Sveti Stefan is a 1.46 hectare island near Budva in Montenegro. The small island in the Adriatic is connected to the mainland by a short dam and is now home to a luxurious hotel resort.
History of the island
Sveti Stefan got its name from the eponymous church of the medieval fishing village on the island, which is dedicated to Saint Stefan. The architecture is designed to offer residents protection from pirates for centuries. Due to its location, Sveti Stefan was an important trading center until the end of the 19th century and was owned by a local family clan. Then this idyll slowly began to deteriorate until 1960, when this gem was renovated and converted into an exclusive hotel island with a casino. For decades it was a popular meeting place for the rich and famous, nicknamed “Adriatic Monaco”.
Today’s Sveti Stefan
The narrow, cobbled streets as well as the facades and roofs of the houses from the 15th century have been preserved in the original architectural style. When strolling through the beautiful place, which also scores with many olive trees and flowering shrubs, you come across the heart of Sveti Stefan: the piazza, the former market square. However, only hotel guests are allowed access to the island today. The private operating company leased the area from the state of Montenegro in 2007, renovated the complex and opened a luxury holiday resort there. One of the two sandy beaches at the end of the dam is also reserved exclusively for hotel guests of the 5-star hotel.
If you only want to take a day trip to Sveti Stefan during your stay in the Budva region, you have a wonderful view of the island surrounded by the turquoise sea from the opposite mainland. It is a real feast for the eyes and an extremely popular photo opportunity.
Tito’s mountain railway
From Belgrade to the Mediterranean Sea to Bar
The railway line between Belgrade and Bar was completed as early as 1976 and opened by the then Yugoslav President Tito. To this day it is popularly referred to as “Tito’s Mountain Railway” and “Tito Express”.
On its 476-kilometer route, it crosses Serbia and Montenegro from Belgrade and ends at the idyllic Mediterranean port in Bar. The journey is with an electrified railway that has been modernized and equipped with dining cars and other services.
The eleven-hour trip is particularly attractive, as it crosses a variety of landscapes. The safe and comfortable railway conquers three mountain ranges of the Dinaric Mountains. The highest point of the journey is at 1,032 meters above sea level, to reach slopes and inclines of up to 25%. Believe it or not, 254 tunnels and more than 243 bridges are crossed on the demanding route. This makes the route one of the most difficult and demanding, but also one of the most beautiful in Europe thanks to its incredible views. The railway connection between the Serbian capital and the Adriatic coast is considered to be one of the largest railway projects of the 20th century and is rich in stories and sights. Both technology and nature lovers will get their money’s worth on the comfortable trip. The trip can be viewed as both a recreational trip and a study trip, depending on the interests of the traveler.
The journey leads from the hilly Sumadija region through the wide Kolubara valley. Behind Valjevo in the western Serbian mountains, it becomes a mountain railway again. At Priboj it reaches the valley of the river Lim, which is reminiscent of a ravine. Between Bijelo Polje and Podgorica the railway crosses a high karst zone. The end between Podgorica and Bar runs first through the plain and then reaches the coastal area with a pretty stretch of shore.
History and regional studies
It is worthwhile to study the history of the area before starting your journey. There are some signs and memorials of the civil war along the route. In addition to the peaceful country life and the original population with their agricultural activities, they seem almost surreal.
Untouched jungle and glacial lakes
Biogradska Gora is the country’s smallest national park. The most important features include the pristine jungle, mountain slopes and peaks over 2,000 meters above sea level. Both limestone and primary rock are characteristic of the Bjelasica massif. There are six glacial lakes, five of them at an altitude of 1,820 meters and an easily accessible flatland lake at the entrance of the park, the Biogradsko lake. Raging brooks and green pastures criss-cross the landscape of Biogradsko Gora. The park is known as a unique geomorphological region and as such is extremely attractive for scientific research and study trips. The national park is rich in cultural and historical heritage, there are sacred monuments and archaeological sites.
Unique flora and fauna
The Biogradska Gora National Park is home to a diverse and species-rich flora and fauna. According to current studies, around 2,000 different plant species have been registered, 20% of which are endemic to the Balkans. In addition to the well-known species of deer and wild animals, the park is home to around 150 different species of birds and over 380 species of insects. Due to its immense natural wealth and conservation, the Biogradska Gora National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sustainable mountain tourism has developed in the Bjelasica Mountains.