Laid back Mediterranean gem of historic towns and dark mountains
‘At the birth of our planet the most beautiful encounter between the land and the sea.’ So said poet Lord Byron of this small Balkan country, nestled on the Adriatic coast between Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. Home to just 600,000 inhabitants, Montenegro gained independence in 2006 and has rapidly won notoriety in its own right for summer beach life, medieval quarters, delicious delicacies and seriously Instagrammable scenery.
Many of the 1.6 million annual visitors are attracted by peak season sunshine, adventure sports, and beautiful beaches. They are increasingly enjoying the fruits of significant nvestments made in infrastructure, luxury 5* hotel chains and fast free wi-fi. However, choose to experience Montenegro during low season, November to March, and you’ll find an authentic winter hideaway offering excellent value for money. The crowds of summer fade away, allowing you to engage with locals and enjoy activities in relative peace, buying artisan hand-made products and filling up on traditional mouthwatering cuisine. Plus it’s so easy to get around. In a single day you can visit the mountainous north for a ski fix and a few hours later, be back at the beach for pre-dinner cocktails in the mild winter sun.
Coastal Fjords & Old Towns
The twisting Montenegrin coastline is blessed with towering cliffs and rocky shores sheltering no fewer than 117 beaches from tiny pebbled coves to 13km stretches of sand. With average low season temperatures of 10°C you might not be catching rays on the beach, but it’s perfect for strolling by the sea and exploring the coast’s picturesque old towns and villages. The historic centres once more belong to the locals as summer day trippers trail off. Roman, Venetian, Ottoman and more recent occupiers have all left their mark resulting in unique architecture, monuments and fascinating tales. Explore Ulcinj, a former pirate town; beautiful Tivat with its superyacht marina; Budva, which at 2500 years old, is the oldest urban centre in the Adriatic; Kotorwith its February masquerade carnival; or Herceg Novi known for its beautiful structures, many steps and gorgeous mimosa festival that celebrates the start of each spring. Hire a car and find your favourite.
Adventures in the Rural North
Head inland from the coast visiting family farms with wine and food tastings and experiencing live music, dancing and a traditional village lifestyle. Drive through woods, lakes, and pastures to reach UNESCO protected Durmitor National Park. Here there’s a stunning view of the Black Lake and an easy 4 km track around the lake meandering past historic caves and grazing cattle. Nearby, don’t miss Tara River Canyon the second deepest in the world, after the Grand Canyon itself. Montenegro boasts 4 other national parks including Lovcen and Lake Skadar. This latter is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe with 280 species of birds including the rare kudrava pelican. Lake Skadar is also known to have the best wine in Montenegro, delicious with smoked lake carp. Finally, wherever your Montenegrin adventure takes you, you’ll never be far from the slopes of one of the foreboding mountain ranges that give this special place its name. Whether you climb the snowy peaks, or take an autumnal hike along the rushing streams, you’ll adore low season Montenegro.