Have you ever heard of Montenegro? Located above the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is a Balkan country that sits between Bosnia, Albania, and Serbia. As a newly independent nation, Montenegro has recently become a hotspot for tourism. Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Montenegro.

What to see

If you don’t know much about Montenegro, you’re not alone. Since the country became independent in 2006, travelers to Montenegro have enjoyed its pristine views, medieval buildings, and rugged hiking trails. The Montenegro capital, Podgorica, is a charming European city that stretches from the Skadar Lake to the Dinaric Alps. With Montenegrin as the official Montenegro language, the country’s residents also speak Albanian, Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. The Montenegro flag features the nation’s coat of arms on a field of red with gold edges.

You might be wondering: what should I see once I get to Montenegro? Fortunately, there’s a wealth of fun activities that will keep you entertained on your vacation. If you’re a fan of sailing, then it’s easy to rent an exclusive yacht to cruise around the Bay of Kotor in. Described as a “fjord,” or a strip of sea created by a glacier, the Bay is actually an underwater canyon. Fun fact: you can spot ancient stone homes and fisherman’s huts on the shoreline of the bay.

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also several miniature islands that you can check out near Perast. In fact, Perast is literally right next to the small, manmade islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Of course, the entire town of Perast is stunning, from its location on the coastline of Kotor to its historic churches.

Craving a little TLC on your trip? Then, you should definitely visit the lavish resort at Sveti Sfetan. Not only does this prehistoric town have a wide variety of old stone houses, but it also has a five-star holiday retreat called the Aman Sveti Sfetan. Opened in 2009, this wellness retreat has hosted celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

What to do

Now: if you’re more interested in getting your hands dirty on your vacation, then there are some amazing outdoor adventures to get into in Montenegro too. For example, the country’s world-renowned Durmitor National Park has become a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks to its gorgeous glaciers, epic mountains, and lush woodlands. Nature fanatics will love to bike, hike, and kayak here. Just make sure to check out the Black Lake while you’re there.

Are you a fan of birdwatching? If so, then Montenegro is the right place for you. That’s because the Lake Skadar happens to be the country’s best place to spot exotic birds. As the home to 270 different types of birds, the Lake is even included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands. Situated in the middle of Montenegro and Albania, the Lake is only accessible by boat.

This is crazy: some of Europe’s last jungles were located at the Biogradska Gora National Park. A must-see for tourists, the forests at Biogradska span for over 13,000 acres between the Lim River and the Tara River. Plus, this recreational area hosts eagles in its Bjelasica mountain range.

For those who prefer to lie out in the sun on their trip, Montenegro’s popular seashores are the place to be. Nicknamed Jaz, this pebbly beach has tons of sun umbrellas and chairs to relax in as you overlook the aquamarine sea. Want to know the best part? Montenegro is known for throwing massive outdoor concerts at Jaz, including the Rolling Stones and Madonna.

What to eat

That’s not all. Montenegro is also home to a lively food and wine scene. As a traveler to the country, you basically have two options when it comes to dining in Montenegro: either a fancy meal at a “restoran” (restaurant) or a more casual experience at a “konoba” (bar). While it varies from place to place, you can expect to eat seafood at the coastal areas and charcuterie platters in the inland towns. Typically, meals are served with cured ham and sheep’s or goat’s cheese as appetizers.

But here’s the kicker: your tastebuds will definitely be put to the test in Montenegro. Introduce new flavors to your palate by trying the local “salata od hobotnice,” or octopus salad. For more adventurous eaters, you’ll probably want to try the “riblja čorba” (fish soup) or the “crni rižot” (risotto covered in cuttlefish ink). Don’t forget to check out the nation’s “lignje” (squid rings), riba na žaru (grilled fish), and “jagnjece” (roasted lamb). But don’t worry, they also serve a “pljeskavice” (hamburger) in Montenegro too.

If you’re looking for a great variety of wine and beer, look no further. Montenegro’s got you covered. While you’re visiting the country, you have to try the “rakija.” As a strong, fruit-flavored aperitif, rakija is typically served at the beginning of a large meal. Additionally, there’s always the traditional Montenegro wine to taste as well, including the red “vranac” and the white “krstac” varietals. And beer fans can also sip on “nikšićkopivo,” a delicious lager that’s made in the town of Nikšić.

From its breathtaking views of the Adriatic sea to its adorable stone villages, Montenegro is the new holiday destination for fun-loving tourists. After you visit the age-old churches, mind-blowing parks, and quaint restaurants in Montenegro, you’ll probably won’t want to leave!