Adventure,  Food,  Montenegro,  Travel Guides,  Wine

Montenegro: A Week of Breathtaking Adriatic Beauty

A week in Montenegro promises pristine coastline, dramatic canyons, saltwater sanctuaries and freshwater escapes. This complete guide includes an active 7-day itinerary, trip-planning tips, and recommendations for accommodation, dining, nightlife, activities and day trips.

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In 4 short days, the tiny Adriatic gem of Montenegro made a very big impact on us. We navigated nearly 75% of Montenegro’s majestic coastline, wandered ancient alleyways, observed incredible wildlife, and drank homemade brandy with locals on the shores of remote lakefront villages. But there were definitely some inland destinations that we missed, and so—somehow—we still left saying “if only we had more time…”

We’ve created this guide in hopes of offering you the best of what we did plus what we would have done with a few more days in Montenegro. We’ll share tips based on what we experienced, and offer suggestions on some other areas we didn’t get a chance to explore.


In this post:

Preparing for your week in Montenegro

  1. FAQ’s: status within the EU, currency, electricity
  2. When to go
  3. Language tips
  4. Where to stay
  5. Getting there
  6. Getting around (plus tips on rental cars & crossing the border from Croatia)

A week in Montenegro: day-by-day itinerary

  1. Welcome to Boka Bay
  2. Wander the ancient walled city of Kotor
  3. Montenegro’s central coast: Budva and Sveti Stetan
  4. Day trip to Lake Skadar: Montenegro’s freshwater escape
  5. Explore Durmitor National Park
  6. Hike or river raft through Tara Canyon
  7. Go canyoning in Nevidio Canyon

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Visit our Plan A Trip page and fill out a quick questionnaire to get the ball rolling!


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Preparing for your week in Montenegro

Here are a few quick facts to know before visiting Montenegro:

  • Is Montenegro part of the EU? as of this writing, Montenegro is not (yet) part of the EU. Montenegro applied for EU membership in 2008. Accession negotiations began in 2012.
  • What currency do they use in Montenegro? despite not being part of EU, Montenegro is on the Euro (€)
  • What voltage (electricity) do they use in Montenegro? like most of Europe, the standard voltage in Montenegro is 230V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

When should I travel to Montenegro?

Like many other warm, coastal destinations in the northern hemisphere, high season for tourism is June, July & August. Prepare for incredible weather, but also prepare to pay a bit more for food, accommodation & activities. On the bright side: Montenegro receives far fewer tourists than its neighbor to the north, Croatia.

What sort of beaches can I expect? GREAT question! Some sand, a lot of rock, and sometimes, solid concrete leading right into the water. Bring water socks/shoes.

Language tips

Montenegro’s official language is Montenegrin, which is similar to both Serbian & Croatian. Here are some very important words to memorize before your trip:

  • Hello  Zdravo
  • Goodbye  Zbogom
  • Thank you  Hvala
  • Wine → Vino
  • Beer → Pivo
  • Cheers! → Živjeli!

Where to stay

Montenegro is an ideal destination for budget travelers. Apart from being far less crowded than Croatia—even during the high season—it’s also considerably more cost-effective. While researching options online, we found the rates to be fair, reasonable, and less expensive than similar properties in Croatia & Greece.

If you prefer to live life on the edge, leave things open-ended and sort out your accommodation when you arrive. Throughout the country—from the coastal villages to the inland forests—you’ll see signs advertising accommodation ranging from individual rooms to fully-furnished apartments. Here are a few more key words to look for, in front of houses and alongside the road:

  • Sobe → room
  • Apartman → apartment
  • Guesthouse → guesthouse!

▾ Search all Montenegro accommodation here ▾

Booking.com | Hotels.com | Airbnb | VRBO


How to get to Montenegro

Most travelers enter Montenegro 1 of 4 ways:

  1. Arrive by cruise ship, and explore a couple of coastal cities for a few hours each
  2. Fly to Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital city, located in the southern part of the country
  3. Fly to Tivat, a small northern airport located just 15 minutes from Kotor, servicing regular commercial flights to Brussels, Belgrade & Moscow, as well as charter planes
  4. Travel to Dubrovnik (Croatia), and drive across the border to Montenegro via rental car

We chose option #4, which is absolutely—in our opinion—the best way to see and gain an appreciation for all of the beauty that this relatively undiscovered country has to offer.

Getting around

If you’re renting your car in Croatia and intend on driving across the border, you must inform the rental car company that you’ll be going to Montenegro!

  • There is additional documentation that they need to provide you in order to cross the border.
  • Depending on the rental car company, there may be additional insurance you need to take out. For example: our credit card’s car rental insurance benefit was not honored by the rental car company.
  • If you show up at the border without this documentation, you will be denied entry and it’ll be a long drive back to Dubrovnik to secure the proper paperwork!

The Croatian car rental plan works well…only if you’re returning to Croatia!

  • But, if you plan on ending your trip in Podgorica—or continuing south to explore Albania—then renting a car in Croatia will become expensive when you add the different country drop-off fee.
  • To avoid this: instead of picking up your rental car in Dubrovnik, take a bus from Dubrovnik to Montenegro, and pick up your rental car after you cross the border (for example: in Herceg Novi).

▾ Search rental cars here ▾

Rentalcars.com is the world’s biggest car rental booking platform. They work with all major car suppliers, and offer free cancellation on most bookings.


Crossing the border from Croatia

We flew from Athens and arrived in Dubrovnik around 10am. By 10:30, we were cruising on the highway in our rental car. By 11am, we arrived at the Croatia-Montenegro border. TWO HOURS LATER, we crossed the border. This was—without question—the slowest border crossing we had ever experienced.

travelhelix tip: you can *try* to avoid a long wait at the border by crossing on a weekday, early in the morning, or late at night. Good luck!


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A week in Montenegro: day-by-day itinerary

The long wait at the border soon became a distant memory. Twenty minutes into Montenegro, we were blown away. Let’s take a look at your itinerary for the next 7 days.

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Day 1: Welcome to Boka Bay

After you’ve crossed the border from Croatia, it’s time to explore the Bay of Kotor. Known locally as Boka, this beautiful aquatic landscape is as pristine as it is peaceful.

Check out our guide to the Bay of Kotor for tips on villages to visit & sights to see in Boka Bay!

Where we stayed

We chose to cash in some credit card points and stayed 2 nights at Hotel Cattaro in Kotor. The location was amazing, the room was spacious and comfortable, and our balcony overlooked old town Kotor’s main square, Trg od Oružja (Arms Square). Overall: a perfect experience.

Montenegro
Our room at Hotel Cattaro: top floor, 3rd blue window from the left, overlooking Kotor’s Arms Square.
Montenegro
Arms Square, through D’s lens!

If you prefer a truly 5-star experience, look no further than the Regent Porto Montenegro, only 15 minutes away from Kotor, in nearby Tivat.

Porto Montenegro, Montenegro
The 5-Star Regent Porto Montenegro.

Happy Statehood Day!

During dinner on our first night, we realized that we’d arrived on a very important national holiday—Statehood Day—celebrated every year on July 13th. On this day in 1878, Montenegro became the 27th independent state in the world. We made this realization while enjoying fresh seafood and a bottle of local Plantaže white wine on the waterfront terrace of Restaurant Galion.

Montenegro
Happy Statehood Day! What a day to have arrived… even our wine cork was celebrating!

travelhelix tip: when calling to make a reservation at Restaurant Galion, be sure to request a table next to the water!

Montenegro
Sunset view from the waterfront terrace of Restauran Galion in Kotor.

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Day 2: Wander the ancient walled city of Kotor

After a peaceful night’s sleep in Kotor, wake up early and hike up to St. John’s Fortress for breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding bay. The hike involves 1,350 steps and may take around 2 hours round-trip, depending on your pace and how often you stop to take pictures.

Following your hike, take a few hours to explore Kotor’s Stari Grad (old town). You’ll notice many, many cats as you wander the narrow, cobblestone alleyways of the ancient, walled city. Read more about the curious cats of Kotor here. We visited the store of the same name, and recommend you do the same!


▾ Join a group tour of Kotor ▾

With GetYourGuide tours, you can typically cancel up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time to receive a full refund! We recommend always reading the reviews before booking a tour!


Nightlife in the bay

The sunsets in Montenegro were out of this world, but the sunset in Porto Montenegro was something else entirely. Taxi over to Porto Montenegro sometime in the early evening, and enjoy the sunset before dinner.

Dining tip: try Byblos for incredible Lebanese food with a laid-back ambience

After dinner, stroll the boardwalk, and see where the night takes you. You may just find yourself pulled into one of Porto Montenegro’s many magnetic nightclubs, such as Platinum.

We chose to head back to Kotor, where we got our first taste of Montenegrin nightlife at Maximus, conveniently located next door to our hotel!

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Day 3: Montenegro’s central coast: Budva & Sveti Stefan

If you’re up for another early morning hike, Mount Vrmac supposedly offers amazing views of Tivat and the surrounding bay. Afterwards, your road trip will continue south…but only for 30 minutes.

Budva

Known to many travelers as one of Montenegro’s prime partying destinations, Budva is a small but modern coastal town that’s definitely worth a look.

festival watch: nearby Jaz Beach—widely regarded as one of Europe’s best beaches—hosts the annual Sea Dance Festival.

We stopped only briefly in the bustling beach city, before continuing on to Budva’s far more laid-back neighbor to the south.

Sveti Stefan

Just 15 minutes after saying goodbye to Budva, we said a very sweet hello to Sveti Stefan. The rest of our afternoon was spent heating up on the beach, cooling down in the clear blue waters of the Adriatic, and of course: snacking on beach corn.

Where we stayed

We spent 2 great nights at Hotel Adrović, which was cost-effective and offered great complimentary breakfast. It also happens to be perfectly located.

Built on top of a hill, just a short walk from the beach, Hotel Adrović was the ideal locale for us to appreciate the iconic islet that’s recently given tiny Sveti Stefan a huge reputation on the world travel stage. Both evenings, we sat on our private balcony and watched—entranced—as the sky transformed over the exclusive Aman resort.

travelhelix tip: when making your reservation at Hotel Adrović, be sure to request a sea-view room!

~ TIME LAPSE: SUNSET OVER SVETI STEFAN ~

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Day 4: Day trip to Lake Skadar: Montenegro’s freshwater escape

Another early morning departure, but this time, you’re heading inland to Montenegro’s most visited national park: Lake Skadar.

Read our full article for tips on planning the perfect lake cruise…

…and check out this video to get a glimpse of our Lake Skadar experience!

Après Lake Skadar

After your lake cruise, grab lunch in the charming village of Virpazar at Restaurant Silistria, an incredible pirate-ship-turned-café!

Montenegro
Looking for lunch on a pirate ship? You’ll find it at Restaurant Silistria in Virpazar!

If you’ve got the energy for more activity, take a walk in the surrounding area. This path behind the restaurant is just begging to be explored.

Montenegro
Walking path in Virpazar, Montenegro.

▾ Join a Lake Skadar group tour ▾

With GetYourGuide tours, you can typically cancel up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure time to receive a full refund! We recommend always reading the reviews before booking a tour!


Nightlife on the coast

If you’re feeling lucky, head to one of the many casinos in the area. We had dinner at the Queen of Montenegro, and saw some awesome live music—including an amazing cover of Killing Me Softly!

Looking for a nightclub? Top Hill is apparently THE place to be.

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What we missed: Montenegro’s inland adventures

At this point in the itinerary, we cannot offer any specific lodging or dining recommendation, as we didn’t visit these places. Nonetheless, we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction, based on our research.

Day 5: Explore Durmitor National Park

From Sveti Stefan, it’s a 3-4 hour drive to Durmitor National Park. Find a place to sleep for the next couple of nights, and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring this UNESCO wonderland.

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Day 6: Hike or river raft through Tara Canyon

Take a day trip to the Grand Canyon of Montenegro: Tara Canyon. Hiking and river-rafting are popular activities. Tara Canyon is only 13 miles north of Durmitor, but an hour drive due to the mountainous terrain. Plan a full day for this outing.

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Day 7: Go canyoning in Nevidio Canyon

Check your adrenaline levels, and spend your last day canyoning in Nevidio Canyon.

When you’re done, drive 2 hours to Podgorica, and explore the nation’s capital for your final night in Montenegro.


▾ Let us help you plan your trip to Montenegro ▾

If this itinerary has inspired you, but you don’t have the time to research and plan your own trip, maybe we can help. We don’t just write about our experiences…we also plans trips for our readers! And we offer a highly-personal and customized approach to each of our clients.

Visit our Plan A Trip page and fill out a quick questionnaire to get the ball rolling!


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Farewell, Montenegro

After 7 days and 7 nights, it’s time to head home. If you’re following our itinerary and heading back to Dubrovnik, you’ve got a long day of driving ahead of you. The silver lining: it’s a wonderful country & a beautiful coastline, so why not experience it a 2nd time?

travelhelix tip: Google Maps says the drive from Podgorica to Dubrovnik is 3.5 hours, but based on our experience, we suggest you allow yourself at least 5-6. To save some time, set your GPS destination to Tivat, where you can take a car ferry across the Bay of Kotor.

Beautiful things come in small packages

The mystery of Kotor. The opulence of Porto Montenegro. The serenity of Sveti Stefan. The peaceful tranquility of Lake Skadar.

Montenegro is a small country that has carved out an incredible niche in a gorgeous corner of the world. Our 4 days there made a lasting impression on us, and left us wanting so much more. We can only imagine what you’ll experience in a week…

Do you have questions about this itinerary, or memories of Montenegro that you’d like to share? Let us know, in the comments below!

Cheers!

-DnA


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6 Comments

  • Amy Chung

    What an informative post! I just got back from Croatia and I was kicking myself for not having enough time to visit Montenegro when it was so close! I had no idea there was so much to do despite knowing their coastline is just stunning. On my next trip to that part of the world, I am sooooo going! Thanks for the inspiration:)

    • D

      Thank you so much for reading! Just means you will have to go back, right?! SO glad to provide the inspiration, we honestly could have spent a month there!

    • D

      Thank you so much for your comment! So glad to hear it’s on the list. Just popped open your site and am excited to explore! South America is very high on our list right now 🙂

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