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Aug 05 2014

Discovering Podgorica: Things to See and Do

When I was in Montenegro last year, I fell for the place because of its natural beauty.  I went to historic Kotor, pretty Perast, stunning Lake Skadar, spectacular Lovćen and Durmitor National Parks, and the underrated historic capital of Montenegro, Cetinje.  During that time, I passed through Podgorica on more than one occasion, getting buses from one place to the next, but I never saw anything other than the bus station.  Earlier this year, I flew into the airport, but didn’t stay.  I was quite content with that because I’d heard it wasn’t that great.

When I was due to fly out, I was in Albania trying to figure out how to get back to Podgorica from Skhoder via the shorter route.  Because I had to be at the airport in Podgorica in the morning, I decided to stay in the city for one night.

The only thing I knew was not to expect much from Podgorica.  I know that’s not the right approach, but it’s because of what I’d heard.  Well, listening to people is all well and good, but you need to judge for yourself because we are all different.  As it turns out, I like Podgorica and I’m glad I stayed there and had time to explore it.

The town has been used as a settlement since prehistoric times and, even though it was almost completely destroyed during WWII and mass communist-style residential blocks were built, it has character.  As I walked around the city, I could see that it is undergoing a major transformation with new parks, squares, and structures being built and old ones being restored.  Podgorica isn’t a big capital city, so if you happen to be passing by, it’s worth stopping for a day or two to explore it.

Clock Tower

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This striking structure is one of the few Ottoman landmarks that survived the bombing during WWII.  Apparently, It was built in 1667 and was the first and only clock in the city for years.  It was renovated in 2012 and Sahat Kula (the clock tower) is now protected by law since it is an important cultural monument.

Old Bridge

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This Ottoman bridge across the Ribnica River might not be quite as spectacular as Stari Most in Mostar, but it is the oldest bridge in Podgorica.  According to Wiki, it was originally built in Roman times and then reconstructed in 18th century.  In the city though, it is referred to as a 15th century bridge.  Whatever the century, it is old and quite cute.  It’s a great place to chill and perfect for photo opps.  This is a ‘must see’, in my opinion.

Millennium Bridge

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From old to new, the Millennium Bridge crosses the.Morača River rather than the Ribnica. It was built in 2005 and looks impressive, especially at night, when it lights up.

King Nikola’s Castle

King Nikola's Castle

I have seen it referred to mainly as a castle, but also as a summer residence, so I’m not sure which it actually was.  It is now a museum and gallery.  A park surrounds it and there is a small church.  The park seems to be the meeting place for lovers.

The US Embassy is next door.  If you enter the castle grounds from that side, as I did, expect a security guard to approach and warn you against taking photos of the embassy.

Karver

Karver

This former Turkish bath is now a bookstore and cafe on the Ribnica River.  It took me a while to find this place because of it’s unusual location.  You have to walk down to it because it’s underneath a road.  It’s definitely worth going there for a coffee.  It’s a cool place and seems popular with the locals, which is always a good thing.

Other sights

There are many other things to see and do but, as I wasn’t feeling particularly well, I didn’t push it.  When I return to Montenegro, among other things, I want to climb to the top of Gorica (little hill), which is where the city’s name originates, ‘under the little hill’.  From there, I’m sure you get a fabulous view of the city and further afield.

Drinking Water

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One thing I particularly liked was the fact that there are plenty of water fountains in the city where you can get free drinking water.  So, don’t forget to bring your bottle when you go out.

Location

Having a good map helps.  Pero (the owner of the hostel I was staying at) gave me a great map that he made.  All the sights, places to eat, ATMs etc are on it.

Map of Podgorica

You can easily walk from the bus station to the clock tower.  It’s about a 10 minute walk.  To get to the airport, you will have to get a taxi.  There isn’t a bus that goes there at the moment, although I’m sure that will change.

I’ve tried to locate everything I mentioned on the map for you.

Have your say

Have you been to Podgorica?  If so, what did you think about it?  If not, would you consider stopping over to see what you think of it?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

8 comments

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  1. Renuka

    Hi Teresa! Found your blog on twitter. 🙂 Podgorica looks like an inviting place! Thanks for the guide.

  2. independenttravelhelp.com

    Hi Renuca.

    Thanks for getting in touch. Podgorica is definitely worth checking out if you happen to be in Montenegro.

    Best wishes,

    Teresa.

  3. Jay

    American professor of architecture who will be spending two nights in Podgorica in a few days. When I was doing some advanced reading, I came across your site. Thank you for the information.

  4. Teresa Keane

    You’re welcome. Thank you for your comment and have a lovely time!

    Best wishes, Teresa.

  5. Pedro

    Hi Teresa, looking for things to do in Podgorica I came across your post. Great to see it from your perspective!

    I do hope you’re well.

    Cheers!

  6. Teresa Keane

    Hi, Pedro!

    How are you? When are you going to be there? Are you staying in Montenegro or travelling to some of the surrounding countries?

    Teresa.

  7. Michael Pound

    Loved your commentary … I had an advantage on you as I had a lift waiting for me at Podgoricia and so I went straight onto Shkodra and then to Lezhe …While I was visiting friends everyone I met in Lezhe and Shkodra were nice , friendly and helpful.

    The Castle in Lezhe is less impressive compared with Shkodra but I loved it. I also did the usual of going to Skanderbergs tomb ….Lezhe is a small town with bakeries and supermarkets are not all conquering. This is a great thing to me .

    The other thing that I noticed from Hoti on was the number of birds. They have wildlife like the UK used to have even bats around the park in Lezhe !!

    This time I am planning to stay in Podgoricia both ends of the trip so valuing your insight ! The costs and the benefits should make these destinations that more people should consider.

    There are phrase books on Amazon for £1,99 that cover the basics for both countries but I found that they generally think that the Albanian language is too difficult so could get away with mire !!

  8. Teresa Keane

    Hi Michael.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and insights from travelling around Albania!

    Like you, I found the Albanian people incredibly helpful and friendly. Whenever I visit a country, I always try to speak the language. When I did that in Albania, the people were really surprised because they weren’t expecting it.

    As you have suggested, there is a lot to discover in the country. I will certainly be back at some point because I was working in Shkoder for most of the time I was there. That gave me a different perspective, which was interesting, but it didn’t leave me with a lot of time to travel around the country. Like you, I will probably stay in Podgorica at the beginning and end of my next trip.

    Best wishes,
    Teresa.

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