Travelled in: May 2017
Montenegro came on to my radar as a holiday destination after seeing pictures on my facebook of somebody there last year. The scenery looked incredible and the more I researched, the more I decided I MUST go. Montenegro is similar to it’s next door neighbour Croatia in many ways. As much as I rave about how much I love Croatia, Montenegro is on another level… it is SO beautiful, the food is incredible, the service was perfect, there are less tourists and it is cheaper. There were however 2 things I would say that gives Montenegro a slight disadvantage over Croatia…
1. The driving! The road conditions were OK, with the exception of a few dirt tracks here and there. The biggest problem with driving here is the speed at which you drive is really quite painful. Most of the roads are single lane roads, so you can only drive at about 50km/h. The drivers are also horrendous and very erratic, with terrible parking etiquette.
2. The weather! Due to Montenegro’s mountainous terrain 99% of the time clouds get stuck here, meaning weather can be unpredictable! Luckily we had 2 OK days where there was break in the cloud and we saw the glorious sunshine, but we also had one day of torrential rain which felt like it was never ending. Regardless the scenery was still beautiful in the rain, but it was clear to see why the country is named the black mountains.
Arriving in Montenegro:
To get to Montenegro we flew in to Dubrovnik airport. Our flight was with Norwegian airlines from Gatwick. Dubrovnik airport is really close to the Montenegrin border, probably about a 20 minute drive.
We hired a car from Dubrovnik airport using the company CarWizz, booked via rentalcars.com. The price of the car rental was around £55 for 3 days. We also had to pay an additional €21 for a cross border fee… this company was the cheapest I could see for cross border rentals!
From the airport it is one straight road to Montenegro. To Kotor it will take about 1.5hrs, to Budva about 2.5hrs. It’s worth noting that getting over the border can take a bit of time, on the way there it took us about an hour in a queue to cross the border, but on the way back only 15 mins, so factor this in if you need to be somewhere at a specific time.
Another option is flying in to Tivat airport in Montenegro, but I found flights to here limited and more expensive.
Travelling in Montenegro:
There are a lot of tour operators that travel from Dubrovnik over the border and around Montenegro stopping off at all the main sights. We chose to use a hire car and explore ourselves in our own time as we didn’t want to stick to a specific itinerary.
As I already mentioned driving in Montenegro is a bit of a nightmare, and definitely not for the faint hearted. A lot of the roads are on the edge of a mountain, the speed limits are slow, (especially around Kotor Bay) and the Montenegrin’s seem to think it is acceptable to park and leave their cars in the middle of the road. Despite all of this, driving is probably your best option if you want to explore this beaut of a country at your own pace.
Staying in Montenegro:
I use various methods to plan accommodation for my trips, one websites I use for luxury travel inspiration and occasionally bookings is voyage prive. I spotted Lavender Bay apartments from one of their subscriber emails and I instantly knew I had to stay there as it looked incredible… Surprisingly it was super affordable, we paid £250 for 3 nights for a one bedroom apartment and got to wake up to this incredible view…
The apartments are located in Morinj which is a 10 minute drive in to the old town of Perast and a 25 minute drive to Kotor.
Eating in Montenegro:
I was really pleasantly surprised by the food in Montenegro. In Croatia I found the food to be rather unmemorable, so I didn’t have very high hopes for its neighbors. We managed to find some really incredible places to eat and had some of the best meals here…
Restaurant Conte, Perast – This hotel restaurant is located in the small old town of Perast. It was our first stop for food in Montenegro and we were not disappointed, by the food, or the amazing views the restaurant offers of the bay. I ordered the Gnocci with Seafood and it was incredible! Highly recommend if you are in the area.
Catovica Mlini, Morinj – Conveniently this AMAZING place was located right next to our apartment. The restaurant here is voted one of the top in Montenegro on trip advisor and for good reason. I have to say the meal I ate here was one of the best meals I have ever eaten! We went all out and had a 3 course meal, starting with meats and cheese, following by seafood and ending with a chocolate fondant dessert, washed down with some local wine. The setting of this restaurant is also beautiful, hidden in a green garden just away from the bay. Sadly I couldn’t get any good pictures as it was dark, but seriously no visit to Montenegro would be complete without a trip here!
Galion, Kotor – A really nice spot in Kotor for a meal. Beautiful views and a good menu, especially if you like fresh seafood!
One more thing to mention – DO NOT DRINK THE TAP WATER. Some websites say that the Montenegrin water is absolutely fine to drink so we started off drinking water from the tap, this was a big mistake as on day 2 we got VERY ILL and the only explanation could have been the water! To be on the safe side I would advise to stick with bottled water.
3 Days in Montenegro: My Itinerary…
Perast – This beautiful little city is one of the oldest in Montenegro. It is located half way between Dubrovnik and Kotor. The main attraction to this city is it’s cute picturesque architecture, the amazing views of the bay of Kotor, and Our Lady of the Rocks, which is one of two islands that sits within close proximity to the town. You can get a boat over to the artificially made island and explore the museum and church that sits upon it.
Budva – Budva is a coastal town about an hour from Kotor. There are 2 sides to Budva: The old town and the new town, which are VERY different places. The new town is where the beach and promenade lies and I can only describe it as being the Montenegrin equivalent to Blackpool. The old town is super cute with narrow winding streets and some lovely boutiques and restaurants. Budva wouldn’t be my first choice of places to go if I was to return to Montenegro, however if you had a spare day to go and explore or have a beach day the old town is worth a visit.
Sveti Stefan – This little island is one of the most iconic places in Montenegro, mainly for it’s uniqueness. The only thing on the island is a 5 star hotel and the only way to get there is to cross over the footbridge. On the mainland there is a small beach you can spend a day sunbathing at, however unfortunately on the day of my visit the rain was relentless.
Kotor – This medieval town is the main attraction on the Bay of Kotor, this is noticeable by the herds of tourists that arrive on their buses and cruise ships each day. The old town of Kotor is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the best way to see it is from above. From narrow passageways on the outskirts of the city you can climb up the hill to the castle of St Johns. Sadly I was feeling so unwell after stupidly drinking the tap water I couldn’t manage the hike, but for sure I will be back to do it one day. There are plenty of other things to see from below as well, loads of cute streets to strole around, lots of churches to visit, and weirdly a lot of references to cats throughout the city centre.
Other things to do/places to visit…
3 days was not enough in this beautiful country and I would love to go back and explore further. Some of the things I didn’t quite get around to seeing were:
Cetinje – The historic capital is located up in the mountains, we attempted to drive here on the rainiest day ever and due to the mountainous landscape the driving and road conditions were just not good enough to continue all the way up, definitely something to bear in mind, that the drive is pretty treacherous if you are thinking about taking it on.
National Parks – There are some amazing national parks in Montenegro, the most popular being Skadar and Lovken.
Stari Bar – A place for history lovers, Stari Bar is home to ruins from the old 11th century fortress, set upon a backdrop of mountains and olive groves.
Rafting – One of the most popular things to do in Montenegro, and if the weather had been better, something I would have loved to have done was go rafting along the Tara River. The rafting in Montenegro offers an amazing adrenaline rush whilst doing some sight seeing along the way as you pass the Durdevica Tara Bridge.