It’s quite likely that when you google Podgorica, the search engine won't return “The World’s Most Exciting City”. However, you do have to empathise with Podgorica. It’s difficult to compete with the tall mountain peaks in the north and the warm Adriatic sea in the south, which is what most visitors travelling to Montenegro set out to see.
The Montenegrin capital is a city well worth exploring though, and as a local who has lived here for over 5 years now, I can wholeheartedly recommend these 11 things to do in Podgorica.
Skaline is an historical site that today is one of the most popular city centre hang-outs for locals. Back when Montenegro was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, Skaline was famous for its impressive fortress. Today, you can still see remnants of the Ottoman era - a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the new, modern side of Podgorica.
P.S. A little known fact is that the French army built a radio station here during World War I, which was supposed to connect Bosfor with Paris but the work was never completed. These days it’s an interesting ruin for you to discover.
The name Podgorica consists of the word “pod” which means ‘under’ and ‘Gorica’, which is the name of the hill, so you might say it’s a pretty important place.
Gorica is an absolute favourite with locals – there’s a Mediterranean garden at the entrance, adventure park in the middle and great viewpoint on the top of the hill, accessible, through a hiking trail.
There are two coffee shops, one at the entrance and the other next to the adventure park, both are great stops for catching your breath and taking a moment to appreciate the nature all around you.
When I was young, donkeys were a common sight in Montenegro. However, according to Darko, who runs the donkey farm in Martinici village, donkeys are becoming increasingly endangered.
The purpose of the farm is to preserve Montenegro's donkeys, educate people on animal care, and protect their environment, which is self-sustainable and runs on solar energy. The entry fee to the farm is 1 kg of apples or carrots per visitor. Plans are already in place to set up the first donkey museum in Montenegro.
Surrounded by a wonderful park, this castle used to be the winter residency of King Nicola, one of the well known Montenegrin rulers. Today, it’s a contemporary art museum that hosts various prestigious exhibitions. Take a walk around the museum and appreciate its majestic features.
Also known as the party street, Bokeska Street is where the nightlife is the most vibrant on the weekends. From relaxing jazz to intense techno and Balkan folk, there’s a pub on this street that fits everyone’s music taste. And yeah, it’s quite cheap - you’ll get a pint of beer for 1.60 €.
The best local food in Podgorica can be found in the villages. That’s why farm to fork dinners are beginning to pop up around Podgorica. Sitting down to an amazing traditional meal is the best way to get a taste of the organic produce of the area.
Moraca is the longest river that runs through Podgorica and features nine architecturally different bridges. Millenium Bridge is considered one of the landmarks of the city. For a relaxing afternoon, pack a picnic and head to Momisici beach to enjoy lunch with a great view.
This man-made fortress is found on the beautiful small island on the Moraca river delta, an historically important cultural and economic trade centre of medieval Montenegro.
At Zabljak Crnojevica you can see the different influences on the architecture of the buildings, ranging from Venetian to Oriental.
Initially built as a stronghold, Medun was an Illyrian settlement dating back to the 4th century B.C. It was also the home of one of Montenegro's greatest heroes - Marko Miljanov, a soldier and poet known for his moral standards and honesty.
A hike to the top of the fortress will reward you with a beautiful view and, afterwards, you can browse through the small national museum.
Duklja was a Roman settlement, and according to legend it takes its name from the Roman emperor Diocletian who was born there. It was one of the most important Roman settlements in the Balkans with over 40.000 inhabitants.
Some of the best wine in Montenegro is produced in the Skadar Lake area, which is the largest lake in the Balkans as well as the biggest national park in Montenegro. There are trains from Podgorica central station almost every hour. It costs 1 euro to get to Virpazar, the main town on the lake.
Explore the historic village of Godinje, do some boating and kayaking, and finish off with a nice glass of wine at sunset.
Podgorica has its very own Niagara falls, situated in the canyon of Cijevna river. In the 19th and 20th century this canyon marked the natural border with Ottoman empire and today it’s a popular recreational area for locals.
Flights to Podgorica
- Jovan Radnic