This travel guide to Montenegro tries to capture what's best about this small but beautifully formed Balkan country. Montenegro means ‘Black Mountain’, but if there was no limit on the length of country names this small strip of Adriatic Coast might just as well be called ‘Black Mountain, Blue Fjord and Green Lake’ thanks to its beautiful combination of landscapes. The peaks in question plunge into the Adriatic to create Mediterranean equivalents of Norway’s fjords, the finest example of which is at Kotor, rightly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There, a gigantic fjord snakes inland to the town of the same name, surrounded on all sides by lush green slopes dotted with Italianate villages.
Then inland there’s the Tara River Canyon, 4,200ft deep in parts, and another example of the extraordinarily big landscapes this tiny country is home to. Time to segue smoothly to another: Lake Skadar, the largest lake in southern Europe, which forms the border with Albania to the south and east. Climb to the viewpoint of Pavlova Strana to overlook the enormous meander of the Crnojevic River that winds its way to the entrance of the lake. Even better, in Montenegro, history is integrated into this remarkable natural setting. Embedded in a sheer cliff face, Ostrog Monastery defies the rules of architecture. In a perfect setting at the end of its eponymous fjord, the fortified old town of Kotor is home to charming cobbled streets. Walk up the path behind the town to behold the fjord and town in perfect harmony. Visit Herzeg Novi for its Ottoman fortress, Perast for its Baroque palaces, and Budvar for a glimpse of Venetian era architecture sheltered behind its ramparts. Then it's time to hit the beach, ideally in Milocer, Sveti Stefan or Petrovac, where you can soak up the sun and eat fine fresh seafood.