Most of us can remember hearing of a new place for the first time. Or saying, “I’ve heard of that!” and then having to pause when trying to pinpoint it on a map.

For me, Montenegro was one of those places with question marks attached. But two things I did know: it’s one of several small countries to spring from the former Yugoslavia, and it lies directly southeast of Croatia, where we launched a walking tour of the Dalmatian Coast in 2006.

Like Croatia, Montenegro hugs the Adriatic Sea. As you travel inland, its palm-lined shores give way to rugged, pine-covered peaks (hence the “black mountains” that lend the country its name). The one-time playground for international jetsetters during the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s emerged from the Balkan conflict of the ’90s with its spirit intact, and now shows signs of becoming a major player to rival even the French Riviera.

For us, creating a Montenegro tour was a natural next step, following on the heels of three other trips that showcase the Adriatic: our cultural walking tour of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, our Croatia family vacation, and our walking tour of Istria, the teardrop-shaped peninsula in Croatia’s northwest corner.

It may be small, but I soon learned Montenegro is an all-star when it comes to scenery. In the course of a week, visitors can experience quaint and colorful seaside villages, coastal inlets reminiscent of Norwegian fjords, and a towering river canyon that’s the deepest in Europe…in a country roughly the size of Connecticut!

Sinuous River

As a walking destination, Montenegro is still off the grid: untamed and largely undiscovered. For guests on our Montenegro tour, that remoteness only adds to the appeal, like hopping in the back of a 4X4 to travel to the head of a mountain trail that leads to the family of shepherds who welcome us for lunch in their modest, yet charming huts.

The trip itself was two years in the making, drawing on the combined talents of our team here in La Jolla, our senior go-to guide in Europe (with his sixth sense for the extraordinary), and our on-the-ground expert, Vesna, a native Yugoslavian. The resulting itinerary is a mix of scenic hiking in national parks, UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Bay of Kotor, and enough historical drama for a country 10 times the size.

Our full-time local guides blend in an ever-changing cast of characters, from the olive grower who invites us into her farmhouse for a private tasting to the mosaic artist who treats us to a private demonstration of his centuries-old craft…the kind of person-to-person cultural interactions that turn a good trip into an unforgettable one.

Discover the “pearl of the Adriatic” on Classic Journeys walking tour of Montenegro.

Sveti Stefan Island

A few other quick facts you might find worthy of mention:

-Montenegro declared its independence as a democratic republic in 2006
-Its currency is the Euro
-The climate is Mediterranean, with an average of 240 days of sunshine per year
-The country has 183 miles of coastline, including more than 100 beaches covering 45 miles
-Montenegro has been called a “cartographer’s nightmare” because it’s almost impossible to fit such a long name into the tiny space it takes up on a map
-In 2006, “Montenegro” played an exotic role in the James Bond movie Casino Royale…although as it turns out, Daniel Craig was actually cavorting in front of the cameras in the Czech Republic

I’m delighted to report that our newest destination is the real deal, generating more inquiries than any trip we’ve announced in recent years. In fact, our first Montenegro guests booked with us just days after receiving our 2011 catalog in the mail last October.

Our Montenegro tour debuts on May 22, followed by four more departures in June, July, September and October. Prices for the seven day/six night trip begin at $3,895 per person, double occupancy (land only).

If you recall hearing of an adventure travel destination that was totally new to you — and loving it once you got there — drop us a line at Or for more details, call one of our Guest Services Coordinators at 800-200-3887.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from Richard Green, writing of his recent travels to Montenegro in the Times of London:

“I opened the expensively heavy curtains of my suite, barely resisting the urge to sing ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ – and gazed out over the most perfect Mediterranean view. A smile-shaped beach. A giant yacht resting at anchor in the bay. And, rising to the right, a picture-book jumble of red roofs. If the Adriatic Coast is a beauty, this stretch was 24-carat supermodel-sensational.”