Montenegro as a whole was somewhat foreign to me before I actually visited the country. The only real image I had in my mind was the Bond film Casino Royale and the lush green mountains it depicted. Unfortunately I would later find out it was actually filmed outside Prague, which means all my preconceptions were just a lie, pure Hollywood magic.
Luckily there were some beautiful green hills and mountains waiting for me in Montenegro, so it wasn’t that much of a disappointment. And the country’s beautiful coastline or riviera had so much more to offer as well.
Herceg Novi is a quaint little town on the coastline, with an atmospheric old town rising up a steep hill from the waterline. The area gets extremely hot in the summer, but even the scorching heat couldn’t stop me from hiking all the way up the hill. The views from the top were definitely worth all the sweat.
The best views open up from the Kanli Kula Fortress, which also plays host to a local film festival
The old town is full of beautiful small squares, sleepy cobblestone alleys and steep inclines
Herceg Novi has lots of fantastic options for a sunny lunch or a romantic candlelit dinner. One of my personal favorites in the town is the fantastic Tre Lipe, which has a beautiful garden patio and some incredibly delicious squid ink risotto – a local specialty.
Herceg Novi’s beautiful promenade continues in both directions for as long as the eye can see – you can easily walk along the coast to neighboring towns.
As you approach the nearest town of Igalo, you’ll also find some incredibly beautiful small beaches. Unfortunately most of them are completely overrun by tourists, mostly from the Eastern bloc.
After you go through a small tunnel you can feel a sudden change in the atmosphere. It’s quite easy to see you’ve arrived in a different town. Suddenly you mostly hear people speaking Russian, and nobody seems to be wearing anything other than a speedo and some flip flops. Balkan disco music blaring all around completes the odd experience.
Igalo used to be popular among the European jet set due to a famous sanatorium and spa. The healing mud of Igalo is said to be slightly radioactive and supposedly able to heal a wide range of gynaecological ailments. I suppose it’s no wonder that I was also drawn to their muddy shores.
Nowadays the town feels more like an extremely touristy version of any extremely touristy destination. Russian families with too many children seem to take up more space than anything else, and the town doesn’t really wow visitors with its beauty. Still, behind all those hordes of tourists is an authentic piece of Montenegro.