Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

Hidden Gems of the Balkans: Kosovo and Montenegro

Escape the summer crowds in two of the world's youngest countries.

June 28, 2024

The Balkans are the easternmost major peninsula in Europe. Definitions tend to vary, but the general consensus considers Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia as Balkan countries either geographically and/or politically. In fact, four of these constitute some of the youngest countries in the world. 

Establishing sovereignty in 2006, Montenegro is one of the Balkan countries that has seen a recent uptick in visitor interest. This small nation has a beautiful Adriatic coastline marked by the fjord-like Bay of Kotor and a captivating hinterland of glacial national parks inhabited by European brown bears. 

Even younger and as yet rarely visited, Kosovo declared independence two years later and has partial recognition as an independent nation. The mountains of this inland country are awash with richly ornamented monasteries and mosques. As Montenegro recognizes its easterly neighbor, it’s straightforward to visit these underrated countries in tandem.


Up-and-coming Montenegro is worth more than a day trip from Croatia. Montenegrin cities are well-connected by comfortable buses while car rental and private driver services are readily available.

Bay of Kotor: Kotor is a fortified town with stunning churches and bastions overlooking the azure bay often likened to a fjord. Boat tours and luxury yacht charters are available for getting a closer look at the cave systems and visiting the island church at Our Lady of the Rocks. 

Luštica Peninsula: This peninsula is all that stands between the Bay of Kotor and the sea. A scenic road loops around the perimeter connecting fishing villages and seaside hamlets. Consider a stay at the Chedi Luštica Bay where you can wind down in the Asian-inspired spa, swim in the infinity pool, and dine on Adriatic seafood at the property restaurant. 

Herceg-Novi: Sitting at the western entrance to the bay, this small town is a wine-lovers destination. Take a stroll around Savina Monastery before stopping at Savina Winery for a tasting and a bite to eat. 

Ostrog Monastery: One of Montenegro’s most dramatic sights, this 17th-century monastery straddles two compounds dedicated to Saint Basil. Linked via a pedestrian staircase and a hairpin road, these cliffside monasteries are a pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians, Roman Catholics, and Muslims.

Photo by Mrika Selimi on Unsplash


Kosovo’s tourist infrastructure is gradually being developed. The capital is the gateway to any Kosovo adventure while outlying mountain villages and reserves are gradually being added to the map.

Pristina (Prishtina): The pulsating capital of Kosovo is teeming with mosques, coffee houses, bazaars, and modern art installations including the Newborn Monument in honor of the country’s independence. It’s also home to the National Library of Kosovo and its opinion-dividing architecture. 

Kosovo Bear Sanctuary: This sanctuary in the mountains east of Pristina is a safe harbor for brown bears rescued from captivity. The bears dwell in large, wooded enclosures and are most likely to be sighted at scheduled feeding times. All money spent on admission, food, and souvenirs supports further rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

Bjeshkët e Nemuna National Park: This wilderness area near Peja is one of the most accessible options from Pristina for outdoor pursuits. Tours take you to the medieval Patriakana e Pejës monastery site and guide you through the Rugova Canyon.

Contact Darby at Darby’s Destinations to design an adventurous summer getaway to Montenegro and Kosovo.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?