Montenegro useful tips for tourists

Montenegro is a small country located on the Adriatic Sea, bordering Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Albania. A dozen or so years ago, it was part of Yugoslavia. However, in 2006 it declared independence, and Podgorica became the capital of the country. It is a country that for a long time was treated as a forgotten corner on the Adriatic Sea.  Only a little was known about Montenegro, and only a few were travelling here due to tourism. Currently, Montenegro delights with beautiful views, closeness to wild nature, landscape diversity, picturesque beaches, and a turquoise sea. Montenegro has also wonderful and very hospitable inhabitants, as well as a constant growing tourist base. On top of it, there is fantastic Balkan cuisine with the touch of Italian, Greek and Turkish flavours.

Montenegro useful tips for tourists

On one side, Montenegro is a country with an interesting history. On the other side, its history was very turbulent, and the political situation was unstable. There were many wars, battles and, consequently, many rulers and owners who swept through its territory. It is not without reason that the geopolitical situation of this region, from the mid-nineteenth century, was called the “Balkan cauldron”. This situation was caused by the conflicting political interests of the states of the Balkan Peninsula and the powers, which interfered particularly intensively in the affairs of individual regions. The turbulent situation in the region was also impacted by high ethnic, and religious confusion and mutual territorial claims.

A brief history of the country

For several centuries Montenegro was part of the Roman Empire. Then it became part of the grand territory ruled by the Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). In the 6th century, the Slavs settled here, however in the 12th century, the Serbs took over the power in the region. At the end of the 15th century, Montenegro was conquest by the Ottoman Turks, who only left 300 years later. Although the country moved closer to Russia in terms of financial dependence, political decisions were taken by Austria. In 1851, the struggle for unification and independence began.

After further attacks and territorial claims by Turkey, in 1878, part of the lands of Greater Bulgaria was annexed to the Principality of Montenegro. During World War I, Montenegro was under the occupation of Austro-Hungarian and German troops. In 1918 it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

In 1929, Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, however, during World War II, it was again occupied. – first by Italians and then by Germans. As a result of a vote in 1949, Montenegro became part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

After the collapse of Socialist Yugoslavia (1992) and Federal Yugoslavia (2003), and after breaking the federation with Serbia (2006), Montenegro declared independence. In the same year was admitted to the United Nations (as 192nd member) and in 2007 to the Council of Europe (so far, the last 47th member).

Montenegro today

Montenegro has been a candidate country since December 2010 to the European Union. Also, since 2017, it has been a member of NATO.

The turbulent history of this country made today’s Montenegro full of influences from many nations. Starting from the architecture, through art, culture, education, and ending cuisine – today’s Montenegro is a true pearl of the Balkans.

Montenegro is a true pearl of the Balkans

Montenegro – when is the best to visit it?

This country lies in three climatic zones. The temperate continental climate occurs in the north and the central part of the country. The southern part of Montenegro is separated from the rest of the country by high mountains. There are four seasons, with hot summers (above 40 degrees) and cold winters (below zero). There is a mountain climate in the high parts of the mountains. In winter, these areas are often inaccessible due to heavy snowfall covering the roads and severe frosts, which caused shortages in electricity and water supplies.

The area on the Adriatic Sea is a subtropical climate, and more precisely, it is the Mediterranean zone. There are two seasons here: hot summer and very mild winter. The average temperature in summer exceeds 30 ℃ and in May and June 25 ℃. Although January is the coldest month of the year, when thermometers show 12 ℃, for many people, it is still the perfect month to relax surrounded by nature and without the crowds of tourists.

Montenegro has 150 km of coast on the Adriatic, which attracts crowds all year round. Tourists visiting Montenegro are often residents of the Balkans, Central Europe, Greece and Turkey, but the largest ethnic group come from neighbouring Croatia.

Montenegro – what you should know before your trip?

Currency

After the collapse of Yugoslavia, there was overwhelming hyperinflation. Montenegro used the dinar at the time, but the government decided to introduce a second currency at the same time, which was the German mark. This procedure was to help rebuild the country’s economy and support trade transactions with foreign strategic partners. When Germany entered the Eurozone in 2002, Montenegro also decided to adopt the Euro as its currency. Thus, in March 2002, the Euro became the country’s only currency and official means of payment in Montenegro.

Montenegro useful tips

Travelling by car

Many tourists come to Montenegro with their car or rent a car on site. It is worth mentioning that general principles of road traffic are the same here as in other European countries. Also worth adding that here (similar to e.g. in Italy), the temperament and recklessness of residents may cause shivers on the back and dizziness. Therefore, one should move on local roads with limited trust and great caution. However, this remark does not apply to professional drivers who drive buses and taxis. They are distinguished by their great driving skills in difficult mountain conditions, courtesy, focus on the road and high safety – in a way that tourists can feel safe with them.

When you come to Montenegro with your car, you must have a driving license, civil liability insurance and a registration certificate. A green card is no longer required. In August 2021, the European Commission approved Montenegro’s participation in the Multilateral Agreement, which abolished the obligation to have it.

Roads in Montenegro

Roads in Montenegro

The main roads on the Adriatic coast are in good condition. As a rule, these are asphalted roads, with one lane in each direction, illuminated. The Adriatic Highway, which runs along the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, is part of three European routes: E65, E80 and E851. This route passes through four countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole of Montenegro.

However, the farther we go from the coast, the roads have more and more surprises. There are often asphalt losses, gravelled roads, steep climbs and narrow passages, where one of the drivers has to give way and withdraw the car because two will not fit at once.

There are unlit tunnels carved in rocks or stones falling on the road. When travelling through the mountains, it is easy to “break the suspension”, scratch the car side with the protruding rocks or drive onto a stone and puncture a tire.

Local rental companies check cars very carefully on their return, often focusing on checking the chassis and scratches on the bodywork.

There are no tolls throughout the country, except for two cases:

Sozin tunnel

The tunnel is located north of the Sutomore resort. It is the longest tunnel in the country, and it is over 4100 m long. The fee for a passenger car is EUR 2.5, and for the motorbike is EUR 1.5. Toll collection points are located at the exit from Podgorica. You pay in cash at the cashier’s booth. Worth knowing that in the tunnel, the police with radar often stop in coves and hand out fines for high speed. The speed limit is between 60-80 km/h and is dependent on weather conditions. More information about the tunnel can be checked at auto-travel.me

Kamenari-Lepetane ferry

The Kamenari-Lepetane ferry is a part of the Adriatic Highway on the E65 section in the Bay of Kotor. Crossing this section of the journey by ferry is a shortcut reducing the time needed to travel around the Bay of Kotor by the traditional road. Ferries run around the clock, leave every 15 minutes, and a car crossing costs 4.5 euros. Traffic is driven by summer and winter timetables worth checking before your trip.

Worth adding here, that the roads in Montenegro are, above all, very picturesque, and the views are breathtaking. When travelling by car, it is worth focusing on the natural values of the trip. Also, worth slowing down, so that none of the beautiful views will miss your attention.

Travelling thru the winding and steep road P1 from Cetinje to Kotor provides the most spectacular views and unforgettable impressions. This road is considered one of the most beautiful routes in Montenegro and one of the most beautiful in Europe.

Montenegro, Bay of Kotor
Montenegro, Bay of Kotor, road P1 from Cetinje to Kotor

Car rentals

Car rentals are located in almost every major tourist destination. There are both international rentals and small local rentals. In summer, an air-conditioned car is necessary, because if you park in the sun for several hours, it becomes too hot to breathe.

Below are some links to the rental company, I have not checked any of them personally, but it is worth reading the opinions of other users on the groups.

  • sixt – car rental is an international network of rental companies. In Montenegro, they have offices in Budva, Herceg Novi, Kotor, Podgorica and Tivat.
  • terraecar.com, a rental company operating throughout Montenegro.
  • Adria Way Rent a Car– a local agency based in Budva.

Public transport – buses

Buses are the most popular means of transport in Montenegro. There are both long-distance buses belonging to international carriers and local Montenegrin lines running around the country. Internacional carrier buses run between Montenegro and neighbouring countries (Croatia, Albania, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Usually, they are operated by large international transport corporations. Tickets for these buses can be purchased online, although it is difficult to find free seats in the high season.

Regional buses are comfortable, and the network of connections covers all larger and smaller towns throughout the country. In larger towns, there are bus stations, which often have waiting rooms, toilets and small eateries. At the bus station in Budva, there is, among others a cafe, a playground for children and a mini-zoo, incl. turtles, peacocks, swans and rabbits.

There are also information signs leading to the stations in the cities, so it’s fairly easy to find.

bus station in PetrovacNote that there is no advance ticket sale or seat reservation at railway stations. Tickets for a specific journey can be purchased for approx. 20 minutes. before the scheduled departure of the bus. There are minibuses for short journeys and large, comfortable coaches for longer journeys.

On the busticket4.me website, you will find the addresses of individual bus stations scattered around Montenegro and the timetables of regional buses.

Approximate ticket prices:

  • Budva – Kotor, one-way ticket costs 4 Euro, travel time approx. 35 minutes.
  • Budva – Petrovac, one-way ticket 3.5 Euro, travel time approx. 40 minutes.

There are also local buses operating in Montenegro, serving short routes.

Blue Line

The Blue Line carries passengers on the Boko – Kotorska Bay route. On the way, the bus stops in cities such as Kotor, Dobrota, Lutu, Orahovac and in most of the towns you pass along the way. The journey on the entire route takes 1 hour and the ticket costs 2.5 Euro. During the week, buses run between 6:15 am and 12:15 am and leave every hour. Buses run every 2 hours on weekends and public holidays. At even hours, the bus leaves Kotor, and at odd hours, from the opposite direction.

Mediteran Express

The Mediteran Express line runs along the Budva Riviera. However, buses starting from Budva arrive at the Sveti Stefan Island or continue the journey to Petrovac.

The journey to Sveti Stefan takes 40 minutes and the ticket costs 1.5 Euro. Morning buses (between 6:00 and 8:00) leave Budva every half hour. Between 8.00 a.m. and 10.00 p.m., they leave every 10 minutes. Every 15 minutes from 22.00 to 00.00, then every half hour again after midnight. Worth remembering that the last bus from Budva leaves at 1.30 a.m. and from Sveti Stefan at 2.00 a.m.

The bus to Petrovac takes part of the route the same way as the bus to Sveti Stefan. However, the Sveti Stefan bus stop is only on the main road and not in the town. The whole way to Petrovac takes 1 hour and the ticket costs 3 Euro. Buses from Budva leave every hour between 8:10 a.m. and 11:10 p.m. Buses from Petrovac run between 9:10 a.m. and 10:10 a.m.

These lines buses, do not depart from bus stations, but from the bus stops located in the city centre. Travel tickets can be bought from vendors selling tickets at the bus stop or directly from the driver. Timetables are usually printed at bus stops.

Public transport – trains

There are two main railway routes in Montenegro. The first one is from Bar to Bijelo Polje (this line continues to Belgrade). The second one goes from Podgorica to Nikšić.

Trains from Bar to Podgorica leave almost every hour, and a ticket for the entire route costs 2.4 euros. The train passes, among others, along Skadar Lake. Many people travel this route due to the beautiful views and wonderful natural values.

Trains from Podgorica to Nikšić run only 5 times a day. The journey takes 1 hour and the ticket costs 2.8 Euro.

Train tickets can be purchased at railway stations or, if necessary, directly from the conductor. On the Railway Transport of Montenegro website, you can find the current timetable, journey times and prices.

Taxis

Taxis in Montenegro are not expensive. As a rule, the entry fee starts from 1 Euro, and each kilometre is equivalent to approx. 0.4 / 0.5 Euro. On long intercity routes, a one-way trip will be double, approx. 1 Euro per kilometre. For example, a one-way taxi from Budva to Kotor will cost around 35 euros. In most cases, taxis are equipped with taximeters. However, before a long journey, make sure to agree on the price with the driver before you decide on it. Taxi stands are easy to spot. There are many of them, and in tourist resorts, they are located at almost every major intersection.

You can also order a taxi in advance. I used the RED Taxi Montenegro company, which is considered very reliable and one of the best in the country. On their website, you can order a taxi by filling out the online form.  Later on, the taxi company will contact you with a price confirmation and pick-up location. Before the trip, customers also receive information about the driver and the registration number of the vehicle. There is also a price list on the website. Only cash is paid for the journey directly to the driver.

Below are some recommended carriers, their region of operation and contact numbers

Red Taxi (Budva, Podgorica, Tivat and Kotor)
  • Podgorica +382 069 034 892; +382 067 319 714, Viber +382 068 0 19714
  • Kotor Viber / WhatsApp +382 67 248 588; +382 67 019 719
  • Tivat Viber / WhatsApp +382 67 254 800; +382 67 019 729
Djir Taxi (Tivat and Kotor)
  • Kotor: Viber +382 67 019 737
  • Tivat: Viber +382 67 019 777
Happy Taxi (Budva)
  • Budva: Viber +382 68 590 222; +382 69 019 515

Bike

Recently, the Nextbike company has entered Montenegro, offering the possibility of renting a bike in 25 countries. So far, the first bike rentals have been established only in Budva. Each owner of the Nextbike application can rent a bike there. The price for a 30-minute journey is 1 Euro, for the whole day the fee is 9 Euro. More about the rules for registration and rental of a bike, as well as the location of the station in Budva, can be found on the Nextbike Montenegro website.

Useful applications

When ordering a taxi or other services in Montenegro, it is good to have installed applications that are popular and often used in this region. One of them is VIBER. It is an application with which you can call or chat, free of charge. There is no need to buy a SIM card, all you need is a WIFI connection.

Some also use WhatsApp, but this app is mostly used by young drivers only.

Google Translate can help you in a situation where the driver will not use English. In the app, choose Croatian or Serbian to explain to the driver where exactly you want to get. Unfortunately, the Montenegrian language is not available in this app.

Airports

There are two airports in Montenegro: Podgorica and Tivat. Now, there is a direct flight from Poland to Podgorica, as LOT is flying there since 2021. Also flying directly to Montenegro is now possible from many other European cities. Anyway, the travelling time from Warsaw is less than 2 hours. The bus transfer from Podgorica to the coastal towns (Budva, Petrovac) can take between 1.5 and 2 hours.

Many tourists also fly to the airport in Dubrovnik (Croatia), which is 40 km away from the border with Montenegro. The journey from Dubrovnik to Budva takes approx. 2.5-3 hours.

You can also get to Montenegro by boat from Italy: from Bari and Ancona.

Language

In Montenegro, the official language is Montenegrin, which is derived from Serbo-Croatian, which belongs to the group of South Slavic languages. Due to the great similarities to the Polish language, it is largely well understood by Poles. Montenegro has two alphabets: Latin and Cyrillic. The Latin language, however, is used when writing street names, on signposts. Also, it can be used when writing city names or on restaurant menus, so there is no problem with reading. Anyway, descriptions in the Cyrillic alphabet do not mean that it is the Russian language, although knowledge of this language helps to read it correctly.

In tourist resorts, hotels and restaurants, you can also communicate in English, German or Russian.

What else is worth checking before your trip?

Before going to Montenegro, it is worth visiting the government of Montenegro website, where you can find the latest information on security in the country, required documents, visas or permits.

For those who need a visa or a health declaration to enter Montenegro, I recommend visiting the website ivisa.com/montenegro, where you can get help with filing and processing the necessary documents.

Montenegro, my other posts

I encourage you as well to read my other posts about Montenegro

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