Considering its compact size, 5,333 square miles, Montenegro is an extraordinary mosaic of nations and cultural heritages, which have all contributed to the country’s character. It also has a diverse geography with a mild Mediterranean climate along its west coast and heavy snowfall in the northern mountains. In one day travelers can swim at an Adriatic seaside resort and in the afternoon ski a few runs in the Alps. This European nation on the southern Balkan Peninsula is flanked by Serbia, Croatia, Italy, Albania and Bosnia/Herzegovina. In this region of unrest, Montenegro is a peaceful, stable sanctuary. The three year union between Serbia and Montenegro, both former republics of Yugoslavia, dissolved in 2006.
The olive grove lined shores of the Adriatic feature several charming towns, tourism resorts and medieval fishing villages, from the artificially created river island Ada Bojana in the south with great beaches to Herceg Novi up north, which receives 300 sunny days a year and is known for its fortresses and scented Mimosa trees. Picturesque Sveti Stefan is a walled medieval town with stone buildings on a tiny island attached to the mainland by a narrow causeway bordered by red sand beaches. In the central part of the republic are the modern capital Podgorica and former royal capital Cetinje. Nearby in Danilovgrad, the 17th century Ostrog Monastery, a popular pilgrimage site is cut into the rock cliffs.
The other face of Montenegro is its impressive Durmitor massif, a mountain range that lies within a national park of the same name, with glacial lakes, evergreen forests and ice caves. The world’s second deepest gorge after the Grand Canyon can be found here. Over thousands of years, the Tara River chiseled through limestone plateaus resulting in this natural masterpiece. In summer, river rafting is popular; skiers come in winter to Zabljak, the highest town in the Balkans.