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This Small Mediterranean Country Is Exploding In Popularity Among American Tourists

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Mediterranean Europe is back to being the world's tourism playground now that air traffic is reaching pre-crisis levels, and more Americans are feeling the impetus to go abroad.

It's hardly shocking that the likes of France, Italy, Spain, and most recently Croatia are taking the lead in booking trends, seeing that they have always been incredibly popular destinations, but 2023 is seeing an unexpected spark in interest for lesser-known spots among vacationers.

As a matter of fact, U.S. travelers are now flocking into a beautiful Southern country that seemed to have been ignored for years, and it looks like it could be Europe's next hotspot:

View Of Perast Town, A Small Medieval Village On Kotor Bay, From Across The Promenade, Montenegro, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Tourism In Montenegro Is On The Rise

Montenegro has always been one of Europe's least-promoted and obscure destinations. It is, after all, a small country covering an area of 13,812 km², bordering Croatia, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to the North and Northeast, and Albania to the South.

Throughout its History, Montenegro has been closely linked to its post-Yugoslavia neighbors, most notably Serbia, from which it formally ceded only in the late 2000's, becoming one of Europe's youngest sovereign states, and succeeded only by Kosovo.

Since its 2006 independence, however, it's shot to stardom as a major hub for tourism in the continent's Southeast, quickly developing a resort zone along its not-to-extensive, yet gorgeous Adriatic coastline, and featuring on every major Mediterranean cruise itinerary.

View Of Kotor Town And Kotor Bay From Atop Kotor Fortress, Montenegro, Mediterranean Europe, Adriatic Coast

In recent years, the off-path appeal of Montenegro has also caught up to American tourists, who had found in Croatia the real-life representation of their favorite TV hits, and the laid-back, slow lifestyle they craved so badly – until Croatia became too crowded, and expensive of a sunny getaway.

Montenegro is not too far behind either, being a small nation of only 600,000 or so inhabitants, hosting over 2 million tourists yearly, mostly over the summer period, but it is still nowhere near its famous neighbor's worrying over-tourism rates and post-Euro price surges.

Montenegro Fits Every Budget

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Quaint Adriatic Village On The Shores Of The Adriatic Sea, Montenegro, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

The main tourist destination in Montenegro, the Bay of Kotor, is famous for its quaint Southern Dalmatian towns, with Perast and Herceg Novi often featuring on the covers of travel brochures, as well as the city of Kotor, a walled, medieval port similar to Dubrovnik in both culture and character, yet less packed.

Amid the economic downturn globally, travelers are becoming more ‘price sensitive', and favoring destinations that offer more value for money. With Croatia's new Euroized economy, and Western Europe in general becoming costlier to visit, Montenegro has become a more attractive alternative.

Granted, euros are used in Montenegro, though the country itself is not a member of the European Union, and its adoption of the currency was unilateral and strongly condemned by formal members of the Eurozone, but the cost of living is less burdensome.

Female Tourist Observing The Sveti Stefan Resort Island In Montenegro, On The Adriatic Section Of The Mediterranean Sea, South Eastern Europe, Balkan Peninsula

On average, a single person's monthly expenses in Budva, a coastal resort town in Montenegro, average US$695.90 monthly without rent.

While this mostly applies to residents, and not tourists on a short-term visit, it gives us a valuable insight into daily expenditure, and consumer prices across the country – Budva is one of Montenegro's best-developed, and most expensive towns.

According to non-peer-reviewed data gathered by Numbeo, consumer prices on the Montenegrin coast are 14% lower than in Dubrovnik, Croatia, though both nations have the same currency in circulation. Restaurants are up to 24.5% cheaper as well, as are groceries (11.9%).

It's not that difficult to find affordable accommodation, either, with three-star hotel rooms, bungalows, modest private villas further inland, and B&B stays ranging from US$25 to US$86 per night. Hostels are even cheaper, starting at just US$13.

Clock Tower inside Stari Grad. Kotor Montenegro

You can definitely go cheap in Montenegro, but if luxury is non-negotiable, you definitely should be prepared for some splurging.

It's rising in popularity as an up-and-coming luxury haven, with exciting new openings taking place ahead of each tourist season, and an extensive list of five-star properties for high-end customers to choose from.

Overnight stays in an all-inclusive resorts in Kotor Bay can cost as much as US$546 during summer.

The main takeaway here is: Montenegro fits every budget.

43% Increase In Demand Among Americans

blue water and town at spila beach montenegro

In a recent study published by the European Travel Commission, tracking travel trends across Europe, data up to May 2023 has shown most ‘value-for-money' destinations are performing ‘well'.

These include Serbia, with a 27% increase in demand, the ever-trendier Bulgaria (21%), and then Montenegro in third place (12%).

As Montenegro is the only one of the above to line the Mediterranean, as Serbia is landlocked and Bulgaria sits on the shores of the Black Sea, it is the best-ranked Mediterranean destination on the ranking.

Perhaps most surprisingly, when looking at the ‘substantial growth' in arrivals from the United States, Montenegro was again the third most sought-after destination, with a 43% increase year-on-year, trailing only Portugal at a whopping 79%, and the Eurasian giant Türkiye (78%).

Montenegrin Flag Flying In The Wind On A Flagpole On The Small Island Of Our Lady Of Rocks, Bay Of Kotor, Montenegro, Southeastern Europe

Alongside Serbia, the only Balkan country to host nonstop year-round flights from America, and Türkiye, Montenegro is one of the best performing European countries that are not members of the European Union (EU).

This is particularly relevant, seeing that Transatlantic flights to non-EU European countries are a rarity, with the exception of Serbia and Türkiye, and that when traveling to Montenegro, Americans must inevitably transit a third country hosting U.S. flights, making it more difficult to reach.

Unless, of course, they are visiting on a cruise.

Either way, there is no denying more Americans are going out of their way to visit this gorgeous European destination, and it's clear now that the ‘affordability' factor plays a huge part in Montenegro's tourism revival.

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