9 Things to be aware of when backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro
1) Visa friendly
One big advantage of backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro is that the visa situation is easy for many. Check out the information below to see if you are one of the lucky ones…
ⓐ No visa – 90 days
EU citizens and citizens of the following countries do not requite a visa to enter for up to 90 days:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore,Malta. South Korea. Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela
ⓑ No visa – 30 days
Citizens from the following countries do not require a visa and can stay for 30 days:
ⓒ All other countries
If your country is not one of those above, then things get a little tricky, I am afraid. To apply for your visa you will need a valid passport, verified letter of invitation, return ticket, proof of sufficient funds and proof of medical cover just to start. More details can be found at the Montenegro government website.
Food & Drink
2) Disappointing restaurant scene – but keep looking for something local
Although we are sure there are some exceptions, finding a good place to eat can be a tricky business. Local cuisine has been somewhat supplanted by Italian pizzas and pasta, and prices have rocketed when compared to its local neighbours. However, for the eagle eyed and determined a local restoran (more formal) or konoba (notable for wooden rustic interior) will serve up the stock čevapčići (Balkan kebabs), sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with mincemeat), goulash or pasulj (bean soup with cuts of meat).
3) Fish along the coast – Meat and cheese inland
Along the coast the Mediterranean influence is most felt. For the best fish in Montenegro head to Lake Skadar to sample the local šaran (carp) and along the River Tara, home of the delicious pastrmka (trout). Further inland meat and Balkan food is more commonly available.
4) To drink, coffee and the hard stuff
Montenegrins love their coffee and usual consume it Turkish style. The alcohol of choice is the lethal rakija although some relatively tasty local beers, most notably Nikšićko, are available. Interestingly there are also some well established local wines including Plantaže which is both cheap and sold almost everywhere.
5) 5 star prices
Accommodation in Montenegro is very frustrating for the budget traveller as prices are sky high and finding a hotel for less than 50€ during peak season is next to impossible. There are a few hostels but they are nearly always booked up way in advance, so most travellers will normally camp or end up at private lodgings (sobe). Prices here depend a lot on the location and season but expect to pay more along the coast and in the summer. Failing that bring a tent and camp wild!
6) Podgorica‘s an oven, rainy in the hills, cool by the coast
The weather in Montenegro generally depends how high up you are in the country. The coastal regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate with dry summers averaging 27oC and mild rainy winters. The central and northern regions have Continental climate, where temperatures varies greatly with elevation. Podgorica, which lies close to sea level, is particularly steamy in the summer with temperatures averaging 35-40°C. The northern mountainous regions endure some of the highest amounts of rainfall in Europe and are still snow covered in spring, so make sure you are suitably prepared.
7) Prepare the phrasebook…
The official language of Montenegro is Montenegrin, but don’t be fooled, it is almost exactly the same as Serbo-Croat, with only minor lexical and pronunciation differences. Albanian, Slovenian and Macedonian are also minority languages reflecting the mixed ethnic background of the region. English is rare, but more common amongst those in the tourism industry; furthermore in the north of the country English speakers are almost non-existent.
8) Euros outside the Eurozone
Montenegro, along with its neighbour Kosovo, does not have a currency of its own and instead uses the Euro as the national coinage. The effect of this is that prices are higher than in the surrounding Balkan states with restaurants and hotels charging near Western European prices.
Current exchange rate
9) Living in a smoker’s paradise
Non-smoking signs are routinely ignored and seemingly mere decoration in Montenegro. Don’t be surprised to find restaurants and bars filled with the heavy stench of tobacco and seemingly the only places in Montenegro where smoking is generally refrained from are churches and buses.
Written by: Jon