Montenegro Travel Guide

Montenegro Travel Guide

My travel guide for Montenegro features the top places to visit, how to get there, safety, scams, logistics, and more to help you plan your trip.

Montenegro, just south of hot-spot Croatia, is a beautiful, under-the-radar European destination. With 183 miles (294 km) of rugged mountains rising from the sparkling blue Adriatic, it’s dotted with must-see medieval-walled towns topped with fortresses and several stunning National Parks. Plus, it’s not as jam-packed with tourists as its northern neighbor and it’s easier on the budget.

Its Bay, the Bay of Kotor, or the Boka, is so beautiful, it’s sometimes called the southernmost fjord in the world. Yet, it’s not a fjord. It’s actually a submerged river canyon, with epic views from the many peaks here.

The Bay of Kotor is one of the top things to do in Kotor and Montengro travel guide
Bay of Kotor

And as most of this area was under Venetian rule for almost 400 years, many of these villages evoke an Italian charm, with cobbled pedestrian streets, stately squares, old churches, and open-air dining.

This travel guide and posts on Montenegro have been updated as of January 2024.

Top Attractions In Montenegro

Herceg Novi

Just 1 hour south of Dubrovnik is Herceg Novi, on the northern end of the beautiful Bay of Kotor. This small, medieval town sits at the foot of Mount Orjen, overlooking the bay. It’s full of lovely views, charming public squares, interesting churches, pebble beaches, and two 15th-16th century fortresses, Tvrđava Španjola and Kanli Kula, high above the town. Kanli Kula, which means ”bloody tower”, refers to its time as a prison. Today, its open-air theater is a spectacular venue for festivals and concerts.

Kotor

Kotor, about an hour south of Herceg Novi, and 2 hours from Dubrovnik, is an historic gem.

Bay of Kotor | Ggia

This must-visit UNESCO listed town sits at the base of rugged St. John, or San Giovanni mountain, encircled with medieval walls. It’s topped with the ruins of St. John’s fortress, offering epic views of the Bay of Kotor.

Hiking to its fortress is not easy, as it’s up 1,350 steps, but it’s well worth the effort for views that rival northern fjords.

The medieval walls is one of the top things to do in Kotor.
Kotor’s Medieval Walls

Making Kotor even more charming, locals are still a big part of this city, with families out enjoying life in its many open-air cafes. And, as it sits on the beautiful Bay of Kotor, it’s the perfect place to arrange a boat excursion to explore the bay.

Take a trip to idyllic Perast, visit a cave where you can swim in fluorescent blue waters, go cliff-jumping off rocky outcrops and more.

St. John’s fortress is one of the top things to do in the Montenegro travel guide.
View of Kotor Bay from St. John’s Fortress

Perast

North of Kotor, on the breathtaking Bay of Kotor, is peaceful Perast. Nestled on a tiny strip of land between Montenegro’s 2,864’ (873 m) Ilija mountain and the Verige strait, it’s known for its jaw-dropping bay views.

About 20-minutes from Kotor by boat, it’s often visited as a day trip. But it’s really better to stay here a day or two to explore everything this alluring town has to offer…and to get away from the more tourist spots of Kotor and Budva.

Perast is a highlight in the Montenegro Travel Guide
Perast

One of the top highlights here is to visit the small church that appears to be floating in the Adriatic, Our Lady of The Rocks, or Gospa od Škrpjela, and learn its unusual history. It’s also ideal to explore the town by walking its seaside promenade, dining in old-world-mansions-turned-restaurants with amazing bay views, exploring its museum, and climbing St. Nicholas’s bell tower for the view.

Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George Islets Perast
Our Lady of the Rocks (left) and St. George (right)
Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George Islets Perast
Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George (left) off Perast

Budva

Montenegro’s most lively city is Budva, about 30-minutes south of Kotor. It’s a popular spot, known for its sandy beaches and buzzing nightlife, with many open-air clubs along its seafront. Yet, this medieval city also offers some history, with charming cobbled streets, stone houses, well-preserved medieval walls, old churches, and a citadel.

Old walls of budva in Montenegro Travel guide
Budva Citadel

Accessible only by boat, there’s also nearby Sveti Nikola island, locally referred to as “Hawaii”. This uninhabited island, one nautical mile from Budva, is a popular excursion for its beaches.

A day trip to Budva is one of the top things to do in Kotor.
Sveti Nikola Island (right)

Sveti Stefan

Swank Sveti Stefan is a 5-star luxury resort, Aman Sveti Stefan, about 20-minutes south of Budva. Formerly an islet, it’s now connected to the mainland via a man-made isthmus.

Once visited by the rich and famous, like Sophia Lauren, Marylin Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and more, this gem has been unfortunately closed for many years due to land disputes.

In 2023, it finally opened again, but only for organized day tours.

Sveti Stefan

Lovćen National Park

Located at the top of Mount Lovćen, inland about an hour from Kotor, is Lovćen National Park. This park has several well-marked hiking trails with spectacular views.

At its peak, you’ll find the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović Njegoš. This 19th century Prince-Bishop was the spiritual and political leader of Montenegro, as well as a poet and philosopher. The mausoleum, guarded by two granite giants, is up 461 steps, and offers spectacular views of the valley.

The drive to get here from Kotor is via Serpentine Road, a road full of hairpin turns and stellar views of the bay.

Dormitor National Park

This breathtaking UNESCO listed National Park, formed by glaciers, has a variety of eco-systems to explore. Dormitor has almost 50 peaks more than 6,500’ (2,000 m) above sea level and dense forests dotted with 18 glacial lakes, known as Gorske Oči, or “mountain eyes”.

It’s also known for the canyons of Draga, Sušica, Komarnica, and Tara Rivers, with the latter being Europe’s deepest gorge.

Dormitor | Jshnay

Located in northern Montenegro, it offers superb hiking, and climbing in the summer and skiing and snowboarding in the winter. The town of Žabljak is the center of the mountain area. I have not been here, but writing this, it’s definitely in the list!

Lake Skadar National Park

Lake Skadar, also known as Lake Shkodra, the largest lake in the Balkan Penninsula, sits on the southern end of Montenegro, straddling the border of Albania. The lake area is stunning, with water lily lined channels, islands, and islets, surrounded by mountains. It’s a little off the beaten path, so challenging to visit independently. It’s best explored by boat, preferably on one of the traditional shallow-bottomed boats, or čun, arranged in nearby Virpazar. This spectacular lake is also full of wildlife and is one of the most important birding sites in Europe.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Best Time To Visit

Temperature-wise, the best time to visit in Spring, May through June, and Fall, September and October. July and August are peak tourist months, so crowded, and can get very hot.

In Kotor, the top festival is Boka Night, or Bokeljska, in August. This is when elaborate boats and floats compete in the bay with open-air concerts and fireworks, often lasting all night. It’s said that locals also dance and sing, making it quite a spectacle.

In August, Sea Dance is usually held in Budva, but for 2023, it is moving. Hopefully this three day festival attracting tens of thousands will be back next year. People dance on the beach around the clock to some of the hottest international stars.

In Perast, the best festival is fašinada, held every July 22nd. Witness a parade of decorated boats sailing to the islet of Our Lady of the Rocks Cathedral at sunset. They cast rocks into the sea, honoring the islet’s creation as a man-made islet hundreds of years ago.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Languages

Montenegrin is the official language, although Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Albanian are also official and all have similarities. About 26% speak English, although the percentage is much higher in touristy areas. I never had any communication issues here.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Money Matters

Currency: Although Montenegro is not part of the EU, their currency is the Euro. The following conversation rates are from of January, 1 2024.

  • 1 USD=.91 Euro
  • 1 CNY=.13 Euro

Credit Cards: Credit and Debit Cards are widely accepted at larger hotels and shops, but smaller ones may not have terminals, so carry cash.

ATM’s: ATMs, or bankomats, are available in tourist and larger cities. Most large private banks do not charge fees, but the screen will alert you about fees in addition to any fees your bank charges. Try to use ATMs at banks, as private ATMs do charge fees. ATMs at airports, hotels, and near tourist areas likely charge higher fees (convenience). Some ATMs will allow you to view the transaction in your home currency, but this also triggers a higher conversion fee. Always use/view local currency and do the math yourself for the best rate. ATMs use 4 digit pins, so if yours is longer, change it before you travel. Also, most do not have letters, so it’s best to know your pin numerically.

Tipping: Tipping is not mandatory in Montenegro, but is becoming more common as it becomes more touristy. Wages here are low, so a small tip of 10%, if you’re happy with service, is appreciated. Make sure to leave the tip in cash, as otherwise it will not reach the server. For bellboys, leave a few Euros per bag and for housekeeping 2-3 Euros per night left at the end of your stay. For taxis, round up to the nearest whole Euro.

Kotor Marina is a highlight in the Montenegro Travel Guide
Kotor Marina

Montenegro Travel Guide: Safety

Monetenegro is relatively safe, but pick-pocketing and petty theft does occur. Especially in touristy areas. Take normal precautions, always being vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Don’t carry too much cash and keep a close eye on your purse or wallet. I personally felt very safe here as a solo female traveler.

Always check the latest situation on your government website. It’s also a good idea to sign up for STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), or similar with your country to be updated if an issue does arise.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Scams

Generally Montenegro is safe, but there are always a few people trying to take advantage of tourists. I had zero issues in Montenegro, and there are not many reports of scams noted for this country, so I’ve just listed some more common travel scams/issues.

Pick-pockets

Not being a major tourist destination yet, this is not a huge concern in Montenegro, but something to always be in the lookout for wherever you travel. Be vigilant, never carry more cash than you need, don’t carry all your cards at once, and keep a close eye, or hand, on your purse or wallet.

Incorrect Change

Try to carry small bills to reduce the need for change, as some will take advantage of the fact that you’re not familiar with the currency or in too much of a hurry. If you do need change, take the time to make sure you’re not shortchanged.

Taxi Scams

Taxi drivers are questionable pretty much everywhere, so it’s always good to be on your guard with all of them. Montenegro has both official and unofficial (or ”wild”) taxis. Always make sure to use official taxis as unofficial ones will likely overcharge you. Make sure they have proper signage and have a meter in the taxi before you agree to a ride. Call official companies (your hotel can help you) or get taxis from official queues. Beware of taxis conveniently sitting at key tourist spots. There is no Uber or Lyft here, but you can order a Tesla ride through the TeslaGoApp. It provides estimated costs, location, and more. If you’re booking a standard taxi and want to get an understanding of an appropriate fare, ask a local or ask the staff at your hotel.

Drinking “Friends”

This is also common in several countries. You’re approached by someone wanting to create a friendship over a drink, or given a “free ticket” to a select place. Beware that the establishment may be in on the scam and overcharge you, or be a tourist trap. If you meet someone that insists on a particular place and you still want to meet them, pick a very public, well-populated venue yourself and be in the lookout for other red flags.

Fake Tour Guides/Agencies

Book at official ticket counters, with your hotel, or known organizations, never with someone you meet in the street. Check that guides or agencies have a legitimate on-line listing with reviews that look real. Verify that the phone number really works. You can also ask to see their license.

Tampered ATM’s

Always choose ATMs inside, or connected to bank if you can, as they are less likely to be tampered with. Check for hidden cameras positioned over the keypad, scanners with tampered covers, and/or fake key pad covers. Really look at the machine before using it to see if something appears altered. If the machine keeps your card, try to get help to come to you, don’t leave it by walking away.

Budva Old Town

Montenegro Travel Guide: Getting Around

Flying Into Montenegro

Podgorica (TGD), in Montenegro’s capital, and Tivat (TIV) are both international airports, but Dubrovnik’s Čilipi airport (DBV), which is in neighboring Croatia, often has more flight options, making it the better choice. You can easily take a bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor or Budva, then navigate from there. See more info on buses below.

Getting From The Airport

Bus

Tivat is relatively close to Kotor and Budva, so if arriving here, you can take a taxi, but check local prices first. There is a bus station less than a mile (1.4 km) from the airport at Tivat Bus. You can get there via taxi, or long walk (about 15 minutes) if you’re really set on it.

To get from Podgorica airport to Kotor or Budva, take a taxi the 12 miles (20 km) to Podgorica bus station. See time tables and prices, which are inexpensive.

Buses from Dubrovnik to Kotor or Budva depart from Dubrovnik Main Bus Station near the ferry. It’s about 2-3 hours to Kotor and 3-4 hours to Budva, depending on how long it takes to cross the border. Bus Croatia and busticket4me offer several options. Make sure to understand visa issues for your country and any travel restrictions for the border crossing. To get to Dubrovnik’s main bus station from Čilipi airport, there is a shuttle bus, or you can take a 20-minute taxi ride.

Self-Drive

Driving in Montenegro is on the right side of the road and roads between the main cities are fairly good, making self-driving a decent option. The issue is that Old Town Kotor, Budva, and Herceg Novi are pedestrian only towns, so you will need to find a place to park your car while visiting, making a bus or taxi the better option.

If you do drive, know that it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving (headsets are ok), and there are very strict blood alcohol rules. Also, if you land in Croatia and drive to Montenegro, know that not all car rental companies will allow you to cross the border. Talk to your car rental company before renting if this is in your plan. There is also a border crossing fee that varies.

Perast is a highlight in the Montenegro Travel Guide
Perast

Between Cities in Montenegro

Bus

Buses connect all cities in Montenegro and is the least expensive way to travel. For the location of the bus stations by city and ticket information, see busticket4me for a variety of options. In peak season, buy your tickets in advance and arrive at the station early, as buses have been known to oversell.

Taxi

There are no Uber, Lyft, so you’ll need to use a standard taxi or download the TeslaGoApp and ride in an Tesla (pricing is not exact), or ask about the latest ride hailing apps. Always make sure to use an official taxi that has a meter. Unofficial or “wild taxis” resort to well, wild practices. Use them at your own risk. Your hotel or Airbnb can help advise on the best taxi companies and apps to use by city. See scams above.

Water Taxis

Water Taxis are available in Perast, Kotor, and Budva, but you need to negotiate your rate. Ask For typical rates at your hotel in advance. Generally, they are best for sites near the respective city, like taking a water taxi from Budva to Sveti Nikola Island or your hotel.

Budva Marian is a highlight in the Montenegro Travel Guide
Budva Marina

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Montenegro Travel Guide: Where To Stay

Herceg Novi

Many places in the old town of Herceg Novi gets fairly mixed reviews, so I’ve noted a few that require a 15-20 minute walk, or a drive to get there, yet are rated very highly.

Budget

  • Located about a 20-minute walk from the old town, Apartment Kovac is very basic apartment that gets great reviews. Some rooms have a terrace with a mountain view.

Affordable

  • Centar Novi is a 4-star guesthouse that’s a 20-minute walk to old town and a 6-minute walk to Meljine Beach. Some rooms offer sea views.

Moderate

  • Located a 20-minute walk from the old town and a few steps from Topla Beach, Doxa M Apartments offers a garden and a terrace or balcony. Some units have a fridge.

Splurge

  • Beachside Hotel Perla offers elegantly decorated rooms with balconies and sea or garden views. There is also a pool, a restaurant, and a gym that offers yoga classes. This hotel is located a 15-minute walk to the old town.

Kotor

Kotor is one of the most poplar places to stay in Montenegro and an excellent choice as there are many sites to explore here. Plus it’s more centrally located making it easy to visit other cities. These places are all highly rated.

Budget

  • I stayed in Centrum Hostel in Kotor, which offers dorms for a budget price and is a great place to meet other travelers.
  • Guesthouse Nikoleta gets great reviews for location, but some complaints on the budget decor of this inexpensive option.

Affordable 

  • La Rocca Apartment Old Town Kotor is a 1 bedroom apartment with a kitchen. It has a queen bed and sofa bed so can sleep up to 4.
  • Old Town Heart is offers 2 bedroom apartments with a kitchen in an old stone building with mountain and city views. It sleeps up to 4.
  • Apartment Palata Bizanti is an apartment with a kitchenette in the heart of old town that gets high reviews. It has a queen bed and sofa bed, so can sleep up to 4.

Moderate

  • Fig Apartments are 2-bedroom apartments with a kitchen that offer city and mountain views.

Splurge

  • Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort is a beachfront resort with a spa and wellness center, and a private beach with views of Kotor Bay. There is also a restaurant and a lounge.
  • Located a 10-minute walk from Virtu Beach, Corso Levante Luxury Suites Dobrota offers a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a private beach area and air-conditioned accommodations with a patio. Corso is in a renovated palace, making it pretty cool.

Perast

Perast is such a charming little town, it really is ideal to spend at least a night or two here and enjoy its panoramic beauty. I only visited as a day trip, so did not stay here. I’ve selected some of the highest rated places with amazing views of the bay for you to choose from.

Budget 

  • The charming guesthouse of BellaVistaZmucik sits a little higher on the hillside and is all about the views of the bay. It offers sea and mountain views from the property and the rooms and is a 5-minute walk to the beach.
  • Bluemarine Rooms And Apartments offers 4-star accommodation in a renovated 400 year old building. It’s a 2-minute walk from Perast Beach. Some rooms have city views, while some have ocean views. Some rooms also offer a fridge and stove. 

Affordable to Moderate

  • Guest House Dragutinovic is a 4-star guesthouse with sea and mountains views from its terrace and is a 4-minute walk to the beach. Rooms also have sea and mountain views.
  • Perfetto Perasto Residence offers 1 bedroom apartments with a fully equipped kitchen and a terrace with city views.

Splurge

  • The 300 year old building at Monte Bay Retreat has been artfully renovated with modern touches. Sitting near the sea it offers stunning views and a pool. Rooms have mountain and ocean views. It’s 1500’ to the beach.
  • Heritage Grand Perast by Rixos offers a spa and wellness center with a hammam and a sauna in a renovated 18th century palace. It also has a fitness center.

Budva

Budva offers a beach and more lively nightlife. The place where I stayed here is no longer open, so I’ve selected a few places with high reviews.

Budget

  • Joy Apartments are basic, non-smoking apartments that get great reviews located about a 13-minute walk to Slovenska Beach, 1.1 miles to Ricardova Glava Beach, and 1.1 miles to Pizana Beach. All rooms have a balcony.
  • Freedom Hostel is centrally located with Ricardova Glava Beach just a few steps away. They offer 4 and 8 bedroom dorms with some rooms featuring city views. As with many hostels, there are complaints of noise and limited bathrooms, but you can meet other travelers.

Affordable

  • Best Location Old Town Budva Rooms is a centrally located, non-smoking guesthouse a few steps from Ricardova Glava Beach, a 3-minute walk to Pizana Beach, and 500 yards to Mogren Beach. Rooms have a patio and select rooms have city views. 
  • Old Town Skyline Apartments are 1 bedroom apartments with a kitchen and a terrace with city views. It’s centrally located, just a few steps from Ricardova Glava Beach, and a 3-4 minute walk to the beaches of Pizana and Slovenska.

Moderate

  • Apartments Inspiration offers self-catering apartments with a beautiful sea view near Vidikovak viewpoint. They say they offer parking out front, which is rare.

Splurge

  • Penthouse See View With Pool On Terrace offers a 2 bedroom apartment with living and kitchen and private pool with a view. It’s an 11-minute walk to Ricardova Glava Beach, 0.6 miles to Pizana Beach, and a 3-minute walk to Slovenska Beach. Parking is available on the property, which is rare in Budva.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Visa Information

US and EU citizens can travel to Montenegro visa free for 90 days. Citizens from China need to hold a diplomatic or service passport. See the Montenegro Visa Policy for more details and information on other countries.

Montenegro is not currently a part of the Schengen, but may join in 2035.

Montenegro Travel Guide: Top Destination Blogs

Click the icons below for more detailed information on the key sites in Montenegro.

If this travel guide has been useful in planning, or just dreaming about visiting Montenegro, please add a comment below.

Safe travels!

Julie

To learn more about me and my thoughts on travel, see my about me page.

Hello! I resigned from a corporate career in product development to explore the world. Although my goal was to travel for a year, 8 years later, I’ve been honored to have explored more than 60 gorgeous countries and met some unbelievably amazing people. Our world truly is a beautiful place! Follow me into the gorgeous unknown by subscribing below. You’ll receive details on fabulous destinations, comprehensive travel guides, travel tips and tidbits, and information on travel trends, like experiential, sustainable, and transformational travel. Where is your next gorgeous unknown? Julie

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