I doubt many of you know much about the Balkans, especially about Montenegro. The small country was a part of Yugoslavia until 1992 and part of Serbia & Montenegro (although the country called itself Yugoslavia still, as a successor of the Federal Republic) till 2006, when it became an independent country, based on a referendum.
This cute little country has some of the amazing places with sea and sun, amazing views, old castles, great food, etc. etc. which we were not expecting to find. The Mediterranean climate is mild. When I was researching a trip to the Balkans, Montenegro was not much on my radar, but we loved it and ended up spending over a week there.
The name of the country can be translated, as the “black mountain”. The population is a little over 600.000.
Some useful words
- Thank you – Hvala
- Hello – Zdravo
- Please – Molim
- Good bye – Dovidenja
- Yes – Da
- No – Ne
- Good – Dobro
- Sorry – Izvini
- How are you? – Kako ste
- I don’t understand – Ne wazumijem
- How much does it cost – Koliko je kosta
Unlike its neighbor, the more popular Croatia, Montenegro is far easier to visit for many. You won’t need to go through a lengthy Schengen application process (unless, of course, you are one of the lucky ones, who don’t need visa to visit the Schengen area). Montenegro lets citizens of 97 countries visit visa free, while anyone holding Schengen, US or UK visa can also visit without problems. However, if you come from Africa or most parts of Asia, I believe it is far more complicated to get their visa.
When to Go
Having a Mediterranean climate, Montenegro could be lovely all year round. Summers are extremely hot though. We visited during mid-September and that was a great time, although still very hot. We got a couple of rainy days though, which is difficult to predict either way 😊
Another reason, why it’s better to not visit in summer, are the crowds. Despite the fact that Croatia is far more popular, Montenegro is crowded by Russians, Turks and others, who would need a Schengen visa for Croatia, while can visit Montenegro without it. So it’s best to aim for the shoulder seasons, like May-beginning of June and September-beginning of October.
Btw the crowds are far bigger in Kotor and, to an extent, Budva. Other towns are far less problematic to visit. If you are in Kotor, definitely stay a couple of days and aim to visit the city in the morning before the cruise ships arrive and enjoy it after the cruise crowds are gone.
Even though Montenegro is not part of the EU, it has adopted Euro, as its currency. As I understand, this fact made prices higher, as usually happens, when a country adopts a strong currency. However, despite this, Montenegro is far cheaper than Croatia for instance, although more expensive compared to other neighbours, like Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Many places across the country can have problems with accepting cards, so try having at least some cash on you. You will find a lot of ATMs, if you don’t like carrying cash around.
Where to stay
Depending what you want to do, there are many options. Hotels are quite expensive, but there are a number of flats, which you can book through different websites.
Let’s start with the most popular destinations – Kotor. Don’t even try to stay in the old town area, it’s just extremely expensive and you would have to drag your luggage through cobbled streets. Try to find something outside the area. We found a lovely flat with an amazing view over the bay for quite cheap. We needed to walk about 10-15 mins from there to get to the old city gates.
In Budva itself accommodations are also quite expensive. After a long research of spots on the coast, we found Sutomore, as the best place to stay to explore the surroundings. Sutomore has one of the cleanest and less crowded beaches, so in the early mornings, or rather evenings 😀 we could get into the sea. We stayed near the beach on the hill. From Sutomore, we took buses really easily. It took us about half an hour to Bar. Appr the same time to Petrovac and about an hour to Budva.
In Ulcinj, we found accommodation not too far from the old town also. Same fore Herzeg Novi.
Btw. Ulcinj was a great place to stay before venturing to Albania, as it is the gateway.
While, Herzeg Novi is the best place to stay for venturing to Bosnia and Herzegovina or to Croatia.
Food in Montenegro
Montenegro, as many countries in the Balkans boasts delicious food.
- They have delicious Bureks, which you will find in every bakery, even those on the side of the road. We found one near Sutomore beach, where we would take the bus from and ate a lot of it 😀 I guess this is the main vegetarian dish you will usually find, as Montenegro, as the rest of Balkans, is not very kind to vegetarians.
- Kebab here is called Cevapi. It’s one of the cheapest meals to find.
- Mixed meat grill dishes are quite common.
- Coffee here is mostly offered Turkish style, unless you are in very touristy cities and spots.
Transport in Montenegro – See the dedicated post here.
Best 7-day Itinerary tips:
There are several versions of itineraries depending on your interests and wishes. Our suggestion is the following (depending on where you are coming from you can do it in reverse order):
Day 1 – Herceg Novi – explore the old town and the 2 Fortresses – Kanli-kula or bloody fortress and Forte Mare with great views, walk the seaside promenade
Day 2 – Head to Kotor – it s a 2-hour quite scenic drive. Settle and start exploring the old city, visit the churches – St. Triphon, St Nicholas, visit the Cat museum, and just explore the little hidden alleys, explore the city walls
Day 3 – Climb up the Kotor fortress (St. John’s fortress) and explore it, do a Bay of Kotor boat ride including to Our Lady of the Rocks and to Perast
Day 4 – get to Budva. Explore Budva old town – its city walls, the Citadel, the many churches – St. John’s, Santa Maria Punta, Holly Trinity. Follow the path to the Dancer statue and farther. There are beautiful places and views you will find.
Day 5 – Petrovac – you can get there by boat or by bus. Explore the fortress, the promenade and the rock formations. Then get to Sutomore, seeing Sveti Stefan in passing, and stay near the beach to enjoy the sea.
Day 6 – Enjoy Sutomore beach in the morning and evening. Do a day trip from Sutomore to Bar. Explore its old town and the fortress. Visit King Nicola’s palace.
Day 7 – head to Ulcinj. Explore its old town and castle. We saw one of the most beautiful sunsets there.
If you have more time, you can do some more of these:
- Stay some more in Sutomore to enjoy the beaches.
- You could dedicate half a day in Podgorica, but unless you fly in and out of it, I wouldn’t suggest it.
- Head to the Lovcen mountain from Kotor.
- Visit the Durmitor National park.
- Explore the shores of the lake Skadar.
- Explore 15th century Cetinje town and visit its monastery.
Other tips for travelling independently in Montenegro:
- Sim cards are easy to purchase and cheap. You will need an ID for this. We didn’t buy one and were just catching wifi at times.
- Tap water is safe to drink across the country.
- Smoking is allowed inside the buildings. That didn’t annoy us much though, as it was always warm, so we always sat outside in cafes and restaurants.
- There are many stray animals, especially cats all around. They have a lot of flees though, so be careful with them.