This undiscovered gem in the Balkans has plenty to offer for all the family
Situated on the Adriatic Sea, the little-known country of Montenegro – literally translated as “black mountain” after the peaks surrounding it – is set to follow in the footsteps of its Balkan neighbours Croatia and Serbia to become the next “it” destination.
The country is filled with character, such as the ancient walled towns of Budva and Kotor – the latter a UNESCO World Heritage site that, with its cobbled streets and medieval buildings, looks like a film set. Add some dramatic landscapes, stunning sandy beaches and a rich cultural history, and this is a destination that’s definitely worth checking out.
Eager explorers will be spoilt for choice by Montenegro’s national parks, with their looming, rugged mountains. The country’s most famous range – the UNESCO-protected Durmitor mountains – offers walking trails for every level, including Montenegro’s highest peak, Bobotov Kuk.
More experienced walkers could aim for the Prokletije national park along the Albanian border for secret paths and rarely visited peaks, including the beautiful Canyon of Mrtvica, or Komovi, Montenegro’s third-highest range.
Further south you’ll find the Instagram-worthy Skadar Lake, while the country’s coastline offers beautiful, unspoilt beaches with crystal-clear waters for sun worshippers and watersports fans.
The eight-mile-long Velika Plaza, nicknamed Long Beach, is popular for kite-surfing, while Becici beach up the coast is another gorgeous sandy area which has won an award for “most beautiful beach in Europe”.
Or why not try a spot of sailing around Boka Kotorska Bay near Kotor, which is listed as one of the 30 most beautiful bays in the world?
Montenegro has plenty to keep children entertained, too, with lots of kid-friendly festivals taking place throughout the summer. Kotor host an arts festival in August, and the final evening, known as Bokeljska Night, is a spectacle not to be missed. Beautifully decorated boats that cruise along the bay with different light effects, followed by a fireworks display, make it a fun event for all the family. Alternatively, you could encourage the kids to learn the country’s history by visiting Kotor’s Medieval Museum, where there are hands-on attractions and exhibits. They – or you! – can even get dressed up as a knight in shining armour.
A few miles out of the capital city of Podgorica, there’s Cijevna River with its stunning waterfall, which makes for a delightful day trip. There’s a playground and restaurant nearby, as well as a small petting farm.
Where to stay
We stayed at the newly upgraded Holiday Village Montenegro in Ulcinj, a 90-minute drive from Podgorica airport, on an all-inclusive basis. This family-friendly hotel in southern Montenegro has six pools – we loved the infinity pool – and lots of entertainment and activities for children, including a football academy led by UEFA-qualified coaches, a swim academy with Amateur Swimming Association-qualified teachers and a stage academy.
The kids’ clubs cater for children as young as three, plus there’s a dedicated programme for teenagers and a crèche for the little ones – all run by enthusiastic, trained staff. Evenings are filled with entertainment, from live shows featuring the resort’s signature characters, The Widgets, to kids’ discos and movie nights.
The spacious, contemporary-styled rooms, some with bunk beds, can sleep a family of up to six. There are three places to eat – all with child-friendly dishes – including the Swallow, which has a different food theme every night, plus Italian and Croatian restaurants. There’s also an ice-cream station by the pool, which is open daily.
With everything at your fingertips, as well as a powder-soft beach on its doorstep, this resort is the perfect place for much-needed rest and relaxation for adults and kids alike.
Need to know
· For more information about what to do in Montenegro, go to Visit-montenegro.com
· First Choice offers seven-night holidays to Montenegro staying at the 4Sun Holiday Village Montenegro on an all-inclusive basis. Prices are from £850 per person when booked online. Price is based on two adults and two children sharing and includes flights departing from London Gatwick Airport and transfers. To find out more about this holiday, or to book, go to Firstchoice.co.uk, visit your local TUI holiday store or download the app.