THE hidden gem of Europe - Montenegro - finally has its own dedicated UK Tour operator as well as new direct flights from England.

Explore Montenegro, which specialises in Montenegrin villas and apartments, launched ahead of the 2012 summer season and is hoping to entice plenty of Brits to the small but beautiful country on the Adriatic Sea. Montenegro has long been lauded by travellers for its combination of picturesque, historical cities and natural beauty derived from its pine forests, lakes and dramatic coastline but tourism suffered due to the lack of direct routes into the country.

Formerly accessed via road following a flight to Croatia’s Dubrovnik airport, Explore Montenegro will offer return flights directly into the country with Montenegro Airlines. The airline will be starting a direct route to the coastal airport of Tivat from London Gatwick on Wednesdays and Sundays starting 25 March 2012.

Doug Mathieson, programme director for Explore Montenegro, said: "It is a great destination for British holidaymakers keen to experience a country that has not been as heavily developed as other Mediterranean regions.”

“There will be a new direct flight into Tivat airport from London Gatwick, which is within a 30 minute drive of the majority of our properties. It means those looking for a new weekend break destination can now consider Montenegro.”

Explore Montenegro offers a handpicked selection of over 40 holiday villas and apartments within its 2012 portfolio, catering for 2–14 guests. Properties include lakeside Venetian palaces, traditional stone farmhouses and mountainside apartments. The locations incorporate some of Montenegro’s best backdrops, including the ancient city of Kotor, a UNESCO heritage site situated on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world, the peninsular of Lustica, a food lover’s haven with renowned local produce and Budva, one of the Adriatic’s oldest cities.

The ATOL-bonded operator has also placed ease of booking at the heart of its offer, looking to make the holiday process as seamless as possible for the customer.

Mr Mathieson added: “We have taken the decision to offer car hire as standard within the rental packages, with the number of cars correlating with the size of the property. "We will also provide a welcome pack of essentials and local food specialities on arrival. "To ensure our customers feel confident during their stay, our local representatives will be on hand to help with suggestions for activities, restaurants and some of the country’s hidden gems.”

To celebrate its launch, Explore Montenegro has an early booking offer for the 2012 summer season, 10% off holidays booked before the end of January 2012. The discount applies to all holiday costs except flights, which are being held at the price of £189 return London Gatwick – Tivat for adults if booked with Explore Montenegro by the end of January 2012.

For more information on how to book a holiday, visit or call 0207 118 1002.