Montenegro remains one of Europe’s hidden gems… but for how much longer? Independent since 2006, the country has been quietly developing its fledgling tourism industry and is now being vaunted as one of the continent’s hottest new destinations.
So what does this nascent nation have to offer? Well, inland it’s all pine-scented mountains, rolling prairies and traditional, stone villages, which are a joy for hikers, bikers and nature lovers. The star attraction, though, is the blissful, 293km (183mile) coastline, which gives onto the calm blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The most popular coastal destinations are the enchanting Venetian-era port towns of Kotor and Budva, with their medieval stone buildings, family-run seafood restaurants and burgeoning hotel scene. Other less developed seaside towns include Herceg Novi, Petrovac, Bar and Ulcinj, where travellers can get a taste of local life.
The coastline harbours a pleasing combination of long sandy beaches to the south, near Ulcinj, curving pebble bays along the so-called Budva Riviera, and little coves around the perimeter of the meandering Bay of Kotor to the north.
As investment arrives, luxury marina-resorts have begun to spring up, offering mooring facilities for sailing boats as well as accommodation, restaurants, cafes, spas and shops. Porto Montenegro in Tivat is designed to accommodate some of the world’s biggest mega yachts and is indicative of the kind of travellers Montenegro seems to be targeting.
Of course, it’s not all about wealthy oligarchs. Particularly inland, where travellers can grab a slice of traditional Balkan life and lose themselves in rugged mountains, many of which rise above 2,000m (6,560ft).
The hinterland is also home to five national parks. Go in search of bears, wolves and lynx atop the peaks of Durmitor National Park; raft down the River Tara in Europe's deepest canyon; explore Europe's last virgin forest within Biogradska Gora National Park; or go bird watching in the wetlands of Lake Skadar National Park. But go now, before everyone else gets the same idea.