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Why Go: Montenegro

Along the Adriatic coast, Montenegro has bubbled quietly under the travel radar for years, especially compared to its ever-trendy Balkan cohorts Greece, Croatia and Slovenia. Smaller than all of them (Montenegro is roughly the size of Connecticut, with a fifth of the population), it’s become a favorite destination for in-the-know jetsetters seeking a low-key getaway for great beaches, beautiful scenery, a fascinating culture and excellent cuisine. And now, a new resort from One&Only promises to increase Montenegro’s cachet.

Here’s why we love Montenegro—and why to go there as soon as you’re ready.

Montenegro is one of the few European countries open to U.S. passport holders. Contact Indagare to help you plan a future trip to Montenegro for when the time is right.

The Context: A Cultural Crossroads

Like much of the Balkans, Montenegro has a complex history going back thousands of years. The ancient Illyrians, then Greeks and Romans ruled the area before Slavs formed a powerful principality there in the Middle Ages. The territory along the coast—important for Eastern Mediterranean trade routes—then passed from the Byzantines to the Venetians to the Ottomans, and regained independence in 1878, only to become part of Yugoslavia after World War I. Nowadays, nearly 30 years after the breakup of Yugoslavia and the horrific Bosnian and Croatian wars, Montenegro’s culture reflects both its centuries of multicultural connectedness and proud independent identity.

A Dreamy Coastline

Along this stretch of the Adriatic, forest-draped mountains cascade into the sea, creating Europe’s southernmost fjords in the Bay of Kotor. In historic towns like Kotor—with its preserved Venetian walls—and Perast, centuries-old stone buildings topped by terra-cotta roofs add pops of tan and red to the landscape’s ubiquitous greens and blues. The water itself is impossibly clear, and come summertime, ocean temperatures average in the 80s, making for ideal swimming. And forget the crowds of other Mediterranean beaches. Montenegro’s relatively undiscovered status means you can enjoy the views in peace.

Delicious Cuisine

Stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, cheesy pastry rolls and fresh-caught fish: You eat well in the Balkans. Montenegro’s food scene is an aromatic melding of Eastern Mediterannean flavors. This is most evident along the coast, where you can expect pasta and seafood risotto. Further inland, especially in winter, delicious, hearty soups served with traditional breads warm the soul. Lamb and pork are the most common meats, and sheep’s cheese is ubiquitous. For dessert, paper-thin crêpes rolled with jam or dusted with powdered sugar are a favorite.

A Fabulous New Place to Stay

Situated on a point at the entrance to the bay, in Herceg Novi, One&Only Portonovi makes its debut this month, giving guests an ideal home base from which to explore the region. The first European hotel from One&Only Resorts, it takes its design inspirations from Montenegro’s history—tiled-roofs, geometric columns—and spectacular setting, with floor-to-ceiling windows maximizing views of the water and surrounding mountains. Guests staying in the resort’s 123 light-filled rooms, suites and villas, will have unfettered access to six pools, plus a private beach, tennis club and marina. Yachting adventures around the bay, spa treatments from renowned Chenot Espace and excursions to villages and ancient mountain monasteries will all be on offer. And back at the resort, guests will have their pick of several restaurants. The hotel’s signature La Veranda restaurant will showcase locally sourced ingredients to serve up its take on traditional Montenegrin dishes, while Sabia by Giorgio Locatelli will serve Italian (from the same chef behind London’s Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli) and the poolside Tapasake Club will have contemporary Japanese cuisine.

One&Only Portonovi will unveil a soft opening on March 21, 2021, and begin accepting guests on May 1, 2021.

Related: Best New Hotels of 2021: Our Top Picks from Around the World

When to Go

Montenegro has a pleasant, temperate climate, making it an all-year destination. Summer, of course, is the peak time for boating adventures and pool time, with temperatures climbing into the 80s. In winter, daily highs average around 50 degrees—too chilly for sunbathing, but perfect for hikes, bike rides and lazy strolls through the country’s charming towns.

Montenegro is also one of the very few European countries open to U.S. visitors. To enter the country, travelers must show proof of negative results from a PCR test from within 72 hours prior to travel.

Contact Indagare to help you plan a future trip to Montenegro for when the time is right.

This content was created in collaboration with One&Only Resorts and published by Indagare Travel.

– Peter Schlesinger on March 11, 2021

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