Montenegro: detailed travel guide

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Montenegro: detailed travel guide

Montenegro is a European state on the Balkan Peninsula on the Adriatic coast. The country, covering an area of 13,812 km², borders Croatia to the west, Bosnia and Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo to the east and Albania to the southeast.

The first settlements on the territory of present-day Montenegro appeared in the Paleolithic era. The further development of civilization in the region can be traced back to archaeological finds: from the Early Stone Age to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages. Along the coast of the Adriatic Sea in the 1st century, ancient settlements began to appear, which were part of the Illyrian province of Dioclea (Dukla). In the VI century, the area was inhabited by Slavic tribes. In 1077, Pope Gregory VII granted the title of King to the first ruler of Dioclea, Prince Mikhailo. From that moment, the kingdom received the name Zeta, and soon under his rule were significant territories that now belong to Bosnia and Serbia.

The first mention of the toponym “Montenegro” dates back to 1296: so in the annals of the monastery of St. Nicholas in Vranzhin named the surroundings of Mount Lovcen, overgrown with dense “black” forests.

Montenegro

Montenegro

In 1496, the kingdom took over the protectorate of the Ottoman Empire, but it never ended up under Turkish rule – the Turks controlled only the southeastern territories of the former Zeta. The state managed to free itself from Turkish rule only in 1516, after which, in 1516-1852, Montenegro was a theocratic state ruled by a sovereign (a prince with the ordination of a bishop). In 1852 – 1878 the country was a secular monarchical state.

Montenegro took part in the I and II Balkan Wars in 1912-1913, and during the I World War it was occupied first by the Austro-Hungarian troops, and then by the Serbs. Despite the active national liberation movement, Montenegro lost not only its independence, but also the royal dynasty and its own armed forces.

During World War II, Montenegro was occupied by fascist troops, after the defeat of which it turned out to be a socialist republic within the SFRY. Since 1992, the country has been part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was renamed in 2003 into the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. And only on May 21, 2006, Montenegro finally gained the desired independence – in a referendum, the majority of residents voted for secession from Serbia, which recognized Montenegro’s sovereignty in the same year, and the country was admitted to the UN. In 2008, the state applied to join the EU.

Montenegro today is a popular tourist destination attracting thousands of tourists. Guests in Montenegro can enjoy a beach holiday at the numerous resorts of the Adriatic coast; picturesque nature of national parks and nature protection zones; acquaintance with the ancient history of the region, captured in historical and architectural monuments; excellent cuisine and sincere hospitality of local people.

How to get to Montenegro

Aircraft

The country has two international airports – in Podgorica and Tivat. Serbia’s JAT aircrafts fly from Serbia to Montenegro. From many cities in Europe, Podgorica and Tivat can be reached by planes of many European airlines.

If your holiday destination is Montenegrin resorts near the border with Croatia (Igalo, Herceg Novi, etc.), you can fly to the airport of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, from where you can get to your destination by bus or taxi.

A train

Port of Kotor

Port of Kotor

Russia does not have a regular railway connection with Montenegro. All year round, you can get to Belgrade (Serbia) by train: train number 015 Moscow-Belgrade (49 hours on the way), follows through Kiev and Budapest, departs from Kievsky railway station on even numbers in winter, in summer – every day. In Belgrade, you can take a train to Podgorica or Bar. However, in the summer season (from June to September), a direct direct car to Bar (via Podgorica) – No. 015B is added to the Moscow-Belgrade train. Travel time is about 60 hours. The timetable and ticket prices should be checked on the Russian Railways website.

Bus

There is no direct bus service between Russia and Montenegro. Bus lines of the Serbian companies Lasta and Bas connect many cities of Montenegro with the cities of the neighboring Balkan states, as well as with the cities of most European countries, which can be reached from Russia and the countries of the former CIS by buses of the Ecolines and Eurolines companies.

Many travel companies from Ukraine organize summer charter transportation of tourists to Montenegro (for example, from Lviv – Mist-tour company). The ticket price is about 100 euros in both directions.

Auto

For those entering Montenegro by car, it is necessary to have an international driver’s license and an international insurance policy of civil liability of the driver (“green card”). In the absence of a policy, insurance is issued directly at the border crossing.

The distance from Moscow to Podgorica is about 2,700 km. When traveling by car, citizens of the Russian Federation need to take care of transit visas (at least there will be two). The most common route is through Ukraine, Hungary and Serbia. You can also navigate through Ukraine, Romania and Serbia, or through Ukraine, Hungary and Croatia. If a Russian tourist has a multiple-entry Schengen visa, a route through European countries is possible.

Ferry

Regular ferry service between Montenegro and Italy is carried out by the following companies: Montenegro Lines (from Bar to Bari) and Italian Azzurra Line (from Bar and Kotor to Bari).

Climate and weather in Montenegro

Perast embankment

Perast embankment

There are three climatic zones in Montenegro: mountainous, continental and coastal. In the north of the country there is a temperate continental climate, on the Adriatic coast – Mediterranean. In coastal areas, summers are dry, long, hot (+23–25°C), winters are short and cool (+3–7°C). In mountainous areas, summers are moderately warm (+19–25°C), and winters are snowy and quite cold (+5 to -10°C).

The total amount of precipitation per year is 500 – 1500 mm, in the mountains near the sea coast sometimes over 3000 mm of precipitation falls. The beach season lasts from mid-May to late October. The sea temperature during these months ranges from +20°С to +26°С. The seawater transparency is 38–55 m.

Cities and regions of Montenegro

Administratively Montenegro is divided into municipal units – communities (opstina). There are 21 communities in the country, each of which is named after a central city.

Geographically, the country can be divided into three regions: coastal, central and mountainous.

Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Montenegro, where the government of the country, parliament (skupstina) and the supreme court are located. Podgorica is the administrative, economic and industrial center of Montenegro, as well as an important transport hub. The central region is home to the majority of the population of Montenegro. Here is the capital of the country and cities that are historical and cultural monuments:

Cetinje is the ancient capital, cultural and spiritual center of Montenegro, a city founded in the XIII century. Cetinje, named after the river of the same name that crosses it, is located in a hollow at the foot of Mount Lovcen (Black Mountain), which protects the interior regions of the country from sea winds. Due to the abundance of architectural and historical monuments and the importance of Cetinje for the history of Montenegro, the city bears the title of “honorary capital” and is a real open-air museum.

Niksic is the second largest city in Montenegro, a large industrial center. The city, built in the IV century, is located in the west of Montenegro in the valley of the same name. Today’s Niksic is a historical and cultural monument. In the vicinity of the city there are lakes Krupach, Slano and Liverovichi, attracting a lot of ecotourism lovers in the summer season.

Danilovgrad is a city named after its founder, Prince Danila, located on the banks of the Zeta River in the center of the Belopavlichi valley. In Danilovgrad there are many historical monuments, and in the vicinity of the city there are natural attractions: mountain peaks and marble rocks.

The northern region of Montenegro is known for its winter resorts and picturesque mountain villages with authentic architecture: Kolasin, Moykovac, Bijelo pole, Pljevlja, Rozaje, Zabljak, etc.

The coastal region of Montenegro – seaside – consists of 6 communities: Herceg Novi, Bar, Kotor, Budva, Ulcinj, Tivat. Community centers of the same name are the most famous Montenegrin resorts.

Conventionally (for the convenience of tourists) the coast of Montenegro can be divided into four parts:

  • Boko-Kotor Bay (cities of Herceg Novi, Kotor and Tivat);
  • Budva Riviera (from Yaz to Buljarica inclusive, with the resorts of Budva, Becici, Rafailovici, Przhno, Milocer, Sveti Stefan);
  • Barskaya Riviera (the resorts of Bar and Sutomore, from Cape Dubovitsa to the village of Kruche);
  • Ulcinj Riviera (Ulcinj city, Ada Boyana island, to the border with Albania).

What to see

Montenegro landmarks

Cetinje Monastery

Cetinje Monastery

The main attractions of Montenegro are listed below. The links can be used to go to the page of the object with its detailed description, maps, photographs and other useful data.

  • Cetinje monastery
  • Ostrog monastery
  • Moraca monastery
  • Saint Stephen

Sights of Podgorica

  • Ruins of the ancient city of Duklja
  • Church of St. George
  • City Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Cathedral of Christ’s Resurrection
  • Millennium bridge
  • Petrovich Art Gallery

Attractions of Budva

  • Old city
  • Citadel
  • Church of Santa Maria in Punta
  • St john’s church
  • Church of the Holy Trinity
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Gallery of contemporary art
  • Library

Attractions of Kotor

  • Old city
  • Fortress of St. Ivan
  • Maritime museum
  • Chapel of the Rescue of the Virgin
  • Cathedral of Saint Tryphon

Attractions Herceg Novi

  • Sea fortress
  • Blue cave
  • Museum of local lore
  • Clock tower
  • Savina monastery

Sights of Tivat

  • City Park
  • Island of Flowers
  • Bucha Palace

Attractions Bara

  • Old city
  • Toplitsa Park Museum
  • Ancient olive tree

Attractions Ulcinj

  • Balsic Tower
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Palace of Venice

What to do for a tourist in Montenegro

Montenegro beaches

The length of the beaches of Montenegro is 73 km. Sea water near the coast in the season warms up to +26 ° C.

Sveti Stefan Island

Sveti Stefan Island

The beaches of Montenegro are small-pebble (from Budva to Sutomore), sandy (in the south) or stone, equipped with platforms (in the north). Most of the beaches are paid, only guests of local hotels and guesthouses have free access to them. Renting umbrellas and sun loungers will cost 1.5-3 euros per day. There are a small number of municipal beaches.

In Montenegro, there are many beaches marked with the blue flag of environmental cleanliness: in the area of ​​Herceg Novi, Tivat, Ulcinj, Budva and Bar. You can read more about them by following the links below:

  • Beaches of Budva
  • Beaches of Kotor
  • Hertsog Novi beaches
  • Tivat beaches
  • Bar Beaches
  • Ulcinj beaches

Diving in Montenegro

Scuba diving is a traditional activity of Montenegrin fishermen and shell gatherers. Already in 1927, submariners were trained on the basis of the Royal Navy in Tivat. As a sport, diving on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro began to develop after World War II. Today the country provides a lot of opportunities for diving, underwater orientation and photography, and fishing with a harpoon.

The coast of Montenegro is distinguished by the presence of limestone coral reefs, teeming with small caves, which are home to many species of marine life.

Along with the development of tourism, diving in Montenegro has received additional development and distribution: the number of dive clubs and the services they offer has increased. Today, scuba diving in Montenegrin waters is possible with CMAS, PADI, NNI or SSI certificates. Every guest who wants to get acquainted with the basics of scuba diving can take an initial educational program approved by the official European and Montenegrin diving organizations.

So, a full course for adults and children (12 – 15 years old) lasting 5 days in English, Serbian or Russian, with a diploma of completion and an international certificate will cost guests an average of 250 euros (children – 200 euros). Advanced Advanced Course (OWD) with the study of 3 compulsory techniques (deep diving, night diving, underwater navigation) lasting 5 days with a diploma and an international certificate – about 300 euros.

Off the coast of Montenegro, there are several areas where dive sites are located that are interesting from an archaeological point of view: Risan Bay, Bigovo Valley, the vicinity of the resorts of Bar and Ulcinj. The wrecks (wrecks) are scattered along the entire coast: “Sent Istvan” at the entrance to the Boka Kotorska Bay; a two-masted vessel near Cape Platamouni; destroyer “Zenta”, which sank during World War II near Petrovac; an Austrian ship next to the Great Ulcinj Beach; Austrian warship “Dag” during World War I, sunk near the port of Bar.

Some diving centers in Montenegro:

  • Regional Diving Center (Bizhela)
  • Aquanaut Submarine Explorers Club (Podgorica)
  • D’Olcinium (Ulcinj)
  • Hobotnica (Bar)
  • Neptun-Mimoza (Tivat)

Rafting in Montenegro

One of the most popular active sports among tourists in Montenegro is rafting. Rafting is carried out along the Tara River. A significant part of the routes are organized in the summer in the vicinity of the small village of Scepan Pole, where the border crossing to Bosnia and Herzegovina is located. The starting points for canoeing are most often the city of Zabljak and the Moraca River.

Until 1973, industrial timber rafting was carried out on the Tara River, when logging was stopped, enthusiasts organized tourist rafting on wooden rafts. Rafting itself (rafting on a special rubber raft) appeared in these places in 1989. According to the internationally accepted classification of the attractiveness and complexity of rafting, raft routes on Tara belong to categories 3 and 4 (the most difficult and attractive category is 5, it is possessed, for example, by rafting on the Colorado River, USA).

Services for the organization of rafting on wooden rafts, rafts, canoeing and kayaking are provided by a large number of travel agencies in Montenegro, located both on the coast and in the continental part. More information about prices and features of local rafting – on this site.

Wellness vacation in Montenegro

Montenegro is a well-known destination for health recreation, combining a mild Mediterranean climate, clear sea, the presence of healing mineral springs and mud. The most popular thermal resort is the town of Igalo, located 7 km from Herceg Novi. It is there that the world famous Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation. Dr. Simo Milosevic “Igalo”, equipped with the most modern equipment. The staff of the institute is staffed with highly qualified personnel (70 doctors, 120 nurses, 230 physiotherapists).

The Igalo Institute has gained worldwide recognition for the successful treatment of many diseases. Among the patients of the institute there are patients with rheumatism, multiple sclerosis; people suffering from diseases of the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, cardiological, gynecological and skin diseases. The institute relieves the condition after fractures or orthopedic operations, and successfully fights overweight. Among the methods of treatment are hydrotherapy, pelotherapy (mud baths), massage, thalassotherapy, occupational therapy, electrotherapy, phototherapy, inhalation, acupuncture, dosed sunbathing, exercise on the beach and in the water.

National parks of Montenegro

National parks of Montenegro

National parks of Montenegro

Montenegro is becoming a popular destination for ecotourism. National parks occupy about 10% of the country’s territory and are protected by international organizations. In total, there are 5 national parks in the country (additional information is available on the links):

  • Skadar lake
  • Durmitor
  • Lovcen
  • Biogradska gora
  • Prokletye

Nature lovers should also visit other natural gems of Montenegro – the canyon of the Tara River and the Boka Kotorska Bay.

Ski resorts in Montenegro

Montenegro is a promising area of ​​winter tourism, offering guests excellent conditions for skiing and recreation at very reasonable prices. The main ski resorts of Montenegro are Zabljak and Kolasin. Traditionally, you can follow the link to the resort page with its detailed description, maps, photos and other useful data.

Getting around the country

Montenegro is not a country where you can’t leave the hotel, spending all your time on the beaches. You need to get around Montenegro, exploring its various towns, as well as getting out to sights remote from the coast, such as, for example, monasteries in the mountains.

The country is dominated by bus service – almost all cities and towns of Montenegro are connected by bus routes.

There is also one railway line connecting Bar (a city on the coast) with Podgorica. Plus there are taxis and car rentals. You can read more about all the listed types of movement in this country in the article “Transport in Montenegro”.

Montenegrin cuisine

Montenegrin cuisine is a wonderful Mediterranean cocktail of local and foreign culinary traditions. On the table of Montenegrins, you can find dishes inherent in Italian, Greek and Turkish cuisines.

Snacks

Meals in Montenegro start with cold appetizers, which include local cheeses and jerky. So, you should definitely try Negush prosciutto (smoked ham) and Negush cheese in olive oil, as well as “bohovan kachkaval” (breaded cheese served with sauce).

Fish

The first place in Montenegrin cuisine is rightfully occupied by fish and fresh seafood dishes. Particularly good are, for example, fish goulash from various types of fish, as well as mashed fish soup (riblya chorba); seafood salads (octopus, cuttlefish, shrimp); snacks from trout, mussels, crayfish, lobsters; grilled fish.

As a side dish for fish dishes, it is customary to serve boiled potatoes, black rice, blitva (a type of spinach) and palenta (a dish made from corn flour). In winter, in Montenegro, they eat fish dried in the sun. The pre-cleaned large fish is opened like a book and placed under a special press in the sun, washed daily with sea water. The process ends with smoking and packaging of fish for storage in paper. In winter, fish is boiled and eaten with vegetables.

Meat

They also love meat in Montenegro: pork, beef, lamb. A lot of all kinds of dishes are prepared from meat: prebranats (pork ribs with beans); pleskavitsa (minced meat); chevapchichi (lula kebab); stuffed pork; mixed meso (cold cuts); lamb on a spit or “under a sach” (in a large cast-iron pot). Meat is often prepared using kaymak, a special way of curdled cream.

Poultry, in addition to traditional methods, is often prepared in a very original way. So, the chicken is salted and placed in a lamb or kid, prepared for roasting on a spit. When the lamb is ready, the chicken will not only be fried, but will also acquire a peculiar taste.

Salads

Montenegrin cuisine is famous for its salads. Salads are mostly vegetable. Vegetables are coarsely chopped and seasoned with olive oil or vinegar. Traditional salads – shopsky (tomato, cucumber, onion, cheese); urnebes (finely chopped hot peppers with cheese in olive oil); aivar (caviar from pepper, onion, eggplant).

Traditional bread in Montenegro is corn. Young people prefer the white loaves familiar to us.

Dessert

It is customary to finish lunch or dinner with desserts. Lovers of sweets should try “palachinka” – a large pancake with jam, jam, chocolate or cream; “Krstici” – small donuts in chocolate sauce.

Very good coffee in Montenegro. Connoisseurs will surely like oriental coffee (“kafa kuvana”). Hot chocolate is also very tasty.

Beer

The only national beer in Montenegro, produced since 1896, is Niksicko Pivo. It is made from barley, mountain spring water and bitter aromatic hops. Contains 5% alcohol.

Wine

Montenegro is famous for its high quality wines – dry red and white. Grape plantations are located not far from Lake Skadar, in the Chemovskoye field.

Vranac is a noble high-quality dry red wine, almost ruby-colored, with a lilac hue, with a pleasant fruity flavor. Contains 12% alcohol. It is included in the top 100 European wines.

Krstach is a noble dry white wine, light yellow in color, with an established pedigree, and has a rich bouquet. Contains 12.5% ​​alcohol. Produced in Nicole Tserkva from the rarest grape variety not grown anywhere else in the world.

Strong alcohol

Fans of stronger alcoholic beverages should try grape brandy – a local grape vodka with a unique aroma. Rakia is made from Montenegrin Vranac grapes. The strength of brandy is 50 degrees. Rakia is drunk cold, as an aperitif. The best brand of brandy is Kruna, which has a clean and harmonious taste. Lozovacha is made from grapes, plum brandy is made from plums, and kaisievacha is made from apricots.

Shopping in Montenegro

Tourists always try to combine beach vacations with shopping. The most common type of Montenegrin retail outlet is a minimarket; there are similar stores in any city and in every village. There are also many private shops, souvenir shops and markets in the country. Spontaneous trade zones appear on the streets of resort cities, where, in small tents, basically everything for a beach holiday is sold. There are several fairly large shopping centers in Podgorica and its environs, but there are no huge shopping malls in the country.

Shops are usually open every day from 6:00 to 20:00, in tourist centers – until 23:00. Some grocery stores are open on Sundays and even around the clock. Bargaining in Montenegro is accepted only in the markets.

Often tourists in Montenegro buy textiles and clothing, which are very inexpensive. When making such a purchase, you need to be careful not to buy a thing of Chinese or Turkish origin. Products of well-known world brands are sold everywhere in boutiques in cities and resorts, but their choice is small, and the cost is quite high.

In the markets and in souvenir shops, you can buy some products of local craftsmen – ceramics, embroidery, crocheted tablecloths, dolls in national costumes, mugs with paintings. Tourists often buy a national red headdress with an embroidered coat of arms of the country, called a kapa; women should pay attention to the traditional belt – chemere. However, in comparison with other Balkan countries, in Montenegro, the choice of folk art items is small, and souvenirs are often not enough to impress. This is due to the fact that historically applied art has not developed sufficiently in this area. Therefore, it is best to bring “tasty” souvenirs as a souvenir of your vacation in Montenegro – high quality local ham, delicious mountain cheese and authentic alcoholic drinks.

Communication

Top of the mountain with the Old Fortress in Kotor

Top of the mountain with the Old Fortress in Kotor

In the cities of Montenegro, street telephones are ubiquitous. They allow you to make a call both within the country and abroad. The machines use Monte Cards, which can be bought at post offices and kiosks. There are also a number of coin-operated telephones.

The international code of Montenegro is 382.

For a call within Montenegro from any telephone, “0” is dialed before the city code (0 – city code – subscriber’s number).

Mobile communication in Montenegro supports the GSM standard. Before traveling, you should check the roaming rates with your local telecom operator. If on vacation you are going to make a large number of calls, you should consider buying a SIM card from local operators.

The main telecom operators are M: tel, ProMonte, T-mobile. The most favorable rates are offered by M: tel.

SIM cards and express payment cards are sold everywhere in post offices, shops, newspaper and tobacco kiosks, as well as in the offices of mobile operators.

You can find many internet cafes in almost all cities of the country (usually open seven days a week). Also, most hotels offer their guests Internet access, and on the territory of private villas and boarding houses, as a rule, there is free Wi-Fi access.

Useful phone numbers:

  • Police 92
  • Ambulance 94
  • Fire brigade 93
  • Roadside Assistance 987
  • Information Office 988
  • Tourist information telephone 9817
  • Telephone for complaints to the Ministry of Tourism 9797

Safety

Montenegro is a safe country for tourists. Local residents are welcoming and benevolent, they are especially hospitable towards guests from Russia and the countries of the former USSR. Many Montenegrins know Russian and communicate with pleasure.

The crime rate in the country is relatively low. The police strictly suppress any attempts to deceive foreign tourists. In order not to become a victim of petty fraud, it is recommended to pay only after the provision of a particular service – it is not worth paying in advance.

As in many other countries, in Montenegro, you should beware of pickpocketing in crowded places (in retail outlets, on beaches, near attractions), do not leave your photo and video cameras unattended, keep cash and valuables in the hotel safe.

The tap water is potable. On pebble beaches and stone platforms, it will be useful to have special shoes for swimming: “coral”, crocs, etc. At the height of the season, you should not neglect also sunscreen.

In Montenegro, it is forbidden to photograph objects of the energy industry, port and military facilities.