We’ve been enjoying our travels around the Balkan countries… and it’s been a pleasant surprise. We’ve had many amazing experiences that will be in our memories forever. Plus, there’s been some not so great times… yet, not everything can be perfect!
So, one of the Balkan countries we visited for a short time was Montenegro… as we had to make a detour to Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro.
We spent about 1 week there and then had to leave Montenegro. Even so, we’ll be back to visit other parts of Montenegro as it looks incredible in photos!
So, in one of our other travel blog posts… we highlighted 13 places to see in Podgorica city, as well as our thoughts about it.
Now, if you haven’t seen that blog, check it out first by clicking HERE.
We had plenty of time to walk around and see some of the Podgorica tourist attractions. Yet, in one of our travel blogs about Skopje… you may recall that there are HEAPS of statues there!
Now, while Podgorica sure doesn’t have as many statues… there are some monuments and statues we thought were interesting.
And, here’s some of them that caught our attention…
Vladimir Vysotsky Monument
One of the most important prominent Podgorica tourist attractions is the Millennium Bridge.
And, when you’re on the “new town” side of Podgorica, heading towards the Millennium Bridge… is a different type of monument. This one sure has an upbeat feeling when you look at it. And, that’s because it looks like a fun, rock ‘n roll statue.
So, the monument is a tribute to Russian writer, singer, and actor Vladimir Visotsky. Yet, we’ve heard of others calling it the Russian Elvis Statue! Rock on!
Monument to Partisan Fighters
If you’re heading to check out Gorica Park, then along the way is the Monument to Partisan Fighters.
This historical landmark was built in 1957… representing a mausoleum for fighters from World War II. Two commanding soldier statues guard the outside of it.
There’s also another entry point to the monument if you miss the first path. Yet, the first one is better, as it has a big white staircase leading up to it… so it looks more dramatic when taking pics.
Petrovica Park Statue
Petrovica Parkis a cute park, where King Nikola’s Palace was built in the 1890’s. Yet, the Palace has now been converted into a gallery… and displays the works from international and local artists.
There are a few spots to sit down and enjoy the serenity of the park. Yet, while you’re taking a stroll through PetrovićaPark, you may bump into this cute statue…
King Nikola Monument
For a small capital city, there are several parks in Podgorica where you can chill out! And, King’s Park is no exception. The park, as the name suggests… is named after the former king of Montenegro, Nikola Petrovic-Njegos.
He was the ruler of Montenegro for decades, and in 1910… it was King Nikola who declared Montenegro a kingdom.
Petar I Petrovic Njegos
When you’re strolling around near the University of Montenegro… standing tall is this huge statue.
This monument is dedicated to Petar I Petrovic Njegos… who held the throne of Montenegrin bishops for decades.
During his life, he was also seen as a visionary, leader… and founder of the modern Montenegrin state.
Spomenik Jeleni Savojskoj Monument
If you’re heading to the Dječiji Park area (also known as Children’s Park)… you’ll come across this svelte statue.
And, this is a monument to the Montenegrin princess Jelena Savojska… as created by the Montenegrin sculptor Adin Rastoder.
And, it’s said that this was the first statue of a woman, that included her entire body!
Alexander Pushkin and Natalia Goncharova Monument
If you happen to be wandering near the corner of Njegoševa and Svetog Petra Cetinjskog Streets, you’ll see this monument…
And, this is the monument gifted to the Montenegrins from the Russians… showing the friendship between the two. Alexander Pushkin is an historical figure, who is seen as one of the greatest Russian poets… as well as the founder of modern Russian literature
So, while Alexander Pushkin is reciting some poetry… there sits his wife, Natalia Goncharova, listening happily to her husband’s words.
And, if you feel like being a part of the moment, take a seat next to Natalia and get a photo!
So, they are 7 different statues and monuments you can check out… outside of the other Podgorica tourist attractions you’re likely to discover.
That’s it for now, as we eat, drink and travel around the world!
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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.
After spending about 3 months in Albania, our Balkan adventures would continue on! And, our next destination for a short trip would be Podgorica in Montenegro.
Now, if you haven’t been to Montenegro’s capital city of Podgorica… you may have heard mixed stories and feelings about it. We’ve heard that people either love it or hate it. And, that’s not because of the people!
For travelers who’ve visited Podgorica city and haven’t enjoyed it, they’ve said things like… “It’s one of the most boring capital cities in the world!”
Yet, we’re all different in terms of what we like to see and do on our travels.
And, although Podgorica wouldn’t have been our first choice in places to visit in Montenegro… we had to make a detour to Podgorica for personal reasons. And, in the end we were spending about 1 week there.
So, we want to share with you some places to visit in Podgorica and things to do. And, I trust that this will help you to decide if you go there, or if you decide to bypass it.
Orthodox Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection
This magnificent landmark was one of the first sites that we saw. And, our eyes would have to be closed if we missed it… as it stands out with stature and so brilliantly in Podgorica city.
Construction of the Cathedral started in 1993… and building was ongoing for about 20 years. The towers are over 25 meters high, and within them are 17 bells. Now, that will definitely put a ring in your ears!
It looks breathtaking from the outside, and inside is beautiful too… with the colorful decoration and gold trimmings. Yet, we don’t believe that photos give this church the justice it deserves!
Millennium Bridge Podgorica
Another important landmark to visit in Podgorica is the Millennium Bridge. Not only is this an icon for the Podgoricans, but for Montenegrins as a whole.
The design of the bridge was by architect Mladen Ulicevic… and was said to cost about a whopping 7 million euros. The cable-stayed bridge spanning about 170 meters, with 12 cables, 24 counterweights… and rising 57 meters high above the road, makes it eye-catching.
It took about 1 year to complete. And, on July 13, 2005, the opening of the Millennium Bridge took place… connecting the older town area of Podgorica to the new town area.
Now, when you’re looking at the Millennium Bridge, you can’t miss the wide, open river beneath it!
So, that waterway which is the main one running through Podgorica city is… the Moraca River. And, what was surprising about this river was how crystal clear the water is. Plus, the water is such a beautiful aqua color, and when the sun shines it’s like it glistens.
Along the river, there are several spots where you can head down… and dunk your feet in the water. When we went, in late Spring, we didn’t see anyone swimming in it. Yet, we did see some people fishing in the river, and having picnics.
Gorica Park the biggest park in Podgorica… where you can relax amongst nature and enjoy the serenity. Yet, it was surprising to discover that there’s a not so peaceful area too… the adventure park!
That’s right, at Gorica Park there are outdoor activities for the young… and young at heart. There’s rock climbing, cable and rope walks, and more.
So, you could easily spend hours here, especially if you have a crack at some of the activities.
And, if you work up an appetite there are several places selling food and drinks… otherwise you could pack a picnic and enjoy some leisurely time out.
Also, during the Summer months… there are special events and other activities held at Gorica Park. So, it’s a great spot to enjoy time with family and friends.
St George Church
From the biggest church in Podgorica of Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection, to a small church is… St George Church. Yet, what makes this church special is that it’s the oldest one in Podgorica city.
It’s said to have been built around the 10th century, sitting at the foot of Gorica Hill. And, when getting close up to the church… you can see the ancient character that has been preserved.
Surprisingly, it’s said that behind the altar of St George Church is a “secret” passageway… which supposedly led to the Serbian state of Duklja!
So, when we think of a Republic or Independence Square for a country… we’re picturing big and grand. And, a place where people are proud to congregate as a representation of freedom.
Yet, we have to admit we were disappointed with the Independence Square in Podgorica.
To us, it felt unloved and drab even with a fountain! Here’s a pic we took of it in the middle of the day with lots of sunshine, and look how deserted it is…
Old Ribnica River Bridge
This historical stone bridge is one of the things to do in Podgorica when you’re here.
The construction of the Old Ribnica Bridge dates back to the Roman period. Then, in the 18th century… reconstruction of the bridge was directed under Ottoman rule. And, that’s why you can see the Ottoman style of the bridge today.
When we were visiting the bridge… all sorts of people were there from families, groups of youngsters through to couples.
There aren’t any tables or seats. Yet, there are different spots nearby the bridge, and closer to the river. Some people brought picnic blankets, even fold up chairs, and food to chill out.
So, take your pick of where to enjoy the greenery, water and sunshine.
Clock Tower (Sahat Kula)
When you’re wandering through the old town area of Podgorica… one of the landmarks you’re likely to see is the clock tower. It sure does stand out amongst the shops and homes that surround it.
For us though… it didn’t look like a breathtaking clock tower compared to others we’d seen. Yet, an interesting fact is that the clock tower was still intact, after the World War II bombing of Podgorica… and it’s one of the few Ottoman landmarks that did survive.
So, from an historical perspective… it is a remarkable part of Podgorica’s past that still stands strong today.
Petrovića Park and Palace
This is a quaint park, which is where the Palace of King Nikola was built in the 1890’s. Nowadays, the Palace has been converted into a gallery… show casing works from local and international artists.
Oh, and get this…
While we were walking around the back of the Palace taking pics nearby the staircase… we were warned by a security guard that the US Embassy was next door. So, we had to be wary of not taking pictures of the Embassy! Not sure if anyone else had this warning too?
Need To Eat And Drink?
Here Are Some Places to Visit in Podgorica to Tantalize Your Tastebuds…
Hard Rock Café
OK, you might be thinking… why would we want to visit a Hard Rock Café in Montenegro? Surely, we’d want to try the local cuisine rather than a “burger joint?!”
Well, first of all we’d been having cravings for a while for a delicious big burger.
And, when we discovered that Podgorica has the only Hard Rock Café in the Balkans region… we had to take up the opportunity. Because who knew when we could visit another Hard Rock Café again?
And boy, were the burgers delicious and what we needed to satisfy our cravings… especially for a Hard Rock Café burger.
There are many places to have an alcoholic drink or two or more in Podgorica. And, a popular area is in Downtown Podgorica. When we were there, we found it to fairly quiet during the day… yet, at night is when to go for a lively atmosphere.
If beer is your drink of choice, especially craft beer… then we recommend you check out PG akademija piva (PG Beer Academy). They have a decent range and selection of craft beers. From lagers, to weissbier to pale ales… there’s sure to be something to please your tastebuds!
And, if you can’t choose, then grab yourself a tasting paddle of beers. Cheers!
If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with our travel blogs around the Balkans… then you’ll know what food is a MUST. Yep, that’s right, bureks!
There are many bakeries and buregdžinicas to try the local Podgorican bureks. And, a popular one behind the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection is… Pekara Zora.
This place usually has a line of people waiting, so you better be patient! For us the bureks were fine, and they were huge. Yet for us, they were a bit too “doughy.” Worth a try, though.
Now, for a cute little buregdžinica, check out BLOK Burek.
When we got there, we had to wait to get a champignon burek. Sounds gourmet, right? We were happy to wait, as we knew it’d be fresh and piping hot. And, as we sat on the stools outside the shop, we could watch the world go by.
Then, when our bureks were ready, they were preseneted on a wooden board.
So, there you have 13 things to do in Podgorica and places to visit.
Yes, Podgorica is a small capital city compared to other places in the Balkans. Yet, one of the benefits is that it’s easy to walk around to tourist sites, parks, eateries, bars and more. And, because of this you could spend a couple, or few leisurely days in Podgorica.
So, having been in Podgorica Montenegro for about 1 week, it wasn’t the worst capital city we’ve been to. Even so, for us Podgorica wasn’t the prettiest or action-packed capital city. And, we thought it’d be boring if we were to spend more time here.
Yet, why not check out what Podgorica city has to offer for yourself. Everyone’s interests when exploring new places differs. So, you may end up loving Podgorica!
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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.
When it comes to traveling… don’t you love trying the different food and drinks on offer?
Now, if you haven’t seen previous blogs and tips about food in Albania… as well as some interesting experiences on our food adventures in Tirana, check them out.
So, not only is trying new food a HUGE part of our travels, so is drinking!
We love our coffee, beers and wine. Yet, on our travels through the Balkan countries… we discovered some different drinks, brands and flavors.
So, in this travel blog post, we share some of the drinks we tasted in Albania. Plus, we highlight some bars in Tirana to enjoy some Albanian drinks.
Let’s start with the non-alcoholic beverages first…
Non-Alcoholic Albanian Drinks
The Albanian Coffee Culture
Once we arrived in Tirana, which was our first destination in Albania… we noticed that there were lots of cafes. And, we discovered that when we saw the word, “bar” in front of a shop… that didn’t always mean an alcoholic drinking bar. In many instances they were coffee bars.
At some of them they served alcohol, but the main seller was coffee. So, there’s definitely a strong coffee culture in Albania. And, from morning until night there were plenty of locals sipping on coffee. How do they ever get to sleep drinking coffee at night?!
And, even though we expected the cafes to be quieter with many people at work… the cafes consistently had people in them. We were left wondering… does anyone work in Albania? LOL!
Yet, not only was going out for coffee a social thing… it was also for people to get together to discuss business.
So, it felt like every few shops we passed… coffee filled the air as we wandered the streets, especially in Tirana. Lucky for us, we love coffee and the aroma of fresh coffee beans!
And, depending on where we went, the price of say an espresso would be about 70 Lek (about USD $0.65 / 58 Euro cents). Now, that’s incredibly cheap!
Caj Mali Mountain Tea
While we do love coffee, sometimes we like to have tea for a change. And, in Albania we discovered that there’s a tea variety by the name of, caj mali… and is also known as Sideritis Raeseri.
This tea includes ingredients from the Sideritis syriaca plant in the mountains. So, that’s why they also call it mountain tea. This pale yellow-colored tea has a pleasant, fragrant floral note.
Plus, this caffeine free Albanian drink is said to have beneficial medicinal properties. So, it may go down nicely, after enjoying the nightlife in Tirana… if hair of the dog isn’t an option!
Have a Good Morning with Ayran
Ayran is a healthy yogurt drink that is commonly had in the morning.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of yogurt. Yet, this is the ONLY yogurt drink that I enjoy. Thanks to the Balkans for producing such a flavorsome yogurt drink!
You may be thinking that it’s like any other yogurt drink, but NO! Ayran is thick, salty and savory. And, even though it’s often had at the start of the day… as far as we’re concerned, it’s great to have any time of day or night.
And, what’s commonly had with Ayran in the morning is a tasty byrek. Two savory delights to begin the morning, equals a happy and great start to the day!
Alcoholic Albanian Drinks
After about 5 hours on the road from Skopje to Tirana… it was time to hit the streets and get our first alcoholic Albanian drink.
And, we didn’t know where to go so we just wandered around. Yet, we were both in agreeance that our first drink would be an Albanian beer.
When we found a bar in Tirana… we had to ask the barman for help about what beer to have, as we had no idea. So, one of the first local beers we tried was the Tirana beer. And, Birra Tirana is the biggest beer producer and the largest selling beer in the Albania.
Yet, there are many other local mainstream beers including… Korca beer, Kuqalashe, Stela, Kaon and Elbar.
Plus, there’s also local craft beers and microbreweries. And, I discovered at one of the many restaurants in Tirana by the name of, Spaghetti Western… that they were serving a microbrewery beer called, Puka.
It was the closest place near our accommodation in Blloku, who I knew serving Birra Puka!
Definitely give this beer a try, as it’s different to the others we mentioned earlier. We had it via the tap, and it came out an amber-type color, slightly cloudy. For us, it could’ve been colder, but still it tasted good and we had more than one!
Now, as we’ve found everywhere… having beer in a can, then a bottle and via tap can produce different flavors. For example, Paul didn’t like the flavor of the Korca beer in a can. Yet, he was happy to drink it when he could get from a bottle.
So, give the beers at least a couple of goes before deciding if you like them or not.
Wine in Albania
It was surprising for us to discover that Albania produces some decent wines. And, even more surprising is… wine production here is said to have started thousands of years ago!
When we were in the coastal town of Vlore… we wanted to admire the view and enjoy the sunshine with some bevvies of course.
So, Paul had a hankering for a German beer for a change from the Albanian beers. Yet, after I saw the drinks menu with a local Albanian wine of chardonnay… it had me at “hello!”
And boy, was it tasty and robust for a white wine. It was a more savoury type chardonnay, rather than sweet. Yet, I’m so annoyed I can’t remember the brand of it! Too many wines and overheating in the sun maybe!
Plus, there are many red Albanian wines too… with varieties including Debine, Kallmet, Vranac and Serine.
It definitely was a pleasant surprise for us. Plus, it was great to have some decent red wines… especially with our traditional Albanian food!
Now, you can’t go to Albania and not try the Albanian Raki.
Although Paul and I aren’t huge spirit drinkers, you almost can’t escape tasting the raki. And, to our surprise, several of the bars we went to gave us complimentary raki.
So, we found out from locals that this was common… as the Albanians are very proud of their raki. And, it’s also a good way to entice customers to keep coming back!
There are many different flavors of raki to try, from plum, cinnamon, nut and even herbal. Yet, make sure you span them out over time… as the alcohol percentage is around a whopping 40-50%.
Otherwise if you go hard, forget about sightseeing… as you’ll be waking up the next day like a bear with a sore head!
It’s acceptable to drink raki in the morning, but sipping it! Yet, for us, we’d usually have the Albanian raki at night time.
Nightlife in Tirana
It was surprising to hear that Tirana has a lively nightlife with lots of bars and clubs. Yet, when we were in Tirana, there was a curfew around 8pm.
Yet, that didn’t stop us from heading out and experiencing the nightlife as best we could. And, on several occasions we went bar hopping.
And, prices are reasonable just about everywhere in Tirana to quench your thirst. From our experience, a 330ml beer out cost 250 Lek (about USD $2.30 / 2.05 Euros).
The difficulty is choosing which bars to try! So, here are some bars in Tirana you can put on your list to check out…
For a chic and cool bar in the Blloku area, head on over to Tiki Bar. You can find it on Rruga Perlat Rexhepi. This is one of the top places where the trendy Albanians hang out… for cocktails and beers with funky background music.
Komiteti is like a bar / café / museum. This is an interesting place, which has areas … full of Albanian memorabilia, relics, books, posters and more. Then, once you go past this area… there’s another huge section which is very hip and relaxing.
Komiteti is actually a pretty big place… with different areas depending on what type of atmosphere you want.
So, definitely check out this Tirana bar.
OK, so Restorant Tymi is not entirely a bar. Yet, it’s a great place to try some different Albanian beers. Then, once inside there’s lots of beer paraphernalia… with big tv screens to watch live sports, if that takes your fancy.
And, if you get the munchies, it serves some decent food, mainly meat based.
You can find Restorant Tymi on Kavaja Street. Also, there’s a place down the road by the name of, Tymi King Pils. Yes, they are completely different… so don’t get them mixed up!
We’ve saved our most favorite bar in Tirana for the end. And, this bar is Illyrian Saloon.
The Illyrian Saloon has outside and inside seating. And, although it’s not a huge place compared to other bars… they make up for it with excellent service and atmosphere.
At this cool little bar, the owners also work there too. So, they’re real proud of their bar and take the effort to look after customers.
Their English is great too, so we were able to have some interesting and informative conversations… when they weren’t busy serving customers!
It’s a very chilled place, yet they often have live bands too… to make the atmosphere even more fun and happy. The drink prices aren’t overpriced and they have a decent selection for everyone.
Plus, if you get peckish they serve some small bites too to keep your belly full.
The Illyrian Saloon became our “local” when we were staying at our accommodation in Blloku.
And, once you go there, you’ll understand why.
So there you have it… an insight into some of the Albanian drinks you can sample. Plus, many of you will be visiting Tirana. So, there are some places you can check out… to chill out or party on with the locals’ nightlife in Tirana!