Podgorica – Montenegro

We travelled by plane with Ryanair from Barcelona to Podgorica; allegedly Europe’s most boring capital city. We booked Airport Home Radinovic through Booking.Com, and got a lift from the airport to the property, situated in the countryside around 5km from the airport from the host for €5. We asked the host’s son Phillip what there was for us to see in Podgorica and his reply was “Nothing! There is absolutely nothing here that would be of any interest to a tourist” OK, so the rumours we had heard were instantly confirmed by a local, but we still had to see it for ourselves.

We arrived quite late in the day and were treated to some lovely pastries and coffee on arrival; however it was too late to see anything that evening so we settled in for the night. The next morning we were treated to a spectacular breakfast costing €3.50 each. This included brandy for breakfast (according to our host this is very good for your circulation) which was a little shock to the system and one Nigel really wasn’t keen to repeat but wow what a spread! Meats, cheeses, omelette, salad, fruit, bread, coffee and orange juice and we were fit to burst!

We were offered a lift into town by our host who was going there and was happy to take us. We were dropped off at Independence Square, and we wandered from there. The square was previously called ‘Republic Square’ and both the library and state art gallery are located within it. It is the central area of Podgorica.

From the square we decided to head towards the river which we were told by our host was beautiful. We crossed through Kings Park which was undergoing some major renovation works; it certainly ruined the beauty of it but I’m sure will be a lovely place when completed. We made it to the Moraca River which was really quite beautiful; although pretty dry in August. It had great mountain views behind it.

There are a few bridges you can use to cross over the river between the Old Town and the New Town. On the way over from the town centre we used the Moscow Bridge; a small footpath bridge to cross over into Podgorički park; a modern and well kept riverside little haven. There are giant sunbeds and a lovely swing where you can look out over the river and across to the Millenium Bridge. There were students using the park to study and people just generally chilling. It was a very relaxing spot.

We headed to go and grab a drink at a nearby cafe but on the way we saw this rather interesting piece of art on a traffic island; seats and a sculpture named ‘Bird of Peace’. What made this so interesting was that the whole art work was made out of old weapons, rifles, machine guns and pistols which had been welded together. From a little research we determined this was produced in 2005 by Lada Perović to represent the bloody wars of the Balkans in the 1990’s.

We headed back to the Old town across the Millenium Bridge to try and find ….you guessed it – a football stadium. Nigel had seen one in the distance and so of course wanted to check it out 😕. When we made it Podgorica City Stadium, there really wasn’t too much to see from the outside; however it is the home to the National team as well as being a multi purpose stadium. It seats 15,230 supporters, apparently is one of the best pitches in the Balkans and is the home ground to another team, FK Budućnost Podgorica.

Just nearby up a slight incline we could see a busy area and decided to go and investigate. We discovered it was the entrance to Parc šuma  Brdo  Gorica or Forest Hill Park Gorica; an evergreen pine forest. Apparently this was given an award for the best place in Podgorica for day trips by the National Tourism Board. It was pretty nice; there were loads of different walking paths and there was respite from the hot sun under the shelter of the pine trees. There were also some attractions here such as monuments and an adventure park (more like a Go Ape experience in the UK). We also found a nice cafe bar where we sat and chilled. Some of the interesting buildings we saw on the shortest and flattest walking route were St George’s Church and The Monument to the Partisan Soldier in Titograd, a mausoleum containing the remains of 97 soldiers of Yugoslavia, casualties of the second world war.

Heading back into town we found several shops, bars and restaurants and after stopping for a drink or two we headed to the train station; we planned to get the train back to our hotel but when we did actually find the train station (which didn’t even look like a train station) we were informed that the next train wouldn’t be for another 3 hours. Instead we opted to grab a taxi outside of the bus station opposite, and head back that way.

So was Podgorica the most boring capital of Europe? Well, at this point we had visited 41 European capital cities, and we are struggling to think of a more featureless one, but the weather was fantastic whilst we were there, and we still managed to enjoy ourselves in the short time we had. As you would expect the capital city has lots of bars, restaurants and shops but in all honestly besides the parts we found…not all that much else. We heard there was once a 20 metre high giant transformer statue in the town centre, that was the top tourist attraction but if it’s still there, we never found it. We enjoyed our couple of days here though and had outstanding hospitality from our hosts who looked after us with lots of treats and amazing breakfasts. I would say don’t write Podgorica off; if you have a day or two here like we did then you could find things to do and enjoy yourself but any longer may be a bit of a disappointment.

It does however serve as a gateway to some beautiful places in the Balkans, and although we had just dipped our toes into Montenegro, we were planning on seeing a lot more of the country, specifically the coastline and some neighbouring countries. For now however we bade farewell to Podgorica and to Montenegro for a couple of days, and we’re heading across the Albanian border to Shkoder.

Carol & Nigel x

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