Discover the true beauty of this under-explored Balkan jewel…

Despite its youthful existence, Montenegro is emerging from the shadows of its neighbours as a sophisticated Adriatic escape, its historic past colliding with its glittering new future.

Things to see and do

Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks Montenegro

Located in the serene Bay of Kotor, Our Lady of the Rocks is one of Montenegro’s star attractions. The story goes that this islet was built by two brothers, both local seamen, to protect a painting of the Virgin Mary with Christ, which they discovered on a sea rock in 1452. To protect it, the brothers built a quaint church around the painting and continued each year to bring rocks to the island to ensure its safekeeping. Even today, that tradition is kept alive by the locals, and each year on July 22 residents sail over to the island bringing rocks with them, in a festival known as fašinada.

Porto Montenegro

Porto Montenegro

If Porto Montenegro, Luštica Bay and Porto Novi are the golden triangle of Montenegro’s new era of glamour, Porto Montenegro is the original anchor. Decidedly chic and unapologetically modern, it presents a dazzling first impression for international arrivals sailing in from overseas, with a ritzy French Riviera feel. The waterfront promenade is a sublime setting for relaxation and sunset rendezvous, lined with elegant boutiques, chic cafés, and restaurants in soothingly contemporary hues.

Old Town of Kotor

Old Town of Kotor Montenegro

A picturesque masterpiece wedged between the endless azure shades of the water and dramatic craggy mountain peaks, Kotor is a maze of narrow cobbled streets and quaint squares dotted with stores selling local crafts and cafés serving piled-high plates of local seafood with homemade lemonade. With its storied history under the rule of Romans, Byzantines, Austro-Hungarians, and Venetians, ever-present in the historic town’s architecture, each turn provides an opportunity to marvel at Venetian palaces, baroque monuments and ornate stone pillars. Layers of history make their mark on the exterior, while a new wave of upscale cafés and stylish boutiques harmoniously settled within the buildings draw the town into the present: the two worlds integrating with palpable ease.

Savina Winery

Get a taste of the local grape at hillside winery, Savina. Having begun as a hobby for the two brothers and owners, Savina is now spread across a multi-hectare vineyard, producing a modest 25,000 bottles of grape per year, which it largely supplies to the growing list of upscale restaurants and resorts throughout the south.

Where to stay

One&Only Portonovi

One&Only Portonovi

A fashionable resort town on the idyllic rim of the Adriatic, Portonovi is the location of One&Only’s debut European resort. One&Only Portonovi has transformed a former military base into a luxurious Adriatic escape with endless appeal. Where verdant land encounters soothing sea, the aesthetic is distinctly Mediterranean, laced with One&Only’s five-star signature style. At the heart, a stretching infinity pool in shimmering aquamarine serves as a runway down to a manmade beach where plush loungers are shaded by white parasols that swing lazily in the breeze, and you’ll find one of two signature dining experiences, Sabia, an upscale Italian restaurant. The delectable menu is a celebration of Italian-inspired dining in a beachfront setting that emulates breezy summer days on Portofino’s sun-drenched shores. A total of six swimming pools are encased by perfectly manicured gardens or positioned by the golden sands: children splash playfully at the family-friendly pool; beachgoers dip between three inviting pools lining the sand; a glamorous crowd recline effortlessly poolside at Tapasake, a vibrant Japanese restaurant and beach club; and the cavernous indoor spa pool, part of a first-of-its-kind Chenot Espace wellness facility set over a sprawling 4,000 square metre space. A collection of 28 treatment rooms invites guests to discover tailored programmes and pioneering treatments to pamper and purify, a combination of clinical science and holistic wellness that will draw guests long after the summer season concludes in October. But even at this new nautical playground, grand on the grandest scale, the fusion of old and new is never far. From every angle, guests can view the fireplace in their room, an ode to the focal point of traditional Montenegrin homes where families would gather around the fire for cooking, warmth and bringing the community together. Even the crisp cream buildings are topped by tiles in varying shades of terracotta, blending right in with the historic old towns that dot the waterfront. Room rates in June start from Dhs4,078 per night.

Nikki Beach Montenegro

Nikki Beach Montenegro

Contemporary and cutting-edge Nikki Beach – a hedonistic beach club brand that’s expanded into upscale resorts in recent years – brings its effervescent approach to luxury lifestyle experiences to an otherwise unassuming stretch of homely villas, pebble beaches and national parks at Tivat Bay. The voguish resort – complete with an extensive spa and bohemian-luxe beach club – should clash with its serene coastal surroundings, yet somehow it fits in effortlessly. Perhaps it’s the carefully curated colour palette: varying shades of seafoam, endless cream hues and an impossibly large collection of pampas that blend into the bay. Perhaps it’s the way hotel guests and weekenders flock to the thumping beats of the weekend parties at the tropically adorned beach club, a split-level space that serves as Nikki Beach Montenegro’s beating heart. A long swimming pool with a catwalk through the middle is enveloped by plush white days beds and four-poster cabanas, crowned with a DJ booth backdropped by the craggy mountain peaks, where lively beats spin from the decks and reverberate into the calmness of the bay. Alongside the beach club, the property is also home to a Nikki Beach Restaurant, where guests fill their plates filled with globally influenced fare. The menu takes inspiration from Nikki Beach locations across the world, anchored by local ingredients and seasonal produce. Tartares of tuna, beef and freshly caught local fish feature alongside a lobster and crabmeat salad, Adriatic sea bass and beef cuts with saffron risotto. But away from the hedonism of the restaurant and beach club, the Nikki Spa is a haven of relaxation. From treatment rooms where you can meld into firm massages to an indoor pool backed by mountain vistas for getting your laps in, it’s all about finding your inner zen. Room rates in June start from Dhs1,353 per night.

Where to eat

Restaurant Conte

Restaurant Conte

The UNESCO-listed town of Perast is one of Montenegro’s most alluring attractions. For authentic Montenegrin dining in one of the most show-stopping locations between the mountain and calm waters, book a table at Restaurant Conte. Indoors offers an opportunity to dine in traditional Boka style, while the alfresco cobbled terrace comes with remarkable sea views. 

Catovica Mlini

Catovica Mlini

A 200-year-old converted mill is the unique location of this cosy tavern restaurant, found in the small town of Morinj. A celebration of the finest local ingredients and a slower pace of life, the menu features dishes like a saffron and shrimp risotto, salted sardines and monkfish kebabs.

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Kiki’s Lustica Bay

In the more modern seaside town of Lustica Bay is Kiki’s, consistently ranked among Montenegro’s best restaurants. Perched on the promenade, this romantic restaurant is a charming addition to the array of restaurants, bars and coffee shops that line the water’s edge in this sought-after spot. The distinctly Mediterranean menu shines a light on modern gastronomy but presents it in a relaxed way that feels warm and inviting.

Getting there

Flydubai flies between Dubai and Tivat four times per week from June 24. Return fares start from Dhs2,495.

Images: Unsplash/Jo Barnes, Faruk Kaymak, Arlinda and supplied