Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Montenegro: The Most Beautiful Country in Europe

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Ah, Montenegro.  I knew I’d love it.  I knew it would be beautiful.  But I had no idea that it would have the kind of beauty to knock me off my feet and render me speechless!

The scenery in Montenegro was tantalizing: the Bay of Kotor from every direction, storybook-perfect walled towns, mystical islands, a mountain-edged coastline, Tara Canyon, and especially the fjords throughout the country.

With only just a taste of Montenegro, I’m ready to declare it the most naturally beautiful country in Europe.  Here’s what it has going for it:

Montenegro has beautiful coastal towns.

The tiny walled city of Kotor was our base, and we couldn’t have chosen a better location.  It was an utterly enchanting place to walk around, with charming architecture, piazzas, and a genuine small-town feel, snug in its city walls.

With the Bay of Kotor on one side and mountains on the other, Kotor is also one of the most spectacularly located towns I’ve ever seen!

Budva is another town on the coast, and it’s the most popular resort in Montenegro.  While not as small or as beguiling as Kotor, the old town looks a lot like a mini Dubrovnik, with winding streets, orange roofs, cute boutiques, and those epic mountains that you see all the way down the Dalmatian Coast.

But the beauty of Montenegro extends beyond these popular towns!

Montenegro is home to magical islands.

The Bay of Kotor is beautiful enough with the mountains surrounding the calm blue waters — but from tiny medieval town of Perast, you have the perfect view of a tiny man-made island.

Could you imagine getting married in that little church on your own private island?

If that one’s too small for you, however, Sveti Stefan has a larger and more dazzling island.

Ever since first seeing a picture of Sveti Stefan years ago, I dreamed of visiting it.  On our final full day in Montenegro, we took a bus down the coast to see it in person.  Though the island is a private resort with restricted access, it was just as beautiful as I imagined.

Montenegro has mountains.

The most spectacular views in all of Montenegro, however, were on the road to Tara Canyon, just north of Durmitor National Park on the Bosnian border.  Dave and I decided to go whitewater rafting, and the ride took three hours from Kotor.

That’s a lot of driving for one day, particularly when your driver is a crazy man from Ulcinj who takes hairpin turns and passes on curves, but the beauty on this route was nothing short of astounding.  Just look at that fjord!

Our driver graciously humored our obsessive photo-taking and stopped at several viewpoints.  God, how could this country be so beautiful?

Montenegro has dramatic canyons.

Bending over the bridge to get a photo of the canyon, my stomach dropped.  THIS was what we were rafting through?!  Because there are canyons, and then there are CANYONS.

Tara Canyon is the second deepest canyon on Earth — only the Grand Canyon is deeper.  The bright turquoise Tara River slices through gray mountains topped with trees and bushes, and it continues that way for miles and miles.  A truly awe-inspiring sight.

The rafting trip was a blast — just the right level of rapids (Level IV), cold but not freezing water on a hot day, a few hours of rafting action, and a some stops to get photos.

We paddled; we shrieked; we got splashed; we laughed with our new Chilean, Swedish, and Ukrainian friends.  And I spent plenty of the trip spaced out like a zombie, overwhelmed with privilege for getting to experience a place like this.

Montenegro has a showstopper: the Bay of Kotor.

At 5:30 AM on the day of our flight back to England, Dave and I woke up to climb the fortress of Kotor.  We climbed briskly and made it to the top in about 30 minutes, just in time to see the rays of sunshine hit the fjord.

I don’t think there’s anything I can say beyond what that photo already shows.

It had never occurred to me to spend more than a few days in Montenegro, but after this trip, I would love to return and see much more of the country, staying at least a week, maybe even two.

There is so much to see here, and as usual, I’ve only scratched the surface.

What do you think?  Is Montenegro the most beautiful country in Europe?Montenegro: The Most Beautiful Country in Europe

Comments

174 Responses to “Montenegro: The Most Beautiful Country in Europe”
  1. Waegook Tom says:

    Montenegro looks gorgeous, Kate – I’ve heard nothing but glowing reports on its natural beauty (although I’ve heard nothing but scathing reports on its beaches). The most naturally beautiful country in Europe, though? I don’t know…based on only what I’ve read, Slovenia, Spain and Croatia all look like they provide pretty tough competition.

    Plus, I’m putting in my obligatory vote for the UK, too.

    Loving the photo of the Bay of Kotor, and the one of the fjord around Tara Canyon. To make a timely Olympics analogy, it looks like the country would finish on the podium for the Most Beautiful Country event for sure.

    • You would love it, Tom! This might be a place for you on your RTW. 🙂

      • Olivera Stankovic says:

        Kate, I am originally from Montenegro. Your article is fabulous. I live in America now. Thank you for respecting my country. Its natural beauty is special and rare 🙂
        Olivera (Batizic) Stankovic

    • Erika Voogd says:

      We first discovered Montenegro in 2003. After visiting 39 countries, when people ask my top country, Montenegro is one of the first I mention. Every visit has been pure Magic. The article did not talk much about amazing food such as chops salad or Plante wine, which will change your life each time you enjoy a glass. And when discussing love, my friends from Montenegro have shared more love than can be described. A tiny country where every visitor will find personal growth and happiness. Kisses from you biggest fan. Eriks

    • Olivera says:

      Slovenia and Croatia are beautiful, too, but Montenegro is really something people had never seen before. Slovenia does not have the seaside which immediately is a big plus for Montenegro and Croatia does not have beaches like 13 miles long like Montenegro has not to mention the Tara river and its canyon which is the second deepest one in the world after Colorado

  2. DebbZ says:

    and I thought Norway was the most beautiful. I really have to travel to Montenegro one day. It looks very gorgeous !

    • Maybe Norway is most beautiful. 😉 I have yet to get there!

      • Milijana says:

        Well, Norway has stunning fjords, but in Montenegro you can see so much more-enjoy the sun on the coast, mountains, and it seems to me that yopu’ve skipped my personal favorites – Cetinje, old capital and Skadar lake:) And weather in Norway is always…hm…not so good:)

  3. Tracy says:

    Stunning photos! When we were in Belgrade last year we were tossing a coin as to which way to go – over night train into Bulgaria or down to Montenegro. Looking at your photos I am know really sorry that we went to Bulgaria (which is saying a lot because we loved Bulgaria!). We’re in NZ at the moment loving the natural beauty here but we can’t saying if only we could find somewhere as beautiful as NZ in Europe to settle for a while … Montenegro might just be the answer! Glad you had a lovely time there and I hope you make it back.

    • Tracy, I can’t wait to get to New Zealand eventually! Bulgaria sounds great, too. I’m making it a priority before it becomes part of the Schengen Area.

    • Sara says:

      Sounds lush, Kate! It’s been on my list to visit too. Think it’s an OK destination for a solo (female) traveler?

    • Luka says:

      I heard people comparing Montenegro’s sights with New Zealand before, but let’s not run into conclusions 😉 Anyhow I’m from Montenegro and I can confirm that it really is beautiful, every corner of the country (even though it’s among smallest states in the world) but there are a lot of problems regarding.. well.. everything else except nature, and even nature is pretty polluted, despite declaring itself an ‘ecological state’ in 1991.

      Also I agree with some previous comments saying that author of this article forgot to mention: Cetinje (town, former capital), Skadar lake (national park), Bar (harbor, but also the ruins of old town of Bar being the only one not exactly on the cost, but on the hill 5km away, surrounded by mountains and providing a great view on the sea), Ulcinj (town on the border with Albania, where river Bojana enters into the Adriatic sea, also has a fortified old tow) and many other places..

  4. really great photos. it looks amazing.

  5. Maja says:

    Im from Montenegro, and when I here someone like Montenegro it’s really makes me happy. It’s sad people actually dont know the country exist or judge the country because of their past.. You have visited many beautiful places in Montenegro, some place I even have seen yet hehe! it is very fascinating.

  6. Amy says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you Kate! I’d love to go back and see Podgorica in particular. We went up one of the mountains near Kotor (50+ hairpins while driving) and the village at the top was really interesting. It be neat to stay up there for a few weeks and see what life is like up in the Montenegrin mountains!

    • We only drove through the mountains, and it looked so much like Austria. Would love to spend more time there!

    • Luka says:

      I live in Podgorica and I strongly advice you to go anywhere else except here since foreign tourists expects a lot from a capital and it’s actually very poor (regarding cultural heritage which is devastated in WWII but also later by locals) and quite boring. But if you decide to come feel free to contact me and I’ll help with sightseeing since all worth seeing is few kilometers out of town. But I’m really glad hearing these comparatives with New Zealand, Austria, or even Switzerland all the time 😀

  7. Nadya says:

    Kate, Montenegro looks amazing! I will definitely include this country into my list of must-visit! But I am nit sure if it’s the most beautiful country in Europe. I am in love with Spain so much! : )

  8. Teri B says:

    You certainly have a gift with the lens

  9. Reagan Hines says:

    Amazing! Montenegro has definitely made itself on my top 10 list of places to travel!

  10. Tim Moon says:

    Hi Kate. Montenegro looks stunning and it’s a place I probably wouldn’t have thought of for a trip. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Sojourner says:

    Fantastic photos! Montenegro looks stunning. I want to go!

  12. Emma says:

    Great post and I can only agree. You’ll have to return, though, as it seems you missed out on the amazing hidden wilderness, Lake Skadar, as so many tourists do. When I rocked up here as a traveller a few years ago, I was so impressed by its beauty – and I’ve been to some incredible, far-flung places – that I decided to live here with my husband Ben. We set up an activity holiday business and now know the area better than most locals, from secret waterfalls and natural springs to the island monasteries near Albania. I’m an avid snapper and you can see some of my pics on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/undiscoveredmontenegro

    Happy travels!

    • Emma, I got invited on a trip to Lake Skadar, and I really wish I had had the time to visit it! Three days is definitely not enough for Montenegro.

    • Luka says:

      You have chosen one of the most valuable (but also most neglected) parts of Montenegro to live and explore, since the base of a first Slavic ‘country’ (under Vojislavljević dinasty) on this territory was made there, so most of these churches and monasteries on islands are dating from 9th 10th till 15th 16th century, except few ‘newer’ ones facing west (and Albania is east) such as Lesendro, Grmožur etc.. Great choice! 🙂

  13. Wow, great post and amazing pictures! We’re headed there for three months, starting in September, and this blog post makes us even more excited. Thanks for Sharing!

  14. Jessica Hill says:

    Wow – this is amazing! I’m definitely adding this to my list of places to visit. I’ll agree, it just might be the most beautiful!

  15. Jessie says:

    That sunrise picture looks amazing! Adding it to the “list”! Looks like a peaceful (minus crazy driving) place to relax for bit.

  16. Lindsey says:

    The canyon looks amazing! Though I have to admit that water looks incredibly cold – I don’t know if I could be tempted into any activity where I might get wet.

  17. Chris @ Hotelopia says:

    Wow, your photography is amazing and the country is even better – absolutely stunning! Definitely on my list of places to see in the next 2 years, what with being right on my European doorstep and all 😉

  18. Andrea says:

    You know, I had not considered going to Montenegro. But after reading this post, the country looks beautiful! Great pictures. I will have to go there now!

  19. I have always had this weird longing to visit Montenegro, and I must say I’m glad it lives up to expectations. Those colors! Swoon!

  20. Julie says:

    Looks beautiful! Now I NEED to visit. I love mountains

  21. Freyja says:

    Every picture you posted is beautiful, but there’s much more to see here in Montenegro 🙂 Mountain lakes, waterfalls, forests, springs,…And the best thing is that everything is so near,because it’s a small country… In one day you can go swimming in the sea,on the beach in the morning, and in the afternoon you can enjoy the Durmitor mountain, it’s tops and lakes, and beautiful nature. You can go partying in Budva, or relax in nature, in some villages on the north of the country. But the most important thing is to know where to go. There are a lot of hidden places that a small amount of people know about. I’m from Montenegro, but I’ve just started discovering those places, esp. in the north… Kotor bay is amazing, Tara canyon also, but there are places that are even more breathtaking! I hope you can see the photos I posted here…

    • Hi, Freyja — just to let you know, when you insert multiple links, your comment goes to spam. That’s the same on many other sites, so be careful of what you include in teh comments.

      I loved your country and would love to go back!

  22. Wow. This is a must-see for me!

    Thanks for showing me all the lesser known parts of Europe!

  23. Rahul says:

    Hi Kate.. Hope you are doing well..

    I read your blog, amazing selection of location & amazing photography! You made Montenegro looks more beautiful.

    Montenegro have both things which i love the most water & mountains, will definitely look forward to visit this place in future, till the time i am looking to explore India. Its amazing to visit different places in India, being a citizen it feels new & fresh.

    Hope you will visit India soon and will make it more beautiful with your canvas!

    Happy Travelling

    • Thanks, Rahul! It really was a beautiful place, and I hope you make it to Montenegro someday.

      And just so you know, I do not allow free advertising on my site, so I removed the line about your company. If you’re interested in paying for advertising, you can contact me through the site.

  24. I’ve never been so I can’t say, but it looks stunning from the pics!

  25. Hamad Jifri says:

    I am sold on Montenegro lock, stock and barrel!! This country would not have made a Euro to-do list untill a few years ago. Better make the dash before the word gets out.. or maybe it has. Many thanks for your little insight into this mesmerizing country Kate!

  26. It looks like a gorgeous country! If I were looking for summer trips, I would seriously consider going there.

  27. TKQ says:

    I’d have to agree… when I went to Montenegro last summer I was stunned. Even though it is tiny and I was there for three VERY busy days, I would love to go back.

  28. Brooklyn says:

    Do you get perfect weather EVERYWHERE you go? Your photos are always gorgeous! And again, another country I’d never even thought of going to. I really appreciate you opening my eyes up to all these amazing places!

  29. Danijela says:

    Dear Kate,
    I’m from Montenegro and I must say that reading your impressions about my country made my eyes wet.I’m very happy that you had such a great time here and that you liked it.And THANK YOU for spreading the word about our precious pearl.You are welcome again any time!
    Puno pozdrava 🙂

  30. Tamara says:

    Marta, I agree with you / Montenegro is the most beautiful country!

  31. LZ says:

    Woooooooooooow, I am so happy you enjoyed my beautiful native country! Very well done with the photos and descriptions! BRAVO!!!

  32. dudek says:

    Montenegro, the best, the most beautiful country in Europe 😀

  33. Sasa says:

    Great pictures, but you only saw turist places, Montenegro have much more to offer, it’s the most natural country on Balkan, i live in it and i haven’t seen everything, next time you go on trip to Montenegro, try see it’s wild beauty, you will be very surprized, and you wont doubt anymore is it the most beautiful country in Europe, you will be sure of it, coz it rly is, and i’m glad i live in 🙂 Sry for lazy english i hope you did understand me, best wishes to all of you, come and visit/expiriance LIFE

  34. Rebecca says:

    Wow! The colour of that water is just amazing! Is it an expensive country to travel in?

  35. We were so happy for the random change of plans that took us through Montenegro this year. I’ll admit – I’d never heard of Kotor or the Bay of Kotor before the visit. Really beautiful, though, and fascinating to learn more about the history of Kotor during ancient times when the thalassocracies (geeky new word of the trip!) of Venice and Dubrovnik were in the height of power. That’s what really does it for me when traveling – discovering a place that unlocks new excitement for learning.

    Also: You made it to the top of the fort in 30 minutes? I’m impressed! 🙂

    • Thalassocracies — such a simple definition, yet a word I had never heard before! Thanks for the info!

      Oh, and we BOOKED IT to the top. We kept putting it off until we had no choice but to go early in the morning on our final day.

  36. Jovana says:

    Dear Kate,

    Very very beautiful pics! Glad to see beautiful pictures of Montenegro where I grew up on a website someone from abroad..

    Thank you

    Greeting from Belgrade!

    Jovana

  37. Liz says:

    Hi Kate,

    I was just wondering, which tour group did you take for the white water rafting experience and would you recommend it again? I am looking at the tour that was through the Montenegro Hostel in Kotor and it looks pretty great, but wanted to hear your opinion before deciding if its worth it.

    Thank you!!

  38. shannon says:

    What makes europe a lovely place….
    please reply

  39. Dani-madrid says:

    There is nothing like Spain.

  40. Majana says:

    🙂 I am from montenegro. You forgot ulcinj which has beautiful sandy beach, zabljak with durmitor mountain, porto montenegro, rijeka crnojevica, skadarsko jezero,lovcen… i agree you have only scratched the surface,here are much more places to see. It is very small country and one of the main qualities is that the nature is not touched;-)

  41. cat says:

    I am an American and have been living in Montenegro for 4 years. Although it has stunning beauty the people are some of the worst. Aside from being lazy beyond comprehension they have no respect for the beauty of their surroundings and constantly throw trash EVERYWHERE and kill the street dogs and cats on purpose. The people are arrogant and have no respect for any life but their own. They go out of their way to make trouble. We have been in court countless times because they try to extort money from all foreigners. I have friends who are Montenegrin by birth and they say the same..just the majority are bad people. They fight amongst themselves all the time and I think I know why. They fill their bodies with unfiltered cigarettes and coffee by the gallon. People are either devils or angels there..nothing in between. They also pride themselves on MANIPULATION…..I have lived in other European countries and can’t wait to move again. Montenegro is one country that makes me weep!

    • Majana says:

      Sorry to say but I don’t know where you lived. You are so wrong. There are some people which are as you said but they exist everywhere. I’ve travelled a lot and I can say that at least for that there is no safer place than montenegro with people nicer to tourists i saw.

      • cat says:

        You obviously like you said are from Montenegro. I lived in Kotor for two year and now live further down the coast for half the year. I travel 2 months of the year, every year. I live a very privileged life. Montenegro is a gem minus the people and many people say this including some of my friends BORN in Kotor. The good news is few Montenegrins will be able to live there in the future as prices are going way up and there is a building boom. Russians, English, Egyptians and the list goes on are all fighting to claim their slice of “Paradise”. I will take Greece and Italy over tiny Montenegro any day of the week….

        • Majana says:

          Sorry but if you are so privileged why you live in a place you hate?

          • cat says:

            I am only there for 6 months per year like i said..that is about all that is bearable because my husband has business there. If he did not I would not be there….the animal abuse is atrocious and the random “poison” sweeps done monthly to kill off all the sweet street dogs is barbaric.

        • Luka says:

          You are right about one thing: there is no middle, as you said ‘people are either devils or angels’ 😛

    • Alen says:

      A fallen Tree makes much more noise than one Forest wich grows

    • Nebojsa says:

      I’m from Montenegro, and I agree 100% with all above written!!! The nature is nice, but you can not compere with Spain, Greece….. people are mostly terrible and arrogant .Unkindness and bad behavior are main characteristics for the most of people.Luckily 5-6 years ago, I moved my family to normal European country.For holidays we are going to Italy, Greece,Spain…
      Only once per year I’m going to Montenegro to visit my parents…for 3 days(more than enough)..
      If somebody wants to visit this small country, please bring a lot of money and be ready to come back completely disappointed

    • miki says:

      I’m from Montenegro, and i have to agree with you. The people from Montenegro are realy irresponsable. They don’t apreciate what they have. When I go to the wood near my house, i find a bunch of trash 🙁 I love my country, but I no see the way to solve this problem. How to wake the
      consciousness of the peple, who apparently only think en money, but no on the beauty what they have. I’m depressed, disappointed, helpless. I dont like the politics, but I have to mention that people vote 20 years the same group of politicans, the persons who are destroying society and nature. In spite of this Montenegro have gorgeous nature, and cultural heritage!

  42. Marko says:

    Hi Kate,
    Just saw your story about Montenegro and I am glad you like it. For most people Montenegro, especially Kotor, is a big surprise. I was born in Kotor and its beauty is normal thing for me. BTW, you took a pic in front of my family house, lol. I am also traveler, but still with office job. These walls are killing me sometimes. From time to time I jump around Europe or to some other continent. But it`s never enough. You know what i`m saying. Few monts ago I started to write a blog just to remember all the beautiful places I`ve visited.

    Check out my blog: mywaytripguide.blogspot.com ,especially TOP 10 section with Montenegro top 10 story. I am new in bloging. Still need to improve and arange pages, menus…

    Keep blogging and traveling!!!

    Best regards,
    Marko

  43. cat says:

    And to add the food is atrocious…the worst anywhere. If you are a foodie do not go to Montenegro. They love their greasy sausages and blitva …blitva with everything. Never any other vegetable…..to get a decent meal we go to the Aman Resort in Sveti Stefan. And all their great chefs left because they could not stand it either….hey 600,000 people in an entire country is just a village anywhere else. Don’t expect much:)))))

    • Sanja says:

      Madam, I can see the truth in your comments on instances of animal abuse, poisonings, etc. Very primitive and cruel indeed. I have three cats myself and it pains me to see how much street animals suffer in my country. Nevertheless, your comments on the people being the worst in the world and the food are simply untrue and mean. Yes, indeed, there are some lazy people in Montenegro, this is why we joke about it! But many people are hard working and honest and the food is great. I hate blitva too, but I simply don’t eat it when I see it on the plate – the rest on my plate usually suffices, because it is very tasty and the portions are always big in Montenegro. For some reason, you seem to have surrounded yourself with people who are not nice. Maybe if you had more goodness in your own heart, you’d see some good around you too. Even in Montenegro.

    • mushroommushroom says:

      I grew up in Montenegro and lived there until 2007, yet I’ve only had blitva served to me a few times. As for there being hardly any other vegetables, I have no idea where you got that from. Most restaurants I’ve been to had a decent selection of salads.

      Sadly, the part about animals being treated badly is true.

      By the way, my “most beautiful country in Europe” award would have to go to either Iceland or Norway.

    • Milos says:

      Unfortunately Cat,

      you evidently have no friends who know this country well, since the things you talk about are anything but true. Lack of animal shelters are a problem and that is something we can work on A LOT, but for other remarks you made about the people and the food, unfortunately you are completely out of place.

      From your comments I see that you do not like being here, and perhaps you should not. There is no reason to have a “bearable” experience in your life if your can choose something else. I presume your husband is working on one of the huge investment projects in Montenegro and this is what is “forcing” you to be here.

      Generalisations that you make are appalling and simply not true. This is just sad to hear…

    • miki says:

      You are not right about that. I’m sure that you haven’t try anithing but blitva, and saussage. An what is a problem with greasy food. This is a tradition, and we don’t have to change it for the reason of stupid fashion. You can critizing the fast-american-food, but no slow-traditional-montenegrian. WHO LOVE GREAT FOOD, MONTENEGRO IS THE RIGHT CHOICE!

    • Luka says:

      wooow ,i’m starting to think that you are payed to talk trash about MNE ,this can’t be the comment of a person that really lived here

      • cat says:

        And what other vegetables are served? No dishes with carrots, broccoli peas..nothing. I told you I have eaten at all the best and they are well below the norm. What is odd is most older woman can cook quite well there but in the restaurants it is quite poor.
        Germans love Montenegro because your meat is some of the best I have been told. I am a vegan so i would not know but i have to admit it smells wonderful and you can’t get that in the states. Everything is irradiated and that just destroys taste and smell. No i am not paid…lol. What country would benefit from me slamming Mont? Mont is having a building boom…most of you are probably not even aware of this. But the infrastructure is not keeping pace. Not sure what will happen there.

    • Biki says:

      You are were wrong,food is exelent.Probably you have big problems.

  44. Hi Kate, do you know where you booked your river rafting trip from? It would be good to know as it’s on the list of things to do when I visit in September 🙂 Thanks!

  45. I absolutely agree. Budva, Kotor, and elsewhere in Montenegro are gorgeous. Charming old towns, great beaches, great scene. Definitely the most undervalued place in Europe, and not bad for someone like myself who loves looking for investments while traveling, too. 🙂

    Budapest is perhaps the most gorgeous city in Europe but Montenegro wins overall.

  46. nikola187 says:

    u should come here, I traveled a lot, but originaly Montenegrian, there is no better place for vacation!

  47. Ellis Shuman says:

    Wonderful article! I just visited Montenegro, was amazed by its beauty.

    Posted this:
    “The Stunning Natural Beauty of Montenegro”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ellis-shuman/montenegro-travel_b_5627903.html

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