Have you ever considered visiting Montenegro?
This small European country was named one of the trending destinations of 2023 by American Express Travel.
While Montenegro is growing in popularity, this country in the Balkans is still highly underrated. It’s often overshadowed by neighboring Croatia, which has become a tourist hotspot in recent years.
However, Montenegro is a hidden gem on the Adriatic Sea less than two hours from Dubrovnik, Croatia that is very much worth visiting.
Here are the top 7 reasons why you should add Montenegro to your travel bucket list in 2023:
1. Affordable Prices
Montenegro, like many Balkan countries, is a very affordable destination. It’s much cheaper than Croatia, which has become more expensive in recent years due to its rapid growth as a tourist destination.
But Montenegro still maintains affordable prices. Although the currency is the Euro, Montenegro is not part of the European Union or the Schengen Zone, unlike neighboring Croatia.
You’ll find that a trip to Montenegro is very affordable, and even in touristy Kotor, the prices are lower than in Croatia or other popular destinations nearby like Italy or Greece.
2. Charming Towns
One of the highlights of Montenegro is its gorgeous coastal towns with ancient stone buildings and orange-tiled roofs.
Kotor, Budva, Perast, Tivat, and Sveti Stefan are all breathtaking towns that look like something straight out of a fairytale.
One of the best places to base yourself on a trip is Kotor, a fortified medieval town that is home to Montenegro’s cruise port. From here, it’s easy to visit other towns around the country on day trips.
3. Stunning Scenery
In addition to charming small towns, Montenegro also boasts incredible scenery. The Bay of Kotor, which stretches along the southwestern part of the country, offers some of the most dramatic scenery in Europe.
Further inland, mountainous Durmitor National Park and Shkodra Lake provide even more natural beauty.
4. Great Hiking
If you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of great hikes in Montenegro. Some of the best hiking can be found in Durmitor National Park and Mrtvica Canyon.
You can also hike up to St. John’s Fortress in Kotor for incredible views looking down at the town and the Bay of Kotor.
In addition to hiking, you can enjoy other outdoor adventure activities like whitewater rafting.
5. Interesting History
Montenegro only became an independent country in 2006. Prior to that, it was in a federation with Serbia, which the two countries entered after the breakup of Yugoslavia.
But the country has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The ancient city of Kotor is more than 2,000 years old, and the city walls (which you can walk today) date back to the 9th century when Kotor was under Byzantine rule.
6. Beautiful Beaches
If you’re looking for great beaches, you will find them in Montenegro. Located on the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro has many sandy beaches that overlook crystal-clear blue waters.
Some of the best beaches in Montenegro include Sveti Stefan and Petrovac Beach. Jaz Beach, located in Budva, is known for being one of the liveliest beaches in the country, with plenty of bars and restaurants nearby.
7. Compact Size
Montenegro is a very small country, which makes it easy to get around. You can cover a lot of ground and see much of the country in one week, or see a number of highlights in just a few days.
One of the best ways to get around Montenegro is with a rental car. There are buses that run between many of the popular coastal towns, but a car gives you more freedom to explore on your own, and like everything else in the country, rental cars are very affordable.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com