Montenegro is a pretty easy country to travel in.

There is an extensive bus network to shuttle you to the farthest corners of the country, you can finally forego the mind-bending currency conversions because, hoorah, they use the Euro, and the countrymen are incredibly friendly welcoming you to guesthouse and hostel with a beaming smile and, more often than not, a tot of grandma’s homemade rakija.

Despite the lack of hardship involved in travelling through this part of Eastern Europe there were a few things we wished we had known that would have made our trip even better, plus a few little idiosyncrasies that made us smile, or cringe, along the way.

These are the things to know before you visit Montenegro.

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Petrovac
1. The scenery is incredible

Montenegro is basically a country of mountains and valleys which makes for some seriously spectacular scenery – some of the best we have seen in Europe.

When travelling long-term its easy to fall into a pattern where sure, things are beautiful, but often, it feels like you’ve seen it all before. A kind of impressive mountain, an underwhelming trickle of a waterfall or a sought of deep valley.

Then there are those rare ‘wow’ moments that define your entire trip. The moments that you can look back on at the end of an adventure and still hold dear. Montenegro gave us a few of these. It blew us away. Just driving along the winding countryside roads had us gasping and peering out the window in awe as every bend in the road brought about even more impressive landscapes.

Unlike most countries in Europe, Montenegro is all about the outdoors rather than the cities – with the exception of Kotor which should not be missed.

The Best Places To Visit In Montenegro | 8 Adventurous Things To Do In Montenegro | Hiking In Durmitor National Park
2. The drivers are insane

Between overtaking at speed on blind corners, driving in the middle of the road just for kicks and having overweight trucks hurtling along narrow mountain passes, driving in Montenegro can be a little (or a lot) hair raising. Despite the religious paraphernalia dangling from most rear view mirrors, it seems almost everyone with a car has a death wish.

After one particularly terrifying hitch-hiking experience where the tiny car we were getting a lift in was nearly mowed down by a truck while our driver raced uphill to overtake two other cars, we decided driving the ‘local way’ just wasn’t worth it.

If you are hiring a car know that locals have a slightly looser interpretation of the road rules than you may find in other parts of Europe.

Rijeka Crnojevića
3. Smoking is allowed everywhere

In most parts of the world smoking seems to be a dying trend, as much because of the health risks as because it has become so darn right inconvenient these days. You have to leave the cosy bar to stand out in the cold and rain or walk hundreds of metres to ensure you are not within breathing distance of a cafe, bus stop or school, and rightly so.

In Montenegro, however, there is a slightly different approach. Feel like a smoke while driving the bus with all the windows wound up? No worries. Serving customers at the supermarket checkout and just need that nicotine kick? Light on up.

Those smoke infused cafes with blackened ceilings and forever full ashtrays that we now associate with decades past are the norm in this part of the world. As a pair of non-smokers, being assaulted by wafts of smoke in almost every confined and unventilated space you pass through, be it for hours on a bus or while having a quiet dinner out, can be pretty unbearable.

Hiking around Crno Jezero (Black Lake)
4. You can camp almost anywhere

Alongside rivers, atop mountains, next to lakes and in country fields, camping is allowed almost anywhere in Montenegro.

If you want to get way off the beaten path and enjoy the wilderness on your own, pack a tent for your trip. There are freshwater springs in most places but be prepared for some chilly nights in the mountains.

Hiking in Durmitor National Park
5. Communication can be a challenge

Rijeka Crnojevića. Bare Kraljske. Trešnjevik. Žabljak.

Yeah… those places.

Even words that seemed deceptively simple had us stumbling over what seemed like far too many consonants and sounds that our tongues just didn’t know how to produce. Between the ever-changing tones of the Montenegrin dialect we were never quite sure if the places we asked for in our butchered accents were the same ones being repeated back to us.

Our attempts returned many raised eyebrows, knowing smiles and a giggle here and there, but, we managed to get by.

When travelling to foreign lands we never expect that people speak any form of English – if we can’t speak their language why should they speak ours – but, in Montenegro we found very few people who spoke any English at all. German, surprisingly, was far more common.

Rijeka Crnojevića
6. The train is cheaper (and better) than the bus

The train line runs from Bar on the coast, through Virpazar on Lake Skadar, up to Podgorica through Kolašin, further towards the border with Serbia and up to Belgrade. You can cross half the country – from the beach to the mountains or ski fields – in one day and for just a couple of Euros.

Aside the price we found the train the far more desirable mode of transport. For one you can lounge in a comfy, if a little old-school, red velvet chair without the driver filling the carriage with smoke while chatting loudly on his phone, fumbling for a bit of paper he dropped and trying to overtake three cars before reaching the fast approaching tunnel – something we experienced on almost every bus trip.

Although the train network isn’t as widespread as the bus and may not access everywhere you want to visit, if there is the option to take the train, take it!

Virpazar
7. Meat's on the menu

Meat platters, lamb stew, sausages, smoked ham, roast lamb, pork rashers… throw in a few more pieces of sheep, pig and chook and you might land somewhere in the vicinity of the typical Montenegrin fare.

If you are looking for a little bit of greenery, don’t worry, your pile of meat will almost certainly come with an obligatory sliver of capsicum and if you are really lucky a wedge of potato or two and maybe even some onion.

In all seriousness though, vegetarians may struggle just a little when it comes to dining out and will probably be entirely reliant on side salads and table bread.

The Fortress of Kotor
8. Don't miss the hiking

Montenegro has some excellent hiking spots with well marked trails and many a valley and mountain peak to climb.

Durmitor National Park is the premier hiking spot in summer although, come winter, the snowfall will make most trails impassable. Excellent hiking can also be found in Biogradska Gora and around Kolašin, through the Mrtvica Canyon and in Lovćen National Park.

Climbing Bobotov Kuk, The Most Beautiful Hike In Durmitor National Park | Montenegro
9. Hiring a car for even a few days is well worth it

We spent one month travelling Montenegro by bus, train and thumb but some of the best things we saw could only be reached by car. When trying to stick to our budget car rental was something we deliberated over for a while, but in the end, it was worth every penny.

There are some amazing back roads in the country that should not be missed. Our favourite was the country trip between Pluzine and Zabljak which was one of the highlights and can simply not be seen without your own wheels.

Even for a day or two, a car rental can mean you see the places you just can’t reach on public transport.

We went with MTL Car Rental who are a local company with offices in Podgorica near to the train and bus stations. They offer competitive rates and a clear insurance policy. Otherwise, compare the best car rental deals in Montenegro here.

Hiking in Durmitor National Park
10. It's incredibly diverse

Montenegro literally has it all, particularly if you prefer your travels with a side of outdoor adventure.

Chill out in quiet beachside villages with Turkish charm or dance the night away in tourist-heavy beach resorts. Climb the soaring peaks of Durmitor in summer and ski down its snowy passes come winter. Hike through the countryside of Biogradska Gora and hold on to your helmet on a rafting trip through Tara Canyon. Brace yourself for an icy dip in one of the many mountain lakes and get your blood boiling walking the fortress walls above Kotor.

Get ready for a wild ride!

Durmitor National Park
Start Planning Your Trip!

Accommodation  |  From cosy guesthouses in the mountains to lavish beachside hotels, there’s plenty of accommodation options in Montenegro to suit every style of traveller and budget.

Check accommodation rates and availability in Montenegro here!

Flights  |  Few airlines fly direct to Montenegro from other parts of Europe, but over summer your options greatly increase.

Search the best deals on flights with Skyscanner now, or download the Skyscanner App to have the best deals at your fingertips.

Car Rental  |  If you’re short on time, exploring Montenegro by car is a great way to cover a lot of ground quickly.

Compare car rental prices here.

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10 Things To Know Before You Visit Montenegro
10 Things To Know Before You Visit Montenegro

15 Comments

  1. I’m planning on visiting Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Albania in summer 2018. One thing i’m noticing while researching is the fact that people can safely hitchhike in these countries. Is hitchhiking really that safe? Either way, I’m really looking forward to visiting. From what I’ve learned through research and from actually traveling through other Eastern-European countries, the people are great and the landscape is beautiful.

    • Hey Sterling, sounds like you’re in for an amazing summer next year!
      We definitely found the people in Montenegro to be some of the friendliest we’ve come across and the scenery is absolutely stunning. As for hitchhiking, that really depends on you. The few times we did it the people were always very friendly and helpful. It was more that they all drive like maniacs that we found concerning. Either way, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

  2. Fantastic info on Montenegro. It’s a massive help and is getting me very excited for our trip this year. Thank you!

    We’ll be there for about 6 days in mid July. Would the mountains be very hot at that time? Do you think we should minimise our hiking and do more rafting to stay close to the water and therefore cool?

    • Thanks for your lovely feedback Andy!
      The climate will really depend on which mountains you visit. In July the mountains and hiking areas nearer the coast (Lovcen, Kolasin, Mrtvica) will be quite warm, yes, but Durmitor, which is far more temperamental, should actually be quite mild at that time of year – we even had an entire week of 11 deg C during our July trip. A day of rafting the Tara Canyon is always a good idea though 🙂

      • That’s great! Thank you so much for the reply. Can’t wait for the trip and will be using plenty of the great info on your site. Thanks again

  3. Thx for the informative article! So we will be for 2 days in Podgorica before heading to the coast… is it even worth? And if yes, What would be possible to do there? Well its kinda difficult to find infos about Podgorica in the web… thank you so much! Kindly, Matthias

    • Hey Matthias, It’s a little hard to comment on Podgorica as we spent all of about 30 minutes there picking up our rental car, but we’d say if you’re short on time in Montenegro, you’re probably better off spending it elsewhere. As Montenegro is quite small though, you could certainly use Podgorica as a base for the 2 days to explore other nearby areas such as Mrtvica Canyon, Lake Skadar, Lovcen or Kotor if these aren’t already your itinerary. Or if you’re keen to explore the city, you’ll find a few helpful suggestions of what to see by searching ‘things to do in Podgorica’ in Google. Happy travels 🙂

  4. These are awesome tips. I’m contemplating between Montenegro and Albania atm. I might be able to do them both but most likely will stick to either One. I’m a bit a bit worried about the food now tho if its mainly meat. Hence, have they got good supermarkets there?

    • Hey Anna, you really can’t go wrong with either! In the bigger towns you’ll definitely find well-stocked supermarkets, but if you’re worried about the food, Albania is much more veggie-friendly with more of a Mediterranean/Italian influence.

  5. I’m perplexed by entertained by the fact that point 2 and point 9 contradict each other; you state ‘[renting] a car isn’t worth it’ but later that ‘[renting] a car is well worth it’. Which is it? I am thinking of renting a car when I go there next week. Thanks!

    • Hi Chris, #2 is more about the drivers in Montenegro having a complete disregard for any road rules. Being in a car with a local driver is to this day one of the most unnerving experiences I’ve had while travelling. That said, while you can see a great deal of the country with public transport, there are some fantastic places that can only be reached by car. As long as you are prepared for the roads to be somewhat lawless, renting a car is a great way to see the country.

  6. Hello! Thanks for all the information. I will be travelling in Montenegro for 19 days by public transportations. I read that you spent a month travelling there, can you share your monthly plan, please? I’m having a hard time deciding where to begin, how many days to spend in each city. I’m interested in the coast but I also want to go to the national parks and other off path cities.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Catia! I can’t remember exactly how long was spent in each place but this was my exact route.
      I arrived overland from Bosnia so started in Herceg Novi – Kotor (+Perast) – Sveti Stefan – Petrovac – Virpazar – Podgorica (to pick up rental car) – Rijeka Crnojevica – Lipa Cave – Lustica Peninsula – Ostrog Monastery – Lovcen National Park – Podgorica (drop off car) – Kolasin (for Biogradska Gora and Mrtvica Canyon hike) – Zabljak (for Durmitor National Park) – Bastasi in Bosnia (for Tara River Rafting and hiking in Sutjeska National Park) – Zabljak (for Durmitor National Park via P14 road).
      As everything is quite close, you could definitely fit both the beach and mountains in one trip.
      Hope that helps!

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