When to Go
May - September
It doesn’t take long to realize nothing in Montenegro is done half-assed. Though it’s only working with a territory as big as Connecticut, that doesn’t stop it from packing in some of Europe’s most striking coastal and mountain scenery, along with a climate that’s ideal for winemaking. This is how it’s done, people.
The experience is made all the more glorious by the hospitality and charm of the locals. We don’t know if it’s the achingly atmospheric seaside villages, or the endless options for outdoor adventure, but the only worry Montenegrins seem to have is making sure your glass of rakija stays filled. The national firewater is on brand with both its people and scenery: strikingly bold and prone to cause merriment. Eastern Europe’s rich and beautiful have been frolicking in Montenegro for years. Go before everybody else figures it out.
Montenegro’s coastline is unlike any other. Breathtaking mountains tumble into the sea while charming villages dot the foothills. Chilled out, unspoiled beaches abound. And if you want to go all in on getting out of comfort zones, head down to Ada Bojana beach, where clothing isn’t optional, it’s prohibited. All you need to carry is a towel to lay on your barstool. And lots of sunscreen.
If you’re not wooed by the fairytale vibes and rich history of Montenegro’s villages, then you’ve never learned to love. Narrow, cobblestoned streets and medieval architecture have been carefully preserved for centuries. And if you’re into drinking in ancient stone dens, you’re in for a treat. The walled cities of Kotor and Budva are the heavyweights, but don’t miss out on tiny gems like Perast and Rose.
You thought the inland wilderness was just going to let the coast steal all the glory? Not even close. Durmitor National Park is a majestic, yet rugged limestone paradise. Nearby, Biogradska Gora serves up electrifying autumn leaves in one of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests. Explore it all with an abundance of blissfully scenic, crowd-free hiking and cycling trails.
Food + Wine
Two important notes about Montenegrins: they believe that stuffing something with cheese is never a bad idea, and grilling is a point of national pride. Specializing in meat and seafood, the standard is always local, fresh, and organic. As for wine, go straight for the Vranac. Whoever gave the name, which translates to Black Stallion, nailed it. With notes of black cherry and currant, this unique varietal is spicy and full-bodied.
Bay of Kotor
Kotor doesn’t walk on anybody else’s catwalk. It brings its own damn stage to the show. This ancient walled city is a showstopper in its own right, but the mountain-shrouded bay in which it’s nestled will make you rub your eyes in disbelief. Marvel at the setting, get lost in the maze-like cobblestoned streets, and feast on fresh, seasonal cuisine. Then, wander back to the Boutique Hotel Hippocampus, where the architectural amazement continues in this thoughtfully renovated 17th century family palace.
fresh Oysters by the sea
Just down the bay, don’t miss the rustic seaside restaurant Skoljke Boke. There may not be much of a kitchen here, but they don’t really need one. On a wooden deck jutting out into the water, the friendly wife and husband team pull your order directly from the sea, just beside your table.
Our best advice is to come up with a mantra beforehand. Repeating it will help calm your nerves as you await the freshest oysters and mussels of your life. Wash down all that euphoria with the shot of homemade rakija the owner just poured for you. It would be rude to decline.
Durmitor National Park
If the Bay of Kotor were a bright, shiny pop star, the Durmitor Mountain Range would be its moody, rough-edged rock star cousin. Wild and rugged, the landscape brings a different, but no less remarkable, shine to Montenegro. Towering limestone peaks, glacial lakes, and canyons will leave you dumbstruck.
Tara River Canyon
The Tara River Canyon is only a few hundred feet shallower than the Grand Canyon, but Montenegrins aren’t mad. The true achievement is soaking up a natural wonder on this scale with so few others around. There may not be world class rapids, but who needs them when the most astounding views are had while floating down the tame turquoise waters.