9 Things to be aware of when backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Kotor, Montenegro (61) - Kotor Bay seen from the Fortness

Visas

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:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia, Peru

Things to be aware of when backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro. Visa policy of Montenegro - wikipedia

ⓒ 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.

Montenegro flag flying above Kotor Fortress. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

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).

Long-haired goat spotted near the Kotor Fortress. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

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.

Kotor, Montenegro (61) - Kotor Bay seen from the Fortness. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

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.

Kotor, Montenegro (106) - Old Town Clock Tower. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Accommodation

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!

An old house in Kotor, Montenegro. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Weather

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.

Rolling hills abouve Budva coast, Montenegro. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Language

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.

Kotor, Montenegro (30) - Ulica 2 sjever-jug. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Money

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.

Montenegro average costs

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Current exchange rate

A ship anchored in Kotor Bay, Montenegro. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Smoking

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.

Kotor, Montenegro (110) - Bogorodičin Hram, Prčanj. Backpacking and hitchhiking in Montenegro

Written byJon

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12 comments

  • wonderful place for a getaway. tourists though have discovered it now!

  • I’m glad to see it’s so easy for me to get a tourist visa to explore Montenegro :). Added to my bucket list! :-)

    • EU citizens enter without a visa, just a passport, so even better! But keep in mind that every year more and more tourists come to this stunning destination, so if you want to enjoy its pristine nature, hurry up! :)

  • I love your tips about finding local fare – not easy to do in well-touristed places!! I always figure “hey, if locals live here, they’re eating SOMETHING, and it’s probably not the expensive tourist food!” Great post!

  • Great article, Ania and Jon!

    Thank you very much. It will come in handy when I’ll travel in the Balkans.
    I didn’t know they are using Euro even though they are not in EU, heheh! This is an interesting fact to know :)
    Maybe you should have mention the fact that for vegetarians/vegans it’s almost impossible to eat, hahah!

    All the best,
    Bogdan

  • My experience (I don´t wanna convince anyone):
    I hitchhiked everywhere in Montenegro, no problem at all! Didn´t take any buses and didn´t wait at all! Food I agree, lots of pizzas and pastas but you can find the regular Balkan Cevap or cevapcici (and all its variations) everywhere at reasonable price, also the bakeries offer lots of bureks, I like them a lot actually. Everywhere apart from Kotor you can find an accommodation for 10, 15€ per bed and hostels for 10€. Maybe it helps that I speak the language (I´m from Bulgaria) but I found it relatively easy to move around and find cheap places to stay (I was there at the busiest time in July and August). Of course Kotor is another story but despite the crowds is very beautiful! And the coast is very crowded yeah I agree… but you still can find some amazing beaches that only the locals know :) And the mountains…those canyons were breathtaking and Dormitor National park is unbelievable!

    • Hey Elena, Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences. There is no doubt that Montenegro is a truly breathtaking country but most definitely it is not the budget travellers paradise. It is interesting that you had less problems finding cheap accommodation (perhaps you’re right that speaking a mutually intelligible language is a big help). Did you have any problems in Podgorica? We had real struggles there as we hadn’t booked ahead and everywhere within our price range was full. Thanks again for dropping by!

  • I didn’t find the issue with accommodation that you did in Montenegro. Getting a 15 euro hostel is pretty easy, creatively named montenegro hostel is where I stayed, has three locations, and was great.

    Smoking, though, I was on a bus where the DRIVER was smoking! Every restaurant gives you an ashtray before a menu. It’s very tobacco-filled.

    Buses are stupidly high-priced (15 euro or more for a 2 hour or less ride), hitching is variable. I got picked up by the second car in Herceg Novi, bus I was unable to get anything after the ferry, and had to bus into Kotor. I’m moving on to Budva and down the coast next, so we’ll see!

    • Thanks for the update, Ian! It’s good to know they have sorted out the accommodation issue. And yes, hitchhiking into Kotor was tricky for us as well. Smoking is a bastard in these parts, it can’t be denied! Good luck on the way! Where are you going next after Montenegro?