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Best Places To Visit In Montenegro In 2020
It is a small country surrounded by larger, more traveled places. However, what this place lacks in size, it makes up for with one hell of a natural landscape.
Taking a break in the rugged mountains, looking down into the primeval forests and ancient towns below, you realize just how at peace this country is after years of torment. Now, however, it is an oasis full of untold stories and a recovering reputation that will make you want to stick up for it.
Montenegro was tossed between empires and the victim of ugly communist regimes for most of its history, but now they are independent and one of the more fascinating places to travel in all of Europe.
The country is well-hidden between five Balkan countries and the great Adriatic Sea: Bosnia and Herzegovina sitting to the north, a sliver of Croatia in the west, Albania to the south, and Kosovo and Serbia in the east.
It is a shame Montenegro is only recently starting to catch wind among European travelers, but that makes it great timing for you.
Despite a recent uptick in tourism, the Montenegro people remain good souls- not trying to rip-off tourists like you see in other countries who are numb to tourists.
It is only a matter of time before there are too many tourists in this tiny country, and the streets become crowded, and culture gets washed away. It is now or never for this small jewel of the western Balkans. Take a trip to Montenegro and check out the hype before it is too late!
Montenegro Travel: Know Before You Go
There is a lot to know about this tiny hole-in-the-wall country. Might as well sit down and figure out the lay of the land before you go so there are no surprises and you can maximize your time to discover the whole country.
Transportation In Montenegro
Travel in Montenegro is simple through a variety of modes. You can arrive via boat, plane, train, bus, or personal vehicle. Port Bar takes in many passenger boats, and the Podgorica and Tivat airports see hundreds of arrivals every day.
The roadways are continually improving in Montenegro, and make renting a car a fun way to get around.
Taxis are available in most towns, though; some are not metered, so make sure you discuss a price before riding.
Bus lines aren’t as common in Montenegro, being such a small country. Instead, it has become common practice to hitch a ride. There is always a risk involved with this, but people in Montenegro have welcomed hitchhikers with a warm soul.
There is one central train railway with stops in several key locations and access points.
However, most towns in Montenegro – even Podgorica – are easily walkable.
Montenegro is so small it almost isn’t necessary to pay $17 per day to rent a vehicle. However, if you like the freedom it affords you, the option exists.
Accommodation in Montenegro is, generally, pretty standard when compared to the rest of the Balkans. There are guesthouses and Airbnb’s for as little as $17-20 while larger, more luxurious hotels in more stunning locations can cost nearly $60 on the low end.
If you are on a budget, you can find a hostel dorm bed for around $7-10, which usually comes with a free breakfast.
Food in Montenegro is a result of its geographic location within the Balkans and its long, ever-changing history. The cuisine on the coast can vary drastically from the food scene in the northern highlands.
However, the cost doesn’t differentiate too much. Generally, you will be paying $5-6 for an inexpensive meal and around $11-12 for a more sophisticated taste.
Montenegro Weekend Itineraries
Here are a few examples of Montenegro itineraries of varying lengths depending on how much time you have to spend in the country. The benefit of such a small country is the fact that you are allotted the opportunity to cover a majority of it in a short time.
2 or 3-days: Fly into Kotor and visit for a day or two. While there, visit Bar and Tivat.
4-5 days: Start in Perast for a day, make your way to Kotor, spend 1-2 days there while visiting Bar and Tivat. End the trip with a day or two in Budva.
7 days: Start in Perast for a day, make your way to Kotor, spend 1-2 days there while visiting Bar and Tivat. Continue on with a day or two in Budva and end the trip in Cetinje exploring Lovcen National Park.
Best Time To Visit Montenegro
Just as Montenegro’s Balkans neighbors surrounding it, there is never a wrong time to visit depending on what you are looking for.
If you are looking to spend time on its pristine beaches, obviously visiting in the wintertime wouldn’t be a wise idea. Matter of fact, most hotels near the sea are closed then. However, skiing enthusiasts would be hard-pressed to find a better place for their weekend vacation than in Montenegro.
Summers are usually dry and hot in Montenegro. Being near the coast helps with a gentle coastal breeze and being up in the mountains is generally cooler. Summer months in Montenegro are pretty standard, from June to early-to-mid-September.
Late summer to early fall near October is our favorite time to go. It is the shoulder season when the tourist rush starts to slow, yet the water is warmest, and a cool breeze is continuously cooling you off. Just be warned, frequent showers could interrupt your beach days.
Best Places To Visit In Montenegro
Montenegro is made up of small towns. There is no city in Montenegro which isn’t walkable, which is pretty neat in itself. Here are a few of our favorites for you to check out on your weekend vacation.
Tucked into the valley between Kotor Bay and serene mountains on the busy Adriatic coast of Montenegro is a town that is pleasing to the eyes in the most sincere way. With only 22,000 residents, Kotor screams small town with big scenic views.
Its appeal lies in the cobbled streets and romantic street lighting, among other pieces that add to the ambiance.
In the afternoon, laundry hangs from the line and blows in the wind, and you walk past centuries-old buildings to your left and right.
The cafe culture in Kotor is setting the trend for the rest of the country. You can’t walk but a block anywhere in town before running into a quaint little spot you will want to stop at and watch the world go by.
There are also a ton of museums in Kotor to educate you on all things Montenegro – you will have access to learn as much as you desire about the country.
As night falls, the city comes alive, the cafes turn into bars, the live midnight music turns up, and the castles at the top of the hill transform to nightclubs. It is an experience you can’t miss out on. It is like every building in the city has two very different lives – one during the day and one at night.
With its dramatic views and appeasing atmosphere, this town is everything you could want in a vacation destination.
We have handpicked a few of our favorite accommodation spots in Kotor, ranging from budget hostel to mid-range guest house.
You might be interested in staying at one of these places:
- Guest House Forza Lux
- Antika Guesthouse
- Hostel Old Town Kotor
Budva & Sveti Stefan
Known as the Miami of Montenegro is the golden mark of Montenegro tourism, Budva. By far the most popular place to visit in Montenegro, this town has managed to keep a small-town feel over its 2,500-year history (one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic).
The city has changed in the recent past. Outside of the busy but charming Old Town is all developed real estate to cater to the holidayers. You will find fancy accommodation and chain businesses all around the outskirts of Budva.
It has less than 60,000 residents and can be quiet depending on when you visit. Perhaps you will come in the summertime and witness the frenzy on the sandy beaches and echoes ringing off the walls of its fortified Old Town.
For those beach-goers, the summertime appeal is high with its Miami-esque million-dollar yachts and beach parties.
However, if you don’t mind visiting after the place has cooled down for the year, we find it a much more pleasant, small-town-ish visit come early Fall. By then, the temperature has cooled down, the water has warmed up, and the crowds have gone home.
We can’t forget to mention Sveti Stefan just down the road from Budva, one of the most picturesque places in all of Europe. Only fifteen minutes down the road along the Budva Riviera is the private-type of island with pink sand beaches and a once Royal residence. Enough to visit for a day, at least! Hike up the nearby hillside to get a breath-taking bird’s eye view of the whole scene.
Budva is generally quite busy, so it would be to your advantage to book in advance — especially when traveling in the summertime. We have listed a few of the Budva accommodation options which fit our budget. Check them out:
- Hotel Tre Canne
- Twister Apartments
- Villa Merci Budva
In between Kotor and Podgorica is Montenegro’s capital of history and the country’s official secondary capital city.
Cetinje is home to the President of Montenegro, surrounded by limestone mountains and neighboring the great Lovcen National Park. There are only 15,000 people who live there, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it.
This place has a certain buzz to it which can be nice on the right kind of day. It is a treasure trove for history buffs and culture addicts.
Centuries-old mansions and former royal estates have been transformed into excellent schools and museums for modern-day education. If you are coming to learn about the country, look no further than here.
It is a wonderful place, indeed, but we found accommodation to be quite limited. You might consider staying at one of the options below or roll into town and make your selection based off what you see:
- ApartHotel Belvedere Residence
- Hotel Monte Rosa
Sort of neighboring Cetinje and just down the bay from Kotor is the lovely forgotten town of Perast. You wouldn’t believe there are less than 300 residents – not because the city is busy – but because it is so beautiful that it is hard to understand why people don’t live there!
It was once a seaside town for the rich centuries ago. This can be seen in its crumbling stone mansions which have been renovated into charming yet dazzling luxury hotels. It is but a ghost town in most areas of town – and a beautiful one at that!
However, to see the most picturesque part of the town, you will have to peer out into the Bay of Kotor to see two stunning island views with mountain backdrops seemingly out of a fairytale.
This small town certainly feels out of place — a charm that doesn’t match the rest of the country — but that’s what makes it so special. Recently, tourism has started sprouting around town. Although there is only one main street, there are enough buildings in town for some development and that is precisely what has started. Soon, Perast will be as big as Budva on the tourist map so get there before it is too late.
Perast was fun and a great way to spend a day. Here are some of the accommodation options if you are planning to stay overnight:
- Hotel Admiral
- Boka Gardens Seaside Resort
- Guest House Dragutinovic
Tivat may be the most stunning town along the Bay of Kotor which says a lot! Its beautiful surroundings match that of the rest of these beautiful, quaint bayside cities, but Tivat’s infrastructure is just the opposite.
It is the only town along the bay that lacks that old school charm which the rest of these towns are known for. That is because recently a million-dollar renovation turned a former abandoned naval base into a world-class luxury marina for million-dollar yachts and the super rich.
Now, the rest of the city is undergoing the same development, and soon Tivat will be the French Riviera of the Balkans. What it lacks in charm it makes up for with a new feel — a lively vibe that makes a day trip to this small town well-worth your time. It is just down the coast from other towns on this list such as Kotor and Perast, so it is easy to day trip here.
Tivat is a place that has it all sans ancient charm. It is not hard to find a bed to sleep on, but it can be expensive, and we tend to prefer not blowing our budget on accommodation which is why we recommend these places to you:
- D & D Apartments Tivat
- House Grabic
Down the Adriatic coast near the southern border of Montenegro is the small town of Bar which doesn’t see as many tourists as some of the more popular towns around the Bay of Kotor.
Though Bar is (for the most part) off the main tourist trail in Montenegro, there are a few notable attractions that make it worth a visit. Namely, the oldest olive tree in the world which dates back to over 2,000 years ago.
In addition, it would be a shame if you didn’t take a stroll around Stari Bar (Old Bar) and see the crumbling ruins of a beautiful town blended in the mountains of the newer part of town.
It is a small town with a little colorful flavor leftover from the Ottoman Turks when they ruled the country for nearly half a millennium.
Nowadays, the town acts as more of a transport hub (head from Bar to Belgrade) than a destination with its largest port and a key train and bus station. However, if you give it some time, you will be surprised at its hidden beauties.
Most of the time, your accommodation options in Bar are quite limited.
We recommend finding a place in advance of traveling to Bar. Here are a few of our favorites if you are staying a night:
- Aparthotel Monterria
- Hotel Pharos
Montenegro is one truly astounding country teeming with so many gems which probably still haven’t been discovered. Not even 225 miles from the border to border, this tiny country is a weekend road trip dream with so many awe-inspiring footnotes.
This place is on the rise and bursting at the seams with potential. It is only a matter of time before the secret is out and European sun-seekers are crowding the beautiful beaches of the Adriatic coast in Montenegro.
So, what are you waiting for? Take advantage of these weekend itineraries and steal a slice of heaven in Montenegro.
If you have questions regarding your trip to Montenegro or anywhere else in the Balkans, don’t be afraid to reach out with questions and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
More Montenegro Travel Blog Posts
- Buying a SIM Card In Montenegro
- Guide to Visiting Sveti Stefan
- Best Beaches in the Balkans
- Check Out Montenegro In Winter
- Make sure you pick up one or two of these cool souvenirs from Montenegro