While the past is prevalent, the future has never looked brighter for Montenegro. This small, pristine country lying between the shores of the Adriatic and the foothills of the Balkan Mountains has seen its fair share of invaders and conquerors. At one time or another Romans, Greeks, Celts, and Ottomans (just to name a few) have all laid claim to this small nation, and not until very recently, June 3, 2006 to be exact, did Montenegro finally become an internationally recognized, independent country. These days, the invaders are a friendlier, less hostile group, made up of Europeans, Americans, and other holiday-makers. And why not? Montenegro is booming. Cheap (but rising) prices and incredible real estate bargains, mixed with stunning architectural wonders and gorgeous natural scenery have brought Europeans out in droves looking for the newest hot spot.

Montenegro, with a population of roughly 600,000, and an area just a little more than half the size of Israel, still boasts enough natural diversity, that even in this tiny country, travelers will be sure that Montenegro is much larger that its actual size. From snow skiing in the Durmitor mountains (the highest peak, Bobotov Kuk, reaching an impressive 2522 meters) to the roughly 300 km of coastline, Montenegro is a year-round destination for fun in the winter snow or summer sun.

The beaches are particularly impressive as in many inlets and bays the mountains descend into the Adriatic in an impressive fashion, leaving the water crystal clear, and giving the beaches a Mediterranean feel. The following are where you can find a few of the better beaches, and some wonderful towns:

  • Budva: Probably the most popular and metropolitan area along the coast, and boasts 17 lovely beaches. The city also has a beautifully preserved Old Town section full of narrow streets, historic monuments, and shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants.
  • Petrovac: A small town near Budvar featuring many ancient historical artifacts, small museums, and the Fortress Kastelo, built in the 1500s by the Venetians. The beaches here are second to none. Rocky cliffs drop down into crystal turquoise water, and finding a private cove to dip into is quite easy.
  • Kotor: This city is located at a gorgeous deep blue bay, and boasts incredible medieval architecture to go along with its idyllic beaches. In fact, the city was named a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site for its cultural treasures. Kotor is an absolute must-see for any traveler to Montenegro.
  • Herceg Novi: The closest thing the country has to the tropics. With its blooming mimosa trees, abundant greenery, and numerous sun-filled days, tourists will enjoy taking in the medieval fortresses, museums, and other architectural wonders the town has to offer. Here boats rock peacefully in the harbor, and fishermen bring their catches in at the end of the day. Just outside town are plenty of secluded beaches to enjoy the sunny weather.

Although the jet set has known about Montenegro for years—Sophia Loren and Richard Burton came here quite often in years past—the recent independence and tourism interest has finally put this small gem back in the public consciousness. Offering great views, palpable history, and a diverse natural setting, Montenegro should be a popular destination for years to come!