Montenegro

montenegro essential Information.

Montenegro may be a small country but it boasts a surprisingly rich variety of dramatic peaks, edgy coastlines and beautiful, walled medieval towns and is one of the rising stars of Europe’s tourism scene. The beautiful Adriatic coast, is its principal draw, where you can enjoy wonderful seafood overlooking the Riviera  and swim in crystal blue waters surrounding by cliffs that rise up seemingly out of the water itself. However, if you can tear yourself away for a moment you will find a country marked by the historical fluctuating East-West frontier between competing empires, ideologies and faiths. In short, a little country that combines the best of the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

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Montenegro complete budget travel guide by HitchHikersHandbook.com.

Visas

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

Advantages of hitchhiking in Montenegro

In Montenegro hitchhiking is most definitely doable, but it is certainly not the easiest country in which to travel by thumb. In our experience, whilst it was not as easy as in neighbouring Kosovo, Albania and Croatia, it was certainly better than in Bosnia and Serbia, and if you are a fan of mountainous landscapes, the stunning Montenegro is definitely the country for you.

Another advantage is that crossing the borders is relatively simple and if you are from the EU, you don’t even need a visa for a 90 day visit, ample time to see the many charms of this hidden gem.

Accommodation prices may be a little steep but at least there is no fear of land-mines in Montenegro and as long as you stay away from public places, wild camping is a useful way to save a few pennies.

Finally, if you are from Eastern Europe, Russian is wildly spoken by locals and tourists alike and can help hitch a ride, especially along the coast.

Rolling hills abouve Budva coast, Montenegro (2)

Disadvantages of hitchhiking in Montenegro

Hitchhiking in Montenegro is extremely slow going. Roads are treacherous, usually single lane, and curve around and around the mountain tops. Journey times are long, and travelling even the shortest distance may take the whole day. Coastal roads are extremely narrow in places, and finding a safe place to hitch from can also be an arduous experience.

Billed as a luxury destination, Montenegro’s hotels certainly have the prices to match, with affordable options (especially in the capital, Podgorica) usually booked out weeks in advance.

Another rather annoying disadvantage are the essentially pointless tourist information offices, if when they do exist are merely elaborate distributors of badly-drawn maps and unable to help with such trifle matters as accommodation or what is in the town to visit.

Lastly, if your only language is English, then Montenegro can be a tricky destination to navigate through. However, hand signals and smiles will get you through in the end.

Jon competing for a hitch-hiking spot with locals, Budva, Montenegro

Jon competing for a hitch-hiking spot with locals, Budva, Montenegro

Food & Drink

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

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

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 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

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.

Kotor, Montenegro (21) - village on the Kotor Bay

Language

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

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

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

Types of roads

There are 5,277 km of roads in Montenegro, of which only 1,729 km is paved, and in theory four classifications of roads of which only three exist as there are no roads of motorway standard in the county. In short, don’t expect a fast ride…

Montenegro hitchhiking essentials . road sign - M roads Main roads (Magistralni putevi: M roads) are typically single lane dual carriageways with a speed limit of 80 or very occasionally 120 kilometres per hour (50 / 75 mph). They normally link the main cities and 4 main roads are included on the international E-road network. Hitch-hiking on them is legal.
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Regional roads (Regionalni putevi: R roads) complement the main road system and typically have a speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour (30 mph). Traffic is light but hitch-hiking is legal.
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Local roads (Lokalni putevi) are infrequently used and rarely paved but hitch-hiking on them is legal.

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Montenegro hitchhiking essentials. montenegro speed limitThere are three general speed limits in Montenegro:

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50 km/h (30 mph) within inhabited places

80 km/h (50 mph) outside inhabited places

120 km/h (75 mph) on express-ways

There are no motorways regardless what the sign tells you!

 

Road map of Montenegro

Montenegro hitchhiking essentials. road map of Montenegro - ezilon

source: ezilon.com

Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook

Hello – Здраво. Zdravo. (ZDRAH-voh)
Thank you – Xвала. Hvala. (HVAH-lah)
– Yes – Да. Da. (DAH)
– No – Не. Ne. (NEH)
– Please – Mолим. Molim. (MOH-leem)
– Excuse me. (getting attention) – Извинитe. Izvinite. (eez-VEE-nee-teh)
– How are you? – Kaкo стe? Kako ste? (kah-KOH steh?) – formal / како си? Kako si? (kah-KOH see?) – informal
– Well, thanks. Добро, хвала. Dobro, hvala. (DOH-broh, HVAH-lah)
Goodbye Дoвиђeњa. Doviđenja. (doh vee-JEH-nyah)
Hitch-hiking – стопирао. Stopirao. (sto-pee-ra-oh)
I don’t have money. – Немам новца. Nemam novca. (Neh-mum NOV-tsah)
We don’t have money. – ми немамо новацa Mi nemamo novca. (Me Neh-mah-mo NOV-tsah)
Money – новац. Novac. (NOH-vahts)
– I’m going … – Идем… Idem… (EE-dehm…)
– We are going to … – Ми Идемо у … Mi idemo u … (Me EE-deh-moh ...)
– Where are you going?  Где идеш? Gdje ideš? (Gdje EE-desh?)
– Can we go with you? – Можемо ићи са вама? Možemo li ići sa vama? (Moh-ZHE-moh lee Y-chy sah VAH-mah?)
– I am … – Ја сам … Ja sam … (yah sahm …)
– My name is … – Зoвeм ce … Zovem se … (ZOH-vehm seh …)
– I am from … – Ја сам из … Ja sam iz … (Yahsahm eez …)
– What is your name? – Kaкo ce зoвeтe? Kako se zovete? (KAH-koh seh zoh-VEH-teh)
– Pleased to meet you. – Дpaгo ми je. Drago mi je. (DRAH-goh mee yeh)
– I don’t understand. – Не разумем. Ne razumem. (neh rah-ZOO-mehm)
– now – сада. sada (SAH-dah)
– today – данас. danas (DAH-nahs)
– yesterday – јуче. juče (YOO-cheh)
– tomorrow – сутра. sutra (SOO-trah)
friend – пријатељ. prijatelj (pri-YA-telee)

Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.

Can you stop? – Можеш ли престати? Možešli prestati? (Moh-zhesh lee preh-STAH-tea) – informal; Можетели престати? Možeteli prestati? (moh-ZHEH-teh lee preh-STAH-tea) – formal
– I want to get out. – Желимизаћи. Želimizaći (ZHEH-leem EE-zah-chyee)
– Turn left – Скрените лево. Skrenite lijevo! (SKREH-nee-teh LYEH-voh)
– Turn right – Скрените десно. Skrenite desno! (SKHREH-nee –te DEHS-noh)
– Straight ahead – Право напред. Pravo napred (PRA-vo Na-pred)
here – овде. ovdje (OV-dye)
– Do you have …? (in a shop) – Имате ли … ? Imate li …?(EE-mah-teh lee …?)
beer – пива. piva. (PEE-vah)

You should know this word, you will be often invited for some.

Bus station – аутобуска станица. autobuska stanica. (OW-toh-boos-kah STAH-nee-tsah)

You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.

Train station – железничка станица. željeznička stanica. (ZHEH-lyehz-neech-kah STAH-nee-tsah)
– Help! – Упомоћ! Upomoć! (oo-POH-mohtch)
– Look out! – пази! pazi! (PAH-zee)
– street – улица. ulica. (OO-lee-tsah)
– road – цеста. cesta (TSEHS-tah)
– roundabout – кружни ток. kružni tok. (CROOZH-nee tok)
– crossroads – раскрсница. raskrsnica (RAH-scrah-snee-tsah)

Kotor, Montenegro (39) - laundry

Montenegro Border Crossings

Montenegro neighbours 5 different countries: Serbia (to the east), Kosovo (south-east), Albania (south), Croatia (west) and Bosnia & Herzegovina (north).

Montenegro – Serbia

There are five road border crossings between Montenegro & Serbia:

  • Bijelo Pilje (Montenegro) & Brodarevo (Serbia) – It’s the busiest border crossing and it’s located on the E 763. This is the obvious border crossing if travelling to / from north and central Serbia.
  • The checkpoint north east of Rožaje (Montenegro) is best if you are planning on visiting south Serbia.

Montenegro – Kosovo

There is one functioning border crossing between Montenegro & Kosovo:

  • Kula border crossing is located between the towns of Rožaje (Montenegro) and Peć (Kosovo) on the E80-R106 road. However, be aware that if you plan to visit Serbia later on, you might be refused entry if you have previously crossed from Montenegro to Kosovo. The best thing to do is to ask the Kosovo border control not to stamp your passport upon entry.

Montenegro – Albania

There are three border crossings between Montenegro & Albania:

  • The busiest border crossing is on the E762 – SH1 and links the Montenegrin capital Podgorica with the important Albanian town of Skhkoder and onto the capital Tirana. It is the obvious crossing if you are heading south.
  • The coastal crossing E851 – SH41 which connects Ulcinj and Shkoder, is also simple enough to cross but expect long waiting times, especially for cars, and try to avoid walking across the no man’s land because it is an extremely long way.

Montenegro – Croatia

There are two border crossings between Montenegro & Croatia:

  • Debeli Brijeg – Karasovići is the main border crossing and sits on the 8/2 Highway connecting Dubrovnik (Croatia) & Herceg Novi (Montenegro). There is plenty of traffic here but expect long queues.

Montenegro – Bosnia & Herzegovina

There are 7 border crossings between Montenegro & Bosnia & Herzegovina:

  • Two of the three most important border crossings between the two countries are located in the west: Sitnica which connects Trebinje (B&H) to Herceg Novi (Montenegro) and Ilino Brdo – Klobuk which links Trebinje with Nikšić (the 2nd largest city in Montenegro)
  • The other important border crossing: Granični Prijelaz – Hum connects the Bosnian capital Sarajevo with Durmitor National Park. It’s located on the M18 road in Bosnia and the E762 in Montenegro on the river Drina.

 

Montenegro Top Destinations

 

① Kotor Bay  3 daysMontenegro Top Destinations

The winding, fjord-like, Boka kotorska (Kotor Bay) is one of southern Europe’s most stunningly dramatic landscapes. Kotor Stari Grad (old town) is perhaps the principal attraction, a maze of narrow streets, pressed tightly against the seemingly sheer mountain face. Expect sky high prices and hordes of tourists in the summer, but also be prepared to coo over the stunning architecture and impressive natural surroundings. Whilst in town, be sure to climb up to the fortifications for breathtaking views across Kotor Bay.

The little town of Perast is situated at the foot of St. Elijah Hill, where the innermost bays of Risan and Kotor converge. Attractions include the islands of Lady of the Rocks and St. Đorđe with their ornate churches and the remains of a Neolithic culture in the caves above the town.

The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.

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② Durmitor National Park – 4 daysMontenegro Top Destinations

Durmitor National Park, established in 1952, contains the massif of Durmitor, the canyons of Tara, the Sušica and Draga rivers and the higher part of the canyon plateau Komarnica, and covers an area of 390 km². The dramatic landscape, formed over millennia by ice and water eroding the limestone, contains over 45 peaks, the highest being Bobotov Kuk (2523 m) and 18 glacial lakes, scattered over the mountain massif and Jezerska Površ plateau. During the winter skiing is the most popular activity whilst in the summer, hiking and rafting down the Tara Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world, are undertaken.

The main town tourist base Žabljak, lies on the eastern edge of the range, and is the only town within the boundaries of the national park. Pretty, it isn’t, but it does have all the necessities namely a supermarket, post office, bank, hotels and restaurants.

Durmitor National Park has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.

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Podgorica  1 day
Montenegro Top Destinations

Montenegro’s capital and largest city, Podgorica, is unfortunately not one of Europe’s most happening places, but looking beyond the communist destructive architecture, there lies lots of green space and some excellent galleries and bars. Stara Varoš is Podgorica’s oldest neighbourhood, and retains some faint traces of its former Ottoman glory including a blocky clock tower and Doganjska Mosque. Perhaps more impressive is the 18th-century Osmanagić Mosque, which was restored using Turkish money.

During the summer be prepared for oppressive summer heat, however the pebbly city beach Morača does come complete with a summertime bar, deckchairs and sun umbrellas.

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④ Cetinje 1 dayMontenegro Top Destinations

Cetinje is the historic capital of the country and as such carries enormous historical and spiritual importance to Montenegro. Today, what remains is a charming mix of former capital grandeur and provincial village where cottages and stately mansions and cottages sit side by side. Highlights include the wonderful Cetinje Monasterythe most important Serb Orthodox monastery in Montenegro, and a number of interesting museumsEthnographic Museum, National Museum of Montenegro

Tip! Purchase the €10 accumulative ticket that allows you to visit all the museums in Cetinje.

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Montenegro map with a question mark. Montenegro top destinations And what would you recommend?

What should be our number 5 in your opinion? We are very curious to hear where you’ve been and what you liked, so please share your knowledge and experience in the comments!

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Montenegro Top Destinations Map

 

Our Experience

We hitch-hiked in Montenegro as part of our ‘The Balkan Peninsula by Thumb 2013‘ trip and covered 164km by thumb. During our stay in the country we managed to hitch-hike our way from the Croatian border to the Albanian border relatively painlessly. Accommodation was a little more tricky, as finding couchsurfing hosts was next to impossible. Instead, we found the cheapest hostel in Podgorica, and camped when we could.

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written by: Jon

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