Montenegro: expect the unexpected

By Tereza Urbankova:

Picture this: striking highlands, bays and beaches overlooking the shimmering Adriatic Sea, coastal churches, national parks, Venetian villages and walled cities – all this (and more) on a very small piece of land.

Who’d have ever thought I’d be writing about Montenegro, a Balkan country sitting on the borderline between east and west, and agreeing with all those who trumpet Montenegro as the new ‘it’ destination? Never in my wildest dreams!

However, in August 2019 I visited Porto Montenegro and its surroundings and was truly impressed. Here is why.

Once you emerge out of the misery of the small Tivat airport (Dubrovnik airport is another option) that is seriously understaffed and ill-prepared for the volumes of tourists, and drive for about 10 minutes, you will end up in Porto Montenegro, a glamorous destination, and an exclusive marina and yachting paradise. At first glance, it slightly resembles Monte Carlo and the French Riviera, but it’s not quite the same.

The stillness of elegant boats gracefully lining up the coast, the peacefulness of the sea, ample sunlight, stunning views, the grandeur of the distant mountains, now complemented with luxury hotels, infinity pools, boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs, the glittering marina, fleets of private jets and helicopters make Porto Montenegro an exciting travel destination.

The slick Regent Porto Montenegro hotel, a luxury retreat, draws you in quickly. There is no point in resisting, just give in. Although a large resort, it is not overpowering and overwhelming. Located on the waterfront, directly opposite the superyacht marina, it consists of two wings, Venezia, inspired by Venetian architecture and more modern Aqua wing. Both are integrated well together. The hotel features a large infinity pool with a view over the marina, lit by the sun all day long and surrounded by palm trees. Bliss.

The hotel Murano restaurant, serving abundant breakfast, is transformed every night into a fine-dining ‘place to be’ with delicious and innovative cuisine. The views have now changed, and in addition to the illuminated marina, the diners can spot some interesting passers-by.

If, by sheer chance, you get bored there, take a short walk to the nearby yacht club and enjoy a different atmosphere. Or, make a trip to the nearby town of Kotor where you can walk around the cobbled lanes of the Kotor’s old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or climb up the city walls to admire scenic views of the area. Our Lady of the Rocks gorgeous island across Perast is also worth visiting, or the town of Sveti Stefan, featuring a small islet which looks like it belongs to a fairy tale, now a very exclusive and private resort. Another option is to drive up the nearby mountains and see the entire bay from the very top, which is very impressive. And if you are looking for a charming restaurant to take someone special for lunch or dinner, family owned upmarket restaurant Stari Mlini, 20 km from Porto Montenegro, is the right choice; it is fully integrated in the nature and built in a former flour mill – romantic ambience beyond belief.

 Those who read The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece, may recall his words: “Then came the war, old sport…I was promoted to be a major, and every Allied government gave me a decoration – even Montenegro, little Montenegro down on the Adriatic Sea!”. This remark suggests that Montenegro was then rather an oddity than anything else. Much of that has changed, and although the country may be small by size, it is a serious player and an up-and-coming tourist destination on the Adriatic coast.

As I am a creature of habit, Porto Montenegro and Montenegro in general has just made it on the list of my most favourite places in the world which I will visit in the future. Probably multiple times.