Where do I start with Montenegro? Though I had already expected this country to wow me, it ended up well exceeding any and all of my expectations. From the picturesque mountains in Durmitor National Park to the quaint rocky beaches in Dobrota, and the bustling city life in Budva and Kotor, this country is incredibly diverse; offering something for just about everyone. See below for my Montenegro Travel Guide!
What to Know:
Montenegro’s currency is the Euro. While you can expect things to be more expensive in the larger cities like Kotor and Budva, as well as the more touristy areas like Durmitor National Park, everything from food to excursions and souvenirs is still very affordable and cheap in comparison to a lot of other European countries.
There is a LOT to see. With over 100 beaches, five national parks, a number of historic sites and a slew of natural wonders, there is a lot of ground to cover. Just be sure not to blink or you might miss some of this country’s amazing scenery.
If you’re an adventure seeker, Montenegro is for you. All of those national parks and natural wonders I just talked about? There are a ton of fun and unique ways to experience them. From white water rafting in the Tara River to hiking through Durmitor National Park and kayaking in the Bay of Kotor, there are so many things to see and so many different ways to see them.
Montenegro’s roads leave a lot to be desired. While Montenegro is in no way lacking in beautiful scenery, the country’s infrastructure is another story. With only a few roads connecting the whole country, traveling to and from places merely just miles apart can turn into a half day excursion, so be prepared and plan ahead!
There’s some seriously good food, but expect the dishes to be very meat and fish heavy. Meals typically only include your main with a side of potatoes so nine times out of ten, a salad or vegetable will be an extra side. With Turkish, Italian, and Eastern European influences, the food is really a melting pot of different cultures which makes for some really diverse, and really delicious dishes.
Customary service tip is 10%, and 15-20% if the service has been exceptionally good.
The locals speak Montenegrin, although Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Albanian are all languages in use within the country. In the larger cities and more touristy destinations most people speak English, though it’s less common in the smaller towns. Regardless, Montenegrins are more than willing to go out of their way to try to understand you, which leads to my next point..
Montenegrins are extremely friendly and welcoming of tourists. We had so many great experiences with the locals and felt more than welcome almost everywhere we went.
How to Get Around:
If you’re looking to see as much as possible, I recommend renting a car. Although the roads can be hard to maneuver at points, it’s worth it to come and go as you please because there are so many things to see off the beaten path. We rented a car through Nova Rent a Car in Dubrovnik, Croatia as it’s much cheaper to rent there than in Montenegro.
While Montenegro does have a reliable bus service, they permit smoking onboard so we chose to avoid the public transportation.
Where to Go:
A Montenegrin town located on the Adriatic Sea, Budva is known best for its sandy beaches and bustling nightlife. Though we didn’t have the chance to experience Budva after dark, its picturesque Old Town and local beaches are definitely worth seeing.
What to See/Do:
- Walk through the Old Town Budva
- Catch some rays at Mogren Beach
Where to Eat/Drink:
- Hotel Mogren – Located right across from the Old Town, this hotel serves up a tasty breakfast
- Old Fishermans Pub – After a day lounging at Mogren Beach, pop by the Old Fishermans Pub for an afternoon spritz along the marina
A fortified town situated in the Bay of Kotor, its known best for its walled medieval town. We stayed just around the corner from Kotor in the town of Dobrota so we had plenty of time to explore this unique city. I highly recommend taking a walk up the historic wall to the Old Fortress. Although the climb is tough, you’ll be rewarded with a remarkable view of Kotor and the bay.
Pro Tip: Use Red Taxi to get around while you’re in the area. Other companies will try to rip you off, and the owner of our VRBO let us know that Red Taxi will be the most reliable option. It’s also the most convenient, as you can just text them from WhatsApp to request a driver.
What to See:
- Walk through the medieval town of Old Town Kotor
- Pay 8€ & hike up the very steep stairway to the Kotor Fortress
- Take a dip in the Bay of Kotor
- Stop by the Kotor Market to pick up some local delicacies
Where to Eat/Drink:
- BBQ Tanjga (Kotor) – Given that Zach and my dad are huge fans of BBQ, we had to give this place a try. It’s a unique spot in that all of the meat is seasoned and sitting in the display case for you to pick from, so you best bet my dad and Zach had a field day. On the more casual side, this was a great spot for a low-key meal.
- Bakery Mamma Mia (Kotor) – We grabbed breakfast from this local shop almost every day of our trip, and I swear I’m still dreaming about these pastries to this day. I highly recommend you try the meat Burek, a traditional Balkan recipe!
- Cesarica (Kotor) – A restaurant nestled right in the heart of Kotor’s Old Town, we had a great seafood meal here and enjoyed the change of scenery, despite all of Kotor’s curious cats trying to swipe a piece of your meal.
- Dobrotski Dvori (Dobrota) – One of our favorite spots from the trip, this restaurant has one of the best meat dishes I’ve ever experienced and I’m usually not one to be impressed by a meat plate. On top of that, the staff was extremely welcoming and even comped us an Amaro Montenegro to finish our meal. I highly recommend visiting whether you’re staying in Kotor or Dobrota!
- Konoba Bonaca (Dobrota) – A beautiful restaurant offering impressive views of the bay, with a so/so seafood menu. Though the restaurant itself was beautiful, there are other spots in the area that offer a better meal.
- Tiha Noc (Dobrota) – A local spot with some seriously good Turkish pizza and mussels, and the friendliest waitstaff.
- Pirun & Ozica (Dobrota) – A great seafood restaurant in the area, with a quaint and inviting setting. We had such a great time eating, drinking and taking in the atmosphere.
Another old town located on the Bay of Kotor, Perast is known best for its proximity to the islands of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Located within a short driving distance of Kotor, Perast is best seen at night when all of the tourist crowds have dissipated and the sun slowly sets behind the mountains.
What to See:
- Take in the views of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks or grab a boat and go to see them up close!
- Walk through the small town of Perast (it’s very small so only takes a matter of 20 minutes)
Where to Eat/Drink:
- Konoba Otok Bronza – A beautiful restaurant perfectly situated within viewing distance of Our Lady of he Rocks, with some really tasty food!
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tara River is an impressive blue river running through both Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The river flows into the Tara River Canyon, which is the longest canyon in Montenegro and Europe, and the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon. Though the best views of the river are seen from above, I personally enjoyed seeing it from within. We hopped on a raft and cruised right down the water, with a few pitstops for a dip along the way (with wetsuit of course).
What to See/Do:
- Take in the views of the Tara River from the Tara Bridge
- White water raft down the Tara River with Blue River Tara
Zabljak / Durmitor National Park
Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Durmitor National Park, located near the town of Zabljak, is one of Montenegro’s most impressive landmarks. In order to really see the park in its entirety, I recommend taking a drive through its winding roads. Though be warned; these narrow roads aren’t armed with guardrails despite the fact that its two-way road is only wide enough for one car. If you’re not a thrill seeker, I recommend parking your car and taking a hike on one of the parks many trails.
What to See:
- Visit Crno Jezero (Black Lake)
- Take the ski lift up to the Savin Kuk SummitPost and take in the impressive views of Durmitor National Park
Where to Stay:
- Hotel Polar Star – We ended up booking our stay at the last minute so unfortunately this hotel was the last option available. Although the food menu at night is relatively limited and the spa is an extra 30€ per hour, the hotel itself was relatively pleasant.
If you’re booking ahead of time, I highly recommend choosing either of the below options, as they get much better reviews.
Where to Stay:
With roughly seven days in Montenegro, we decided to live like a local during our time there by renting a house within the town of Dobrota. Located only a short 20 minute walk from the Old Town of Kotor, Dobrota is the perfect mix of lively, with a number of tasty restaurants and bars located within the town, yet relaxing, given its location right on the Bay of Kotor. Because of its distance from the Old Town of Kotor, we were able to take in the bay on our private dock and enjoy some tasty meals with picturesque views, all without the tourist crowds.
Though there are endless options for where to stay in Montenegro, Dobrota, is the best for many reasons, with the most important being its proximity to some of Montenegro’s major sites. Located only 20 minutes from Perast, roughly 40 minutes from Budva, an hour from Lovcen National Park and so much more, there’s so much to see right in your backyard. You can find a number of houses on Airbnb and VRBO.
On top of that, Dobrota was significantly cheaper than Kotor, for both hotels/airbnbs and food and drinks, and the town has a ton of access to the bay so you can swim just about anywhere.
This post only covers a small portion of everything that there is to see in this beautiful country. Although we had planned to see so much more, we got sucked in to the beauty of the Bay of Kotor and some days couldn’t bring ourselves to leave our dock and the quaint town of Dobrota.
If you have any specific questions about Montenegro in general or any of the places that I listed above, feel free to comment below!1