The summer is officially over. According to the calendar, today is the first day of autumn. So although the thermometer hasn’t started dipping much yet, you’re finally beginning to consider fall travel plans. You’re still looking for brilliantly colored leaves in a countryside setting. But this year, you’re thinking beyond New England, Michigan, and Colorado. How about Montenegro?
Montenegro is already gaining a reputation for its gorgeous beaches along the Adriatic Sea, though you haven’t looked much farther than the coast. But the interior is filled with quiet national parks, rugged mountains, and undiscovered ski slopes. You can go whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and fly fishing this time of year. Trout, ready to bite your fly-fishing line, call glacial lakes home. Hillside monasteries make perfect pit stops during day trips. While a chic resort offers a spa where you can relax at the end of each day.
This little mountain paradise is in Kolašin, just 45 miles north of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. The small town was established as a Turkish fortress in the mid-17th century. It changed hands nearly 25 times and became known as a war capital in the centuries that followed. Kolašin is peaceful now though. Low buildings surround two central squares, water fountains, and monuments in the center of town. The Morača Monastery is one of the best-known medieval monuments in the country. Plus Biogradska Gora National Park is home to one of Europe’s last-remaining rainforests.
If Kolašin easily piques your interest, then the Bianca Resort & Spa will solidify your decision. In an area known for its traditional chalets, the hotel’s contemporary building is striking. Though still wooden, its surprising shape and hexagonal windows surprise you. In the lobby, a stone floor and trees growing through the building are mixed with an open fireplace and modern Montenegrin art. Cozy rooms are minimal with sleek bathrooms. One restaurant, Chives, offers aged brandies and elegant Mediterranean food. The other, Bianca, has local wines and greenhouse-style windows. While the promised spa has a beamed ceiling, white-cushioned loungers, and a huge indoor pool.
So where are you going to start? Hiking around European beeches and sycamore maples to find a glacial lake in the national park? Rafting down the Tara river? Eating polenta porridge or roasted lamb in a little mountainside chalet? Or booking a wild-lavender peel at the spa? It doesn’t matter where you begin, since they all have gorgeous views of the starting-to-turn leaves.