A land of endless adventure and enchantment


September 2023 Living

Vuk Koljenšić and Draženka Laketić


If there is a country where two extremes come together, and the sum of these two opposites is transformed into a harmonious whole, then this is Montenegro.

This is a country where salty Mediterranean air combines with the clean sharpness of mountain, air, a land where mountains and sea collide. This is a country where autumn can sometimes occur long before the end of summer, and winter often arrives at the same time as spring. In Montenegro, it’s possible to experience all of that on the same day if one is travelling from the far north of Montenegro to the Adriatic Sea.

Here, people are the warmest where it is coldest and the kindest people are those to whom life itself is not kind. That’s Montenegro for you. Montenegro has one colour in its name and a thousand colours in its beautiful landscape. Montenegrins have been welcoming tourists for centuries and are still learning much from those who come to visit, learning that they, themselves, must learn to appreciate every metre of its magnificence and beauty. A rich tapestry of life and history is located in just 13,000 square kilometres of natural beauty where everyone can find enjoyment and wonder, and almost everything they want from a perfect vacation. And this was also true back in history, during the time of Petrović when the first accommodation facilities for “outsiders” (tourists) were constructed, and in 1864, when the first hotel in Cetinje, “Lokanda”, was built.

The development of Montenegrin road infrastructure was accompanied by the construction of “khans” (hanovi), which were the characteristic resting places for travellers, and more recently, better connections between cities have also brought about greater movement of the local people.

tranquil bay in Lake Skadar Park, Montenegro, Photo by: Adobe Stock

The beauty of the coast had already brought about the construction of guest houses on the green beach of Herceg Novi, and since then tourism has developed rapidly and today it makes up almost a third of the country’s GDP. This makes Montenegro the leading country in Europe where tourism contributes the greatest share to its economy.

It took almost an entire century for Montenegro to reach the headlines of world-famous magazines, however, nowadays it is increasingly ranked in the Top 10 Destinations in the World, and in a very short period of time, Kotor reached first place on the famous Lonely Planet list, and subsequently became a magnet for tourists from all over the world. According to Motor locals, only a few years before this happened, a leading journalist from an internationally renowned magazine was on vacation in Kotor. He openly publicised his love and admiration of the place not only to his friends and family, but to colleagues and newspapers, and in so doing, he almost single-handedly popularised the place to the extent that it is now well-known, loved and revered all over the world. However, apart from journalists who spread the word about the incredible beauty of Boka, there are also grateful Montenegrins and social networks that transmit what the camera lens sees to all ends of the earth. As a result, the Bay of Kotor became known as the southernmost European fjord and now thousands of people visit and admire it every year. The now-famous Black Lake is a place where unclean and negative thoughts are cleansed by the purity and clarity of the water. And most importantly, whoever visits the country should not bypass one of the world’s most impressive constructions – the Tara Bridge. It is a symbol of men’s struggle with nature. Almost 100 years ago, a miracle was created with “opanci” also known as Montenegrin shoes, which bridged the seemingly insurmountable shores with the biggest wooden scaffolding ever used, at that time. The proportions of the five arches speak for themselves about the miracle of engineering that continues to hold and support the huge concrete structure more than 150 meters above the Tara River. The Tara River is known as The tear of Europe.

Aerial View of Durdevica Tara Arc Bridge in the Mountains, One of the Highest Automobile Bridges in Europe, Montenegro, Photo by: Adobe Stock

Every year thousands of people raise their adrenaline levels as they go down the Tara River in the traditional beechwood boats, looking upwards at the almost vertical cliffs from which sprouts gravity-defying vegetation from apparently naked stone. Dozens of glacial lakes are scattered between the mountains, and each of them has a name that tells a story. It is here that the fairies live who were responsible for shaping destinies, as well as devils who have caused torment and disaster. There are even places where saints are said to have squeezed water from stone. Only in the small town of Žabljak, the highest situated town in the Balkans, will a resting traveller be able to hear the stories and legends of the Tara River and its surroundings, tales that cannot be heard anywhere else in the whole country.

Montenegro can be magical, but it can also be cruel, however there are many areas that are still untouched and nature can still be seen in its raw beauty.

Almost half of Montenegro can be seen from the Lovćen mountain and if Montenegro had to be summed up in two words, savage beauty are the two most appropriate words. There is also a lot of wilderness, but wilderness isn’t really sufficient to describe the Montenegrin landscape. If the words savage or even wild describes everything we see, then beauty will describe everything we feel. The traveller will also experience a variety of different mentalities in Montenegro. As you travel along each of the borders you will experience helpful and neighbourly values, and from the colder north, you will encounter real human warmth, while going further south you will find that a more Mediterranean spirit is prevalent – calm with a melodious way of speaking and living.

The people of Montenegro are widely recognised as gracious hosts who go above and beyond the call of duty. In some remote villages, it is common place that the villagers will accept you as one of their distant relatives and you will leave feeling that you don’t owe them a single cent. Indeed, tourists and travellers came to the villages first, and mass tourism followed. The village people thought they had nothing to offer, when in fact they have everything. And this is exactly how the story of village tourism developed, aided by village communities who happily shared their everyday life with strangers, offering them food, drink and sustenance and simple life pleasures. This was the time when the farmer transformed into a host of the highest rank, providing authenticity and genuine hospitality both in terms of a unique ambience and healthy cuisine, both of which are hard to beat, and cannot even be glimpsed at in the expensive resorts. However, at the other end of the hospitality scale, there are now lots of expensive hotels located on the seafront, all with magnificent views. On a clear day, one can even see Italy. In these encapsulated resorts, guests are offered tranquility and peace in an abundance of luxury and world-famous franchises are showing increasing interest, fully believing in the potential that Montenegro offers. Connection by two local airports and the nearby Dubrovnik airport makes Montenegro easily accessible to all. Accessible air connections and social media are rapidly launching Montenegro into the lists of the most desired tourist destinations for travellers from all over Europe, the Middle East, and even North Africa. A combination of international travel promotions for Montenegro, an excellent representation at Expo 2020 in Dubai and enticing promotional road shows around the world display the most exquisite images to people in all parts of the world and ensure that Montenegro is a place to be put on their wish list. Those who come here for the summer season invite new friends on the following day, and tourists are starting to explore Montenegro in all four seasons. And when they ask if a week is a sufficient time to visit Montenegro? The answer is “Yes, but it takes a lifetime to research”.

Lookout in the Lovcen National Park in Montenegro. Mausoleum of Peter II Petrovic-Niegosz, Photo by: Adobe Stock


This article was originally published in The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2023.
If you want a copy, please contact us at info@adriaticjournal.com.