Welcome to Podgorica!
Podgorica is one of Europe’s capital cities that fits into ‘weird’ category as lots of tourists walking by suggested. To feel Podgorica, you must have a local person or advice on hand because there’s not much to find online. At first glance, you would notice dirty streets, trash left by the river, poor neighbourhoods and probably think to yourself ”When is the next train to anywhere else”.
Let me tell you why you should stay a bit. I wouldn’t recommend visiting museums or galleries. Use your time here to relax, have a good Turkish coffee, meet some locals and hang out because people are your best guide here.Don’t give up easy if you notice people are a bit shy because they are not used to speak English. The community is small, and almost everyone knows anyone, but after a few drinks, you’ll feel as if you are their old friend.
Enjoy local specialties at ”Pod Volat.”
Tourists are often shocked with low prices of great food here! You’ll find all types of world cuisine, but I would suggest trying local specialities first. Start with local restaurant ”Pod Volat”. It’s ten minutes away from the city centre, next to an old Turkish tower clock. Have some homemade rakija; plum is a popular choice. Try some smoked ham Njegus-style, domestic cheese, grilled skinless sausage in cream or any meat baked in clay pot amongst live coals. Food is homegrown here so enjoy it not just because it tastes good but also because it’s healthy too.After this nice meal, head to the city centre and you might catch an entertaining theatre show to watch or hear a local symphony orchestra. In a small park across the theatre should be a lot of young people hanging out in the afternoon, or down by the river. Have a Nikšićko beer and join them. There are always people hanging out in the parks or bars and pubs. It almost seems as nobody here actually works! Tourists always find this fascinating, but time goes by slowly here, no one’s in a hurry.
That is the beauty of this place. You’ll find yourself surrounded by all the conditions you need just to BE. No pressure, no running around to see stuff, just concentrate on what you want to do when you want to do it. Podgorica is not a city you came to see and run around looking for galleries and museums, spend a lot of money or waste time in lines. You could find all of that here too, but this is a city where you come to be a local for a day. Don’t leave until you try some great cocktails in Bokeška street or just good old rakija and beer. Tastes good, feels great and it’s kind to your wallet. In this street, there is a bar called Sejdefa which you could pop in if you like a good jazz gig, but next to it there is a passage. Walking in you’ll find a hidden place, Biro. An old house turned into a restaurant, offers great drinks and food combined with a chill atmosphere. Biro is the right spot to get to know locals.
A cool thing about Podgorica is the mix of old and new. You will see new fancy buildings, hotels and restaurants next to old communist architecture. Old factories, houses and cars too.
Along with advanced processes and products like 3D printing, people here still rely on human skill. Lots of them are working in their studios making glass, shoes, clothes and furniture.
Learn about Titograd from seniors
Big differences in a small country! Talking to people here is the best way to understand huge gaps in opinions and lifestyles. If you talk to a young person, you will probably hear stories about wanting to leave Podgorica because of the dysfunctional state systems, narrow minds of seniors who are still afraid of accepting the new world and all the current life choices. Then talk to someone’s grandfather, and all the chances are you will hear some war stories and opinions about young people nowadays going crazy. A grandmother will surely tell you how she suffered from a lack of choice, like being in an arranged marriage. Older generations still remember the time of former Yugoslavia, the unity and fraternity. They all miss former president Josip Broz Tito. Previous name of the capital was Titograd. During war times and multiple bombings, Titograd suffered significant losses, but history remains kept in stories of seniors.
The name Podgorica means ”under the hill”. There is Gorica hill which is one of the best places in the city centre to have a nice walk. Have a short rest and try some delicious food and drinks in a small cottage type bar on the top of the hill. There is also an adventure park up there which is great fun for adults and kids too.
Visit Skadar Lake
Only 15 kilometres from the city centre there is Skadar Lake, the largest in Balkans, and also the only national park where water systems dominate. If you are a fan of bird watching, this lake should be your number one spot to spend time because it is home to more than 200 species of birds. There are also about 50 species of fish, so make sure to save time for lunch at the restaurant by the lake and try some homemade fish specialities. Rich history and culture make this place unique. You will see a lot of middle age monasteries and churches, fortress ruins, fisher villages and old bridges. I would recommend going for a boat ride wit some of the local people because it’s cheap, ideal for photography and the guy will probably tell you all you need to know about history.
So much beautiful and clean rivers and lakes in this city. Morača is the largest river, goes all the way to Tara river canyon in the north of the country where you can visit Durmitor National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. It’s an hour drive from Podgorica.
If you are more of a beach person, then head south. Budva and Kotor are beautiful coastal cities to see, walk, go out and enjoy food and drinks and of course, the beach. But if you are a proper nature fan, go to Ada Bojana beach. An hour and a half drive from Podgorica, there is this paradise beach which will take your breath away.
If you spend just a weekend in Montenegro, you will manage to visit the capital, have a nice walk, chat with someone, and also go for an afternoon at the beach if you want. Leave mountains for early morning so you could enjoy fresh air and proper light for capturing unusual nature.
Lots of tourists were pleased with Montenegro wild beauty, glorious mountains and sandy beaches, but don’t miss out on Podgorica.
It’s a hidden gem too.