The tiny new state of Crna Gora is better known under its Italian name, Montenegro. The English translation – “Black Mountain” – might sound a little dull, but Montenegro is a land exploding with colour. Carpeted with flowers for much of the year, the country’s muscular peaks are dappled with the dark greens of pine, beech and birch from which turquoise streams rush down to a tantalizingly azure blue sea. Fringing it, the coastline is dotted from border to border with beaches of yellow and volcanic grey, and huddles of picturesque, orange-roofed houses – a postcard come to life.
Where to go
Its beaches and idyllic old towns make the coastline most appealing for the traveller, though its most precious jewel – phenomenally photogenic Kotor – sits just a little inland at the end of a fjord-like bay. Beach-fringed Budva is the other real highlight, but you should also try to make time for the ruins of Stari Bar. Away from the coast, pleasures are mainly confined to the mountains, particularly the spectacular national park of Durmitor, while the old Montenegrin capital of Cetinje is also well worth a visit.
The mountains visible from the Montenegrin coast hint at the beauty of its interior, an area sadly bypassed by most travellers. The capital, Podgorica, is one of the most natural in Europe but gets almost no backpackers while Cetinje, the former capital, makes a delightful stopover. Best of all is the mountainous north, particularly Durmitor, a spectacular national park where you can hike though unspoilt pastureland, ski past 2000-metre-plus peaks, or raft through the colossal Tara Canyon.
Blessed with sunshine, pristine beaches lapped by clear Adriatic waters, and appealing, whitewashed old towns, the Montenegrin coast has become one of Europe’s hottest properties. Heading north–south from Croatia to the Albanian border, you’ll first hit charming Herceg Novi, before the coast ducks inland to swallow up magnificent Kotor – without doubt the most picturesque town in the land. South of here, the littoral swings back out to the beaches of Budva, something of a party capital during the summer. It’s then mountain-edged coast all the way to Bar, home to some terrific ruins.