Budva, Montenegro © Igycg
It has been variously described as 'the new Riviera', an 'unpolished gem' and even 'a paradise', all of which are true to a large degree of the Republic of Montenegro, situated on the southern Adriatic coast of Eastern Europe. Whether it will stay that way or not is a matter for conjecture, because this little newly-independent country is being enthusiastically embraced by the world tourism market, which is ever hungry for fresh destinations.
Formerly a part of Yugoslavia, Montenegro was embroiled in the ethnic and civil unrest that plagued the region in the 1990s. After peace was brokered Montenegro was joined to Serbia as a combined state, but following a referendum in June 2006 the country declared its independence, and is now feeling its way into a new Republican era.
Montenegro, for a long while considered an unsafe no-go area, is now being deservedly extolled as the new dream holiday destination - but if truth be told, there is nothing new about it. The charm of this country lies in its picturesque medieval towns and villages, its timeless river valleys, beautiful beaches, glassy lakes and towering mountains.
The most popular area for tourism is the narrow coastal section, which stretches from Igalo in the west to the Bojana river mouth in the east, indented by numerous verdant fjords, and washed by the azure blue Adriatic Sea. The resort area known as the Budva Riviera offers sandy beaches and balmy summer days. Across the Dinarian Mountains is the central plain, where the capital, Podgorica, swelters through baking hot summers and the scenic Skadar Lake region offers a tranquil retreat. The north of Montenegro is dominated by mountains, where rivers have carved spectacular canyons through the tall forests and in winter the ski resorts of Zabljak and Kolasin provide snowy fun. There are also two national parks in this area, which draw keen eco-tourists.
Montenegro is undoubtedly a natural Balkan beauty, offering a real get-away-from-it-all holiday for everyone from beach bums to sophisticates. Don't forget your camera!