It has been a day with a lot of walking, that is a fact. After waking up in Podgorica this morning we really looked forward to exploring the city. Hotel Aurel where we are staying is just a short walk from the center. Exploring Podgorica was going to be a bit more of a challenge than first expected. Where to start when there are no major sights?
What You Need to Know About Podgorica
Podgorica is a quite small capital with a population of only 187.000. The city does, however, have a long history dating back to pre-roman times. During its history, it has been known by many names. Except for Podgorica, it has had names such as Birziminium, Ribnica, and Titograd.
For a tourist, it is the time of the second world war that is of interest. The war saw the city bombed to the ground and little was spared. This has resulted in few historical sights still standing. After the war, the city was renamed Titograd and it became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro – a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It was first in 1992 that the name Podgorica was reinstated and the city became the capital of an independent Montenegro in 2006.
Us Exploring Podgorica
We do have some attraction towards cities such as Podgorica. These typical old socialist cities in what was formerly known as Eastern Europe. We might be biased due to former experiences. Susann when first moving to Lublin and then both of us while living in Bratislava. Podgorica does have a strong resemblance with Bratislava in our opinion. Of course, with fewer historical sights.
Our day of exploring Podgorica started with a walk from Hotel Aurel where we are staying towards the center. The hotel is located in the neighborhood of Stari Aerodrom – the old airport. The city center is a short walk of around 15 minutes around the train station. There is, however, not much to see along the route if you are not like us and finding interest in the least interesting things. Like two shops next to each other, that could have been located in any Swedish city considering their names. “Kina Butik” and “Magnus MoTo”. Our apologies for not explaining further, but we assume that most Swedes would agree.
Once in the center, we really started exploring Podgorica. We started around the Trg Nezavisnosti – the Square of Independence. To be honest, it is quite a large square with little to see around it. There are some official buildings as well as a recently built monument. It does, however, give a quite interesting feeling when overlooking the children playing around its center. On the streets around the square, you will find a lot of the restaurants, bars, and cafes. It is probably this side of Podgorica that most people would enjoy exploring the most.
From the Square of Independence, we crossed the river Morača on the pedestrian bridge just next to the more impressive Most Milenijum, The city has several really cozy walkways along the river and you will eventually arrive at Sastavci. Sastavci is an old stone bridge at the confluence of the river Ribnica and the much larger Morača. The bridge leads across the Ribnica river and leads you to the stairs towards the old fortress in the area or Stara Varos – the old town.
Time for Lunch
At noon or so we were far from finishing exploring Podgorica. It was, however, lunchtime and we were hungry. Our hotel had recommended us the restaurant Pod Volat in the old part of Podgorica and it was here we stopped for lunch. Apparently, it seems like it is the place a lot of locals recommend for foreign visitors. We ordered some local kebabs and got a lot more food than expected. We were once more reminded of the feeling of eating so much that you barely are able to leave the restaurant. It was really delicious, that is for sure. But I do believe that Susann has had enough meat for this weekend.
The restaurant was located just next to one of the more iconic buildings in the city – the Sahat Kula. This is the old clock tower built in the 17th century. Don’t be fooled by its hight of 19 meters, it has something that still makes it impressive.
Some Time for Shopping
After lunch, we took a taxi to Delta City. This is one of the shopping malls in Podgorica and we did spend some time walking around in the shops. Some days are however not for shopping and we left Delta City only with a new t-shirt for me. From Delta City, we walked through a big part of Podgorica to another shopping mall – the Mall of Montenegro. We were actually in search of a pair of swim shorts for me but were once more unsuccessful. It just didn’t seem like it was the correct season. The shopping ended once more cut short and we were soon in a taxi back to our hotel.
Spa and Wellness
Once back at Hotel Aurel, we made sure to get a use of their wellness center. We booked times for some massage and waited for our time. The wellness center has a gym, a jacuzzi, a steam sauna and a normal Finnish sauna. Susann got in the jacuzzi almost at once and I was soon relaxing with a 30 minutes massage. Once I was done and relaxed Susann went for her turn and I went to sit in the sauna during the time. I guess that we couldn’t have been more relaxed when we left the center afterward.
Back to the Center for Dinner
We once more asked the reception for restaurant recommendations when it became time for dinner. We took a taxi to a restaurant called Porto. I will only say that its interior is one of the more interesting looking that I have seen. It is like eating in someone’s garden with plants and a fountain. Not to mention the live music. We will be getting back to the cost of visiting Podgorica in a later post, but this is a kind of restaurant that we would probably never visit in Stockholm. It was an interesting experience and our inexperience with nicer restaurants was on full show. Once more our portions were huge and at least I had troubles finishing at least half of what I was served.
Content with a day of exploring Podgorica, we are now back at the hotel and are trying to create a plan for tomorrow. We hope to find something interesting also for our last day here in Montenegro.