Montenegro’s Stunning CoastlineBy
As a teenager, I can remember holiday brochures advertising Yugoslavia as a beach destination. I always wondered what it was like. As a nation, Yugoslavia is long gone and today is divided into a number of different countries. One of the newest and smallest is also one of the most picturesque – Montenegro.
This tiny country is home to just over 600,000 people and the coastline of less than 180 miles. From north to south, there are 4 main towns; Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj connected by the winding coast road. Along the way, there are plenty of spectacular views as the route twists and turns high above the beautiful ocean. In addition to the 4 towns, there are a number of smaller settlements each with a charm of there own.
The most picturesque is Sveti Stefan with its iconic island. In the past, this historic little place has been visited by a host of celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and Claudia Schiffer. This was my base for my visit although I didn’t see any celebrities. I stayed at the 4* Hotel Romanov in a room with a sea view. Breakfast was individually prepared rather than being a free for all buffet style with really added to the experience. At less then €70 a night, it was exceptional value.
Working up from the south, the first main town is Ulcinj. The area is renowned for its long sandy beaches making it a popular tourist destination in the summer. The ‘Large Beach’ is 12km long and is the longest in Montenegro. At night, there are a number of cafes, bars and discos and for those looking for a bit of culture, the old town and medieval castle are very well preserved.
Heading north, the next town is Bar which is a little large that nearby Ulcinj. It is a place with a long history and the Old Olive of Mirovica, the world’s oldest Olive Tree grows here. With beaches, nightlife and historic buildings such as King Nicola’s Palace, Bar is another popular tourist destination. To the east of Bar is the Old Town which although has seen better days, it offers a fascinating insight into the history of the area. To the north of the town is on the only aqueduct in Montenegro. It has been restored to it’s former glory after being destroyed in an earthquake in 1979.
The next 35km of the coastline are mainly small settlements and tourist destinations for those looking for a quieter time on the coast. It is on this section of the road where those heading for the capital, Podgorica will turn off and head inland through the new Tunel Sozina and past Lake Skador. However, my journey was along the coast and one of the many small towns in Petrovac. Set in a little bay, it is another place popular with tourists in the summer who flock to the beaches and cafes along the promenade during the day.
After leaving Petrovac and heading past my base at Sveti Stefan, we came to the ancient town of Budva. It can trace its roots back around 2,500 years and may well be the oldest settlement on the Adriatic coast. It is the tourism capital of Montenegro with over 300,000 visitors per year outnumbering the local population of 17,000. There is plenty for visitors to do here with beaches, bars, cafes, shops and the wonderful old town which was also badly damaged in the earthquake in 1979. It was a number of years before it was fully restored.
Our last stop along the coast is the wonderful Bay of Kotor. There are a number of little towns around this impressive natural bay and it is the town of Kotor. It is a destination for cruise ships that dock in the spectacular settings of the surrounding mountains and the walls of the old town. Inside the walls of the old town are a maze of narrow streets with cafes where you can sit outside and watch the world go by.
I drove this in a day but to really do these wonderful towns justice, two or three days would allow you to explore without rushing around. Although the towns are relatively close together, the roads aren’t great so driving speeds are fairly low.
The airport in Podgorica is on the road to the coast and it will take around an hour to drive down to Sveti Stefan either through the tunnel or across the mountains.
Flights from London Heathrow to Podgorica with Austrian Airlines via Vienna (http://tinyurl.com/austrianairlines-uk).
Hotel Romanov (4*) in Sveti Stefan booked with Expedia (http://holidaydestinations.at/bbmexplorer)
Car Hire booked with Delta Car in Montenegro (http://www.rentacar-delta.com)