Sitting 30km west of Podgorica – Ryanair’s newest Balkan destination – the picturesque town of Cetinje is an offbeat, yet inspirational, cultural getaway.
For five centuries, beautiful Cetinje was Montenegro’s capital city. Local royals ate, drank and pontificated in its rococo Blue Palace. The city flourished throughout the late 19th century, evidenced in the old diplomatic embassies (including French, British, Russian and Italian) dotted around town. Local architecture ranges from neo-baroque to cubist and art nouveau –little wonder, then, that Cetinje’s historic centre is currently under consideration for an award by UNESCO.
Kick off your stay with a ramble around the King Nikola Museum (mnmuseum.org). Located within the former palace of the last Montenegrin ruler, this is a glimpse into the royal residences as they were a century ago. Fascinating displays include antique furnishings, rare books and more than 11,000 photographs. Exhibits take visitors on a journey from medieval times through to 1918 when the country was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
For another culture fix, head to the nearby Art Museum. Founded in 1950, it’s home to nearly 3,000 inspiring exhibits, including famous Yugoslav and Montenegrin paintings.
Cetinje’s glorious countryside comes alive on a sunny day. Novice walkers can plan a hike through Lovćen National Park, but the more adventurous will want to navigate the squiggle of a road uphill to Mount Lovćen itself. To get here, you’ll need to embrace your inner mountain goat and ascend the 461 recently renovated steps to 19th-century prince, bishop and poet Petar II Petrović Njegoš’s Mausoleum, perched on the peak. From this vantage point, reward yourself a breather – and soak up the breathtaking views over the Bay of Kotor.