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Looking for a way to have a (relatively) cheap European holiday? Think about skipping France and Italy this time around. Skip most of Western Europe, actually. Point your toes directly towards Eastern Europe, and visit Montenegro, to be exact. This small, Balkan country—which is sandwiched between Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina—is everything you want in a scenic vacation. Dramatic coastlines, charming villages, historic architecture—all the elements of a quaint European getaway are there, except for one thing: Montenegro is way cheaper than more traditional European destinations. Let’s go!

Explore Kotor

When you visit Montenegro, you must stop in Kotor, the gorgeous city by the sea...specifically, the Adriatic.

Photo: Bay of Kotor | amira_a, Flickr CC

Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage town, is so beautiful you’ll be shocked you’ve never heard of itas a tourist destination. Set on the Adriatic Bay of Kotor, this stunning little city of 13,500 features classic Venetian fortifications and architecture, as well as winding medieval streets. There are multiple hostels that charge between 30-38€ per night (a steal in Europe!) and include extras such as free wi-fi and bikes available for rental. Spend a day sunning on the sand at the free, public Kotor Beach, where the turquoise water and mountain views will make you consider staying indefinitely. Later, explore the Old Town, where you can dine well for under 15€ a plate—or go for one of the crepe stands, where a savory crepe with ham and cheese can be had for under 5€.

Go church-hopping in Perast

When you visit Montenegro, don't miss the medieval-looking St. Nicholas Church in Perast!

Photo: Perast – St. Nicholas Church | Marjan Lazarevski (Montenegro), Flickr CC

Perast, a tiny town that’s a 20-min bus ride from Kotor (1.5€ each way) has only one main street. Despite this, you’ll find 16 churches to explore, as well as Venetian-style grand palazzos (some crumbling, some fully restored) to goggle at. St Nicholas’ Church is a great starting point, with its pointed bell tower soaring over the town. Get your camera ready, too—Perast is a water town featuring some unique views; everywhere you look, palm trees stand with white-capped mountains in the background, and there are two small islands in the bay just begging to be featured on your Instagram. Have dinner at the 12th-century Konoba Otok Bronza restaurant, where a mountain spring spouts from the cave-like interior, and where you can fork up fresh local seafood for less than 12€ a plate.

Spend like it’s 1959 in Podgorica

Visit Montenegro for the cheap food and beaches; stay for the gorgeous Podgorica Cathedral, pictured here.

Photo: Podgorica Cathedral | Tony Bowden, Flickr CC

Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital city of about 185,000 people, is often overlooked as a destination for travelers planning to visit Montenegro. It’s not on the coast, and the city is (gasp!) relatively untouristed. But trust us: you can live well in Podgorica for very little money. There are lots of hostels where you can pay under 27€ a night (check out Hostel Izvor, which features clean, bright rooms, an onsite nightclub and free valet parking). Plus, there are endless cafes on pedestrian-friendly streets, where you can sit and watch the locals go by. The prices? Try 1€ for coffee, pizza for 2.5€, and lots and lots of street food. Walk along the Slobode, a popular street that closes to cars at night, or cool off during the day at the (free) rocky beaches that line the Moraca River. Podgorica is it for living like an actual European in a town that hasn’t been slammed by tourism just yet—give it a try and your wallet will thank you!

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Tagged: City, International

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