In many ways, Porto Montenegro is Ground Zero for luxury tourism in the country. It isn’t the first development to aim for a little more prestige, and it isn’t the first place in Montenegro where yacht owners have converged in search of decadence, but its development and establishment are generally considered the beginning of a new era for the country.
The story begins in 2006, when the Sava Kovačević shipyard (a former Yugoslav navy arsenal) was put up for auction, with Canadian gold mining leviathan Peter Munk coming out on top. A group of investors were soon brought on board, and Montenegro’s luxury marina moved from idea to reality. It is no surprise that in that very same year, Montenegro declared independence from Serbia.
It took a while for the wheels to move smoothly, with construction seemingly constant, but the finish line is now in sight. A visit to Porto Montenegro today feels like a visit to the finished product, with its 450 yacht berths and an appreciation for all things maritime in its hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. When all is said and done, the number of berths will almost double to a whopping 850, and it is difficult to shake the fear that it may become even more excessive. For now, Porto Montenegro has found a sweet spot.
How to get to Porto Montenegro
One of Porto Montenegro’s greatest assets is its accessibility. It takes pride of place in Tivat, a small coastal town that has had a functioning airport since the 1950s. The emphasis is on “small,” but the airport is just a short 2-mile drive south of Tivat on the road to Kotor, with frequent flights to Belgrade and seasonal connections to everywhere from Dubai to Dusseldorf and Vienna to Istanbul.
Tivat bus station is on the road between the airport and the town and is one of the better bus stations in Montenegro, with a modern building and well-organised facilities. Porto Montenegro is an easy 25-minute walk from the bus station, although there are always taxis waiting to make that journey even more straightforward.
What to see and do in Porto Montenegro
You’ll notice that history and culture aren’t a factor in its main attractions, which is by design. Porto Montenegro sits on the outskirts of Tivat, a small coastal town with a long history of nautical influence, but Porto Montenegro is more Saint-Tropez than Tivat. Montenegrin culture is pushed aside in favour of opulent excess, although Porto Montenegro can’t be criticised for this. After all, it has never claimed to be anything else. It isn’t a place where visitors engage with Montenegrin culture and history, but it is definitely a place where the rich and famous can embrace the beauty of the Bay of Kotor.
As such, there is little point in listing things to do and attractions to see. The Naval Heritage Museum is small but perfectly formed, and the Heroj P-821 submarine is a must-see for anyone interested in Yugoslav military history, but both are accessories, side dishes rather than main courses.
The main courses here are shopping, eating and drinking, but plenty of active options exist for the energetic. Porto Montenegro’s advantageous location on the beautiful bay makes it a magnet for any and all water activities, from diving and swimming to sailing and more, while the beaches offer yoga, volleyball and the rest. It is also home to the Porto Montenegro Winter Games in February.
Porto Montenegro also has a laundry list of decidedly un-Montenegrin activities available, including pool, croquet, archery, and even cricket, if you look in the right place. The events calendar is packed with regattas, fashion shows, and music festivals.
Shopping in Porto Montenegro
If splashing the cash and flashing the plastic is your idea of heaven, Porto Montenegro is the place you have been waiting for. Where the bayside development falls short on history and culture, it shimmers and shines on shopping. If that isn’t an accurate version of the Mediterranean high life, we don’t know what is. To cut a long story short, any major European fashion brand worth the name will have an outlet in Porto Montenegro, from Boss to Bagsy via Granoff, Mooi, Max Mara and all the rest. If it is stylish and sophisticated and comes with a pricey reputation, you’ll find it here, whether you are looking for new summer threads, glittering accessories or a swanky new piece to keep the time. As is the trend with Porto Montenegro, everything is on the pricey side of the ledger, but you get what you pay for.
Where to eat and drink
Porto Montenegro is blessed with an impressive array of places to eat and drink. Arguably, the culinary offer could be Porto Montenegro’s most impressive facet. The high prices remain the same from restaurant to restaurant, but the quality is delightfully consistent, no matter where you choose to sate your appetite. Gallardo, Al Posto Giusto and One are the heavy hitters at the top of the table, serving steaks, Italian classics and seafood, respectively. The service is utterly impeccable, but food this good could be served by a scoundrel and still hit the high notes.
The food here is tremendous, but something about an early morning coffee by the sea sets Porto Montenegro apart. The beans are brilliant wherever you stop, but the big city class of Kafeterija is difficult to look beyond. The Serbian brand brings caffeine knowledge to the bay with predictably stunning results. Similarly, an ice cream from Moritz Eis tastes even better here than it does in the big city. At night, the iconic arch of the Buddha Bar graces Instagram feeds worldwide, and for good reason.
If the prices on the menus of Porto Montenegro are too high, the restaurants, bars, and cafes of Tivat will save the day. Big Ben is a seaside spot serving pizzas, burgers, and pasta, while Tanjga is the place to visit for a meaty slice of Montenegrin magic.
Where to stay in Porto Montenegro
Hotel Regent is the jewel in the Porto Montenegro accommodation crown. A five-star property spread across three wings, the Hotel Regent has a lofty reputation and mostly lives up to its billing, with a great range of rooms and suites in a fantastic location. Some of the standard rooms are on the small side (especially when considering the price tag), but the balconies, spa, and facilities more than make up for that. Besides, Hotel Regent’s Italian Garden is a gorgeous place for a coffee or cocktail, no matter the purpose of your visit. The Hotel Regent is Porto Montenegro’s flagship hotel, and it shows. Residences are also available if you can’t bring yourself to leave this fabulous spot.
There is definitely something special here. Tivat has always been a place of intrigue and mystery, but Porto Montenegro offers an entirely different side to the Bay of Kotor, focusing more on luxury and lifestyle than history and culture. It doesn’t always succeed, and its relatively manufactured nature can be a little jarring for some. The Bay of Kotor comes packed with history, but you’ll find none of that at Porto Montenegro, and it can feel a little inauthentic as a result.
But, and it is a big “but,” if you travel to Porto Montenegro in search of authenticity, you need to reassess your ambitions. Porto Montenegro is about relaxation in its most sophisticated form. It is a lifestyle development where people can eat good food and give themselves some much-needed attention. It is the poster child for TLC tourism, where stress can wait until the coffee has been enjoyed, the sea has been embraced, and the massage has finished. Head to Perast, Kotor, or Herceg Novi if you want history and culture. You can even take a short walk into Tivat proper. If relaxation is what you are after, Porto Montenegro hits all the right notes.