Where to go in 2013: Montenegro

 

Lonely Planet

Why go in 2013? Taming a wild beauty

Montenegro is a country on the fast track to tourism superstardom. Nature has been as prolific and productive here as Picasso in his prime, producing such iconic draws as the bewitching Bay of Kotor and the buzzy beaches along its riviera. But be sure to pack a pair of hiking boots along with your swimsuit, for Montenegro's beauty is no less intense in the wild and rugged interior. Fierce mountains loom over velvety valleys, glacial lakes, precipitous canyons and dreamy villages where life unfolds now much as it has throughout the centuries. A new, and steadily growing, network of hiking and biking trails and improved infrastructure is making this glorious quilt of nature ever more accessible, while creating new employment .

Back on the coast, the government's eagerness to roll out the red carpet to foreign investors has resulted in such high-profile developments as Porto Montenegro, a luxury yacht marina and waterfront community in Tivat, and the restored glamour resort of Sveti Stefan near Budva. Independent only since 2006, Montenegro is also keen on becoming a fully fledged member of the international community and has applied for membership of the European Union and Nato.

Life-changing experiences

Montenegro's five national parks spotlight its most breathtaking natural features. Explore the country's "upper storey" in the dramatic Durmitor National Park, where the soaring peaks harbour bears and wolves. They also offer ski slopes and Europe's deepest gorge, the Tara Canyon, a rafters' paradise.

In nearby Biogradska Gora National Park, a ramble through primeval forest leads to an Alpine lake shimmering in countless shades of blue. There are feathered critters galore in waterlily-fringed Lake Skadar National Park, Europe's biggest bird reserve. Brave the white-knuckle drive up to Lovcen National Park and you'll be rewarded with vistas across the entire country. The newest national park is the untamed and remote Prokletije, on the border with Albania. It has some of the highest mountains in the Balkans.

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