Montenegro is a country of contrasts. It’s home to unique landscapes that are better discovered and seen when embarking on a road trip adventure along the breathtaking roads of the country.
If you are thinking about a trip to this underrated Balcan land, and also a fan of scenic drives, then these driving tips for Montenegro will de a perfect read when planning your next Montenegro adventure!
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Where to Stay in Montenegro
Finding good and accessible accommodation is not as hard as you might think. There are plenty of nice and cozy places to stay all over the country at very affordable fees.
Although a road trip implies that you stop in different cities along the way every night, we assume that you will certainly start and end your trip from the capital, so the places down here refer to Podgorica. However, if your itinerary includes an overnight stay in other cities in Montenegro, then head directly to this site to find the best fees for your stay.
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Podgorica. Generally, budget means hotel stays for around $30 a night, mid-range is from about $50-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night.
Useful Driving Tips for Montenegro
Geographical diversity, unspoiled wild nature, mind-boggling contrasts, and rich cultural heritage put Montenegro at the top of the bucket lists of travelers from all around the world.
Extending over only around 14 000 square meter area makes it pretty obvious why many visitors opt for exploring Montenegro by car.
There are quite a few additional reasons why driving might be a perfect choice for getting a better grasp of this tiny country in the Balkans.
Montenegro is home to some of the most rugged mountains in Europe, glacial lakes, some of the deepest canyons in the entire world as well as virgin forests with impressive biodiversity.
In this regard, Montenegro is one of only a few countries where it’s completely possible to go skiing in the high mountain tops and swimming in the sea, the same day only a couple of hours apart.
On top of that, long and incredibly turbulent history left Montenegro with charming old towns and stunning monumental architecture thoroughly worth seeing when embarking on a journey around the tiny ‘pearl’ of the Balkans.
No other means of transport will allow you to take in all the untamed, dazzling natural beauty, as much as the driving does.
While its size and the amount of breath-stopping sights seem like obvious reasons for visiting this country by car, the most rewarding way of discovering Montenegro may as well be the most challenging one. So, are you ready for a bumpy ride?
Keep Your Maps Updated
Synchronically with becoming an aspiring tourist destination, the road infrastructure has been blossoming in the last decade in Montenegro. New roads are constantly emerging and each visitor should research the routes thoroughly before hitting a road to make sure all maps are up to date.
Montenegro is most likely the only country in Europe that still has no meter of a highway within its territory. Luckily, that is going to change soon, since the first highway is scheduled to be finished by September 2020.
The highway is without any doubt going to make driving around Montenegro a lot easier and more convenient for anyone not used to narrow lanes, numerous altitude changes, and winding serpentines.
Beware of Narrow Lanes
Narrow lanes are certainly one of the biggest and most unpleasant surprises for foreigners planning to drive through Montenegro for the first time. Mostly due to the inaccessibility of the terrain, a lot of road lanes in Montenegro will seem pretty narrow, so it may take some time to get used to them.
Adding the fact that the majority of the roads are only 2-lane or 1-lane for each direction, you’ll need to be extra cautious when passing the car in front of you or, in general, when speeding up.
Take it Slowly
Another thing that frequently takes foreigners by surprise is the incredibly large number of winding serpentines that exist all over Montenegro.
Sudden altitude changes caused by the rugged and bumpy terrain resulted in winding roads with numerous curves and turns require drivers to be watchful and attentive and to respectively reduce the speed when entering the curves along the way.
Keep a Close Eye on Traffic Signs
Landscapes with many abrupt altitude changes, copious amounts of sharp curves as well as narrow lanes can be quite a challenge for those used to driving around wide flat land, multiple-lane roads, and highways.
When in Montenegro be sure to stay focused on the traffic signs at all times and adjust speed accordingly to ensure a safe and comfortable trip.
Beware of the Road Constructions
Regardless of the time of a year or even the number of tourists traveling around the country, road constructions are always a possibility to occur even in the most crowded places.
It seems that the well-known stereotype that Montenegrins prefer to do things slowly might be true when it comes to road construction and maintenance as well.
Due to road work in progress, roads can often be either completely closed to the traffic or open only during specific hours during the day. It’s always a good idea to double-check beforehand if there’s any maintenance work scheduled at the time of your travel.
Go for an SUV
If you’re seeking to drive around more remote, less touristy parts of Montenegro, or if you’re visiting snow-covered areas in the north, choosing an SUV over a regular car should definitely be an alternative to keep in mind.
Though placed in the Mediterranean, many places in Montenegro get a fair amount of snow during the winter season each year. Snow will make reaching certain areas in the north pretty difficult or even impossible with a regular car.
Since nobody wants to miss the winter idyll of the frozen lakes and rivers, snow-covered mountain tops, and ski resorts, choosing the right vehicle for a trip around Montenegro has to be on everyone’s priority list.
Be Prepared for the Snow
Starting from mid-November all the way to the end of March, having winter equipment when driving around Montenegro is obligatory. This law implies the use of specific types of winter (snow) tires or snow chains on the roads where snow is a possibility. Not obeying this law could mean a fine of up to € 150!
For the sake of safety, first and foremost, but also for your own convenience, ensure having all the required equipment ready in your car when visiting Montenegro in winter.
Roads Can Get Pretty Crowded in Summer
One would think that traffic jams are not a common occurrence in a country with only 650 000 citizens. Well, that is certainly not the case with Montenegrin roads during the summer season. Since becoming one of the most popular spots for summer vacation around the Balkans and this part of Europe, the number of tourists visiting Montenegro each year is rapidly growing.
During summer, traffic jams are pretty usual. This applies mostly to the coastal area of Montenegro, though the traffic jams do occur in other areas as well, especially around the capital city.
Traffic jams are most likely to happen during the daytime as well as in the early evening. If you choose to visit Montenegro in the summer, you’ll need to arm yourself with patience and consider alternative routes during the peak hours.
Make Frequent Stops and Admire the Scenery
While driving around Montenegro is surely a lot different from driving on a highway. It can turn out to be quite energy-consuming, but the beautiful scenery and breathtaking nature undeniably make up for it.
The best scenic viewpoints are actually the ones located next to the roads. Taking a break from driving with the incredible sights over the mountains, picturesque lakes and drives, renowned Adriatic Seashore, or 1300-meter deep canyons will make all the hassle worth it.
The stops next to the roads are also perfect spots to take pictures and record videos surrounded by this glorious nature.
4 Scenic, Hassle-Worthy Montenegro Scenic Drives!
In no particular order, these are four of the most beautiful drives in Montenegro that you should consider when planning your adventures!
Reach the Imposing Ostrog Monastery
With over a million visitors and pilgrims each year, Ostrog Monastery is certainly one of the most significant religious destinations in the Balkans. The sight of a monastery almost carved vertically on the wall of a giant rock rising above the Bjelopavlići plain, certainly explains why many people perceive this place as holy.
Located only a half an hour drive from the capital city, the monastery is one of the not-to-be-missed spots for the majority of tourists visiting Montenegro, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The road leading over the edges of the giant rock climbs all the way up to the monastery it basically consists of a very narrow path that can often fit only one vehicle at a time.
Most visitors prefer to reach the monastery on foot, but if you decide to drive, you ought to have a great deal of patience and concentration. The view over the large plain and contrasting mountains on the other side will be rewarding for sure.
Drop by the Charming Mount Durmitor and its Spectacular Lakes
The highest mountain in Montenegro is Durmitor, with its peak, Bobotov Kuk, standing at 2,522 m (8,274 ft). There are also 18 glacial lakes spread around the mountain. The place is a UNESCO-protected national park that has been named after the country’s tallest mountain.
Situated in the northwestern part of Montenegro, Durmitor National Park represents the focal point of Montenegro’s mountain tourism.
Depending on the time of your travels, you may either try out the most popular winter activities such as skiing or snowboarding, or hiking and mountaineering during the rest of the year.
From the capital city Podgorica, it takes about 2 hours driving along curvy roads and constant drives up to reach Zabljak municipality.
The view of lakes within the Durmitor mountain area are collectively called the mountain eyes since they look like eyes emerging from the dense evergreen tree forest.
This incredibly beautiful drive will make this bumpy road truly worthwhile.
Cruise Around the Magnificent Boka Bay’s Coastline
The most prominent tourist attraction of Montenegrin’s shore must be Boka Bay. The bay is made of a couple of smaller bays connected by narrow channels and surrounded by the glorious massifs of the Dinaric Alps. This is probably a must on any visitor itinerary.
The view of the steep high mountains diving into the sky blue the Adriatic Sea, tiny church islets emerging from the sea, and stunning sights of Venetian-style old towns will make this drive memorable and breathtaking.
Swing Through the Moraca River Canyon
The road that goes along the Moraca River Canyon is known to be the most challenging and statistically the most dangerous road in Montenegro.
Moraca River Canyon is a unique natural occurrence and it’s quite easy to be mesmerized with the view of numerous giant rocks interweaving on both sides of the road dividing the two giant mountains: Moracaand Sinjajevinamountain ranges.
One of the deepest canyons in Europe which contrasts against the high mount tops reaching as far as the eye could see is certainly a work of nature that should not be missed.
On another note, driving down the road full of sudden cliff-side bends and tunnels won’t be an easy task since you need to be extra cautious and also concentrated, constantly adjusting the speed to the unapproachable terrain.
What to Bring with You to Montenegro
If you’re planning a trip to Montenegro, you’ll want to pack all the normal essentials, but here are a few things we strongly recommend bringing that may not have crossed your mind. For more, check out our complete Montenegro packing list.
– A physical guidebook, in paper or on Kindle. We recommend the Lonely Planet Western Balkans which includes Montenegro but also Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Blogs are great, but a combination of a blog and a guidebook is key to having the best access to information easily at your fingertips.
– A water bottle with a filter. While generally, the tap water in touristy cities in Montenegro is drinkable, such as in Kotor and Budva, we generally recommend using a water bottle with a purifying filter to reduce your plastic consumption and ensure you won’t drink any funny-tasting water on your stomach that could make your trip unpleasant! We recommend the GRAYL water bottle – it filters water perfectly in an instant so that you can even drink from lakes, bad taps, etc.
– Motion sickness pills. Montenegran bus rides can be hot and cause motion sickness! If you have a weak stomach as we do, save yourself and bring some non-drowsy motion sickness pills.
– Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, TP & other Balkan transit needs. Bathrooms in the Balkans on trains and buses tend to be… how can we say it?… not so well-stocked. Save yourself the disappointment and bring a mini-rescue pack of wet wipes & hand sanitizer.
– Travel safety items. We think Montenegro is very safe to travel to, but at the same time, it never hurts to be prepared! Some people like to carry money belts, but neither Allison nor I use these.
Instead, we both carry the same PacSafe anti-theft backpack. It has locking zippers, slash-proof construction with metal mesh hidden in the fabric, and tons of other smart security features — all while being cute and stylish enough to be our everyday bag. We recommend it highly for both male and female travelers, as it’s neutral enough to be unisex. We also strongly recommend travel insurance! Our recommendation is at the bottom of the post.
More Montenegro Travel Resources
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
Finally, if you’ll be headed to Montenegro as part of a larger trip around the Balkans, check out our Balkan currency guide which explains how money and tipping work in the different countries here.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
Finally, make sure you always travel to Montenegro with a valid travel insurance policy. The country is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.