Montenegro is small but stunning country in the Balkans has recently become a hotspot for discerning travelers looking for natural beauty, historic wonders, and a unique blend of European cultures.
Why Visit Montenegro?
Imagine cruising along the Bay of Kotor, enveloped by towering limestone cliffs. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or a laid-back wanderer, Montenegro’s landscapes won’t disappoint. From the sandy beaches of Budva to the lush forests of Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro offers a diverse array of natural attractions.
Montenegro’s rich tapestry of history is evident in its ancient walled towns, Byzantine-era churches, and Venetian fortresses. Walk through time as you explore the cobblestone streets of Kotor, or take a guided tour of the Ostrog Monastery, built into a near-vertical cliff.
If you’re into water sports, the Adriatic Sea offers excellent opportunities for sailing, snorkeling, and diving. For those who prefer land-based adventures, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails in Durmitor National Park. And let’s not forget the rich culinary experiences and vibrant nightlife that await in cities like Podgorica and Budva.
Montenegrins are known for their warmth and hospitality. Expect to be greeted with a smile, maybe even a homemade rakija (a local brandy), as you make your way through local markets, guesthouses, and even monasteries.
Best Time to Visit Montenegro
Spring in Montenegro is a season of renewal, where wildflowers bloom and the weather is mild. It’s an excellent time for outdoor activities and for exploring the towns without the summer crowds.
This is peak tourist season, characterized by warm weather and a plethora of festivals. The beaches and major tourist sites can be crowded, but the vibrant atmosphere is hard to resist. If you’re planning to visit popular destinations like Budva or Kotor, it’s advisable to book accommodations in advance.
Autumn brings a serene atmosphere, fewer crowds, and the chance to see Montenegro’s landscapes transform into hues of orange and gold. It’s an ideal time for those who want to experience the country’s natural beauty in a more tranquil setting.
While not the most popular season for tourists, winter in Montenegro offers its own unique charm. The coastal areas remain relatively mild, while the northern regions are covered in snow, offering opportunities for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, especially in areas like Kolašin and Žabljak.
By understanding the unique characteristics of each season, you can plan a trip that aligns with your interests, whether they involve sun-soaked beaches, snow-capped mountains, or anything in between.
How to Get to Montenegro
Flying is the most convenient way to reach Montenegro for most international travelers. The country has two main international airports—Podgorica Airport and Tivat Airport. Podgorica serves as a hub for various European airlines, providing good connections to cities like London, Frankfurt, and Istanbul. Tivat Airport is closer to the coastal regions and gets seasonal flights from numerous European cities.
Train travel offers a more scenic but slower way to enter Montenegro. The Belgrade to Bar railway is particularly famous for its stunning views as it passes through mountains and over bridges. While the train system is not as fast or modern as those in Western Europe, it offers an unforgettable experience of the Balkan landscape.
Buses are a popular way to enter Montenegro from neighboring countries like Croatia, Serbia, and Albania. Many bus companies run daily services, making it easy and affordable to get into various Montenegrin cities. Podgorica and Budva have the most extensive bus connections.
If you enjoy the freedom of exploring at your own pace, renting a car is an excellent option. Montenegro has well-maintained roads, and driving allows you the freedom to explore lesser-known spots that are not easily accessible by public transport. Just be aware that some areas require a vignette (toll sticker), and it’s crucial to understand the local driving laws and regulations.
During the summer months, there are ferry services that connect the Italian port cities like Bari and Ancona to Bar in Montenegro. This option is particularly popular among tourists traveling along the Adriatic coast.
No matter how you choose to arrive, Montenegro welcomes you with a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness that makes any journey worthwhile.
Popular Destinations in Montenegro
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Kotor is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture and stunning natural setting. Nestled at the head of southern Europe’s deepest fjord, the town is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. You can wander through the Old Town’s maze-like streets or hike up to the fortress for panoramic views.
Famous for its vibrant nightlife and beautiful beaches, Budva is a must-visit for anyone looking for a lively coastal experience. The Old Town, a small peninsula full of historic churches and Venetian walls, offers a contrast to the bustling modern beach resorts.
Durmitor National Park
If outdoor adventures are more your style, Durmitor National Park provides an array of activities such as hiking, white-water rafting, and skiing in winter. The park is home to the Tara River Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe, as well as numerous glacial lakes known as the “Eyes of the Mountain.”
The capital city might not have the old-world charm of Kotor or the beaches of Budva, but it serves as a hub for travel within Montenegro and offers its own set of attractions. With its modern cafes, parks, and museums, Podgorica provides a different, more urban experience of Montenegrin life.
This small islet and its accompanying resort offer a luxurious getaway, complete with stunning views of the Adriatic. Once a fortified village dating back to the 15th century, Sveti Stefan is now a five-star hotel complex that offers unparalleled luxury.
One of the largest freshwater lakes in Europe, Lake Skadar is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. The lake lies on the border between Montenegro and Albania and is surrounded by dramatic mountains, offering plenty of opportunities for kayaking, bird watching, and hiking.
A port town with a blend of modernity and tradition, Bar is known for its olive groves and historical ruins, including Stari Bar—an ancient fortified town. The town is also the terminus for the scenic Bar to Belgrade railway.
These destinations showcase the diversity of Montenegro’s landscapes, from coastal towns to mountainous national parks, offering something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or someone who just wants to relax by the sea, Montenegro has a destination that will captivate you.
Montenegrin Cuisine: What to Eat
Given its location along the Adriatic Sea, it’s no surprise that Montenegro offers an abundance of seafood dishes. Grilled fish, squid, and various shellfish are commonly found in coastal towns like Kotor and Budva. Don’t miss the chance to try “black risotto,” a dish made with squid ink.
In the mountainous regions, meat takes center stage. Lamb and veal are particularly popular and are often slow-cooked in traditional ispod sača (under the bell) style. Njeguški Steak, a pork steak stuffed with local Njeguši cheese and prosciutto, is a must-try.
Cheese aficionados will be pleased to find a variety of local cheeses to sample. Njeguši cheese, made in the Njeguši region, is one of the most famous and is often served with prosciutto. Pljevaljski cheese, a strong-tasting crumbly cheese, is another local favorite.
Breads and Pastries
Bakery products like pogača (a type of bread) and various savory and sweet pastries are common accompaniments to Montenegrin meals. Burek, a flaky pastry filled with cheese, meat, or potatoes, is a popular snack or quick meal.
Montenegro is known for its strong spirits, particularly rakija, a fruit brandy commonly made from grapes or plums. For a non-alcoholic option, try Boza, a fermented beverage made from maize (corn) and wheat.
Craving something sweet? Try tufahije, a dessert made from apples stuffed with sugar and walnuts, or knedle, sweet dumplings filled with plums or cherries.
Montenegrin cuisine offers a rich tapestry of flavors and influences, reflecting the country’s diverse landscapes and cultural history. Whether you’re dining in a high-end resort or a family-owned konoba (tavern), you’re sure to find something that delights your palate.
From luxury resorts to budget-friendly hotels, Montenegro offers a wide range of options to suit every traveler’s needs. Major cities like Podgorica and tourist hotspots such as Budva and Kotor boast a variety of international hotel chains and boutique options. Amenities often include swimming pools, on-site restaurants, and wellness centers.
Guesthouses and B&Bs
For a more personalized experience, consider staying in a guesthouse or bed-and-breakfast. These accommodations often provide a cozy, home-like atmosphere and allow you to interact with local hosts. Many guesthouses also offer home-cooked meals, giving you an authentic taste of Montenegrin hospitality.
Younger travelers and those on a budget might prefer hostels, which are primarily found in bigger cities and popular tourist areas. Hostels offer basic amenities and are a great way to meet other travelers. Private rooms are usually available for those who want a bit more privacy.
Platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com offer a plethora of vacation rentals, from modern apartments in urban centers to rustic cottages in the countryside. These are ideal for families or groups who prefer the conveniences of home, such as a kitchen and private living spaces.
Camping and Eco-Lodges
For the nature enthusiasts, camping sites and eco-lodges provide a unique experience immersed in Montenegro’s scenic landscapes. These options are especially popular near natural attractions like Lake Skadar and Durmitor National Park.
If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, Montenegro has a growing number of high-end resorts, particularly along the Adriatic coast. These establishments offer premium amenities like private beaches, gourmet dining, and spa services.
For something a little different, agrotourism accommodations offer you the chance to stay on a working farm or vineyard. It’s a wonderful way to experience Montenegrin rural life and enjoy farm-to-table meals.
No matter your budget, travel style, or destination within Montenegro, you’ll find a wide range of accommodations to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.
Travel Tips and Safety
Visa requirements for Montenegro vary depending on your nationality. Citizens of many countries, including the EU member states, the United States, and Canada, do not require a visa for short stays up to 90 days. However, it’s essential to check the most up-to-date information from official sources as visa policies can change.
Currency and Payment
Montenegro uses the Euro (€) as its official currency, even though it is not a member of the European Union. ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops. However, it’s advisable to carry some cash, especially when visiting smaller towns or rural areas.
Euro current exchange rates
- 100 EUR = $108.87 or $1 = 0.92 Euro
- 100 EUR = 85.73 British Pounds
- 100 EUR = 163.29 Australian Dollar
- 100 EUR = 146.97 Canadian Dollar
- 100 EUR = 1,135.68 Swedish Krona
- 100 EUR = 432.70 Polish Zloty
- 100 EUR = 2,428.15 Czech Koruna
- 100 EUR = 140,874.02 South Korean Won
- 100 EUR = 769.92 Chinese Yuan
- 100 EUR = 15,984.43 Japanese Yen
Montenegro has a relatively robust healthcare system, but it’s recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical expenses. If you plan to hike or spend time in rural areas, make sure you’re updated on routine vaccinations, and consider tick-borne encephalitis and hepatitis vaccinations.
Local Customs and Etiquette
Montenegrins are generally warm and welcoming. Standard European customs apply—greet people with a handshake, maintain eye contact, and observe polite dining etiquette. Tipping is customary but not mandatory; a tip of around 10% is appreciated in restaurants.
Public transportation options are limited outside major cities. Buses are the primary form of public transport, but they may not always run on time. Renting a car gives you the most flexibility, but be cautious when driving on mountain roads and during winter conditions.
Montenegro is generally considered a safe country for travelers. Petty crimes like pickpocketing can occur in busy tourist areas, so exercise usual caution. Emergency services are reliable, and police presence is noticeable in larger towns and tourist destinations.
While Montenegrin is the official language, English is widely understood in tourist areas and by younger people. However, learning a few basic phrases in Montenegrin can go a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.
Wi-Fi is readily available in hotels, cafes, and many public spaces. SIM cards with data plans are inexpensive and can be purchased at the airport or local shops, offering good coverage across the country.
- Visit Montenegro – Official tourism website offering comprehensive information on destinations, activities, and accommodations.
- Lonely Planet – Montenegro – Renowned travel guide providing in-depth articles, tips, and itineraries for Montenegro.
- Skyscanner – A global travel search engine where you can compare and book cheap flights to Montenegro.
- Booking.com – Montenegro – A popular platform for booking hotels, guesthouses, and other types of accommodations in Montenegro.
- TripAdvisor – Montenegro – Offers traveler reviews and opinions on accommodations, attractions, and restaurants in Montenegro.
- Rome2rio – A useful tool for planning your journey to and within Montenegro, offering various transport options and costs.
- XE Currency Converter – A reliable website for checking current exchange rates for the Euro, which is used in Montenegro.
- CDC Travel Health Notices – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention page offering health advisories and recommendations for travelers to Montenegro.
- Montenegro Travel Forum – A community forum where you can ask specific questions and get answers from fellow travelers and locals.
- Rail Europe – Montenegro – Offers information on train travel within Montenegro, including the scenic Belgrade to Bar route.
Montenegro is a destination that offers a rich tapestry of experiences for every traveler. From the sun-kissed beaches of the Adriatic coast to the rugged beauty of its mountainous interior, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The country’s diverse landscapes are matched by its equally varied cultural heritage and culinary offerings. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking to unwind in a scenic setting, Montenegro provides an unforgettable journey.