Skirted by precipitous mountains on one side and the Adriatic sea on the other, Montenegro (the translation of the name of the country would be “Black Mountain”) represents the perfect curtain-raiser to Eastern Europe. How safe is it to travel to Montenegro? The fact that the region is generally considered tranquil and ideal for tourists who travel alone should provide an answer to that question. This Montenegro travel guide will help you gather all the information relevant to a vacation in this small, but beautiful country.
Where to Travel in Montenegro? How Much Does It Cost to Travel to Montenegro?
This small country in the Balkan Peninsula, located between Europe and Asia offers a wide range of attractions, from wonderful sights and beautiful beaches to delicious food and entertaining activities. The country which used to be a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has a coastline decorated with beaches, secluded fishing villages, fortified towns, and ancient churches. However, the most prominent feature of Montenegro’s impressive scenery is the Bay of Kotor, which has been recognized by UNESCO.
There are plenty of sights and isolated places within the central part of the country, such as the thick forests of the Durmitor National Park inhabited by wolves and bears, the prehistoric forest of Biogradska Gora, the Tara Canyon, which is the European equivalent of the Grand Canyon, as well as the center of white-water rafting.
Even though the Euro has been the official currency of the country since 2002, Montenegro is still a rather affordable destination. The numerous accommodation options it provides range from rooms in private houses to luxurious hotels that offer rooms at reasonable prices.
Food is another remarkable feature of this country, and there is a vast number of traditional dishes you ought to taste. The ones you must taste include smoked prosciutto from Njegusi, a village in the mountains, that melts in your mouth, buzara, which is a dish made from prawns, shellfish, and the local Vranac wines. If you happen to have a limited budget, try cevabdzinicas, shops that sell grilled meat products, such as cevapi, which are essentially kebabs made of minced beef and pork.
If you wish to explore the area, it is best to hire a car, since you will need to think about transportation. Buses are slower and there are no frequent departures, but they represent an alternative option, since they travel to the majority of the most popular sights. However, if you aim for a more panoramic view, take the train that runs between Belgrade and Bar, through Skadar lake and the city of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.
What to Do in Montenegro?
A Tour in the Bay
The stunning Bay of Kotor, locally referred to as Boka, which translates as “the bay”, is a water paradise decorated with primeval churches and settlements from the medieval and Venetian era. The most convenient way of exploring the area is taking a boat trip with an organization such as Kotor Bay Tours. Stops along the way comprise The Blue Cave, a tunnel in the middle of beautiful turquoise sea, and Our Lady of the Rocks, a man-made island that, as claimed by the legend, was manufactured about five hundred years ago, when two brothers uncovered a rock with an old Madonna icon there. Longer boat drives include a stop at Perast, a small atoll which is considered to be “the Montenegrin Venice” thanks to its streets fringed with primeval churches and Baroque palaces in which Venetian Princes and Russian Czars used to reside.
Where to Dine, Hike, and Reside?
Once you are in Kotor town, prepare to walk 1,355 steps along the large wall that was created as a form of protection against invaders that leads to the top of Sveti Ivan mountain. When you reach the destination, marvel at the view of the shimmering bay beneath your feet, and then return to Kotor town to explore its streets paved with cobbles and bordered with buildings made of stone that host small restaurants and shops that sell a wide range of products, from sun cream to rakija, which is a form of fruit brandy typical of the region, to traditional red and black hats.
Dine in the bay, at Verige65, a restaurant that provides a panoramic view of the Verige streets and offers modern versions of traditional meals, such as an appetizing prosciutto dish served with local cheese and homemade sausages. Reside at Portonovi resort overlooking the sea. The resort is in the vicinity of some of the most beautiful beaches of the bay, and the town of Herceg Novi, which leaves the impression of a traditional village. Another option would be to find accommodation at Guesthouse Tomanovic in the town of Herceg Novi.
Explore Splendid Beaches, Beautiful Lakes, and Grand Canyons
As you travel along the coast, you will reach Budva, frequently described as “the Montenegrin Miami” due to its lovely (although crowded) beaches, and dynamic (although expensive) nightlife scene. Budva is a great introduction to the beautiful St. Nicholas Island and some of the most appealing beaches of the region. Skadar lake is located about an hour from Budva toward the center of the country. It is the largest lake in Southern Europe as well as the natural border between Montenegro and Albania. Also known by names Shkodra, Shkodër or Scutari, this lake is the perfect retreat for rare species, such as big beaked Dalmatian pelicans and exotic lizards, as well as migrating birds. You can easily explore the lake on a small fishing boat that travels over its waters decorated with lilies.
From there, you can reach the Durmitor National Park by car or bus in a few hours and marvel at 1.3 km deep Tara Canyon. It is right behind the Grand Canyon in Arizona, which is the deepest one in the world. You can reside in Zabljak, reside in one of the rooms rented there, and dine at traditional restaurants serving local dishes while you explore the wilderness of this lovely area. You have a wide range of options at your disposal, from swimming in icy waters of the Black Lake, to traveling by a zip line across the Tara Canyon, to engaging in white-water rafting in the Tara River. Whichever option you choose, it will be ideal for ending the first vacation in one of the friendliest and the most entertaining countries of Eastern Europe.
- In spite of the wide presence of the English language, you will make friends easier by using some Montenegrin words, such as zdravo (meaning hello) or hvala (meaning thank you).
- Note that hotels, restaurants, and shops outside of tourist areas may not accept credit cards. If you decide to explore the country further, make sure to have cash on hand.