Despite being one of Europe’s smallest countries, Montenegro’s geographic diversity is remarkable. At 13,812 square kilometers, the country is roughly equivalent in size to Connecticut, but features a stunning variety of biomes and geologic features. In one day, an adventurous person could easily spend a morning skiing on sub-alpine peaks in Tramontana, grab a picnic lunch in the continent’s oldest virgin forest, go whitewater rafting in the massive river valley winding through the eastern highlands, and still be able to soak up the last rays of a Mediterranean sunset while eating fresh seafood on the Adriatic coastline.
And what a wondrous coastline it is.
From the mountainous surroundings and Venetian-inspired architecture of towns encircling the Bay of Kotor to the warm water and sandy beaches that stretch south toward the Albanian border, Montenegro’s coast is one of the nation’s most treasured natural assets. In this installment, I take a look at some of the highlights found along the scenic drive from Perast in the Bay of Kotor to Ulcinj in the south. Be sure to check out even more shots from my journey in my album on Flickr.
Under Venetian rule throughout the 18th century, Perast was a strategic center for trade and shipping in the Adriatic Sea. Today the small town attracts tourists for its stunning scenery, historic architecture and its proximity to the nearby islets “Our Lady of the Rocks” and “Saint George.”
The town of Perast sits at the base of St. Ilija Hill and overlooks the Verige strait, the narrowest part of the Bay of Kotor.
Saint George Island (far left) and Our Lady of the Rocks (second from left in the distance) are each a quick ferry ride from Perast Harbor.
A weathered cross atop a small Eastern Orthodox chapel is framed by the Roman Catholic church on Our Lady of the Rocks (left) and the Benedictine monastery on Saint George Island (right) in the background.
Vacationers relax dockside near Lepetane in the Bay of Kotor.
Shadows lengthen over Kotor’s historic old town (Stari Grad) as the sun sets behind the mountains that surround the bay. The city was first settled during ancient Roman times, and is today part of a regional UNESCO World Heritage site.
Lanterns illuminate the massive stone fortifications surrounding Kotor that have defended the city from numerous invasions since the Middle Ages.
The labyrinthine corridors of Stari Grad Kotor are lined with shops and restaurants that have helped make the town a magnet for locals and tourists alike.
The small island of Sveti Stefan near Budva is home to an exclusive 5-star resort that caters to wealthy tourists.
The coastline begins to level out somewhat in the southern part of the country, but retains its beauty and charm as seen here from the watch tower in Ulcinj’s old town.
Young lovers embrace on the landing below Ulcinj’s fortified old town.
Montenegro’s longest beach, Velika Plaža, stretches some 12 kilometers from Ulcinje to the Albanian border. Long Beach is a favorite summertime vacation spot for Montenegrins and is currently being developed as a premiere tourist destination.
Check out all the high-resolution photos from my trip to Montenegro in my album on Flickr.