Not many people visit Montenegro in winter – but that’s a shame, because this season is actually one of the best times to visit Montenegro.
Sure, you won’t be able to sun yourself on the beach, but you also won’t find a single cruise ship and the prices will be as low as they get. You can wander through seemingly deserted cities that are packed and chaotic in summer, or you can head to the mountains for a winter wonderland experience that’ll cost a fraction of the price of a similar vacation in Western Europe.
Plus, Montenegro isn’t even that cold. Winter in Montenegro is often pleasant during the day, but cold at night along the coast. In Kotor, Budva, and other coastal cities, expect average highs of 13°C/55°F and lows of 2-3°C/26-37°F throughout December through February. It may snow in the surrounding mountains, but it’s rare (though not unheard of) for there to be snow on the ground in the cities themselves.
Meanwhile, Zabljak (the gateway to Durmitor National Park and most winter activities in Montenegro) will be quite cold and snowy! Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are incredibly popular this time of year. Expect average highs of 0-2°C/32-36°F and average lows of -7-9°C/15-19°F, with tons of snow!
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The Best Things to Do in Montenegro in Winter
Explore normally-bustling cities in total quiet
Kotor and Budva are bordering on unbearable in the summer when it comes to how many tourists there are, especially Kotor. When a cruise ship unloads, the entire city gets swarmed and it’s hard to enjoy it.
In winter, you’ll be sharing those epic views with precious few other people. If you’re a photography lover, you’ll love that the combination of late sunrises and cold weathers means that you don’t even have to wake up that early to get peaceful, people-free photos.
Enjoy a peaceful beach sunset
While you certainly won’t want to swim in Montenegro in winter, unless you’re absolutely bonkers, there’s something unreal about watching the sunset on a beach all on your own.
Bring some tea or coffee to warm your hands (or a bottle of wine to warm yourself up in a different way!) and enjoy the magic of a sunset that you don’t have to share with a million strangers.
Go skiing or snowboarding in one of Montenegro’s winter resorts
There are two main mountain resorts in Montenegro in winter: Kolašin, which has the most slopes (14 kilometers of them) and Žabljak, which has the highest run (2,213 meters altitude).
Either is a fantastic option and it depends what you are looking for. Kolašin is more modern and has more amenities; Žabljak has more beautiful surroundings in Durmitor National Park and near to the beautiful Tara River Canyon, which gets all frosty and beautiful in the winter. Both are hidden places in Montenegro loved by local but that few tourists experience!
Stay in a cozy cabin in a winter wonderland
Even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder, there’s still plenty of reason to visit Žabljak in the winter – for one, there are so many cute mountain accommodations that would be perfect to relax in all day with the heater on a cozy book.
If you’re a family of skiers and non-skiers, Žabljak is a great option for everyone.
See the beautiful icy Tara River Canyon
The Tara River Canyon is the deepest canyon in Europe, and it’s a popular summer activity to go rafting down it.
However, as it’s just a few kilometers outside of Žabljak, if you are basing yourself there it’s a wonderful idea to at least go and visit the Tara River Canyon and perhaps doing a little hike around the area if conditions allow.
Get an incredible view from Mount Lovćen
Even if you are not going to the actual mountain resorts, which can take quite a while from the coast, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit Mount Lovćen.
If conditions allow and the roads are not icy, taking the beautiful serpentine route from Kotor is the best way to visit Mount Lovćen as you’ll get a stunning view of the Bay of Kotor along the way.
Climb the over 400 steps to Lake Peak, an altitude of 1,660 meters high, where you can visit the mausoleum of the famous Montenegrin ruler and see the best view on Lovćen. Supposedly, this viewpoint shows you 70% of Montenegro’s land.
Eat a delicious Montenegrin feast
Montenegrin food is rich, hearty, and filling: perfect for cold winter days when you just want rich stews, flaky meat-filled pastries, and grilled and roasted meats.
Burek, which you can pick up at any bakery, will surely hit the spot; so will warm and filling dishes like ćevapi, baked beans (prebranac/pasulj) which is sometimes served with sausage, and baked lamb.
Montenegro is also famous for its njeguški pršut, a cured ham similar to prosciutto from the village of Njeguši, as well as its local cheeses and fresh dairy. And of course, as it’s a coastal city, you can still get fresh seafood in the winter along the water, should you crave it.
What to Pack for Montenegro in Winter
We have a full Montenegro packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We recommend the Lonely Planet Western Balkans for travel in Montenegro and much of the Balkans.
Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.
Any ski equipment and clothing (if skiing): We’re not skiers ourselves, so we don’t have specific ski gear equipment, but special ski clothes — waterproof pants and jackets, goggles, etc. — and ski gear obviously should be on your packing list, unless you have decided to rent it all when you arrive at your ski resort.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.
Montenegro Travel Resources
Don’t miss our Montenegro packing list, which covers what to wear in Montenegro in winter.
Be sure to also check out our piece on travel writers’ favorite places to visit in Montenegro!
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.
We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Montenegro and the Balkans, bookmark our Montenegro and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip.
Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for Montenegro and for travel in general! This is especially true when visiting a country like Montenegro, where you’ll be enjoying a mix of city and outdoor activities — especially in the winter. If your stuff gets stolen or you get hurt in an accident, it’s good to know that travel insurance will cover the costs.
Do note that if you are visiting Montenegro on a skiing trip, the standard level of World Nomads does not cover skiing/snowboarding incidents; you will have to purchase the Explorer Plan in order to have coverage for winter sports accidents.
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Montenegro is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.