Ancient Podgorica had been fought over by competing empires for centuries, leaving a rich blend of Turkish, Austrian and Roman culture running through the contemporary Montenegrin city. After just a few days exploring this compact capital, you'll understand what makes this Balkan country tick. An animated café culture fuels the city's social life, while the surrounding landscape provides plenty of opportunities for horse riding, hiking or swimming.
Most hostels in Podgorica have kitchens and social areas, and some even have outdoor spaces where you can enjoy the sunshine. Look out for free Wi-Fi and free city maps, which are handy if it's your first time in the city. With Podgorica hostels you have a choice of airy dorms with wooden floors and brightly decorated rooms with handmade furniture. You can stay in the Old Town and still have a pool and garden to chill out in, or choose a Podgorica hostel with murals decorated by a local artist.
Podgorica is divided into three main areas. West of the Morača River is the place to find the designer shopping street of Bulevar Dzordza Vasingtona. North of the Ribnica River is Nova Varoš (downtown), which has a lively bar scene and independent shops. Meanwhile, Stara Varoš, south of the Ribnica River, is the remains of the Ottoman Old Town dominated by a grand clock tower. You can take a trip south of the city to Lake Skadar National Park for medieval monasteries and lakeside beaches.
Get acquainted with Montenegro's complex history in Stara Varoš. The 400-year-old neighbourhood is a maze of backstreets featuring two decorated mosques and the stone arch of the Adži-paša's bridge. To go even further back in time visit Duklja – the ruins of a Roman town, dating back to the 10th century. Podgorica has its share of art galleries too: the Centre of Contemporary Art houses international artists, while the Museum and Gallery of Podgorica has folk costumes and artefacts. Outside the city, you can cool off like the locals do at Cijevna's waterfalls.
When arriving into Podgorica Airport, you can catch a taxi or train to the centre (7 minutes) and if you're traveling on to other destinations in Central Europe you can take either the train or bus. The Autobuska stanica Podgorica (main bus station) and Željeznička stanica Podgorica (train station) are both on the edge of Stara Varoš. Most neighbourhoods in Podgorica are within walking distance of each other, however if you're heading out of the city on a day trip, taxis are an affordable option.