Non-Touristy Things To Do In Podgorica, Montenegro

Discover the hidden gems of Podgorica, Montenegro with our guide to non-touristy things to do.
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Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, is not a popular tourist destination. However, it has plenty to offer visitors looking for an authentic Montenegrin experience. From exploring the local cuisine to immersing yourself in the arts and culture scene, there are many non-touristy things to do in Podgorica. Here are our top picks:

Explore the Local Cuisine

Foodies will love discovering the traditional Montenegrin dishes that can be found in Podgorica. There are several different options for exploring the city’s unique culinary scene.

Montenegro’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its location and history. The country’s proximity to the Adriatic Sea means seafood is a staple in many dishes. In addition, Montenegro has been influenced by neighboring countries like Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia, resulting in a diverse culinary landscape.

Visit Traditional Montenegrin Restaurants

One great way to try local cuisine is by visiting traditional Montenegrin restaurants. These restaurants serve up delicious hearty meals with fresh ingredients sourced from the surrounding mountains. Try specialties like lamb or beef cooked over an open flame, stuffed peppers, or the local cheese known as kajmak.

One popular restaurant is Konoba Stara Kuća, located in the historic district of Stara Varoš. This cozy restaurant serves up traditional Montenegrin dishes like “kastradina,” a type of smoked and dried lamb, and “njeguški pršut,” a type of cured ham. The restaurant also has a wide selection of local wines to pair with your meal.

Discover Local Street Food

For a more casual dining experience, head to the streets of Podgorica to discover the city’s street food scene. You’ll find vendors selling grilled meats and vegetables, freshly baked bread, and sweet treats like baklava. Don’t miss the chance to try traditional fast food called “ćevapi,” which consists of grilled minced meat served in a bread roll with onions and kajmak.

One popular street food vendor is “Buregdžinica Kod Čoleta,” which serves up delicious “burek,” a type of savory pastry filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. The pastry is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making it the perfect snack to enjoy while exploring the city.

Attend a Cooking Class

If you’re interested in learning how to cook Montenegrin cuisine yourself, consider attending a cooking class. Many local chefs offer classes where you can learn to make traditional dishes from scratch. This is a great way to take the flavors of Montenegro back home with you.

One cooking class to consider is offered by the restaurant “Pod Volat,” located in the city center. The class starts with a trip to the local market to buy fresh ingredients, followed by a hands-on cooking experience where you’ll learn to make dishes like “pastrva na žaru,” a type of grilled trout, and “skakavica,” a type of lamb stew.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts and Culture Scene

While in Podgorica, be sure to check out the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene. From contemporary art galleries to live performances and street art, there’s something for everyone. Podgorica is a city that has a rich and unique culture that is worth exploring.

Visit Contemporary Art Galleries

Podgorica has a thriving contemporary art scene, and there are several galleries worth visiting. The National Gallery of Montenegro is a great place to start. It features a collection of Montenegrin art from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as works by contemporary artists. The Bokino Gallery is another must-visit. It showcases works by both established and up-and-coming artists from Montenegro and the wider Balkan region. The Podgorica City Gallery is also worth checking out, as it hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year.

Attend a Live Performance at the Cultural Center

The Cultural Center of Podgorica is a hub for the city’s arts and culture scene. It regularly hosts concerts, plays, and dance performances, as well as film screenings and exhibitions. Check their schedule to see what’s going on during your visit. You might be surprised to find that Montenegrin contemporary arts and music scenes are quite lively, regardless of the city’s small size. Some of the most popular events include the Podgorica Jazz Festival, which takes place every summer, and the International Festival of Alternative and New Theatre, which brings together artists from all over the world.

Explore the City’s Street Art

While wandering the streets of Podgorica, keep an eye out for the city’s impressive street art scene. Many buildings, bridges, and underpasses have been turned into colorful, eye-catching murals by local artists. This is an opportunity to understand the younger generations’ liberal attitudes expressed through street art. Some of the most famous street art pieces in Podgorica include the murals on the underpass near the Millennium Bridge, which depict scenes from Montenegrin history and culture.

If you’re interested in learning more about Podgorica’s arts and culture scene, consider taking a guided tour. There are several companies that offer walking tours of the city’s galleries, museums, and street art, as well as food and wine tours that highlight the best of Montenegrin cuisine. You can also check out the city’s tourist information center, which has brochures and maps of all the cultural attractions in the area.

Overall, Podgorica is a city that has a lot to offer when it comes to arts and culture. Whether you’re a seasoned art lover or just looking for something new and different to explore, you’re sure to find something that interests you here.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Despite being a city, Podgorica is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. There are many opportunities to get outside and explore the area’s incredible scenery.

Hike the Surrounding Mountains

The mountains that surround Podgorica offer some of the best hiking trails in the region. Take a day trip to the nearby Durmitor National Park to hike through alpine scenery or stick closer around and hike the Rijeka Crnojevića trail, which lies along the stunning Morace river.

The Durmitor National Park is a true natural wonder. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts 18 glacial lakes, the highest peak in Montenegro, and a canyon that’s deeper than the Grand Canyon. Hiking through the park is a must-do activity for any nature lover.

The Rijeka Crnojevića trail is a popular hiking destination for both locals and tourists. The trail is relatively easy and takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the area. Along the way, you’ll pass by old stone bridges, ancient monasteries, and traditional Montenegrin houses.

Stroll Along the Moraca River

The Moraca River has long been considered the heart of Podgorica. Taking a stroll along the riverbank is a great way to see the city from a different perspective, with stunning views of both the old and modern parts of the city. Don’t miss the Millennium Bridge, which spans the river and is an architectural masterpiece of the city.

The Millennium Bridge is a symbol of Podgorica’s transformation from a small town to a modern city. The bridge’s unique design, with its cables that resemble strings of a harp, has won numerous architectural awards. Walking across the bridge is an unforgettable experience, especially at night when it’s illuminated with colorful lights.

Relax in Local Parks and Gardens

Podgorica is known for its many green spaces. Take a break from the city’s bustling streets and visit one of its parks or gardens. The Central Park of Podgorica is the most common choice as it’s situated right in the city center. Visitors can also explore the University of Donja Gorica’s botanical gardens, which has lush foliage and a variety of local flora.

The Central Park of Podgorica is a popular spot for locals to relax and enjoy the outdoors. The park has numerous walking paths, benches, and fountains. It’s also home to a small lake where visitors can rent paddle boats and enjoy the scenery from the water.

The University of Donja Gorica’s botanical gardens are a hidden gem in Podgorica. The gardens cover over 17 hectares and have over 500 plant species. Visitors can take a guided tour of the gardens and learn about the different plants and their uses in traditional medicine.

Discover Podgorica’s History

Podgorica has a rich history that’s often overlooked by tourists. Take the time to explore the city’s lesser-known historical sites to learn more about Montenegro’s past.

Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, has a long and eventful history. It was founded in the Roman era, and throughout the centuries, it has been under the rule of various empires, including the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Visit Lesser-Known Historical Sites

While there are a few historical sites commonly visited by tourists, many other places are worth discovering too. One such place is the abandoned fortress known as Ribnica, which offers impressive views of the city. The fortress dates back to the 15th century and was once an important defensive structure for the city. Another lesser-known spot is the ancient ruins of Doclea, established in the 3rd century. The ruins are located just a few kilometers from the city center and provide a glimpse into the city’s ancient past.

Another place worth visiting is the Clock Tower, located in the city center. The tower was built in the 17th century and has been an important landmark for the city ever since.

Explore the Old Town

The Stara Varoš (Old Town) of Podgorica is where the city’s history comes alive. The area’s ancient buildings are a mix of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and contemporary architecture, telling the story of the city’s past visually. Spend the afternoon wandering its narrow alleys to feel Podgorica’s authentic atmosphere. The Old Town is also home to several museums, art galleries, and restaurants, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.

One of the most impressive buildings in the Old Town is the Sahat Kula, or Clock Tower, which was built in the 18th century. The tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and is a great place to take in the views of the surrounding area.

Learn about Montenegrin History at the City Museum

The Museum of the City of Podgorica is dedicated to preserving the area’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can learn about the city’s history, including its emergence as the capital city of Montenegro. The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, including ceramics, coins, and textiles. One of the most interesting exhibits is the one dedicated to the city’s role in World War II, which includes photographs, documents, and personal items from the period.

Another museum worth visiting is the Natural History Museum, which showcases the area’s flora and fauna. The museum has a collection of over 150,000 specimens, including insects, birds, and mammals. Visitors can also learn about the geology of the region and the impact of human activity on the environment.

Experience the Local Nightlife

Podgorica’s nightlife scene is relatively small but lively. If you’re interested in seeing how locals socialize after the sun goes down, make sure to fit in some of these “must-do” activities into your itinerary.

Hang Out at Trendy Bars and Clubs

Podgorica is home to a growing number of trendy bars and clubs. Head to the riverside district to discover some of the city’s most exciting nightspots. Try the industrial-style Mint bar, the ever-changing Library bar, or the premium nightclub called Maximus.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, check out the Hemingway Bar. This cozy establishment offers a wide range of cocktails and a laid-back vibe. The outdoor seating area is perfect for people-watching and enjoying the warm summer nights.

For a taste of the local scene, head to the Old Town and visit the Pub Akademija. This pub is a popular hangout spot for university students and offers a great selection of local beers and snacks.

Attend a Live Music Show

Podgorica has several great venues for live music shows, mostly held by smaller indie bands. To keep up with the current events, check out the lineup at the Palma Club or Soul II Soul Cafè, which often hosts live music every weekend.

If you’re a fan of jazz music, don’t miss out on the Montenegro Jazz Festival. This annual event brings together some of the best jazz musicians from around the world and takes place in various venues throughout the city.

Try Montenegrin Craft Beers

Moving beyond the commonly consumed lager beers, the country is making a craft beer revival. Some breweries offer exciting twists on traditional beers, while others bring new flavors into the mix. Try the Podgoricki Pivovar brewing, starting with the classic lager before moving onto some of their more adventurous flavors.

If you’re a fan of beer and want to learn more about the brewing process, take a tour of the Ćiribu Ćiriba brewery. This family-owned brewery offers a behind-the-scenes look at how their beer is made, and you’ll get to sample some of their delicious brews.

For a unique drinking experience, head to the Black Sheep Pub. This pub offers a wide range of beers, including some rare and hard-to-find varieties. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make it a great spot to spend a relaxing evening.

Participate in Unique Local Events

Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, is a bustling hub of culture and tradition. The city is home to several unique local events that are worth participating in. These events provide an informal but great way to learn about local traditions and culture.

Attend a Traditional Montenegrin Festival

Montenegro is a country that is rich in cultural heritage and traditions. Throughout the year, Podgorica hosts a range of festivals celebrating different aspects of Montenegrin culture. These festivals offer a unique opportunity to see locals celebrating their traditions and customs. One such festival is the Pine Festival, which takes place in August. The festival celebrates the pine tree, which is a symbol of Montenegro’s rugged and mountainous landscape. Visitors can enjoy traditional music, dance, and food at the festival.

Another popular festival in Podgorica is the Hunter’s Ball, which takes place in October. The festival celebrates the hunting traditions of Montenegro and is a great opportunity to see locals dressed up in traditional hunting attire. Visitors can enjoy local food and drink, as well as traditional music and dance.

Join a Local Sports Event

Sports are a big part of Montenegrin culture, with football and water polo being the most popular. If you’re a sports fan, attending a match at the Morača Sports Center is a must. The center is home to several sports teams, including the Montenegrin national basketball team. The atmosphere at the center is electric, with fans cheering on their teams with passion and excitement.

Experience a Cultural Workshop or Lecture

If you’re interested in learning more about Montenegrin culture and traditions, joining cultural workshops or lectures is an excellent way to engage with locals and learn more about their way of life. Montenegro is home to several artists and cultural icons who are passionate about sharing their creative process or passion. You can participate in workshops on traditional crafts such as embroidery or pottery, or attend lectures on Montenegrin literature or history.

Overall, participating in local events in Podgorica is a great way to immerse yourself in Montenegrin culture and traditions. Whether you attend a festival, a sports event, or a cultural workshop, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience.

Tips for a More Authentic Experience in Podgorica

If you want to get the most out of your visit to Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro, keep the following tips in mind:

Learn a Few Basic Phrases in Montenegrin

Although many Montenegrins speak English, knowing a few basic phrases in Montenegrin can go a long way towards building rapport and making yourself understood in public places. The locals always appreciate the effort.

Montenegrin is a Slavic language, and it shares many similarities with Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian. Some basic phrases that you can learn include:

  • Zdravo – Hello
  • Hvala – Thank you
  • Molim – Please
  • Do viđenja – Goodbye

Learning these phrases will not only help you communicate with locals, but it will also show that you respect their culture and are interested in learning more about it.

Interact with Locals

The best way to learn about a culture is to interact with its people. Don’t be shy about starting up conversations with locals when you’re out and about. For most Montenegrins, hospitality is a vital part of social culture, so don’t be surprised if locals offer you some tea or snacks.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider visiting some of the local markets. The open-air markets in Podgorica are bustling with activity, and you can find everything from fresh produce to handmade crafts. Strike up a conversation with a vendor, and you might learn something new about the city.

Use Public Transportation

While in Podgorica, consider using public transportation like buses or trams. This way, you’ll get a feel for how locals move around the city. It’s also a more cost-effective option for traveling short distances, and you might come across unique sights that you wouldn’t have experienced if you had used taxis or Uber.

One of the most popular forms of public transportation in Podgorica is the blue-and-white minibus called a “furgon.” These minibusses run on specific routes and are often faster than the regular buses. However, they can be a bit crowded, so be prepared to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a bike and explore the city on two wheels. Podgorica has several bike rental shops, and there are plenty of bike lanes throughout the city.

Overall, using public transportation is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and see the city from a different perspective.

The Bottom Line

Podgorica may not be as well-known as some of its neighboring cities, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. Nestled in the heart of Montenegro, Podgorica is a city rich in history and culture, and there are plenty of non-touristy things to do here that will give you a true taste of local life.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love exploring Podgorica’s culinary scene. The city is known for its delicious Mediterranean cuisine, and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes where you can sample local delicacies like cevapi, a type of grilled sausage, or burek, a savory pastry filled with meat or cheese.

For those interested in the arts, Podgorica has a thriving cultural scene. The Montenegrin National Theatre is a must-visit for theater lovers, and there are also several galleries and museums showcasing the works of local artists.

If you’re looking to get in touch with nature, Podgorica won’t disappoint. The city is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the Skadar Lake National Park, where you can go hiking, kayaking, or bird-watching.

And if you’re a night owl, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained in Podgorica after dark. The city has a vibrant nightlife scene, with plenty of bars and clubs where you can dance the night away.

So if you’re looking for a unique travel experience that’s off the beaten path, consider adding Podgorica to your itinerary. With its rich culture, delicious food, and beautiful natural surroundings, it’s a destination that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

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