Located on the Balkan Peninsula and surrounded by natural beauty, Montenegro offers big experiences in a small and accessible environment. Nestled on the coast of Southeast Europe and bordering Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, Montenegro is an attractive holiday destination that’s easily reachable from anywhere on the continent.
Its name, derived from the Venetian monte negro, which translates as ‘black mountain’, was bestowed on the nation by seafarers more than five centuries ago owing to the dark forests that once covered the Dinaric Alps as seen from the Adriatic. To this day, Montenegro remains enveloped in greenery, and boasts a diverse and spectacular natural beauty rivalled by few countries of similar size. Its charms are numerous – from the Montenegrin hills to the beauty of the Adriatic Coast. From a plethora of caves and canyons to untouched isles and quaint old towns, towering mountains, scenic beaches, sprawling olive groves and serene rivieras made for strolling, its splendour sees no end.
Recent years have seen well-known upscale hotel brands invest in the Balkan nation. The Adriatic coast is now home to the five-star Regent Porto Montenegro, Aman Sveti Stefan, The Chedi Luštica Bay in Marina Village, Iberostar Heritage Grand Perast and many more. These properties join luxury brands Nobu, Hilton, Voco, Four Points, Ramada, hotel Cue, Best Western and Falkensteiner in making Montenegro their home.
Located on the Balkan Peninsula, this is a country that has long been a melting pot of cultures, civilisations and religions. Surrounded by natural beauty, Montenegro offers big experiences in a small and accessible environment, all embraced by the caring faces of locals and traditional hospitality.
Notably selecting Montenegro for its first foray into Europe, the renowned One&Only hotel group has recently opened its latest addition. One&Only Portonovi, in the spellbinding Bay of Kotor, will welcome guests from 1 May this year. Adding to the country’s already impressive portfolio of luxury hotels, this property, which blends Old European architecture with a Mediterranean-style village and landscaped gardens, will bring a new level of glamour and sophistication to Herceg Novi – Montenegro’s ‘city of flowers’.
Located a 50 minutes’ drive from Tivat Airport, an hour from Dubrovnik and two-and-a-half hours from Podgorica Airport, One&Only Portonovi is accessible by land, sea and air, with exclusive facilities for superyachts, helicopters and private-jet transfers. The year-round destination resort features 113 luxury guest rooms, suites and villas and 10 One&Only Private Homes, all of which boast stunning views of the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the centre of the resort is Chenot Espace, an innovative wellness centre that offers pioneering treatments scientifically designed to boost guests’ vitality and optimise their health. The resort is further enhanced by several sparkling pools and access to a private beach and jetty, all within easy reach of Portonovi village and its 238-berth D-Marin marina.
One&Only Portonovi will also be home to an authentic array of restaurants that will spotlight fresh, local produce. Options include: Sabia led by celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli; Asian fusion restaurant and pool club Tapasake Club; the contemporary Caminetti Bar; and the relaxed La Veranda, which will offer an extensive variety of local delicacies that champion Montenegrin cooking methods in à la carte and buffet formats.
Through the resort’s collection of bespoke activities, guests can uncover this new riviera, with its wild beauty and rich history. There’s hiking the picturesque terrain, exploring local cultural traditions, taking private tennis classes led by Serbia’s renowned Janko Tipsarevic or setting sail for a nautical adventure on a luxury yacht. With its selection of signature experiences that celebrate the destination, One&Only Portonovi is a true oasis for active, mindful and creative pursuits.
Aman Sveti Stefan
Occupying 80 acres of Montenegro’s picturesque coast, Aman Sveti Stefan is a fairy-tale destination that brings together two enchanting settings connected by an isthmus. On the mainland is Villa Miločer, a royal residence and former summer home of Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. The other is a beautifully preserved 15th-century fishing village on a fortified islet, with incomparable views across the peninsula. Together, these historic properties encompass the Mediterranean-style village resort of Aman Sveti Stefan, complete with three idyllic swimming pools and a trio of pink-sand beaches that are among the most exquisite seen on the Adriatic.
Framed by a parkland that overflows with hundreds of olive trees, ancient cedars and pine forests, Aman Sveti Stefan is home to 51 sumptuous rooms, suites and individual fishermen’s cottages interconnected by stone steps and cobbled paths. With unbounded ocean views and scented by the surrounding lush flora, these meticulously restored abodes feature hand-rendered stucco, stone and local oak that reflect the village’s bucolic past.
Nestled in a secluded bay cushioned by emerald pine woods, the Aman Spa offers personalised wellbeing programmes augmented by visiting wellness specialists. Drawing on Montenegro’s long history of wild harvesting fruits and foliage, the spa’s treatments incorporate more than 650 medicinal herbs. Further honouring the locale, the seaside sanctuary celebrates the restorative effect of water in both its treatments and state-of-the-art facilities, with a trio of hydrotherapy suites that offer aqua- focused scrubs, wraps and baths to help rejuvenate the skin and reawaken the senses.
Myriad restaurants and dining delights complete the Sven Stefan experience. At fine-dining restaurant Arva, cuisine inspired by the culinary heritage and convivial dining culture of Italy comes to life. The Piazza, Rakija Bar and Cliff Pool Bar all offer laid-back dining in unmatched settings. Open for all-day dining year-round, the Villa Miločer restaurant on the mainland is sprawled across an indoor dining room and a wisteria-draped terrace for dining al fresco, overlooking King’s Beach and its azure sea. The menu is an epicurean odyssey of the Adriatic, highlighting both classic and contemporary dishes from across the region.
Montenegro’s unique cities and towns are filled with character. One of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Coast, Budva is Montenegro’s capital of tourism. Beautiful beaches, quality gastronomy offerings and numerous events are just a snippet of what attracts a large number of tourists to this city. The Old Town, one of the oldest settlements in the Adriatic – according to historical sources, it dates back 2500 years when it was known as the “city of Illyria” – is an unavoidable place when visiting the Riviera. During the summer season, Budva hosts numerous cultural events, including open-air festivals, concerts and performances.
The historic town of Kotor, once the jewel of the Venetian Empire, is nestled in a UNESCO World Heritage site of the same name. The Old Town – Kotor’s Stari Grad – and Trg od Oružja (the medieval Weapons Square) draw visitors from around the world. The 1300 step or 500 metre climb up to St. John’s Hill fortress is worth it with rewarding panoramic views over The Bay of Kotor. This beautiful southernmost European fjord is one of Montenegro’s main attractions and it’s clear why the butterfly-shaped Boka Bay is dubbed the “Bride of the Adriatic Sea”. Kotor, Herceg Novi and Tivat are the most important cities, but the bay’s beautiful small villages are equally memorable.
Cetinje, Montenegro’s historic Royal Capital, is filled with museums and monasteries, where visitors can see the Right Hand of St. John the Baptist, shards of the Holy Cross and the icon of Our Lady of Filermosa. Located near Nikšić, the Ostrog Monastery is built into a steep rock above the Zeta Valley. Founded by the Herzeg Archbishop Vasilije in the 17th century, this monastery is the most famous pilgrimage site in Montenegro. Now over 2,500 years old, the Old Town of Ulcinj has played host to many different cultures and civilisations, all reflected in its architecture which includes Baroque and Renaissance styles.
The northernmost town in Montenegro, Pljevlja, is home to the famous Husein-Paša’s Mosque – a beautiful piece of the Islamic architecture. The ornate mosque dates from 16th century and has the tallest minaret in the Balkans. Among its large collection of exhibits, the mosque also holds a manuscript of Kuran, believed to originate from 18th century and written in Arabic.
At the southernmost point in Montenegro sits Ada Bojana, a picturesque 2-square-mile island that is considered a treasure of the Montenegrin Coast. Created by the Bojana River meeting the Adriatic Sea, the island hosts an array of restaurants offering the best seafood experience in the Balkans.
Home to the King Nikola’s Palace built in 1885, the coastal city of Bar is famed for its 100,000 olive trees, many of which are over 1,000 years old. In fact, the oldest olive tree in Europe at around 2000 years old is situated here.
Teeming with long stretches of golden-sand shores, secret coves and the calm, crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic, Montenegro’s spectacular coastline stretches 180 miles, offering sun-seekers 117 beaches to explore.
Accessible only by boat from Herceg Novi and a lesser-known destination among tourists, Dobreč Cove is a secluded beach presenting visitors with a veritable slice of paradise. Sheltered among lush Mediterranean vegetation lies a quiet, pebbly beach. On the beachfront, a small restaurant serves locally caught fish alongside a range of traditional Montenegrin dishes.
Further south is the town of Ulcinj, located on a palm- fringed coastline that’s home to Montenegro’s longest beach – the 7-mile Velika Plaža. Here, the best Mediterranean produce – including figs, citruses, grapes, pomegranates, almonds and, of course, olives – are in abundance. After an afternoon on the beach, dine at one of the excellent fish restaurants jutting out over the Bojana river and watch one of the prettiest sunsets – and meteorite showers – in the world.
For a more private beach experience, travellers should visit Sveti Nikola Island, the largest island in the southern Adriatic. Located in Budva, the beach – which has been named as one of Europe’s most beautiful many times – offers complete privacy surrounded by untouched natural beauty. Spend the day swimming, sun-tanning and navigating the hidden island coves that are only accessible from the sea.
Adventures in nature
Home to five national parks, countless forests, several lakes and one of the deepest canyons in Europe, Montenegro captivates outdoor enthusiasts with its pristine environment. From hiking in the mountains and cycling through endless pastures, to kayaking on scenic lakes and kite surfing on the Adriatic’s cerulean waves, adventure fanatics are spoilt for choice with varying experiences tailored to every preference.
In the northern territory, Durmitor National Park is the largest protected area in Montenegro and holds UNESCO status. The famed scenic, glacier-formed setting features 150 square miles of lakes, gorges and forests to explore via hiking and mountaineering all year round. Durmitor’s Black Lake is a major drawcard – renowned for its dark-blue shade created by the lake’s depth and the density of the surrounding pine forest. Here, visitors can enjoy canoeing and easy lake trails.
The Tara River Canyon is also located in Durmitor National Park, with its 170m high Djurdjevića Tara Bridge – a masterpiece of the pre-World War II architecture. At over 1,300 metres, The Tara River Canyon is one of the longest and deepest gorges in Europe; only the USA’s Grand Canyon is deeper. Its powerful river, known as “The Teardrop of Europe”, is a favourite for white water rafting and is framed by forests, alpine fields and towering peaks that rise over 2,000 metres high.
In the south, nestled between the sea and the mountains, lies Skadar Lake National Park. Home to the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula, this is a must-visit destination. The emerald coloured lake is a bird lover’s paradise; home to over 280 species and one of the last pelican habitats in the south of Europe.
To the east of the Bay of Kotor, a road through Lovćen National Park leads unexpectedly to one of the most surprising sites in the country. Here, exactly 461 steps lead to the impressive mountain peak known as Jezerski vrh, where Petar II Petrović Njegoš Mausoleum opened in 1974. The chapel entrance is “protected” by two towering marble statues.
Further inland, Biogradska Gora National Park is one of the oldest protected areas in the world that spans across the mountains of Bjelasica. Its most recognised feature is Lake Biograd, Montenegro’s largest glacial lake, encircled by one of the three remaining primeval forests in Europe.
Montenegro is an all-season destination. In winter, quiet resorts open in the mountains of Durmitor and Bjelasica for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and winter hikes around the glaciers and waterfalls. No matter what the time of year, Montenegro offers a nature-steeped holiday complete with immersive experiences, the most luxurious accommodation and fresh, delicious cuisine.
For further information on travel in Montenegro, visit www.montenegro.travel.
Follow the National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro on its social channels to get additional insight into this remarkable country:
- Facebook: @ntocg
- Instagram: @gomontenegro
- Twitter: @seemontenegro
- Youtube: @montenegro
- Pinterest: @seemontenegro
Photographs © National Tourism Organisation of Montenegro; Sergej Zabijako;