Montenegro is one of Europe's smallest countries and is a stunning destination just waiting to be explored. Montenegro is also one of the world's youngest countries. It only ending its union with Serbia after a referendum in 2006. It boasts stunning beaches on the Adriatic Sea and beautiful mountains studded with lots of old ruins. Montenegro may not be the only destination or primary reason for visiting Europe but if you planning to visit the Balkans and plan on seeing the stunning beaches of Croatia, then don't forget to check out the Balkan peninsula's smallest country!

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

About Montenegro

  • Capital And Largest City: Podgorica
  • Population: 620,000
  • Independence: 2006
  • Size: 14,000 Sq Km or 5,000 Sq Miles
  • Currency: Euro

Montenegro has a long history and was influenced by the Greek world and then was part of the Roman Empire. The English name is from Venetian and means "Black Mountain" after how dark its Mount Lovcen appears as it's covered in dark evergreen forests. The local name for the country is "Crna Gora" which also means "black mountain".

  • Visa Policy: Visa-Free For 90 Days

Montenegro is a very mountainous country and shares mountainous borders with Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, and Bosnia (it also shares a small border with Croatia). The coastal plain is only around 1 to 4 miles wide and for much of the coastline, there is no coastal plain at all. The terrain in Montenegro is some of the most rugged in Europe and averages around 6,600 feet in elevation. Perhaps partly from its imposing geography, it was able to be independent of the Ottoman Empire quite early on.

Related: Not Sure If Visiting Kotor, Montenegro Is Worth It? This Itinerary Should Convince You

Places To Visit

Despite being such a small country is home to five small national parks (three of which were established back in 1952).

  • Durmitor National Park: Est. in 1952 And Covers 39,000 ha.
  • Lovcen National Park: Est. in 1952 And Covers 6,400 ha.
  • Biogradska Gora National Park: Est. in 1952 And Covers 5,400
  • Lake Skadar National Park: Est. 1983 And Covers 40,000 ha.
  • Prokletije National Park: Est. 2009 And Covers 16,600 ha.

Sveti Stefan

One of the most iconic features of the Adriatic Sea and Montenegro is the stunning and tiny "Sveti Stefan" or "Saint Stephen" islet. This islet hosts a 5-star hotel resort and contains a total of 50 rooms, suites, and cottages. Back in the 1800s, a village was on the isle and its population reached around 400. Its population declined to about 20 in 1954 and then the government converted it into a luxury hotel that was frequented by various high-profile elites from around the world. It declined in the wake of the break up of Yugoslavia. The modern hotel opened in 2008.

  • When To Visit: Montenegro Has A Mediterranean Climate And If You Want To Sunbathe Then, Summer

Like so much of the Balkan Peninsula, Montenegro has a range of must-see monasteries doting the country. They are often built in the most spectacular of locations. Remember if you are visiting them you should dress appropriately (like no shorts or shirts above the knees and no bare shoulders). Some of these monasteries are:

Ostrog Monastery

The Ostrog Monastery is perched 900 meters up a cliff face overlooking the Zeta valley. This white monastery is the most important Orthodox site in Montenegro today and attracts around a million visitors annually. The Monastery was first built way back in 1665 in two large caves, today it looks as though the monastery has grown out of the rock.

  • Cost: Around $25-35 For Transportation To This Site

Moraca Monastery

The Moraca Monastery is very old being founded in 1252 and is also one of the most important Orthodox sites in this Balkan country.  It is located on the banks of the Moraca River around 30 miles drive from the capital Podgorica and contains two churches. It remains an active monastery.

Gradiste Monastery

Another of the treasured monasteries in Montenegro is Gradiste Monastery. This one is also perched up on high. Or at least on a hill overlooking the Buljarica Beach. The first written evidence of this monastery is from 1305 although it could be much older from around 1116. The monastery hosts three churches; St Nicholas's Church, St. Sava's Church, and the Church of the Dormition.

Related: Everything You Need To Know Before Sailing From Greece To Croatia

Beaches And Old & New Bar

One of the main attractions of Montenegro is its beaches, out of some 183 miles of coastline it boasts some 45 miles of beaches. Its longest beach is Velika Plaza that measures over 8 miles.

Bar is a coastal town famous for its beaches and is accessible by train from the capital of Podgorica. At Bar, you can enjoy visiting the old ruins of Old Bar up on the hill and its impressive fortress. New Bar down on the coast is a beautiful town and one of the main tourist attractions in Montenegro. Some of the beaches by the town are pebbly, but you don't need to explore far along the coast before you see some stunning sandy beaches full of people enjoying the warm Mediterranean weather.

In addition to monasteries and beaches, there are mountains to climb and canyons to explore. The deepest canyon is Tara River Canyon and is some 4,300 feet deep.

Next: ‘Game Of Thrones:’ What You'll See On The Dubrovnik Tour In Croatia