It was such a random idea to take a road trip to Montenegro, and yet, it was the best decision! The best time to visit Montenegro is the spring because you can admire the beautiful green landscapes! Even if Montenegro is a small country, there is so much to explore! We spent there 7 days, but you can easily spend more time relaxing on the beaches, hiking in the national parks, rafting or taking boat tours.
Our Montenegrin experience was our first approach to the Balkans. After spending a week driving through this amazing country, we can say that Montenegro is a hidden jewel waiting to be discovered by the adventurous travelers and nature lovers.
The most special thing in Montenegro is definitely nature and the amazing landscapes. A road trip is an amazing way to discover Montenegro because you can watch all the beautiful views from your car while you drive, and you can stop anywhere to take some photos. We actually didn’t watch anything in Podgorica, we just arrived at the airport, got our rented car and started our journey.
Car renting in Montenegro
We rented our car with SurPrice cars approximately three weeks before our trip. We paid 80 euros for 5 days and 70 euros more for full insurance to travel without worries. We recommend you rent a small car, as the roads are very narrow and it's definitely better to fit everywhere, right?
For tourists, it’s very popular to rent a car in Montenegro or another Balkan country and drive through more than one countries (for example Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, etc.) If you want to do this, you need to consider that the rental companies will ask you for an extra fee. You need to calculate extra insurance that you need when crossing the border with your car.
Communication - Getting a Sim card
Montenegro is not part of the European Union. That indicates that if you are visiting from an EU country or other countries, your phone won’t have internet here (unless you have a super international plan). If you want to have a constant internet connection, you need to buy a sim card. Anyway, Telecom is very cheap here, we got a SIM card with 10 GB per day for just 5 euros. You can buy Sim cards in small traffic stores in Podgorica, but remember to have cash with you.
We were lucky to spend a whole week in Montenegro, and we even had the chance to visit Dubrovnik in Croatia! This was definitely one of our most perfectly planned trips. If you’re taking a road trip in Montenegro and you will stay for 6 or 7 days, this is the perfect guide for you! If you will have more or less time exploring this country, you can still get inspired by our guide to have some idea about the main attractions to see.
Where to stay in Montenegro?
Such a hard question! Basically, you have 2 options: you can either make your base in Budva or Kotor, or in one of the towns on the south coast, or you can change your base depending or where you go and what’s nearest. If you go for the cheapest option, we think to change your accommodation would be more logical, also because you can spare some fuel and time. So here is where we stayed:
1st day: we found a cheap apartment on booking.com in Sutomore, so we stayed there for one night
2nd, 3rd, 4th day: we booked through booking.com, we stayed in Budva for these 3 nights
5th day: we stayed in Dubrovnik, as we went there for a day trip
6th day: we went to the north of Montenegro, so we stayed one night in a bungalow in Pluzine
7th day: we slept at the airport because we had our flight early in the morning 😀 which we don't recommend, as the airport of Podgorica is closed from 11 pm until 6 am. Anyway, before you decide to sleep at an airport, don't forget to check out the webpage sleepatairports.com, to have a basic idea about the facilities and the opening hours of the airport.
Lake Skadar National Park
When someone asks us... how big is Lake Skadar? Well… it’s so big that it’s located in two countries at the same time! We just visited the Montenegrin part this time and we watched very interesting viewpoints. The nature around Lake Skadar is actually a National Park. There are some stops that you must check if you decide to explore this lake and its surroundings.
If you want to read more about what to see at Lake Skadar, check out our article here.
We recommend starting the journey around the lake at Virpazar town. This small little town is full of lovely restaurants, cafeterias and here you can also rent a boat tour if you want to explore the lake in that way. The different companies offer tours to the tourists, and usually, they wait until the boat is full to start the tour.
The locals are very nice, and for sure they will offer you lunch in their restaurants, and of course, if you’re up for a good Montenegrin meal, don’t miss the chance!
The road from Virpazar to Rijeka Crnojevica is for sure very narrow and adventurous, but it’s totally worth it because of the views! The road is also full of very epic viewpoints from where you can catch the mountains and the lake in different perspectives. Don’t forget to check out our blog post about Rijeka Crnojevica town as well!
2. Day - Ulcinj and Bar
These two cities are the most beautiful ones on the southeast coast of Montenegro. Both of them have pretty old towns and beautiful beaches. Yet, they are not always included in the usual road trips in Montenegro, we thought that it's important to visit them!
Time from Budva by car: 1 hour 10 minutes
The Castle of Ulcinj is one of the oldest castles on the Adriatic Sea, it’s 2500 years old. The Old Town is has a Medieval style because of the narrow and curved streets, and you can’t miss the castle because of its big Illyrian walls and the citadel.
Now the castle is full of restaurants and bars, and you can spend some time here walking around. We drunk a delicious coffee at a restaurant, that had the most amazing view to the other side of the city.
Ulcinj is also famous for its beaches, especially for its nudist beach, which is very popular in Montenegro. On the other side of the beach, right opposite the castle, you can find a big mountain from where you will get a magnificent view of the castle!
There is a free parking place right next to the beach. Finding a place there depends on which day are you visiting and the time of the day, but we arrived there at 12 am and we didn't have any problem.
Driving time: 30 minutes from Budva and from Ulcinj as well
Bar has two parts, Stari Bar (Old Bar) and New Bar. The old town was a victim of wars and earthquakes, so now you can just watch the ruins. The port of Bar is definitely the most beautiful location for sunset and it's usually very calm.
Don’t forget to leave Ulcinj a bit earlier, so that you have time to explore the Old Town of Bar as well (not like us! 😀 ). It can take up to 2 hours to explore the old town, which consists of medieval buildings, walls, and beautiful views.
3. Day: Budva and Sveti Stefan
On a Montenegro road trip, we can't forget about Budva and Sveti Stefan. On our 3rd day, we explored the famous Montenegrin party city, Budva, and the best sunset spot, Sveti Stefan. Budva is a very crowded city due to the amazing old town inside the walls of a fortress. The streets have a Medieval vibe and the beaches are famous in the Balkan region. The famous ballerina statue is also here, that's surrounded by a lot of mystery and uncertain legends that made the place extra special and worth to visit!
If you want to get the best sunset pics in Montenegro, this is your location! Sveti Stefan is actually a castle in an islet, which is now connected to the mainland. The castle is a luxury resort, so you can't visit it unless you stay there, but you can walk on the beaches and get amazing views of the castle.
If you want to know what to see there, check out our article about exploring Budva and Sveti Stefan in one day here!
4. Day: Kotor and Perast
Time from Budva to Kotor by car: 26 minutes
1 day is definitely not enough in Kotor, but in a day you can explore the Old Town and the Castle of San Giovanni. Hiking is necessary to reach to the top of the fortress, and it was one of the most exhausting of our lives! (Considering that we forgot to fill our bottle with water :D) But once on the top, the breathtaking view makes the hiking worth it! You have to pay 8 euros to be able to start your hike. The road is also full of very cute and friendly cats that will approach you to get some cuddles, please be nice with them!
The Old town is also a very cute place full of cafes, shops, ice cream stores, and restaurants. We don't recommend you to eat in the Old Town, because it's overpriced, but you can also find cheaper foods like pizza slices or burek.
Kotor to Perast: just 15 minutes by car.
After exploring the old town and finishing the hiking in Kotor, we decided to go to the next town called Perast. Perast is a sleepy little town. In this place you can take a coffee and chill with a magnificent view of the lake, but most importantly, you can take a boat trip to watch the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks, this artificial island is a very cute photo spot and you can reach it for just 5 euros. The Our Lady of the Rocks islet is actually an islet of rocks with a cute church. The tour guides will approach you and offer you to take you there and then take you back to Perast.
5. Day: Dubrovnik
When you make a road trip around Montenegro, you can also spend one day driving to another country. What? Yes, it’s so close! You can easily drive or take a bus to Croatia, Albania or Bosnia. We chose to go to Dubrovnik, also because we heard a lot about the city and we really wanted to see it!
One day trips from Dubrovnik to Kotor or Budva are very popular as well, so you can also choose a travel agency to take an organized trip. If not, then there are two possibilities left: driving or taking public transport. Both of them have disadvantages and advantages as well.
If you choose to drive by your rental car, then you have to take in consideration all the extra taxes. Don’t forget to ask information about this when you rent the car, because if you cross the border, you have to take extra insurance. If you go by bus, it can take longer and your time depends on the bus schedules. We chose the bus and spend approx. 1 hour at the border each direction.
There are buses every 3-4 hours that go to Dubrovnik from Kotor or from Tivat. We chose the one from Kotor. One day is definitely not enough to explore the whole Dubrovnik, but you can take a look at the Old Town, the fortress and the walls, the port, and the beaches.
Alternatively, you can spend one day exploring other beautiful towns around Kotor, like Tivat and Herceg Novi.
6. Day: Lovcen National Park
Time from Kotor to the Lovcen National Park by car: 1 hour
This is going to be the most challenging part of your road trip to Montenegro! The roads are kind of crazy but don't get scared, it's worth to drive until you reach the top 🙂
So when we arrived back from Dubrovnik to Kotor, we took our car and headed straight to the Lovcen National Park. The Lovcen National Park and the mountain with the same name are very famous because here is the resting place of the greatest hero for the Montenegrin people, Petar Petrovic Njegoš. He was a famous statesman and bishop who negotiated to keep most of Montenegro from succumbing to Turkish attacks, and wrote some of the most famous Montenegrin masterpieces of poetry and literature.
The view from the mountain is incredible, and a whole forest is an amazing place where you can chill and get connected with nature very easily. In the peak of the mountain, you can enter the mausoleum of Njegoš, but it has a cost of 10 euros.
How to get to the national park?
The highway that connects Kotor with Lovcen is one of the most challenging that we have faced! The first part of the road is pretty similar to all the highways in Montenegro, but at some point, you will face a section with 25 sharp curves and incredible views! Remember to take them slowly, like that you will be safe and you will also enjoy a nice view!
7. Day: Piva river and Tara River in the Durmitor National Park
Driving from Budva or Kotor: approx. 2,5 hours
This is the most adventurous part of the road trip in Montenegro!
Pluzine small town is the “center of” this region around the Piva River and its canyon. The Piva river is actually an artificial lake that crosses between Montenegro and Bosnia. You can find very interesting spots all along the river, and the road goes next and through the mountains.
So we arrived in Pluzine on our 6th day and we slept there in a bungalow next to the Piva river. Then in the morning, we drove to the North on the road E762 that took us to the Mratinje Dam, the water plant. You can visit the power plant and watch the construction of the dam and how the level of the water changes the landscape on both sides.
When you drive on the road E762, you cross a beautiful long bridge, and after the bridge, you can either continue your way to the water plant or go on the road P14, which takes you through beautiful canyons to Zabljak and the Tara river. You can also go south and find some beautiful viewpoints (like the first photo of this article).
So first we went north to the Mratinje Dam, then we came back on the same road, driving next to the river. Then you can turn to the road P14 and then drive south to watch some viewpoint. After that, you can go back and continue on the road P14 to reach Zabljak and watch the Tara river.
The best base to explore the Durmitor National Park and Tara river is Zabljak. All the tours, rafting experiences start there. If you want to go rafting on the Tara river, maybe you can also plan to spend two days in this region.
Sadly this road can be covered in snow in the mountains in the spring… and well, that happened to us. We basically drove through the fields and canyons, and at the end, we had to return because the road in the mountains was covered in snow. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and the thing is that you can't find signs anywhere and no one is warning you that it can happen. So just try to check on the internet about the snow conditions in the mountains, before you start your journey.
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