You rarely hear about certain cities. Podgorica is one of those.
In fact, I had to actually Google where the city was when it came up on a flight search. Little did I know it would become a spot I’d put into the ‘underrated cities’ category. Perhaps not for the reason you might think though. This isn’t going to be your city for endless tourist landmarks, but less sightseeing isn’t always a bad thing. A spontaneous weekend trip to Podgorica provided me with snippets of real local life.
Something about the experience struck a chord with me, so I’m here to persuade you to put an underrated city on your radar. Through this diary, I’ll also walk you through the morning I accidentally attended someone’s wedding, when I had food sickness so listened to throwback songs all day, and why I started crying during a massage…
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The Spotlight Is On All Things Podgorica:
Is Podgorica Worth Visiting?
The internet will tell you no, lol.
However, let’s look at things differently.
First of all, return flights can be found for less than £50. That’s pretty good considering you have popular cities nearby, like Kotor and Budva, if you really can’t stand the place. You’ve also got to appreciate the fact Podgorica is affordable, in comparison to the UK. A whole weekend set me back just a little over £100, excluding flights. Let’s not forget that the weather held up pretty nicely in the middle of November, as I swiftly found out when removing my jacket to wander around the streets.
First Impressions Of The City.
What the hell is this place and why is a taxi the only way to get to the city, from the airport?
A short 15-minute ride dropped me off to where I would be residing for the next two nights. Hotel Alexandar Lux. You couldn’t get more central if you tried. Although, we must have very different definitions of what deserves 4-star status. The room was nice, and for the peanuts that it cost, I really couldn’t complain, but it didn’t feel fancy. Very standard.
Having said that, I had access to breakfast every morning and was a mere 5 minutes away from ‘Millennium Bridge’. The first attraction I’d see. On second thoughts, I’ll put aside my desire to have a spacious room…
Hotel Alexandar Lux Address: 12 Hercegovačka, Podgorica 81000.
Cool Things To Do In Podgorica With 24 Hours + My Own Experiences.
Given the inexpensive nature of this city, you’ll find that a ‘treat yourself’ attitude won’t break the bank. Full body massage for £25? Okay!
But boy, do I have a story to tell you about. You just know when the professional goes by the name ‘Dragon’ that there will be no messing about. I had the wrong idea of what ‘relaxing massage’ meant, because I had tears in my eyes from the way my back was cracking. Are massages meant to be intense? I think the funniest part, in hindsight, was when the masseur told me to ‘just breathe if you feel pain’. Apparently, the pressure was necessary to get rid of stress points. Lol. I must admit though, I slept like an absolute baby the same night.
With ‘Millennium Bridge’ being so close, it was a natural choice to start off there. Stunning views were visible on every corner. There’s plenty of photo opportunities too, which have been plastered all over my Instagram.
My next stop was the ‘Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ Podgorica’. While I consider myself a spiritual person, even if you aren’t particularly religious, this cathedral is a must-see. Who knows, you might even accidentally gate-crash two weddings like I did. For some reason, I just didn’t realise there was an event taking place. Observing from a distance was interesting, as I witnessed some unique Balkan traditions I definitely wouldn’t have seen before.
This wasn’t my only spiritual experience, as in the evening I stumbled across a small church where locals welcomed me with open arms. For a moment, I forgot I was a tourist.
Hidden Gems? Here’s One!
To continue with the local experience, I decided to drink at a site known as ‘Itaka Library Bar’. When navigating the web for things to do, Itaka came up as a suggestion from a resident. The description sounded promising, so off I went.
There was good and bad news though. The bad news was that the bar was down a dodgy-looking tunnel. The good news? This bar wasn’t a catfish and was genuinely amazing. The vibe was just effortlessly cool, from dim red lighting, to books replacing lampshades, to sofa seats. How’s that for a cosy night out? When cocktails/mocktails cost you less than a few euros, you know you’re going to have a good one.
Itaka Library Bar Address: Cvijetin Brijeg Banja, Podgorica.
A Restaurant Where You’ll Make Memories.
Now, as I had major sickness on my first night, food hasn’t been mentioned because I literally ate a banana on day one. However, before I left Podgorica I made it my mission to try ‘Masala Art’.
I was sold on the somewhat flawless reviews, citing the restaurant as a real gem. It was THE food spot I was most excited about, and let me tell you now. It didn’t disappoint. Masala Art has flavoursome Indian food, with a price-to-quantity ratio that seems so generous. Whole platters of starters, mains, desserts and drinks for less than 25 euros per person? There’s no way the dishes I consumed would exist in the UK for anything less than £70 plus.
A location for a meal you’ll remember. Trust me.
Masala Art Address: 13a Vasa Raičkovića, Podgorica 81000
Would I Go Back To Podgorica?
Podgorica isn’t as bad as everyone says.
You might not spend hours sightseeing, but admiring shops, picturesque rivers, tempting restaurants and quirky bars becomes just as interesting. Yes, I definitely gasped when I saw how grey and dull one of the main plazas looked, but where landmarks were lacking I got enjoyment from exploring beautiful parks, snapping pictures of aesthetically-pleasing views, listening to nostalgic music, and dressing up like I was attending fashion week.
I probably wouldn’t return to Podgorica, as the city felt too small for my liking, but I unlocked elements of true local life. And for that, I’m happy. It’s time to give underrated destinations a chance to shape our perceptions of travel.
Keen to fly out for another weekend trip? I’ve got some news for you if you’re planning on sticking with the underrated theme: Poznań. Another option? How about a capital city Google calls the most underrated in Europe? Sofia.
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