Montenegro

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General Information (currency, climate, population, religion, history, etc.)

Located on the Adriatic sea, in the Southeast part of Europe, Montenegro is a relatively new country, having gained independence in 2006. It is a bite-sized country nestled in the heart of the Balkans and blessed with extraordinary nature.

Country general information

Geographic Position

Located in the southeastern part of Europe, Montenegro borders Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest; Serbia and Kosovo to the east, Albania to the south and Croatia to the west. It covers a territory of 13,800 square kilometers. The length of its coastline is 293 kilometers, with 70 kilometers of stunning beaches.


Geographic Features

Montenegro is home to varied landscapes due to its position in the Balkan Peninsula and on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
The terrain in Montenegro ranges from high mountains in the northern part of the country, through karst segment in the central and western part, to almost 300 km of a narrow coastal plain.

Mountain ranges include the Dormitory range, Mount Orjen, and Mount Lovcen.

The highest point of the country is Bobotov Luk at 8,274 feet. The most significant rivers of Montenegro are the Drina, Tara, and Lim.

The largest lake is Lake Skadar, located near the Albanian border.

The Capital

Montenegro’s capital city is Podgorica, which translates to a “hillock overlooking the city.”

The capital and largest city in Montenegro is located at a confluence of Ribnica and Morača rivers. It is close to winter skiing centers on the northern side, seaside resort areas on the Adriatic Sea, and just 15 kilometers away from Lake Skadar.

The city’s turbulent past and reflects in the architecture mix of Ottoman and European style buildings. During World War II, Podgorica was almost destroyed completely, having been bombed over 70 times. After liberation, the city was painstakingly rebuilt.

Demographics

According to 2019 studies, the population of Montenegro stands at 627, 987, with a low population density of just 45 people per square kilometer.

The major groups here are Montenegrins (45%), Serbs (29%), Bosniaks (8.6%), Albanians (4.9%), Roman and Croats at 1%, and other groups make the rest of the population.

Climate and Weather in Montenegro

Montenegro experiences Alpine weather in the mountains and Mediterranean climate in its coastal areas.

The coastal areas experience an average temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (81 F) during summers, especially in July/August. People who don’t prefer hot weather often head to the northern areas where summertime temperatures average is as low as 12 degrees Celsius (54 F). Winter is mild, with average temperatures in January around 7/8 °C (45/46 °F). The best time to visit Montenegro goes from May to September.

Mountain areas are characterized by moderately warm summers and snowy winters, which makes Montenegrin mountains an excellent place for a ski vacation.


History

The history of the country dates back to the Middle Ages when the country was primarily inhabited by the Illyrians. However, in the 2nd century BC, the Romans conquered the area, annexing it to the province of Illyricum.
Slavs came here in the 6th and 7th centuries, inhabited the country, and founded several principalities.

In 1496 Montenegro got annexed to the Ottoman Empire.
In the 16th century, the country established a certain level of sovereignty within the Ottoman Empire. But, since Montenegrins were not satisfied with the degree of autonomy, they carried out numerous rebellions, which eventually led to the liberation from the Ottomans in the Great Turkish War in the 17th century.

Since Montenegro was located in a strategic position, Russians, Austria, Venetia, Serbia, and Turkey were invading Montenegro, creating complicated historical circumstances.

In 1989 when Yugoslavia broke up, Montenegro at first became a part of Serbia. In 2006 it finally became an independent country.


Currency and Payment Options

The currency in Montenegro is the Euro, which roughly translates to $1.10. All major foreign currencies can be freely purchased and sold in exchange offices throughout the country. Many banks have ATMs, enabling you to withdraw money easily. Both credit and debit cards are widely accepted in cities, while in the rural area, sometimes it is better to have some cash. Visa, Visa Electron, Master, American Express, Diners Card, and Maestro are commonly accepted cards.

Electricity

In Montenegro, the power plugs and sockets are of type F. The standard voltage is 230 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Water

Tap water is drinkable in the country, but the quality of the water varies. Therefore, it is advisable to buy bottled water, which is affordable and easily available.

Airport sand connections with EU and USA

Montenegro has only two international airports.

The Podgorica Airport (IATA: TGD) serves Podgorica and the surrounding region and is operated by Airports of Montenegro. The airport is located only 11 kilometers away from the city center.

The airport is connected to International destinations like Istanbul, Belgrade, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, and the airlines that operate are Montenegro airlines, Turkish Airlines, Ryanair, Austrian Airlines, etc. There is no direct connection to the US.

The Tivat Airport is the busiest airport in Montenegro and located just 3 kilometers away from the Tivat City center. It is one of the fastest-growing airports in the region and handles almost 80% of passenger traffic during the peak travel season. Some of the destinations it is connected to are Moscow, Belgrade, and airlines like Lufthansa, Aeroflot, EasyJet, Montenegro Airlines operate out of here. There is no direct flight to the US.

Must see sights

Kotor is a town that looks like a place straight from a fairy tale. The old port of the city is surrounded by stunning fortifications on steep slopes of the rugged mountain. Venetian-era buildings line the charming cobblestoned streets. This unique mix of rich cultural heritage and incredibly picturesque Bay make it one of the most beautiful towns of the Mediterranean.

Perast is a small port city whose shores are lined with Baroque palaces and magnificent churches dating back to the times of Venetian rule.

Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is often ignored by tourists who tend to head only towards the beach or the UNESCO sites. But Podgorica has quite a few interesting sights.

One can see the remains of the Old towns that were destroyed during World War II. Popular spots are the remains of the Ribnica fortress built by the Turks in the 15th century, which stands near the Ribnica and Moraca rivers. One of the interesting sights inside this old town is the Clock Tower built in the 17th century.

Nikšić is the second-largest city in the country and is an important industrial, cultural and educational hub. Ostrog Monastery, carved into a mountain cliff, is one of the popular attractions near the city. Other sites to see are Manitovac park, Slano Lake and St. Basil Ostrog Orthodox Cathedral.

Located on the coast is the city of Bar, a thriving center of Montenegro tourism. Popular sights in and around Bar include King Nikola’s Palace, Bar Old Town, Mount Rumija Fortress, and the Old Olive of Mirovica.

Budva “Montenegro Miami,” once was a small, fortified coastal town. Today, it is a popular holiday getaway for the rich and the famous. Its seventeen beaches and ideal climate make it a popular summer destination, filled with countless bars, restaurants, and party places.

Cetinje, located on a karst plain surrounded by limestone mountains, is the Old Royal Capital of Montenegro, is home to the country’s most impressive collection of museums.

Gourmet scene (must try and about it)

Montenegrin cuisines draw influence from its geographic location and have semblances to cuisines found in Serbia, Turkey, and Hungary. The cuisine here varies by region as well. The coastal food habits differ from the northern highland areas as the areas heavily rely on seafood-based dishes.

Prosciutto – Njeguški pršut is the most popular type of prosciutto – a is dry-cured ham with smoky and salty flavors. In Montenegro, it is a preferred starter served with cheese and olives. You can try this at most restaurants or pick it up from a supermarket.

Crnogorski Sir – Montenegrin Cheese has over 450 varieties. Most of them are handmade using traditional methods. You should definitely try the Zlatarski, young cheese, and oil cheese varieties.

Burek is a made of a phyllo pastry filled with spinach, cheese or meat. You can club it with a bowl of yogurt. Most of the bakeries in the country offer burek.

Ruska Salata (Russian salad) is a mix of vegetables, ham (or meat), and mayonnaise and sour cream.

Sarma is a gift of the Ottoman Empire to the gastronomy of Montenegro. It can found everywhere, the empire ruled. The dish is made of minced meat, veggies, and rice wrapped up in a cabbage leaf. For more flavor, it is cooked with a piece of dried meat.

RoŠtilj (barbecue) is a prominent feature of the Montenegrin cuisine. It is consumed as a main dish. Rostilj is served everywhere, as street food, but also in a restaurant.

Ćevapi are like small, sausage-shaped kebabs, made of ground meat. They are usually made of minced pork and beef meat and are commonly available throughout the country.

Krempita is a popular dessert made with a thin pastry and a cream filling. It is mostly found in cafes and cakes shops, but you can also pick it up from a supermarket.

The Best wineries in Montenegro

The country has a mild Mediterranean climate, ideal for wine production.

Cemovsko Field in Podgorica is the largest vineyard on one site in Europe. Many people think it is also the most beautiful. It stretches across 2310 hectares and has 11 million grape-vines. The winery produces one of the largest selection of local wines, including the award-winning white Crnogorski Sauvignon and three different types of Vranac. Tourists can enjoy an estate tour with wine tasting sessions.

Mola Family Vineyards are also located in Podgorica, close to the ruins of Duklja. The estate makes a variety of wines, including a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a white and red blend.

Redevik Estate is known for a Vranac, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a sumptuous, dark-berried Syrah.

Milovic winery is located in the area of Ulcinj, an area famous for unspoiled beaches and thriving seaside towns. They produce 5 types of high-quality wine with the geographical background; Status, Status Barrique, Status Reserve, Status Barrique – Chosen Vintage and Codex.

National parks to visit

Montenegro’s national parks are among the world’s most captivating ones. Mountain landscapes, glacier lakes, lush nature, and adorable rivers create breathtaking sights worth to be experienced.

Durmitor National Park

The most famous National Park in the country, and a UNESCO World Heritage List, is home to 3 canyons, 48 mountains higher than 2000 m and 18 stunning glacial lakes. Its unique beauty and biodiversity attract outdoor enthusiasts who can enjoy many exciting activities, such as whitewater rafting, skiing, and hiking.

Lake Skadar National Park

Dolphin shaped Lake Skadar is the biggest and one of the most beautiful Balkan lakes. It is a tranquil, enjoyable jewel of nature surrounded by lush greenery and inhabited by more than 250 bird species. On its shores, there are picturesque villages, lovely monasteries, churches, historic fortresses, and monuments.

Lovćen National Park

This area has a big emotional value for people of Montenegro – it is the home of the Black Mountain, that gave a name to the country (Crna Gora) and the mausoleum of beloved poet prince Petar Petrović-Njegoš, the most important ruler of the country. It is a place to enjoy hiking in the beautiful mountain landscape and dive into the history of this interesting Balkan country.

Last but not least, smoked ham from Lovćen is fantastic and is a must-try here.

Biogradska Gora National Park

Biogradska Gora is one of the last three European virgin forests. It boasts beautiful untouched forest, mountain tops over 2,000 meters high, six glacial lakes, idyllic green pastures, and important cultural and historic heritage. As your hike, you will see more than 500 years old trees, reaching as high up as 60 meters. The National Park is home to more than 2000 plant species and 80 trees and shrub species.

Prokletije National Park

The Prokletije mountain range enchants by its dramatic landscape, glacial lakes and stunning routes that excite and attract outdoor enthusiasts. Although its name translates as the ‘Accursed Mountains’, Prokletije is a tranquil and beautiful area, ideal for hiking and biking. You will notice numerous bodies of water – rapid streams, crystal clear lakes and rivers, and enjoy the incredible biodiversity. The region is sometimes referred to as “The Southern Alps of Europe”.

Getting around (public transportation, rent a car, good to know)

By Rail – The railway service in the country has very limited service, which heads from Bar and moves towards Serbia. Important stops are Virpazar, Podgorica, Kolašin, Mojkovac, and Bijelo Polje. There is one more line that connects Podgorica, Danielovgrad, and Nikšić.

By Car – Road-trips in Montenegro will always be fun, but the country mostly has narrow winding roads, so if you are not used to this, you might find it challenging to navigate the streets. If you still want to drive around, don’t go for an SUV. Get a small car that is easy to maneuver and has good enough power to take you uphill.

By Bus – Since the rail network isn’t that good, you can try the bus system, which is extremely reliable with an extensive network. All buses are air-conditioned, rarely full to capacity, and comfortable to travel in. If you want a guaranteed seat buy your tickets at the bus station instead of getting them on the bus.

By Boat – Montenegro has a small coastline, but you can make the most of it with boat tours. Some boat tours take you to beaches that can only be accessed by them, and others take you to see magnificent island churches along the Boka Kotorska Bay.

Car Rentals – It’s easy to get a rental car in the country.

By Bicycle – Over the last couple of years, cycling has become popular in Montenegro, and there are a lot of cycling tours available across the country. You can explore the beaches or mountainous landscapes while testing your cycling skills. It is convenient where the roads are narrow and congested or in a place where it is hard to find a parking place.

UNESCO sites

There are four UNESCO s in Montenegro.

Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor

Inscribed in 1979, this was the first UNESCO site in Montenegro. It encompasses the old town of Kotor, the fortifications of Kotor and the surrounding regions around the Bay of Kotor.

The Outstanding Universal Value of the Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is embodied in the quality of the architecture in its fortified and open cities, settlements, palaces and monastic ensembles, and their harmonious integration to the cultivated terraced landscape on the slopes of high rocky hills. The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor bears unique testimony to the vital role that it played over centuries in the spreading of Mediterranean cultures into the Balkans.

Durmitor National Park is the only natural site to feature in the UNESCO list. Durmitor contains stunning limestone mountains located in the northern part of the country. The landscape is shaped by glaciers, beautiful rivers, and underground streams that lead to the Tara River basin biosphere reserve. The park is home to about 50 peaks with altitudes of over 2,000 meters that look down below on stunning meadows, forests, and plateaus.

Stećci – Medieval Tombstone Graveyards were added to the UNESCO list in 2016. 28 sites scattered around Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina are ancient tombstones built probably around the 12th or 13th century. About 3,500 of them can be found in Montenegro. The epitaphs on these tombstones are written in an extinct Bosnian Cyrillic dialect.

The most recent addition to the UNESCO list from Montenegro is Stato Da Terra – Western Stato Da Mar. This transnational property is located in Croatia, Italy, and Montenegro and is a series of fortifications that were constructed along the Adriatic Sea between the 16th and 17th centuries. Recognized for their innovative use of architectural techniques, these structures represent the evolution of military solutions of the Venetian Armies.

Safety

Overall, Montenegro is a very safe country to visit, and the overall crime rate is relatively low. The locals are warm and friendly people. Although there are sporadic incidents of petty theft, tourists have nothing to worry about when they travel here.

Who is it for

Montenegro is a destination for all kinds of travelers, especially the ones looking to immerse themselves in amazingly beautiful nature. With beautiful highlands, stunning bays overlooking the Adriatic Sea, and diverse culture, Montenegro has a lot to offer.

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