Top Destinations for 2016: Montenegro
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This mountainous, young Balkans nation is a real hidden European gem, with many mysteries to unravel. Even the translation of Montenegro’s name sounds mysterious: Black Mountain. Enchanting - with diverse natural wonders, old coastal cities and shepherds’ cottages in the high-rising, mystical mountains that literally spill into the dramatic coastline - it is a destination not yet fully tainted by tourism. Diversity and richness are the words that define almost everything in Montenegro. This country is a living geography textbook – you can see fiords and virgin forests, marshes and glacier lakes, seas of rocks, deep canyons, eternal snow, and miles long caves. Even though Montenegro belongs to the Mediterranean climate zone, some of its parts have their own specific climate. The capital Podgorica is one of the warmest cities in Europe. Montenegro has a long and interesting history that informs everything about the nation, even in its modern day guise. The Slavic people struggled for centuries to keep their independence while preserving their own culture, which absorbed influences from the West and the East and developed its own authenticity. You will be amazed by this small country at the heart of the Mediterranean. You can reach it by plane (airports in Podgorica, Tivat, and Dubrovnik), by boat, or by train from Belgrade (Serbia). Those who have time and who want to learn more about Central Europe and the Balkans can go by car, motorbike, or bicycle. Flights directly into Montenegro are infrequent and can be expensive, but the Croatian city of Dubrovnik is just 17 kilometres from the border. With frequent and reasonable flights to Dubrovnik this is the perfect portal to a Montenegro trip. On any stay in Dubrovnik it is also an option to take one of the many day trips to Montenegro, hopping the border for a taste of the neighbouring nation. Where to go The main surprise of this tiny nation is the sheer diversity of its different regions, offering everything from untouched sandy beaches and ski resorts to historic walled cities and great coastal night spots. These are the areas you should head to in Montenegro: The Bay of Kotor and the Town of Kotor The walled-city of Kotor is the jewel in the crown of one of the most stunningly beautiful bays on the planet. It is also ranked the top city to visit in 2016 by Lonely Planet. An ancient town surrounded by huge fortifications, it is a city that deserves to be visited at least once in a lifetime. Its charm lies not only in the way it co-exists with its natural surroundings but also the wonder of its labyrinth of narrow, winding streets and irregularly shaped squares. The cities walls offer breathtaking views of the bay. Better still cruise ships have yet to add Kotor to their route so it is not overwhelmed by day tourists. This is why it is worth a visit now! The city is also a good base to take boat trips to explore other parts of the mountain encircled, fjord-like bay. Lustica Peninsula Forming the southern headland of the Bay of Kotor, the gorgeous Lustica Peninsula is still relatively untouched, but you better get in quick. The first section of the peninsula is already quite developed and the plans are moving further south. You’ll find idyllic villages and secluded, clean beaches amongst the olive groves. The area is easily reachable by taxi boat from Herceg Novi across the bay. Driving in the more exciting parts of the peninsula is a hair-raising experience with narrow roads, sheer drops and drivers who don’t really care that you are new to the area. But the exploration is worth it to uncover the regions gems and get some awe-inspiring roadside views of the Bay of Kotor. Coastal Montenegro
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