Elias Pelcastre

Montenegro

Summer is drawing closer, bringing with it a mass movement of tourists from Northern Europe, all hoping to escape their disappointing weather for something a little more enchanting. The last fifty years have seen Europe taken apart and thoroughly explored and analysed. Five-star hotels, hostels, campsites, the beach, all inclusive, historical, hiking, secluded, you can get information on just about anywhere you want to go.

Mention the Dalmatian Coast and most people think of Croatia. Fewer consider Montenegro for their summer vacation. The country is located in south-east Europe and formed part of Yugoslavia, eventually establishing as an independent state from Serbia in 2006. It is classed as an upper-middle come income country by the World Bank and is a candidate member to join the European Union. Despite this, it is one of the least accessible European countries to visit from the UK. There are weekly flights from Gatwick and Stansted to the capital, Podgorica; however, others require a stopover at a European hub. However, the country is a real undiscovered gem, and I would recommend it to anybody hoping to travel this summer.

The country is blessed with good weather for most of the year. Podgorica, the capital, holds unexpected charm, although still bearing the scars of war. Crumbling buildings stand alongside new builds while cows graze at the side of the highway. By lunchtime, the smell of grilled and boiled meat wafts around the city. Broths, porridges, and soups are also on offer for those keen to try the hearty cuisine. Aptly named “Gorica Hill,” is the place to be to see the skyline, and overlook life in the city. A couple of nights here and you will get an insight into the “coolness’ of residents, who take to drinking coffee, beer, relaxing and smoking cigarettes in local cafes.

Kotor is located in a quiet, southern corner of the Dalmatian Coast, and is a couple of hours mountainous drive away from Podgorica. The city walls overlook all of the action and take a couple of hours to hike, starting at the focal “Kampana Tower.” Around half way up will offer the best, all-encompassing views of the heritage city. Upon descent, lose yourself in the narrow streets of the “Stari Grad,” dotted with bars, restaurants and shops and occasionally opening out into large squares. The area has stunning fish and wine restaurants, to compliment the cheap beer.

A touch of luxury is visible around the area, where sun seekers bask in the water and people relax in the gardens nearby. The gorgeous mountain drop frames the bay which has refreshing walks around the outside and feels a million miles away from the city. Reasonably priced apartments and hotels make it a good option for those who want a piece of this relaxation and culture, without shelling out too much money. Beat the future investors and tourists and spend a couple of days exploring this fascinating country!