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A guide to Montenegro: location, history and culture

( 24 October 2016 )

Everything you need to know about Montenegro

Korcula Island in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia
Korcula Island in the Adriatic Sea, Croatia

For holidays in Europe, the spotlight has moved from the west of the continent to the Balkan Peninsula in recent years; this is due in no small part to the beauty of this strip of Mediterranean coastline that is home to so many amazing countries, Montenegro being one. 

This Balkan beauty is considered ‘the pearl of the Mediterranean’ because of its dramatic landscape, its beautiful beaches and its romantic and complex history. If you’re thinking of a holiday to the Balkans this year, find out what makes Montenegro so magical.

Not many people know much about Montenegro and considering this country is one of Saga’s favourite destinations, we’ve written a few words on this fascinating place.

Where is Montenegro?

Montenegro is in the Balkans, a peninsula in the south eastern corner of Europe. As well as Montenegro, this area also incorporates Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and parts of Turkey. 

It meets five seas, the Adriatic in the north, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, the Mediterranean to the west and the Aegean and Black Seas in the southeast; Montenegro is washed by the Adriatic Sea, which can be as warm as 25°C in the summer – perfect for a swim.

Montenegro landscapes

Montenegro, literally ‘the black mountain’, is named for its rugged landscapes. Littered with peaks and canyons, lakes and alpine forests, Montenegro meets the coast with beaches just as beautiful as the famed ones of its neighbour, Croatia. 

The coast is made up of long stretches of sand and intimate coves, like Becici Beach and the Big Beach at Ulcinj.

The top 5 beaches in montenegro

History of Montenegro

Montenegro has been in a state of change ever since it was forged. Known as Illyria during Roman rule, it became the Kingdom of Duklja in the Middle Ages and was then under Venetian control until the Ottoman Empire took over a portion of the country. 

Prince Nicholas of Montenegro eventually declared Montenegro independent, a period that lasted until World War I when it became part of Yugoslavia. A head-spinning history, Montenegro finally gained its independence again in 2006.

Culture of Montenegro

The legacy of all these different empires ruling over this small country means that you can see the various cultural influences in Montenegro’s architecture and cuisine. 

There are open Roman villas, Orthodox island churches and Venetian ‘palaces’, while the food has distinct similarities to Italian, Turkish and Hungarian cuisines.

Montenegros 5 best natural parks valleys and canyons

Currency and tipping in Montenegro

The official currency used in Montenegro is the Euro. In major towns and cities you can find ATMs but if you’re heading off the beaten track, or to smaller towns, you may not have access to them. 

Please be aware too that a lot of restaurants and bars may not accept debit and credit cards, so it’s worth carrying daily amounts of spending money on your person.

Discover Montenegro for yourself on a holiday with Saga. 


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.