Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital, is located in the south of the country, a mere 30 kilometres from the Albanian border. It’s not a city renowned for its architecture or atmosphere. Streets are lined with brutalist tower blocks and new mall developments. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll discover a buzzing nightlife, interesting art galleries and a rich culinary and cultural history.
Stara Varos, the city’s old town, was built by Ottoman Turks and still maintains traces of its architecture. The recently restored Osmanagić Mosque is one of the area’s most picturesque buildings. Petrović Palace – the former home of Montenegro’s ruling family – is also worth a trip. The pink mansion is set within landscaped gardens and houses an art gallery showcasing art from Yugoslavia and beyond. Head down to the Ribnica River to check out the remains of a fifth century Roman settlement, with a bridge renovated under Ottoman rule.
A popular outing is to Plantaze’s Cemovsko Polije Vineyard (Montenegro’s largest wine producer). Visitors can tour the vineyard on a miniature train and taste wines with local canapes of marinated carp and prosciutto from Njegusi village.
The city is also an ideal base to explore Montenegro, with plenty of stunning natural scenery within easy reach. The dreamy Lake Skadar is just a 20-minute drive away. This vast body of water is surrounded by forested hills, the shores dotted with quiet beaches and timeworn villages. As a protected area, it’s one of Europe’s top habitats for birds.