A First-timers Guide to Montenegro
Home to one of Europe’s most enticing stretches of coastline, some of the most striking mountain scenery on the continent, and countless other spectacular gems, Montenegro is a country of incredible beauty and diversity. Not even 300km long, this tiny country packs in an extraordinary range of diverse landscapes, cultural influences, and must-see destinations. If you’re a first-time visitor to this enchanting country, you’re in for a treat! In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through Montenegro’s must-see destinations, share insider tips, and provide practical advice to help you make the most of your time there.
When is the best time to visit Montenegro?
Montenegro’s climate varies between the coast and the mountains. Along the Adriatic, coastal Montenegro enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate with very warm summers and mild winters. The interior of the country however including the mountains has a sub-alpine climate with warm summers but bitterly cold winters sometimes dipping to as low as minus 26.C! Here’s an overview of the different seasons and what they offer:
- Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season in Montenegro, particularly along the coastal areas. The weather is warm and ideal for beach activities, swimming, and water sports. However, popular destinations can get crowded, and accommodation prices tend to be higher. If you prefer a lively atmosphere and enjoy the beach scene, summer is a great time to visit.
- Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to October): These seasons offer pleasant weather with mild temperatures, making them ideal for outdoor activities like hiking, exploring national parks, and cultural sightseeing. The crowds are thinner compared to summer, and prices for accommodation and activities are generally more affordable. Springtime brings vibrant blooms and lush green landscapes, while autumn showcases beautiful autumn colours.
- Winter (November to March): Montenegro’s mountainous regions, such as Durmitor and Kolasin, are popular for winter sports enthusiasts. If you enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or winter activities, this is the perfect time to visit. The mountain resorts offer snowy landscapes and a cosy atmosphere. Coastal areas are quieter during winter, with some hotels and restaurants closing for the season.
Top things to do in Montenegro
Explore the Bay of Kotor: Encircled by majestic mountains, this fjord-like bay offers a mesmerising setting that will leave you in awe. Prepare to be transported back in time as you explore the medieval towns of Kotor, Perast, and Herceg Novi, each with its own unique charm and historical significance. This UNESCO-listed destination is a true jewel of Montenegro’s Adriatic coastline.
Visit the delicious Scepanovic Honey Farm: This family farm has a long history of beekeeping and boasts a huge colony of hives and bees in an area rich with wildflowers and honey plants at the foothill of the Bjelasica mountain range. The honey house is set in a small wooden cabin that’s filled with antique tools and bee-keeping equipment and features a long oak table in the centre laden with glass dishes and silver spoons ready for the tasting session. You’ll be given a brief tour of the hives by the friendly owner who will explain the beekeeping and honey production process. Afterward, you’ll head inside to taste some of their best products including mountain, linden, and meadow honey, a strong honey-laced liquor, and some honey wine. You can even purchase a few sweet treats from this year’s honey production–the shelves are stacked with endless jars of golden honey along with other organic honey products made on the farm including solid beeswax, thick honeycomb and pots of dried fruit soaked in honey.
Discover Durmitor National Park: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Durmitor National Park, known for its majestic mountains, deep canyons, and glacial lakes. This extraordinary destination is a haven for nature enthusiasts, boasting majestic mountains, breathtaking canyons, and pristine glacial lakes. Lace-up your boots and embark on unforgettable hiking or trekking expeditions, traversing scenic trails that lead you through lush forests and reveal awe-inspiring vistas at every turn. Whether you choose to explore on foot or by bike, the untamed beauty of Durmitor National Park will leave you spellbound and craving more of Montenegro’s enchanting landscapes.
Experience the Tara River Bridge: Marvel at the stunning Tara River Bridge, an architectural masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stand in awe as you gaze at this magnificent structure that spans the breathtaking Tara River Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the world. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the rugged canyon walls and the turquoise waters below. For an extra thrill, embark on a heart-pounding zip-lining experience, soaring above the canyon and embracing the adrenaline rush as you marvel at the stunning natural surroundings.
Enjoy Adventure Sports: Montenegro is a haven for adventure seekers, with its diverse landscapes providing a playground for a thrilling array of outdoor activities. Embark on epic hikes through rugged mountains, kayak along crystal-clear rivers and coastal marvels, conquer challenging rock walls, and soar through the skies with paragliding. Whether you’re captivated by the beauty of Durmitor National Park, the tranquility of Skadar Lake, or the dramatic cliffs of Kotor, Montenegro offers breathtaking views and adrenaline-pumping adventures at every turn. Embrace the opportunity to explore this remarkable destination and create unforgettable memories as you engage in exhilarating adventure sports amidst the stunning backdrop of Montenegro’s natural wonders.
What to eat and drink
Montenegrin cuisine reflects the country’s geography and rich history. Its heartland and Adriatic coast showcase an Italian influence seen in bread-making, cured meats, cheese, wine, and spirits. Levantine and Turkish influences shine through dishes like pita, burek, and baklava. Hungarian flavours such as goulash and continental treats like doughnuts and Vienna-style bread are also common. Geographically, the cuisine varies. Coastal areas embrace Mediterranean flavors with abundant seafood, while the north offers meat-based dishes featuring lamb, cicvar, polenta, and tripe. Traditional cooking methods like using an a bell, a clay dish covered with a bell and heated under ash and coals, are still practiced today, particularly for lamb and bread, and are absolutely delicious! Indulge in the finest seafood, including squid (ligne), scampi (škampi), octopus salad (salata od hobotnice), and mussels (dagnje) served with bouzzara sauce made from fried onions and tomatoes. For a truly authentic experience, ask for the catch of the day, ensuring the freshest flavours! Specialties like sea bass (brancin), sea bream (orada), and John Dory (kovač) are not to be missed. As you explore Montenegrin cuisine, be sure to sample burek, a flaky Turkish-style pastry filled with cheese, meat, or apple, often accompanied by thick yogurt. Don’t miss rakija, the national drink, known for its potency. Njeguši ham, air-dried in a small village beneath Mount Lovcen, offers a delicious treat. And to accompany your meal, indulge in Vranac, a deep, ruby red dry red wine cultivated in the Crmnica region.
How much time do I need to visit?
Ultimately, the duration of your visit to Montenegro depends on your personal preferences and the depth of exploration you desire. It’s always a good idea to plan your itinerary in advance and allocate sufficient time to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and cultural richness of this captivating country. If you enjoy a more relaxed and immersive travel experience, I highly recommend our 7-Night Montenegro Experience. On the other hand, if you prefer a faster-paced trip or you’re on a time-limited, you can cover more ground in a shorter period on our 4-Night Mini Montenegro Experience!
How much money do I need?
When preparing for your trip to Montenegro, it’s helpful to have an idea of how much spending money you should budget. While individual preferences and travel styles may vary, we can offer some guidelines to assist you. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates, and your actual expenses may differ based on personal choices. For a satisfying lunch, plan to spend around £8 per person. This should cover a decent meal at a local eatery. In the evening, if you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, expect to pay approximately £12 per person. However, remember that the choice of restaurant and the dishes you order will influence the final cost. To keep your bill reasonable, we recommend exploring local wines, beers, or spirits instead of opting for expensive imported drinks. As a rough estimate, setting aside around £100 for lunch, drinks, and snacks for two people should be sufficient.
The prices below for general items should give you a better idea of the costs in Montenegro. Please note these are averages.
- Restaurant meal (mid-range): £7-£13 per person
- Fast food meal: £2.50-£5
- Local beer (0.5L) in a bar or restaurant: £1.70-£2.50
- Bottle of water (1.5L): £0.40-£0.80
- Loaf of bread: £0.40-£0.80
- Milk (1L): £0.60-£0.90
- Local cheese (500g): £2.30-£3.80
Finally, what to pack when visiting!
As you’ll want to spend your time between Montenegro’s beautiful Adriatic Coast and its stunning mountains you’ll need to bring clothing appropriate for both warm and cool, changeable weather. Layers are an excellent option as they’ll allow you to warm up and cool down when necessary. By packing a mix of versatile clothing items that cater to both warm coastal days and cool mountain explorations, you’ll be well-equipped to embrace the diversity of Montenegro’s landscapes.
- Layers of lightweight clothing ideally made from cotton or other breathable materials
- Hiking gear for those keen on doing lots of walking
- A warm cardigan, fleece, or hooded jumper for cool evenings by the sea and in the mountain
- A lightweight waterproof jacket in case the heavens open
- Smart clothing for more upmarket dinners in Kotor(shirts, trousers, and dresses)
- Swimwear for water-based activities and sunbathing
- A pair of flip-flops or sandals
- A sturdy pair of trainers or hiking boots
Whether you’ve immersed yourself in the captivating beauty of the Bay of Kotor, hiked through the majestic Durmitor National Park, or indulged in the flavours of Montenegrin cuisine, this first-timers guide has provided you with a taste of the wonders that await in this hidden gem of the Balkans. Why not see for yourself on our next Montenegro adventure? Contact us at email@example.com for more info!
Written by Lucy Kaufmann