Montenegro is going to be Europe's hottest new tourist destination -- here's why
Whether it was Croatia's EU entry in 2013, 'Game of Thrones' or Yacht Week, Croatia has become a certified tourist hotspot. Pictures of Dubrovnik's ancient walls, terra-cotta roofs and iridescent waters flood Pintrest and Instagram. All of this attention is starting to bring another hidden gem into the spotlight ... Montenegro.
Ever since gaining its independence from Serbia in 2006, the tiny nation is rebounding from its tumultuous past as a Nazi occupied territory and mainstay in the Yugoslav War that dominated the 1990s.
Just an hour's bus ride away from Dubrovnik is the Bay of Kotor. Kotor is nestled between mountains, providing a dramatic backdrop to boating, and aimlessly wandering through its medieval maze of cobblestone streets. The old wall that has protected the city from invasion since the 9th century is still intact, so visitors can almost feel what it was like when the fortified town was under Venetian rule.
Perast, another city in the Kotor Bay, is only home to around 300 people but has 16 churches and 17 grand palazzos, giving you ample room to roam.
Visitors can feel like the Little Mermaid of Montenegro by taking a boat to the Blue Cave, squeezing under the grotto's long-hanging entrance and taking a dip in the refulgent aqua water caused by the sun reflecting off the cave's sandy bottom.
The country's tiny size means you can have breakfast on the Adriatic Sea, then hit the mountains by the afternoon.
For more interested in land-based activities, Montenegro's topography is a playground for hikers. The Tara River cuts through some of the world's deepest canyons though mountains in the National Park. According to Lonely Planet, the Grand Canyon is a mere 200 meters deeper than the Tara Canyon. Raft down the crystal clear water or zip line across for a bird's eye view.
For spectacular views, head to Lovćen National Park. Hikers can beeline to the the Njegoš Mausoleum, which is perched upon the top of the second highest peak in the park. Two towering statues guard the tomb of Petar II Petrovic Njegos, the beloved Prince-Bishop of Montenegro who passed in 1851.
Montenegro is working to coming back to its pre-war heyday when it was beloved by the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren -- but before it reaches that point, be the first among friends to experience this pearl of the Mediterranean.