Since its starring role in the Game of Thrones, Croatia has received a huge increase in visitors. In fact, bookings at Holiday Hypermarket have increased by 319% just over the past year, making it one of our fastest growing destinations! Although it’s great that Croatia has become a ‘Kingdom of Tourism’, sometimes popular destinations aren’t for everyone. That’s why we’ve got a different yet equally as brilliant alternative — say hello to Montenegro!
It may be located right next door to the favoured Croatia, however the Balkan beauty Montenegro still remains a very much under-the-radar spot — that’s why we’d like to shine some light on its beautiful beaches, striking scenery and vibrant resorts. When we delve deeper you’ll realise both countries actually share a number of similarities, but if less crowds and more savings are what you’re looking for then this one’s for you…
Budva: An alternative to Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik has some serious competition on its hands when it comes to Budva. It’s just as good looking, its streets are packed with history and it’s got an amazing assortment of 35 beaches to offer. Likewise, it has a solid, ancient wall that surrounds its stunning old town. Inside you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a living museum with attractions packed in like the Church of Sveti Trojica dating all the way back to the 7th century and the Medieval Budva Citadel serving up some of the best views in town.
It may be head-to-toe in history but it’s got an impressive modern side mixed in. We’re talking beach parties, quirky pubs and classic nightclubs that attract some of the best internationally famous DJ’s like Eric Prydz and Fatboy Slim. When the old town’s music stops around 1am, the harbour is the place to be. Here you can take your pick between a lively choice of waterfront discos. That’s not all — you haven’t partied properly in Budva until you’ve been to the Top Hill club. Perched on the top of Toplis Hill, this is considered one of the best open-air seaside clubs in Europe.
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Explorers listen up! In just a 45-minute bus ride from Budva you could be climbing the city walls of Kotor, soaking up stunning views of its bay — a day trip highly recommended by The Travel Bunny, and it will only cost you a few euros!
Becici: An alternative to Brac Island
If an award-winning beach like Brac Island’s golden horn of Zlatni Rat is what you’re looking for, Becici has just the answer. This purpose-built resort and its spectacular stretch of sand won Europe’s best beach award way ahead of the game back in 1935 — it’s just taking a while for the holidaymakers of today to realise.
That’s certainly not a bad thing though — the less people that know about it, the more room you get to stretch out on its soft sands and the less queues you have to tackle to try the water sports. That’s if you’re not too busy spotting celebs like Madonna and Angelina Jolie around the luxury hotels that line the standout seafront. Rumour has it Becici is their favourite spot to stay when holidaying in Montenegro.
Just like Brac Island, the Becici resort is also a good starting point when it comes to day tripping. Within a 12-minute drive you could be at the narrow stone bridge that connects to the private island, Sveti Stefan — a must-see attraction on the Budva Riviera. Pay just a small entry fee and you can spend the day here admiring the stunning super yachts and walking along its pretty pink sands. If you want to check out the buzzing resort Budva, that’s just a 20-minute walk from Becici town too.
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The day trip options don’t stop there, Travelling Tom highly recommends a visit to Tivat which takes just 30 minutes via car. Here you’ll find a stunning marina lined with yachts and fronted by boutique stores and restaurants serving sumptuous cuisine. Try modern Adriatic cuisine out on the terrace at One restaurant or classic Italian flavours with an upmarket taste at Roberto’s Mare!
Petrovac: An alternative to Split
Waterfront restaurants, tucked-away cafés and a town beach with the Adriatic Sea just a few steps away — this may sound just like Croatia’s city of Split but you can find the exact same at Montenegro’s easy-going seaside town, Petrovac. Holidays here may be quieter but there’s still plenty to do, from sipping cocktails and soaking up views up at the Venetian fortress to trying your hand at water skiing down on the town beach. Speaking of beaches, will you be able to find the Perazica Do? We’ll give you a clue, this little gem is hidden away through a tunnel— just a heads up, a torch might be needed but it’s well worth it!
As for an evening, there’s plenty of café and restaurants showcasing their traditional tasty dishes. If you’re keen to try a Montenegrin speciality, the cliff-perched Restaurant Giardino is rated one of the best places to eat in Petrovac according to TripAdvisor — partly for its delicious food and partly for its unbeatable views. It’s a great place to catch the sunset too.
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Speaking of food, the Two Wandering Soles have some seriously scrumptious recommendations while you’re on the go in Petrovac, or anywhere in Montenegro for that matter! From Borek – the cylindrical flakey pastry filled with meat or cheese to Dolma — a meat, veg and spicy rice appetiser wrapped in a cabbage leaf. Not forgetting Cevapi — a national Balkan sausage dish.
Ulcinj: An alternative to Hvar
Just like Hvar, the stunning resort Ulcinj is famous for its historic old town, Instagram-worthy landscapes and most notably, its buzzing nightlife. Spend your mornings stepping back in time along its cobblestoned streets, taking snaps of landmarks like the Tower of Balsic, Slave Square and the Venetian Palace, before heading to its fair share of sands. Rumour has it the beaches here are some of the best on the Adriatic coast. If you’re looking for plenty of space to stretch out on, Long Beach is for you. The clue’s in the name, these sands spread out over 13 kilometres!
You may not find a nightclub on its own exclusive island here like Hvar’s Carpe Diem, but you will find Copacabana Beach. This spot hosts some of Europe’s trendiest beach parties, so much so, they attract the likes of Rita Ora and Lewis Hamilton. And that’s just the start of the party scene. Later in the evening you can look forward to buzzing beach bars, neon-lit nightclubs and even the coffee shops keeping their doors open all night to join in on the fun. Espresso Martini anyone?
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For some of the best views around, check out the castle at the top of the hill in Ulcinj as recommended by The Adventorous World travel guru who considers this resort to be one of the best destinations along the Adriatic coastline. If you’re looking for a place to just kick back and relax it’s also suggested that you schedule your trip here during the shoulder season where things are a lot quieter!
Igalo: The best of both worlds
If you can’t decide between Croatia or Montenegro, how about the best of both worlds? The little resort Igalo sits slap bang in the middle of Kotor and Dubrovnik so you can spend one day in one, and the next in the other. As for the days in between, you might want to stay put as Igalo has its own unique offerings. It’s home to Mount Orjen — the Adriatic’s tallest mountain. Are you ready to tackle its 1,894 metre height? Don’t worry, afterwards you can relax in the healing sea clay down at its famous bay.
Wondering which is better out of Croatia or Montenegro? Well that’s totally down to personal preference and there’s only one way to find out…Check out our best holiday deals here and SAVE big with Holiday Hypermarket.