Welcome to Podgorica, or so it sounds from the loudspeaker on the plane when we land in the capital of Montenegro. The airport is small and manageable and after passport control we get our backpacks quite quickly.
The airport is about 10 kilometres from the city, so we first need a means of transport. We quickly discover that buses or trains do not run here. You can only get into town by rental car or taxi. A sign indicates that there are fixed fares from the airport to the city. A taxi attendant beckons a taxi to us on the phone. So we get into a taxi with a driver who knows neither German nor English and hope that he will drive us to the hotel.
Later we set out to discover the city.
What you should know about Podgorica
The capital of Montenegro is situated in a wide plain at the confluence of the Zeta and Morača rivers. The city was not always the capital of Montenegro, it was only after the independence referendum in 2006 that it was decided to make it the capital of the new state of Montenegro.
Many will still know the old name of the city, from 1946 to 1992 it was called Titograd in honour of Yugoslav Prime Minister Tito.
The municipality of Podgorica is the most populous region in Montenegro, with about 151000 people living here.
From a tourist point of view, the city does not have too much to offer. The hotels are often only “transit stops” for travellers heading to the coast. But if you look a little closer, you can discover quite a bit.
Sights in Podgorica
We have put together some interesting places:
Clock Tower – Sahat Kula
The clock tower (Sahat Kula) was built in 1667. Hadži-paša Osmanagić , a prominent citizen of Podgorica, had the stone tower built. The clock mechanism was made in Austria around 1890, and the cross on the top of the tower was installed around the same time. It is supposed to symbolise the change from Ottoman rule to Christian culture.
You can only visit the clock tower from the outside. It’s a pity, because with its 19-metre height you would certainly have a great view of the surroundings.
Today the tower is a listed building, the clock was renovated in 2012 and now has a new electric mechanism.
Directly behind the tower is a restaurant where we ate twice. Pod Volat has very good meat dishes, in really big portions and at reasonable prices. It was always crowded here (mostly locals ate here), which is already a good sign.
The Millennium Bridge is considered a landmark of the city. The cable-stayed bridge over the Morača is 173 metres long. The 57-metre high pylon, from which 12 stay cables are suspended, holds the deck. Another 24 stay cables are anchored in the pylon as a counterweight.
The bridge construction was financed by a private consortium and the bridge was opened on time for the bank holidays in 2005.
We walked across the slightly swinging bridge. If you look along the stay cables, you get a really great picture.
The Moscow Bridge runs parallel to the Millennium Bridge. It is a pedestrian bridge. The bridge was 60% financed by Russia and is a “gift” to the city.
There is a large statue on one side of the river. It represents the Soviet actor, poet and singer Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky. He dealt with very critical topics that the government in the Soviet Union did not like to hear.
Toranj na Dajbabskoj Gori (Lookout Tower)
A modern tower stands on a small hill on the outskirts of the city. A broadcasting station is located here.
We had previously read on the internet that there is a viewing platform on the 55-metre-high tower. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any access to it. There was a gatehouse, but it was unmanned and the tower was fenced in.
Nevertheless, it is worth going up here. The view is really great, the whole of Podgorica is at your feet.
Opposite our hotel we could see the old Ribnica bridge. On the way to the city centre, we made a detour and climbed down the stairs. On the way we got a new “friend”, a dog, who accompanied us through the city for the next half hour. Only stubborn ignoring made him turn around later.
Back to the bridge and the surrounding area. The Ribnica Bridge is the oldest bridge in Podgorica. It was built by the Romans in the 16th century. Some ruins can still be found near the shore.
Here you can take off your shoes and wade in the river for a while. The water was freezing cold, but very refreshing at 35 degrees!
Mosque in the old town of Podgorica
A historic old town can also be found in Podgorica. In the small area behind the clock tower, there are winding residential houses along narrow streets. I found the area quite “lived-in” and rather unattractive. I found it interesting that you can still see evidence of the Ottoman past here. There is a mosque here. It was interesting that Arab tourists were dropped off nearby by coach and the gates of the building, which is otherwise not open to the public, were also opened for them.
Behind the football stadium, and also still behind the car park that you have to cross, there is a beautiful park on Gorcia Hill that is quite hidden.
The hill is a popular recreation area for the city’s population. It is pleasantly cool here and the area offers a lot of attractive facilities. Besides well-signposted hiking trails, we discovered a climbing garden, a café and some fitness equipment.
The path leads slightly uphill and we spontaneously turn left at a crossroads.
Suddenly we are standing in front of a memorial. The Partisan Monument is a memorial where 97 heroes were buried. The memorial was officially opened in 1957. When Montenegro was still socialist, the memorial was a place for central celebrations. Soldiers took their military oath here and Tito’s pioneers received their red scarves here. Today, wreaths are still laid at the memorial during state celebrations.
I was impressed by the memorial. As with many memorials, I am surprised by the pomp and grandeur.
The Podgorica Falls – Niagara
For me, the real highlight of the city is about 10 minutes by car from the centre. The Navigation system brought us to the slightly hidden place without any problems, just enter the restaurant “Niagara” as destination, it is located directly at the beautiful natural spectacle.
Then park the car a few metres behind the restaurant on the side of the road. From here an iron staircase leads down to the river Cjevna and the waterfalls.
The Cjevna River rises in Albania and flows about 33 kilometres through Montenegro. South of Podgorica it flows into the Morača. Especially in spring, the river carries a lot of water and then makes the spectacle that you can experience here unique.
In the karst landscape, the water falls several metres deep. Numerous smaller tributary waterfalls have formed, which fall at the most diverse places in the terrain. Impressive, you can get very close to the water and experience the waterfalls. I could have stayed here for hours watching the water.
Accommodation tip: Hotel Podgorica
We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel Podgorica. The hotel is located directly on the banks of the Morača. Our room had a balcony with a direct river view. Here we could sit comfortably and enjoy the peace and quiet.
The room was great. Very clean, very spacious, with free Wi-Fi and very comfortable beds. I was thrilled with the shower, but that was also because the shower at our Airbnb in Serbia was rather dripping and I could finally take a proper shower again.
In the evening we sat on the large terrace of the hotel. Here we could watch the football matches of the World Cup on a big screen.
Breakfast could be eaten in the restaurant or on the terrace, depending on the weather. The buffet was rich and varied.
I felt very comfortable and on our next visit to the city we will definitely stay here again.