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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?