Explore this most mountainous country in the Balkans, all the way to rugged coastline.
My personal list of handy Montenegro travel tips. All first hand knowledge - written during my travels in Montenegro.
All the tips have been categorised into sections. Just click on each tab to fully open and start reading.
- When travelling on buses between towns, the best website to refer to is https://busticket4.me/EN. The times are accurate 95% of the time. You can book and pay for your ticket online, but you must print the ticket to show to the driver. Some bus stations will provide you with their email address so they can print for you. However, I only found one bus station that wouldn’t accept these tickets – Ulcinj.
- I found that I didn’t need to pre-book bus tickets, even travelling in high season of August. But I always bought my ticket at the bus station at least 40 minutes before departure.
- Most bus companies charge extra for luggage in the hold. Therefore, always keep 1 Euro handy, which you pay direct to the driver
- If travelling by bus from Albania into Montenegro, you are issued proper bus tickets and the driver holds onto all the passports. Once at the border, the driver walks into customs to get all the passports stamped and returns them to everyone when the driver returns. Therefore, no need to get out of the bus to see a customs officer.
- If travelling by bus from Kotor to Croatia (Dubrovnik or further afield), add an extra 1-2 hours to the travelling time for crossing the border. Both sides (Montenegro and Croatia) wanted to see inside the luggage of every bus passenger
Montenegro travel tips - by city
- Not the best Montenegrin beach, the town beach is tightly packed with umbrellas and tourists. Consequently, it is more inviting is to walk along the coastal path south towards Long Beach. You can either pay to swim at beach bars such as Ladies Beach (ladies only!) or Ibiza. Or walk further along (follow the dirt track just before Albatross Hotel) to find your own secluded rocky beach area. Third option is to continue walking the whole length of the path to Long Beach (about 1.5 hours). Long Beach is 12 km long, so lots of sunbeds/umbrellas spaced nicely to choose from. You can get to Long Beach by a 10 minutes taxi ride.
- Another alternative to the busy, crowded town beach is to take a 10 minute taxi north to the quiet and tranquil Valdanos beach.
- The best spot to take sunset photos is from the North Gate area of the old town. From either inside or outside the gate. Plus a few restaurants have seating with full view of the sunset too , such as Fishermans Hari, Antigona and Sunset Restaurant..
- GLUTEN FREE EATING: Restaurants didn’t really know what gluten free means so I had to ask for meals without flour – ‘bez brashno’.
The Idea Supermarket on the main road leading down to the town beach has gluten free cereals, rice cakes, pasta and hummus but no bread.
- This is the town where the famous and most scenic balkan train ride begins, on its way to Belgrade in Serbia. It wasn’t in my plans, so I will do it next time. However, if you choose to do the day train, travel from Bar to Belgrade direction so that you don’t miss the most scenic part of the journey, which is the Montenegro part. It’s an approx. 11 hour journey so you will arrive at night. They also have an overnight train, in which case it would probably be best to travel in the opposite direction from Belgrade to Bar instead, so that you see scenic Montenegro in the early hours of the morning.
- Bar is a popular beach holiday destination for locals, lined with apartments. But I preferred staying 15 minutes inland in the quaint Stari Bar (Old Bar town). Has a beautiful cobblestone main street lined with cafes, souvenir and local produce shops. You can also roam around the old ruins of the fortress perched on top of the hill. In addition, definitely try their famous fresh pomegranate juice. Star Bar is a must see!
- You can take the Mediteran Express Bus from the seaside to Stari bar. It runs once an hour for €1.00 per person. Or you can take a taxi for approximately €10 each way.
- GLUTEN FREE EATING: did find one vegetarian café in the main strip of Stari Bar. The other cafes didn’t really understand what gluten free means. So I asked for food that was without flour – ‘bez brashno’. There is a tiny supermarket at the bottom end of the main street but only offered gluten free corn flakes and rice cakes.
- A major touristy coastal town, lined with fancy hotels and lots of apartments. This destination is for people who like ritzy, glamour, nightlife and just to be seen..
- Budva has the most glamorous of old towns along the coast. Lined with expensive jewellery and clothing stores. Also has lots of restaurants and bars to frequent. However, the prices to dine and drink inside the old town are more expensive than the restaurants/bars outside the walls.
- The best closest beach is Mogren Beach, which is a short walk north of the old town. It has a sandy beach and a decent section of public beach area if you don’t want to pay for a sunbed/umbrella. As a bonus for the adventurous, the rocky outcrop at the end of the beach is great for cliff jumping.
- The best sunset is overlooking Sveti Stephan island. Take the bus from the local bus station area to Sveti Stefan stop. It drops you off half way down the hill and you have to walk the rest of the way down to the beach. Or, as I did, you can walk up the hill to the main road and settle in for a cocktail or dinner at Hotel Adrovic. Then you can watch the sun go down behind Sveti Stefan island.
- GLUTEN FREE EATING: There are several large supermarkets offering a couple of gluten free items. But Aroma Market has the largest range of GF food , including bread, rolls, pasta, biscuits, muesli bars and more.
- The perfect spot to explore the Durmitor mountains and the largest canyon in the world. A definite must on your tour of Montenegro. It feels like you’re in the Italian alps.
- An easy walk is the nearby Black Lake. The lake is black in the winter but bright blue in the summer. Avoid the mid section of the day when tourist buses crowd the roads and lake. There is a simple walk to do around the lake or laze on the grass areas or bench seats. You can rent canoes, have a picnic or dine in the restaurant/bar. Do stop by the wooden stalls selling local fair such as honey, oils, jams, tea and fresh mountain berries.
- For the cheapest food in town, head to Luna Restaurant. They cook local meats and give you huge servings. It may not be fancy but you definitely get your moneys’ worth.
- A popular outdoor activity is white water rafting in Tara Canyon, the longest canyon in Europe. We did the tour with Durmitours. Their bus drivers did lots of scenic photo opp stops for us in each direction. Once we arrived at the Modra Rejka camping, they had breakfast waiting for us before we donned our gear and drove to the starting point. The rapids were really only grade 1 or 2 this late in the season. You need to come in June if you want more rapid action. However, it was nice to float down the beautiful canyon. You will find cheaper rafting tours in town but they will be of shorter duration and not include 2 meals. I highly recommend this professional tour company.
- The major highlight for me was hiking up Bobotov Kuk, the highest peak in Montenegro. If you don’t have your own car, you will need to arrange transport or a taxi to the start of the trail 25km away. Its about a 20 minute drive. The trail starts off moderately but then there are many sections that are a rocky climb. Especially at the top where you will need to hold onto ropes for support. But the views from the top are so amazing and you can literally see every bordering country to Montenegro. Approximately 3 hours hiking in each direction. When I returned to the starting point carpark, it took me 5 minutes to hitch a ride back into Zabljak town.
- GLUTEN FREE EATING: as with the rest of Montenegro, restaurants are not aware what gluten free is. So ask for meals without flour – bez brashno. There are a couple of supermarkets here but only sell GF corn flakes.
- One of the highlights of Kotor is the walk up the old city walls to St Johns Fortress. There are lots of steps and so its quite an exercise. But the views over Kotor old town and the bay are amazing, day or night, that makes it so worth it. Bring plenty of water with you as there are no cafes along the way and the Montenegrin sun is brutal. For the best photos, walk up to the fortress during the morning. Because in the afternoon, the sun is setting behind the mountains of the bay and makes everything look hazy.
- The best bus day tour to do is the full day Great Montenegro Tour. You visit Lovcen National Park where you have plenty of opportunity to take the amazing photos of overlooking Kotor and the bay. The visit to the mausoleum of King Peter is a highlight for most. Magnificent views once again. Plus there is a restaurant there for a quick snack or drink. Then you visit the old royal capital of Cetinje. And finally a lunch, boat ride and swim in Lake Skadar. The guide we had with 360 Montenegro Tours was fantastic, funny and ensured the tour was well paced.
- Unfortunately, the speed boat tours that offer a 3 hour tour to blue cave and Lady of the Rock are quite underwhelming. They literally sped from place to place and you cant capture any photos along the way. Many boats fit into the blue cave making a decent swim impossible. Then it’s a short 20 min stop at Lady of the Rock which I didn’t get a chance to see inside the church due to several tour boats arriving at the same time. I really wouldn’t recommend doing the speed boat tours. However, if you really want to see the blue cave, I would recommend taking a 12.00pm tour when the sun is higher so that the water is more blue in colour.
- Instead, I would catch a Blue Line bus to visit the beautiful coastal village of Persat. It is so unique in architecture compared to the other towns and its quieter and less touristy. Many cafes/restaurants to choose from to eat by the waters edge. Then you can buy a return boat taxi ticket to the Lady of the Rock and spend as much time as you want on the island. This was a much pleasant outing compared to the speed boat tour.
- If travelling by bus from Kotor to Croatia (Dubrovnik or further afield), add an extra 1-2 hours to the travelling time for crossing the border. Both sides (Montenegro and Croatia) wanted to see inside the luggage of every bus passenger.
- GLUTEN FREE EATING: the Voli Supermarket, outside the old town next to Shopping Centre Kamelija, has a small GF section with sliced bread, pasta, muesli bars etc. Inside the shopping centre is Aroma Supermarket but they have a smaller range of GF food