Blessed with dark mountainous terrain (the name means "black mountain") giving way to sunny Mediterranean beaches, Montenegro offers the sort of stunning landscapes made for James Bond movies. (Indeed, the steamy "Casino Royale" was partially filmed here.) And in the last few years, the petite country has become more than just a vacation spot for Eastern Europeans, with international hotels and luxury properties opening outposts along its sandy shores. (Not to mention it was on the Fodor’s Go List for 2013!) For a summer trip, take these tips on what to pack.
Especially as far as Mediterranean coasts go, Budva, with its generous sandy expanse, offers impressive beaching. The mood is laidback but with a jet-set European vibe. To suit up and fit in, try a sporty special agent-worthy bikini in red and white ($139.99). Bring along a few cover-up pieces, like a linen dolman sleeve tee ($42) and chino shorts in bright lemon-lime ($45), to wear with strappy sandals in black and white ($155). Or for exotic flair, throw this gray and neon green leopard-print scarf ($29) and red snake print silk dress ($239) into a metallic stripe beach bag ($30). Finally, splurge on a pair of designer shades, perhaps in a fashion-forward cat-eye shape ($315 by Dior).
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Take a sunset stroll before dinner along Budva’s promenade, where you’ll likely see plenty of miniskirts and dresses. Bring your own, like this cotton bodycon version in a vivid geometric print ($64). Or for a fresh and airy look, try this loose white dress with belted waist ($79.50). For dinner, bring along a shimmering gold lips clutch by DVF ($245) and slip on gold feather hoop earrings ($14.99) and a sea blue heeled sandal ($89.90). If your plans veer on the casual side—this is a beach holiday after all—try these bleached ankle zip skinny jeans ($210) instead, paired with a few reflective pieces, like a glittery t-shirt in light aqua ($34.99) and bright pink tasseled flats in trendy metallic foil ($285 by Stuart Weitzman).
The stunning Bay of Kotor is definitely worth a visit. Check out the old town, which is a UNESCO heritage site, and be dressed for a dip in the sea later in roomy board shorts in teal with cool trim ($148), gray henley tee ($48), and sleek Gucci aviators ($245). Footwear can go a few different directions. Bring along these Diesel flip-flops ($45), dressier bright red sneaks ($90), or pack your running shoes for a hike up to the Castle Of San Giovanni (also called the Fortifications of Kotor) for sweeping views. If sunning is high on the agenda and you’re feeling the European vibe, risk these flashy swim trunks in red ($55) paired with an oatmeal and tomato-red striped tee ($118).
Though bars and restaurants tend to close around 1 am, there’s plenty to do in Kotor’s old town. Be sure to try the Dalmation fare—the day’s fresh catch with an Italian influence, like cuttlefish risotto—dressed in a bright blue polo ($88 by Marc by Marc Jacobs), chambray printed blue button-down ($285), or a classic green lightweight shirt ($54.50). Below, stick with breathable fabrics like this gray twill chino ($42.99) or a poplin cotton slim trouser in khaki ($198). Add a few flashier accessories if you’re going late night, like this oversized gunmetal watch with rose gold accents ($250 by Michael Kors) or two-tone leather belt by DSquared ($145). Lastly, pull on these blue Italian suede lace-ups that are lightweight with a cushy rubber outsole ($352).
Where to Stay
Though Budva is sometimes compared to Saint Tropez, there are still affordable hotels to be had. Hotel Astoria has locations in Budva and Kotor. The Budva outpost is in Stari Grad (or old town), and summer rates start from 200 Euros per night ($256). For beach bums, the company also owns the lively La Bocca restaurant on the city’s Slovenska beach with a great seaside view.
B&Bs and apartment-style hotels are also a great option, particularly for the price conscious. Villa M Palace with nearby access to the beach and town offer one-, two-, and three-room apartments with kitchens and balconies. Rates start from $150 per night in high season.
In Kotor, the Boutique Hotel Hippocampus is in a gorgeous old building with smartly incorporated modern elements. It’s located in old town, just a stone’s throw away from St. Anne’s Church.
But if you’re ready to blow some cash and an escape is what you’re after, head directly to the Aman Resorts’ property on its own isle, called Sveti Stefan (rates start at a whopping 900 Euros ($1150) per night). There, like in a scene from the lifestyles of the rich and famous, you can wander amongst the olive tress on the 32-hectare estate. The hotel has a private pink sandy beach, of course, stretching some two kilometers.
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