Montenegro Travel Guide
Proving that size doesn’t matter, Montenegro packs in beautiful beaches, jagged mountains and an increasingly sophisticated night scene, despite being the littlest of the Balkan states. Although not involved in the conflicts that engulfed the Balkans in the 1990s, Montenegro suffered a drop in tourist numbers by association, a trend it is now reversing as a fully-fledged member of the EU. The small capital Podgorica is a relaxed city where you can sit and sip an espresso or party in the growing number of nightclubs, but it’s the Adriatic coast that is the real highlight of this dinky former Soviet state. The seaside town of Kotor, a protected area of historic forts and sheer-faced cliffs, is a must-see along a coastline that is dotted with beautiful islands and hidden coves.
Having joined the Euro-zone, Montenegro is now a member of the European elite, so expect a diverse range of hotels right up to the very highest quality; but be warned—prices here are no longer on a par with the former Soviet bloc. Travelers on a budget will however be able to find a room for the night and receive change from a €20 note, even in the capital and along the coast. The local food often features lamb or mutton with potatoes and an array of dairy products along with the humble donut served with figs and honey. Pizza-lovers will be glad to hear that Italian restaurants are as popular in Montenegro as they are throughout Europe.
When to Go
Montenegro enjoys a warm southeastern European climate that becomes cooler in the north, an area of the country that is dominated by snowcapped mountains. The summer, from May to September, is warm along the coast in the south, which sees a lot of sunshine. The winters are generally cold throughout the country, particularly in the north where higher ground is covered in snow throughout November to February.
Getting There & Away
Podgorica is the main hub connecting tiny Montenegro, the world’s newest country, to the rest of the world, although visitors from outside Europe have to pass through Frankfurt, Paris, Rome or Vienna before arriving here. International flights also arrive at Tivat on the coast. For a country barely 100 miles across at its widest point, Montenegro is surprisingly bad at keeping its trains on time, but at least the less than adequate service connects to cities throughout the region. Just don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry. Driving by car is potentially hazardous through the northern mountain passes, but the speed limit is kept low, meaning the mostly single-lane roads throughout the hilly areas are relatively safe. Buses are cheap and run throughout the country, particularly between the capital and destinations along the coast.
Health & Safety
Perhaps the most dangerous activity in Montenegro is talking about neighbor Serbia, from which independence was finally achieved in 2006. Saying the wrong thing here is potentially hazardous given that the locals hate any association with Serbians. The usual warnings apply when rafting, trekking or climbing, although altitude sickness will not be a problem in the northern mountains as they all less than 2,500 meters high. Otherwise, Montenegro is a safe and stable country with an above average healthcare system. Previously dubious hygiene standards have in recent years been brought into line with EU regulations meaning that the Eastern bloc belly aches are no longer a problem here.
Four days in Kotor
Three days in Biogradska Gora
Three days at Skadar Lake
Two days in Podgorica
Three days in Budva
Two days in Tara Canyon
Kotor: a sandy beach beside an old town that has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status makes this quaint seaside destination a major draw for tourists throughout the Balkans.
Biogradska Gora: considered one of Europe’s most stunning forests, encircling glacial lakes and snowy peaks more than 2,000 meters high.
Skadar Lake: the largest landlocked body of water in the Balkans, a picturesque region teeming with wildlife – the sort of place you feel lucky to have seen before the tourists discover it.
Podgorica: Montenegro’s laid-back capital and center of the country’s thriving bar and café culture. A somewhat bizarre experience of people trying to be sophisticated in one of Europes most nonedescript countries.
Budva: Montenegro’s most popular beach resort and a historic town with a growing bar scene. This is where the locals spend their stag weekends, need we say more!
Tara Canyon: the second-deepest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon and home to some of Europe’s best whitewater rafting.
Whitewater rafting: get extremely wet rafting through the Tara Canyon, one of Montenegro’s most scenic spots.
Partying: immerse yourself in the commercial or more underground night scene developing in the capital and at resorts along the coast.
Skiing: visit some of Europe’s least-known ski resorts in the north of the country near the border with Bosnia, Serbia and Albania.
Sightseeing: from the old forts in Kotor to the former capital Cetinje, Montenegro is overflowing with historic architecture.