Montenegro is the new traveling hotspot just two hours south of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Boasting amazing views, the freshest seafood, beaches for every kind of vacationer, and the kindest people you will meet. You should be planning a trip to Montenegro if you’re coming to the Balkans. It’s one of the hidden gems along the Adriatic coast. If you want a Dubrovnik-style vacation without the touristy hype, Montenegro is your destination. This small coastal city may be unknown to you, but it is a well-known vacation spot for Europeans… and for good reason. Check out what Montenegro has to offer:
What you need to know before you visit Montenegro:
Montenegro is a small country located on the Adriatic Sea, just south of Croatia and Bosnia. Compared to Bosnia’s 13 km of coastline, Montenegro boasts 290 km. With a population of just over half a million, this well-kept secret of The Balkans is starting to gain traction for tourists and travelers alike.
How long should you stay for?
Montenegro is at least a week-long stay. I recommend having a “base” while in Montenegro. Putting yourself in Budva puts you squarely in the middle of all the action. There are plenty of day trips from Budva, and Budva serves as a great place to explore by itself. While the old town is easy to explore in about a day, you will want to stay to check out the variety of beaches in Budva and the surrounding area.
There is something for everyone in this tiny but mighty country. Perfect for families, young travelers, and even those looking for a slice of luxury. You’ll find everything within a reasonable reach from Budva. Budva is ideal for people who want to travel while they vacation.
If you want to check out Budva, click here:
When should I visit?
Summer months. The water warms up around mid-July. If you want HOT air and cool water, plan for a trip in June. I am a cold-water person myself and prefer the conditions earlier in the summer. The sea water is warm from July to August and generally cools down when the rain starts to hit the coast around September.
The low end of the tourist season is the end of May and the beginning of September.
Hot and Humid through the summer months. Rain isn’t uncommon at the end of spring and the beginning of fall. Expect temperatures to be 85 degrees and up. Some days in July are as hot as 92-96 degrees. The evenings do cool off, but not substantially. The water can warm to 77-80 degrees!
The coastal areas do not experience nearly as much rain as the mountainous interior. Podgorcia, the capital, is notorious for having even higher temperatures than the coast and higher humidity. Podgorica sits in a low valley with very little wind moving through it in the summer. The places to visit are up in the mountains where the air cools off and rain frequents the skies. Or the sea, where temperatures and weather are fairly constant.
For more info on what to pack, click here.
The local language that is spoken is Montenegrin. It’s all in the same family of ex-Yugoslavian languages, each declaring its own language upon its independence.
You will come to see that the coastal cities and villages have a very relaxed air to them. Much like “island time” the people who dwell along the coast are easygoing. Because this is the main area for tourism, you will find that many people speak English. They make their livelihood on tourism… for that, they are extraordinarily helpful and kind.
One thing to keep in mind is that ex-Yugoslavs have a different culture when it comes to “please” and “thank you”. The responsibility they feel towards their own kind does not require anyone to ever say please or thank you. I pass this information on to you (written as an American) feeling like I was getting the cold shoulder from servers, taxi drivers, etc. It’s not the case. They just really use them sparingly.
How to Get to Budva:
Use the Hopper App to get the best rates for flights. It does not allow you to purchase tickets through the app but shows you the best dates, the cost, and when to buy. This is my favorite traveling tool.
Buy your tickets for Podgorica or Tivat. If you’re coming from another European country, Tivat will likely be the cheapest. If not, Podgorica (the capital) is the cheapest. I can usually find tickets for around $1,000 from the USA East Coast. It is fairly expensive to get to Montenegro but saves you BIG in other areas.
Paris may be cheaper to fly to, but you’ll spend triple to QUADRUPLE of what you would in Montenegro….while budgeting your trip. In Montenegro, no budgeting is really necessary. You’re likely to spend less during your time there than the cost of your flights!
Buses and Shuttles:
Once you’ve landed in Montenegro there are buses and shuttles that run regularly to a number of different destinations. It is my recommendation to rent a car. If you plan on touring Montenegro, a car is a safe and great way to do it.
If you have a problem with small cars and even smaller roads, taking buses to the locations you wish to visit may be easier. Parking is notoriously difficult to find as well. Don’t be afraid of taking buses! They are cheap and can remove a lot of stress when getting from town to town.
If you plan on taking a tour up into the mountains, RENT a car locally. Very narrow winding roads are not for the faint of heart.
You may rent a car for your entire duration, or just a few days at a time. Parking is limited and usually small spaces. If you come by car, be sure to tell your accommodation to secure a parking place. PLEASE NOTE that most places will charge you extra for parking!
Planning your trip around a few days of vacation and a few days with of excursions is the way to go. For example, when my parents were visiting my husband and me, they rented a car for the entire duration of their trip. They were able to pop up to Dubrovnik for a day trip and take the long road home through the bay of Kotor. Along with a visit to The Ostrog Monastery and Durmitor. And on another day went wine tasting and stopped to see the old capital Cetinje.
You may rent a car from the airport in Podgorica. If you only want a car for a portion of your stay there are some rental companies who can accommodate you. These are the ones I recommend:
For more information on car rentals see what you will need in this in-depth article: **CREATE LINK**
Where to stay:
The Adriatic coast is dominated by family guesthouses. In my opinion, this is the most cost-effective and worthwhile way to stay in Montenegro. You will find plenty of good and even luxury hotels if that is more comfortable for you. But nothing beats the cultural experience of having a local host.
Airbnb is not big in Montenegro. My advice is to look for apartments or guesthouses. Booking.com will show you all the available options. Most good ones can be found for as little as $30-70. Yes, hostel prices for private stays. If you want something more luxurious that has amenities like a pool and meals, you can spend upwards of $300 per night. Still, some other places are cheaper and include those options as well.
Again, Booking.com will be where you will find accommodation and reviews to back them up.
For my personal recommendations based on city go here:
Montenegro by American standards is very cheap. Do NOT confuse that with low quality. If you’re staying for a week, a budget of $1,000 is PLENTY. A night out with my husband usually costs us around 100 Euros or less. That’s staying out all night. Buying a bottle in the club costs around 100-150 Euros. Outside of accommodation and alcohol, food will be your biggest expense.
Money used: Euros. Ironic considering, they are not within the EU. The Euro is almost always stronger than the US dollar, but still about equal. In any case, your money will go far in Montenegro.
an important note: Montenegrins do not expect a 20% tip. At least in the way Americans typically do. All the prices of things listed anywhere (grocery stores, pharmacies, gift shops, etc.) tax are included in the price. Leaving a few euros is perfectly acceptable but servers do not live off tips. It’s appropriate to leave 5 euros for a nice meal, and about 50 cents for a coffee.
What to Eat in Montenegro:
Montenegro is a meat lover’s paradise. This is the land of hearty food! If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of person, all of the traditional dishes will certainly tickle your fancy. Being that this is considered a part of the Mediterranean, you will find heavy Italian influences and lots of fresh seafood. A traditional Shopksa (sopska) salad is the same as a greek salad.
Olives and olive oil are native to the lands of Montenegro. In fact, some of the oldest olive trees in the world are in Montenegro. While you shouldn’t expect to see tropical fruits in any of their regular diets, the quality of the food they do provide is top-notch. You are unlikely to have ever tasted a potato in the United States with as much flavor as they have in Montenegro.
Check out this article to see my top food choices in Budva:
Safety of Montenegro:
I feel safer here than in any other country I have visited, and I’ve been to 28. The crime rate is less than 3% and fewer than that are attributed to violent crimes. While you should always keep an eye on your belongings, you’re unlikely to be pick-pocketed. I’ve left my things on a beach unattended for hours and come back to everything where I left it. Granted… I know the bar owner.
Montenegrins won’t be the ones to dupe you into buying things. Unlike places like Paris and London, seeing vendors directly on the street is rare. You will see most tourist goods in shops or kiosks. You may bargain for some things, but you’ll find that most things are being sold for a fair price. No vendors will be in your face trying to sell you stuff.
As a woman, you will be safe walking the streets at night. There is very little if any cat-calling being done. Additionally, everything in the small villages is quite close together, so a walk from the bar or club home should be quick. Taxi drivers are well known amongst the locals for their reputations… they will not do anything to spoil it.
Now You have some Info…
If there’s anything I missed, or you have questions, please ask in the comments below! Happy travels. See you in my next article.
Montenegro is my FAVORITE country…
I have plenty of reasons to love this country, my husband being one of them. But each time we take a drive, through a random mountain pass, a small village, a new beach… I am reminded of how much these people truly care for one another. Not only that but to extend a hand to anyone who chooses to see their lands. They are proud people with a rich history. The willingness of strangers to point you in the right direction, share a table with you, or smile and nod as you struggle to communicate are one of the main reasons I love to travel in the first place.
Montenegro reminds you of the good that’s left in the world. Exploring their culture is often met with wide open arms. I truly hope you choose to see Montenegro and all its beauty. Come along with me as I show you everything it has to offer!