Montenegro

MONTENEGRO TRAVEL GUIDE

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Beautiful mountains, great beaches, good food and even better drink; handicrafts, a rich historical heritage, churches, palaces and museums by the dozen Montenegro has much that would appeal to travellers.

 

Montenegro's tourism suffered greatly from Yugoslavia's tragic civil war in the 1990s. In recent years, along with the stabilized situation in the region, tourism in Montenegro has begun to recover, and Montenegro is being re-discovered by tourists from around the globe. More adventurous travellers can easily sidestep the peak-season hordes on the coast by heading to the rugged mountains of the north. This is, after all, a country where wolves and bears still lurk in forgotten corners.

 

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MONTENEGRO QUICK FACTS

  • Capital: Podgorica
  • Currency: Euro (EUR)
  • Area: 13,812 sq km
  • Population: 622 359 (2018)
  • Language: Montenegrin (official), Serbian (recognized), Spanish, English (both used by tourists and small communities)
  • Religion: Orthodox Christian 74%, Muslim 17%
 

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MONTENEGRO PUBLIC HOLIDAYS

  • 7 January, Orthodox Christmas
  • 1 May, May Day
  • 21 May, Independence Day
  • 13 July, Statehood Day

Also, Orthodox Good Friday and Orthodox Easter Monday.

FESTIVALS IN MONTENEGRO

Montenegro
 

BEST TIME TO VISIT MONTENEGRO

The optimal time to visit Montenegro falls roughly between April and September. Montenegro's climate follows two distinct patterns: the coastal region has typically Mediterranean weather, with hot summers and mild winters. The interior of the country, however, has a sub-alpine climate, typified by warm summers and freezing winters. During the winter, temperatures can drop to as low as -15 °C or -20 °C degrees, with heavy rainfall that often manifests as snow.

 

  • June - Beat the peak-season rush and prices but enjoy the balmy weather.

  • September - Warm water but fewer bods to share it with; shoulder season prices.

  • October - The leaves turn golden, making a rich backdrop for walks in the national parks.

 

The Montenegrin coast is a pleasant place to be at any time of the year, but it can get uncomfortably crowded in July and August. During this time, temperatures and tourists reach their peak. Accommodation is also at its most expensive during this period, with rates almost doubling in some places.

 

June and September are widely regarded as the optimum months for a visit when the sunshine is virtually guaranteed, and there's far less pressure on facilities. Some hotels close between late October and early April, but you may well be able to take advantage of excellent rates from those that remain open.

 

MONTENEGRO WEATHER SYNOPSIS

Owing to its proximity to the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas, it has a Mediterranean climate with warm and somewhat dry summers and mild and rather humid winters.

Montenegro

MONTENEGRO TOURIST SEASONS

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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SPORT & ACTIVITIES

SNOW SPORT IN MONTENEGRO

The snow sports season in Montenegro is from December until March with the most consistent snow in the months of January and February. It is a relatively warmer and cheaper ski destination in comparison to Western Europe.

HIKING & CYCLING IN MONTENEGRO

The best time for outdoor activities in Montenegro is from April to October, although the months of July and August can be unbearably hot if you're not at the higher altitudes.

BEACH OPTIONS IN MONTENEGRO

Montenegro has some beautiful beaches with a summer beach season stretching from May to October with July and August by far being the hottest and busiest months and June and September possibly the most comfortable.

SURFING IN MONTENEGRO

Montenegro has excellent conditions for surfing from May to October. Some of the most popular surf spots are the beaches of Budva, Ulcinj, Kotor Bay and Ada Boyan.

KITESURF IN MONTENEGRO

The best winds for kitesurfing in Montenegro are usually from May to October when the wind kicks in like clockwork in the early afternoons. Montenegro’s main kitesurfing spot, Ulcinj, is ideal for both beginners and intermediate kite-surfers.

For more details on kite surfing in Montenegro expand this section!

 
 

HEALTH RISKS IN MONTENEGRO

Be aware of possible health risks in 

Montenegro

Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.

Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.

Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.

For the latest travel health notices and recommended precautions click

MONTENEGRO TRAVEL COSTS

Montenegro might be cheap relative to Western Europe, but after visiting some of its immediate neighbours (Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo) you will find it very expensive in comparison.

 

Daily budget per person: Basic €30 / occasional treat €60.

Drink: Nikšičko Tamno beer €1 (bottle from a shop).

Food: Sarma €2.50–4. Hostel/budget hotel €20/€50.

Travel: Bus: Budva–Kotor €3; train: Podgorica–Virpazar €1.80.

 

Montenegro has some fantastic budget-friendly food options on offer. Visit the local bakery in the morning for a slice of burek, the Balkans’ answer to a meat pie. Layers of filo pastry are filled with meat or cheese and baked until crunchy and golden. Some bakeries also offer potato or spinach burek. Pair it with a tub of natural yogurt (also sold in bakeries) and you’ve got a hearty breakfast for just a couple of euros. Fresh bread from the local bakery is also one of the cheapest staples in Montenegro. A loaf of bread costs just 70 cents and the price hasn’t changed in over a decade.

 

MONTENEGRO TRAVEL TIPS

GETTING IN:

To save money on flights to Montenegro, consider flying into Dubrovnik airport in Croatia, which is just 20 minutes from the Montenegrin border. If you’re really flexible, look for cheap one-way fares into one airport and out of another.

 

GETTING AROUND:

There is a local train service, operating from Bar, through Podgorica and Kolašin and Mojkovac to Bijelo Polje. It is the fastest and cheapest way (3h30min €7-11) to travel from north to south, but not as frequent as buses. For the routes and fares check the Montenegrin railway's website.

 

Hiring a car and driving yourself can save you money on tours. Driving yourself to the Tara Canyon for a rafting trip will save around €30 per person compared to booking a tour with transport, and it will allow you to stop at some of the sights along the way.

 

If you’re not planning to do much sightseeing, take advantage of the local bus networks. Buses are frequent (especially during the summer), safe, and are more or less on schedule. Local buses usually have no air conditioning. Ticket prices within Montenegro are all under €15. Buses to attractive tourist destinations (Budva, Kotor) are generally more expensive (up to 2 times more per kilometer) than others. Minibusses at bus stations are usually slightly cheaper, potentially a faster and more comfortable option.

 

SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF MONTENEGRO

  • Roam the atmospheric streets of Kotor until you're at least a little lost.

  • Drive the vertiginous route from Kotor to the Njegoš Mausoleum at the top of Lovćen National Park.

  • Admire the baroque palaces and churches of pretty Perast.

  • Float through paradise, rafting between the kilometer-plus walls of the Tara Canyon.

  • Dive into Montenegro's history, art, and culture in the old royal capital, Cetinje.

  • Watch people over the rim of a coffee cup in the cobbled Old Town lanes of Budva.

 

RECOMMENDED ITINERARIES

FIVE DAYS

Basing yourself in Kotor, spend an afternoon in Perast and a whole day in Budva. Allow another day to explore Lovćen National Park and Cetinje.

 

ONE WEEK

For your final two days, head north to Durmitor National Park, making sure to stop at Ostrog Monastery on the way. Spend your time hiking, rafting, and canyoning.

 

The poster child of Montenegrin tourism, Budva – with its atmospheric Old Town and numerous beaches – certainly has a lot to offer. Yet the child has moved into difficult adolescence, fuelled by rampant development that has leeched much of the charm from the place. Still, it’s the buzziest place on the coast so if you’re in the mood to party, this is the place to be. Budva's best feature and the star attraction is the Stari Grad (Old Town) – a mini-Dubrovnik with marbled streets and Venetian walls rising from the clear waters below. Much of it was ruined by two earthquakes in 1979 but it has since been completely rebuilt and now houses more shops, bars, and restaurants than residences.

 

Wedged between brooding mountains and a moody corner of the bay, the dramatically beautiful town of Kotor combines historic grace with vibrant street life. From a distance, Kotor's sturdy ancient walls are barely discernible from the mountain's grey hide but at night they're spectacularly lit, reflecting in the water to give the town a golden halo. Within those walls lie labyrinthine marbled lanes where churches, shops, bars, and restaurants surprise you on hidden piazzas. You'll soon know every corner, as the town is quite small, but there are plenty of churches to pop into and many coffees to be drunk in the shady squares.

 

Directly behind Kotor is Mt Lovćen (1749m), the black mountain that gave Crna Gora (Montenegro) its name (crna/negro means 'black' and gora/monte means 'mountain' in Montenegrin and Italian respectively). The Lovćen National Park's 6220 hectares are crisscrossed with well-marked hiking paths.

 

Nestling in the foothills of Mt Lovćen, the old capital of Cetinje is an odd mix of the former capital and overgrown village where single-story cottages and stately mansions share the same street.

 

Looking like a chunk of Venice that has floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the Bay of Kotor, Perast hums with melancholic memories of the days when it was rich and powerful. Despite its diminutive size, it boasts 16 churches and 17 formerly grand palazzi. Just offshore from Perast are two peculiarly picturesque islands. The smaller, Sveti Ðorđe (St George), rises from a natural reef and houses a Benedictine monastery shaded by cypresses. Boats ferry people to its big sister, Gospa od Škrpjela (Our-Lady-of-the-Rocks), which was artificially created in the 15th century around a rock where an image of the Madonna was found.

 

OTHER ATTRACTIONS:

  • Herceg Novi - A bustling waterfront promenade runs below a small fortified center, with cafes and churches set on sunny squares.

  • Sveti Stefan - Gazing down on this impossibly picturesque walled island village provides one of the biggest 'wow' moments on the entire Adriatic coast.

  • Ulcinj - Minarets and a hulking walled town dominate the skyline, providing a dramatic background for the holidaymakers on the beaches.

  • Podgorica -The nation's modern capital has a buzzy café scene, lots of green space, and some excellent galleries.

  • Lake Skadar National Park - The Balkans' largest lake is dotted with island monasteries and provides an important sanctuary for migrating birds.

  • Biogradska Gora National Park - Virgin forest set around a pretty lake.

WHAT TO PACK FOR MONTENEGRO

 
Montenegro

WHAT TO EAT IN MONTENEGRO

Most Montenegrin food is local, fresh and organic, and hence very seasonal. The food on the coast is virtually indistinguishable from Dalmatian cuisine: lots of grilled seafood, garlic, olive oil and Italian dishes. Inland it's much meatier and Serbian-influenced. The village of Njeguši in the Montenegrin heartland is famous for its pršut (prosciutto, air-dried ham) and cheese. Anything with Njeguški in its name is going to be a true Montenegrin dish and stuffed with these goodies.

 

Here are some local favourites:

  • Riblja čorba - Fish soup, a staple of the coast.

  • Crni rižoto - Black risotto, coloured and flavoured with squid ink.

  • Lignje na žaru - Grilled squid, sometimes stuffed (punjene) with cheese and smoke-dried ham.

  • Jagnjetina ispod sača - Lamb cooked (often with potatoes) under a metal lid covered with hot coals.

  • Rakija - Domestic brandy, made from nearly anything. The local favourite is grape-based loza.

  • Vranac & Krstač - The most famous indigenous red and white wine varietals (respectively).

 

LGBTQ IN MONTENEGRO

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Montenegro may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Montenegro, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

 

Although the first Gay Pride event in Montenegro was held in 2013, Montenegrin society has yet to reach a high level of acceptance. Gays and lesbians may still face discrimination and harassment in Montenegro as anti-gay attitudes are deeply ingrained in society and there is widespread opposition to LGBT rights.

 
Montenegro
 

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