In my 2.5 years of full-time solo travel, I have only rented a car a couple of times – I’m usually a go-by-bus kind of girl. However, renting a car in Montenegro is a great way to explore the country and discover its hidden gems that you can’t get to with public transportation.
In my guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about hiring a car in Montenegro, as well as some key driving rules you should know to stay safe.
It made sense to rent a car in Montenegro to explore further than any bus could take me. So, I put my backpack into the truck, downloaded my favorite podcasts, and road-tripped solo for a month, starting and ending in Montenegro and visiting five different countries along the way.
Montenegro is not only the most beautiful country in the Balkans, but it’s also so small that you can easily drive around the whole thing. Without a rental car in Montenegro, I wouldn’t have made it to places like Durmitor National Park and Lake Skadar.
I know firsthand that driving in a foreign country can be tricky and nerve-wracking. Montenegro is famous for its narrow and windy mountain roads. But, based on my experience, I can confidently say that driving around Montenegro is totally doable – as long as you stay aware of your surroundings, drive slowly, and watch out for switchbacks!
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Should You Rent A Car In Montenegro
Pros: Public transportation doesn’t go everywhere, allows you the freedom to go anywhere at your own pace, can go off-the-beaten path, affordable
Cons: Narrow and windy mountain roads, too expensive for budget travelers, unnecessary for tourist hotspots
Hiring a car in Montenegro is easy and convenient. There are many car rental companies throughout the country, the roads are in good condition, and it’s not that expensive compared to other parts of Europe.
As someone who lived in New York City for the past 13 years without a car, if I can drive in Montenegro, then almost anyone can!
The best part about hiring a car in Montenegro is that you can go anywhere, any time. Do you want to stop at a tiny town for lunch? Do it! Want to have a 20-minute photoshoot at the viewpoint overlooking Horseshoe Bend? You can!
On the flip side of that, if you’re not an experienced driver or don’t feel comfortable driving on winding roads, then renting a car might not be for you. There were a few times when I had to carefully reverse on a narrow road to let an oncoming car pass. I held my breath for those.
If you’re a backpacker on a tight budget, renting a car in Montenegro might not make sense. The average Montenegro rental car cost is USD 18 per day – while that’s a bit cheaper than what I paid to rent a car in Jordan, for example, that’s the same as a couple of nights in a hostel for most backpackers.
A lot of backpackers I met were getting around by bus and hitchhiking – but as a solo female traveler with a deadline, I went with the car.
You can get between the main tourist hotspots by bus or hire a taxi. And most towns are walkable. So, if you’re planning to spend time in Bar and Kotor, for example, you may not need a car.
But, if you want the freedom of traveling with no timetable, a car is your best bet.
Requirements to Rent a Car in Montenegro
- Required documents include a valid driver’s license and ID (usually a passport). You should always have these documents on you when you’re driving. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is not required unless your driver’s license doesn’t use the Roman alphabet
- You must be at least 21 years old to hire a car in Montenegro and have your driver’s license for at least one year. Some rental companies charge a “young driver surcharge,” which is an extra fee to be paid by drivers under 25 years old
Best Place To Rent A Car In Montenegro
You’ll find the best rental prices if you get your Montenegro car rental at the Podgorica Airport. You’ll find a lot of rental car companies there.
You’ll find Montenegro car rental companies in these cities:
- Herceg Novi
Since I didn’t go to Podgorica on my visit (I arrived in Montenegro via land from Croatia), I rented a car at the Tivat International Airport – but this was a little more expensive than Podgorica.
Pro Tip: Use an aggregator site like DiscoverCars to compare costs and reserve your Montenegro car rental easily. Book in advance, especially if you’re renting a car in Montenegro in July and August. I also recommend double-checking the rental company’s reviews on Google before booking.
Montenegro Car Rental Companies:
- Discover Cars
- Enterprise Rent-A-Car
- Final Rentals
- Green Motion
- Montenegro Car
- Stella Car
- Surprice Car Rental
- Viaggiare Rent
Cost to Rent a Car in Montenegro
Luckily, renting a car in Montenegro won’t break the bank. Prices are usually quite reasonable, with an average cost of about USD 18/day. I paid about USD 22/day for my Montenegro rental car from Tivat Airport, which included the documentation needed for the border crossing.
In July and August, which is the most popular time to visit, you’ll end up paying $40+ per day, depending on how far in advance you book and any add-ons.
During low season, you can find prices as low as USD 7/day.
Always check with your rental agency regarding extra fees such as a young driver fee if you’re under 25, additional drivers, border crossings, winter tires, child booster seats, GPS usage, and insurance coverage.
It’s also important to know that many rental companies place a hold on your credit card in case of any damage, to be released when you return the car. Many rental companies don’t accept debit cards – only a valid credit card.
Montenegro Rental Car Insurance
- Third-Party Liability Insurance is mandatory – this usually comes standard with your car rental and covers damages to third parties in case of an accident. It does not cover damages to your rental car
- Extra coverage that covers damages to your rental car is always a good idea because you never know what’s going to happen!
- Many credit cards offer some full insurance coverage automatically when you pay for your rental on the card, so check with your card company to know what’s covered. This often saves me money
- Green Card Insurance is required if you cross any country’s borders. Your rental company will take care of this (and charge you a fee) if you tell them. I needed this since I traveled to 5 different countries on my road trip in the Balkans
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Basic Montenegro Traffic Rules
- Montenegro Emergency Number: 112
- Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt
- Cars drive on the right side of the road in Montenegro and pass on the left. This took some getting used to after so many months of driving in Thailand
- You can pass only in designated spots and across dashed lines
- Children younger than five years old must sit in a child seat in the rear – your rental company can provide appropriate seating, sometimes for an extra fee
- 0.03% is the legal blood alcohol limit in Montenegro. Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is illegal
- Cellphone use while driving is illegal unless it’s hands-free
- Headlights must be on at all times when driving in Montenegro, even during the day
- Speed limits in Montenegro are usually posted and are typically 50 km/hour in cities, 80 km/hour in non-urban areas, and 100 km/hour on highways. Speeds are strictly enforced
- Drivers are required to carry a collapsable warning triangle and reflective jacket in their vehicle
Tips for Renting a Car in Montenegro
- Use DiscoverCars to compare rental car prices and find the best deal
- Make sure you check all the covered insurance options with your rental company and ask questions if something is unclear. Many credit cards include car rental insurance coverage if you used the card on the rental, so check with them before buying additional insurance
- Don’t forget to book Green Card Insurance if you are crossing country borders during your trip. This is done directly through your rental company. I had very smooth border crossings into Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and back to Montenegro – so happy I did this trip!
- Your rental company may prohibit travel to certain countries like Greece, Poland, or Romania, so tell them your travel plans when you book
- If you get in an accident, call the police 112 and wait at the scene until they arrive and obtain a copy of the police report. Do not move your car. Notify your rental company immediately – they can help you talk to the police and get the needed documentation. I scratched my car in Albania and didn’t follow these steps and ended up paying hundreds of Euros out of pocket for the damage – ouch!
- The smaller the car, the better in Montenegro! There were so many times I was grateful to be in a compact car on those narrow mountain roads
- It’s easy to find automatic transmission (& manual transmission) l rental cars in Montenegro, but book early for the summer months
- Always check for existing damage to your rental car before you go and notify your rental company of every scratch. I like to take a video walking around the whole car, just in case they try to charge me for pre-existing damage later on
- Save the rental company’s contact information into your phone before you go. The agent I worked with was very easy to reach on WhatsApp, and I was able to request an extension very easily
- You’ll find the best Montenegro rental car prices at the Podgorica Airport and in the off-season. Summer months – especially July and August – have the highest prices. Book in advance for the best prices!
- While most roads in Montenegro are in good condition, you’ll find the back roads to be very narrow and often windy. I accidentally ended up driving the mountain roads around Lake Skadar the same day as a car rally with tons of giant SUVs – that was wild!
- Lightly honk your horn around blind corners and when passing another vehicle
- Add the famous Serpentine Road in Kotor to your road trip plans – it was so fun to drive the 16 hairpin turns!
- Only stop in designated viewpoint areas – you want to stay safe when getting the perfect shot!
- Ask about snow tires if you’re driving in the wintertime
- It can be hard to find parking spots in tourist hotspots, especially during the summer months. Go early or park a ways away and walk. You may have to pay for parking. Choose accommodations with parking on site
- Google Maps worked really well for me during my road trip in Montenegro. Local SIM cards are cheap, but I did lose cell signal on a few of my mountain drives. Download your maps offline, and you should be fine. Don’t forget a car charger!
- Always add extra time to whatever time Google estimates for your route. I rarely arrived somewhere at the time Google predicted. Between traffic and photo stops and wanting to take mountain roads at a safe pace, it almost always took me longer than expected
- Driving at night on unfamiliar roads can be tricky, so try to get to your destination while the sun is still shining
- Filling up your gas tank is very easy in Montenegro. There are plenty of gas stations, and attendants do all the work. Most stations take both credit cards and cash
- Cars will flash their lights at you if there’s a hazard coming up or if there is a police checkpoint so that you know to slow down
- Check the trunk for a spare tire before you start. I learned the hard way on a road trip in Scotland that a lot of rental cars no longer come with a spare tire. We had to wait hours for assistance!
Top Places to Visit in Your Montenegro Rental Car
It is a beautiful old town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site along the bay of the same name. It has been an important port since the Middle Ages and is now a Mediterranean hotspot for tourists looking to explore its winding streets and colorful buildings. Cat lovers will be in heaven – every local feeds the strays.
Its waterfront promenades and palm-lined beaches make it a popular destination for vacationers looking to lounge in the sun. There are plenty of activities to enjoy, from kayaking and water sports to visiting nearby islands such as Mamula or Sveti Marko. And the Forte Mare Fortress in the old town is an impressive sight.
A stunning island village in Budva Municipality, this exclusive resort was once a fishing village but is now a luxurious destination for those looking to relax in some of Montenegro’s most beautiful coastlines. Even Marilyn Monroe stayed here!
Set between Albania and Montenegro, this large lake is a great spot to take a boat trip or bird watch as you enjoy some of Europe’s best views. There are also several easy day trips you can visit from here, including the Horseshoe Bend viewpoint. I used this spot as a home base for a couple of days, and it was one of my trip highlights.
Tara River Canyon
Located inside Durmitor National Park, Tara River Canyon is one of the deepest and longest canyons in Europe. You have to visit when you’re in Montenegro! And it’s tricky to get here without a car, so you’ll be happy to have one.
Budva Old Town
With 2,500 years of history, this picturesque old town offers excellent restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, all within a maze of narrow cobbled streets and centuries-old stone walls. The medieval architecture and lively atmosphere make Budva worth a visit.
I don’t normally get excited by religious sites, but I’ve never seen anything like this in all my travels! Located high on a hillside – carved into the mountain – this Serbian Orthodox Monastery is one of the most important religious sites in Montenegro. The monastery itself is made up of two parts – the Lower Church and Upper Monastery. With your rental car, you can go early to beat the tour buses.
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Nearby Countries To Add To Your Road Trip Itinerary
If you have extra time, I highly recommend exploring some of Montenegro’s neighboring countries.
I had an amazing time visiting Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina on this trip – all in my rental car! I would never have been able to explore so many different countries if I had been limited to public transportation.
In Albania, I was taken away by the dramatic coastal beaches of Sarandë and the wild beauty of Theth National Park. I accidentally drove into Tirana the day before the marathon and barely found a place to park – next time, I’ll check the calendar!
Further north in Kosovo, the capital city of Pristina surprised me with its buzzy street art scene and café culture.
North Macedonia offered up some great hiking spots and beautiful mountain landscapes that I’ll never forget.
Last but certainly not least was Bosnia & Herzegovina, where I explored the old Ottoman city of Mostar with its famous bridge over the Neretva River.
Hiring A Car In Montenegro Wrap Up
You should rent a car in Montenegro if you want to explore the country and its stunning coastline at your own pace. There are many places in Montenegro you can only get to by car, and it’s often cheaper to rent a car than to pay for a taxi.
The roads are generally safe and well-maintained; just be mindful that the backroads are narrow and windy.
Expect to pay anywhere from $7/day (in the low season) to $50/day (in peak season) for your Montenegro rental car. You’ll find the best deals if you rent at the Podgorica Airport and if you book in advance. Talk to your rental company about extra fees for border crossings, extra insurance coverage, and additional drivers.
Driving around Montenegro and the other Balkan countries is one of my favorite memories from the past couple of years of full-time travel – I can’t wait to do it again!