Becici with its extraordinary sandy beach; Petrovac with its distinctly laid-back atmosphere. Whether you choose to stick to one or the other, or perhaps travel between them, you'll find the word 'magical' is simply impossible to avoid.Cuisine-wise, the country has an extraordinary plethora of dishes to show off. If you're anywhere near the beach, you will want to try some of the seafood offerings. Squid, octopus, tuna, shrimp and mussels are almost guaranteed to be prepared with care to perfection in locations where the land meets the ocean - black risotto with cuttlefish is worth asking for if you're seeking inspiration.Montenegro is famed for sitting on the borderline between the east and west, while its turbulent past has forged it into an even more interesting nation. The richness of the cultural history can be seen painted in the mosaic floors of Roman villas, onto Orthodox monasteries, elegant churches and towering mosques. Yet while there is plenty of history and culture to be discovered here, the natural scenery and nightlife in places such as Budva means you can just as easily enjoy a visit focused around sunscreen and partying. It really is a destination that goes out of its way to impress everyone.
Eating & Drinking
We've already touched upon Montenegro's foodie culture above - it really is something to die for. From the wild tastes offered by the exotic seafood dishes to the freshness of the salad ingredients, you simply can't go wrong. We've also said the nation has been impacted by its east-west split, and the food is no exception. While you can expect Mediterranean influences from Italy in the cured meat style and the way the bread is made, dishes from Hungary, Serbia, Levant and Turkey have also made their way into recipe books. Meatballs to musaka; soup to stew; pita to pilav; you are sure to have the tasting experience of your life.But while your mouth will be watering at the thought of all of the above, it is but nothing to the prowess of the dessert department here. Crepes, doughnuts, jams, myriad biscuits and cakes - you can expect all of these to have an impact on your waistline. Keep an eye out for Turkish sweets like baklava and tulumba, while also watching out for Vienna-style vanilla slices and apple strudel. Your taste buds will undoubtedly be tingling the moment you step off the plane.
Two international airports - Podgorica Airport and Tivat Airport - serve Montenegro perfectly well and have recently seen renovation work that has greatly aided passenger experience. An extensive infrastructure for transportation further aids getting to and from major hubs, and while motorways have yet to be constructed to connect major cities, single carriageway-type roads allow speeds of up to 80km per hour. Passenger travel by rail is restricted to a single line and is therefore seldom used, but buses are plentiful. Exact timetables can be easily tracked down on the internet or obtained at transportation hubs. It is particularly easy to reach the beach and town resorts, with efforts made to keep things as simple as possible for visiting tourists.
Things to See & Do
So what are the top activities in Montenegro? Depending on where you're staying, there will be a host of local things to do, which might range from getting the adrenaline going at a watersport to exploring some of the beautiful natural scenery. If you get the opportunity, the Tara River and Canyon which slice through the mountains to the central east districts of the country are particularly spectacular, as are the national parks of Biogradska Gora and Lake Skadar.Those wishing to make the most of Montenegro's fascinating history should make a beeline for the National Museum of Montenegro. Located in Cetinje, there is an impressive collection maintained here. Witness actual places of history by making the impressive climb to the Ostrog Monastery, which rests in a cliff face some 900 metres above the Zeta valley. There are numerous sites such as this dotted around the country - places where you can get to grips with a culture that existed many years ago. Half the fun is discovering them all.