Montenegro travel guide
Montenegro remains one of Europe’s hidden gems… but for how much longer? Independent since 2006, the country has been quietly developing its fledgling tourism industry and is now being vaunted as one of the continent’s hottest new destinations.
So what does this nascent nation have to offer? Well, inland it’s all pine-scented mountains, rolling prairies and traditional, stone villages, which are a joy for hikers, bikers and nature lovers. The star attraction, though, is the blissful, 293km (183mile) coastline, which gives onto the calm blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The most popular coastal destinations are the enchanting Venetian-era port towns of Kotor and Budva, with their medieval stone buildings, family-run seafood restaurants and burgeoning hotel scene. Other less developed seaside towns include Herceg Novi, Petrovac, Bar and Ulcinj, where travellers can get a taste of local life.
The coastline harbours a pleasing combination of long sandy beaches to the south, near Ulcinj, curving pebble bays along the so-called Budva Riviera, and little coves around the perimeter of the meandering Bay of Kotor to the north.
As investment arrives, luxury marina-resorts have begun to spring up, offering mooring facilities for sailing boats as well as accommodation, restaurants, cafes, spas and shops. Porto Montenegro in Tivat is designed to accommodate some of the world’s biggest mega yachts and is indicative of the kind of travellers Montenegro seems to be targeting.
Of course, it’s not all about wealthy oligarchs. Particularly inland, where travellers can grab a slice of traditional Balkan life and lose themselves in rugged mountains, many of which rise above 2,000m (6,560ft).
The hinterland is also home to five national parks. Go in search of bears, wolves and lynx atop the peaks of Durmitor National Park; raft down the River Tara in Europe’s deepest canyon; explore Europe’s last virgin forest within Biogradska Gora National Park; or go bird watching in the wetlands of Lake Skadar National Park. But go now, before everyone else gets the same idea.
13,812 sq km (5,333 sq miles).
626,101 (UN estimate 2016).
47.8 per sq km.
President Filip Vujanović since 2003.
Prime Minister Milo Đjukanović since 2012.
230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are standard.
Last updated: 13 March 2017
The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. ‘We’ refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Crime levels are low, but street crime occurs, particularly in larger towns. Watch out for pick pockets in public places like tourist hot spots, beaches, airports and on public transport. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. You should report all incidents of crime to the local police station and get a report. If you lose your passport you should also contact the British Embassy.
Information on local road closures is available on the Auto-Moto Association of Montenegro website or by telephoning 19807, +382 20 234 999 or +382 63 239 987. You can also use these numbers to ask for roadside assistance. The main emergency numbers are: 112 (general emergencies), 122 (police), 123 (fire department), and 124 (ambulance service).
The standard of roads is fair to poor with conditions worsening in rural areas, especially in the winter and after bad weather. In particular the two-lane Moraca Canyon in Montenegro can be dangerous when conditions are poor and there’s overcrowding. Roads leading to Montenegro’s coastal areas are in better condition, but can be busy during the summer season.
The only toll in Montenegro is the Sozina tunnel between Lake Skadar and the sea. A full breakdown of prices is available on the
Monteput Podgorica website.
To drive you must have a valid driving licence and an international driving permit. If you are taking your car, you must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy. Check that your insurance provides European Green Card vehicle insurance valid in Montenegro. Drivers of cars registered on foreign plates and without a valid green card will be asked to buy temporary insurance valid for Montenegro, and available for purchase at all official border crossings.
You are required by law to wear a seatbelt. You must drive with dipped headlights on during the day and must not use a mobile phone while driving.
Montenegrin law defines intoxication as a blood alcohol level higher than 0.3 g/kg. Exceeding the speed limit by just 10kph will get you a fine in Montenegro, while excessive speeding (30kmh over the limit in towns and 50kmh on motorways) and overtaking under dangerous conditions will lead to automatic confiscation of your driving licence for up to two months. Fines for traffic offences range from €40 to €2,000. Prison sentences can also be imposed.
Usually the police officer issuing a fine requests payment be made to a bank account within a reasonable time. The police can also impose on the spot fines, but this rarely happens in practice. If you deny the charge you have the right to appear in court. In certain circumstances your passport may be seized. All fine receipts have serial numbers and can be monitored in a central register for three years.
You must equip your car for winter conditions between 15 November and 1 April.
See the AA guide on driving in Montenegro.
Extreme and adventure sports
A wide range of outdoor activities are on offer for tourists. Take precautions to prevent injuries and use protective equipment. Before signing up with paragliding instructors, for example, ask to see their training licence for tandem flights. Take particular care when hiking in the Montenegrin mountains.
Protests take place occasionally in Montenegro, and are usually peaceful. Keep up to date with local developments, check local media and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings.