Backpacking Montenegro | The Ultimate Guide
Montenegro is one of Europe’s most prominent up and coming travel destinations. It is located on the Adriatic coast and is small yet beautiful country that is full of exciting things to do. Within the last 10 years Montenegro’s popularity has grown with travellers of all types yearning to see its charm. Montenegro also just to happens to be one of the best places for backpackers in Europe.
Montenegro, sandwiched between Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, is not yet overrun like other seaside countries in Europe which makes exploring more enjoyable and authentic. Whether you are a traveller looking for adventure, relaxation, history, luxury or anything else, Montenegro has it. There are various national parks in the country, a handful of coastal towns, historic old towns, luxury yacht marinas and much more to see and do.
Editor’s note: When I went island hopping around Croatia it was just before the country, and especially Dubrovnik, reached mass fame due to its inclusion in Game of Thrones. Croatia is extremely touristy now therefore if you’re looking for a backpacking adventure that still has all of that beauty but is a bit further away from the masses of crowds Montenegro is the perfect place to go.
This is one of the top Balkans countries to visit that can be explored on a modest budget. Montenegro will without a doubt be a highlight of your European explorations and with this guide you can begin planning your backpacking adventures today!
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How to get to Montenegro
Montenegro is a very accessible country and can be reached in a few ways. Its ease of accessibility is one of the reasons it is such a great place for backpackers. You can arrive in Montenegro either by plane, car or bus. There are two airports in Montenegro one in Tivat and one in Podgorica, plus there is one in Dubrovnik which is just a short drive from the Montenegrin boarder. At each of these airports you can either rent a car or get a driver to bring you to your desired first destination. There are also various bus companies that run from other countries in Eastern Europe that will bring you in to Montenegro on a budget.
How to get around Montenegro
Almost all of the cities in Montenegro are very small and getting around within them is most easily done by walking. There are also taxis that can bring you from place to place if the distance is a little bit further. If you are travelling between different cities in Montenegro, you can take the public busses very cheaply or rent a tour with a tour bus. Another great options that will give you more freedom to explore is renting a car. Before you do, check out this guide of things to know before hiring your car.
Costs of Backpacking Montenegro
The costs acquired while backpacking Montenegro depend on your tastes, location and time of year. In the bigger and more popular cities like Kotor and Budva, prices will be higher than some of the smaller cities like Herceg Novi. More so, during the summer months of June to September the prices are higher for most things.
Expect to spend around €40 a day. This is broken down into:
- Mealz – Between €5 and €12 (per meal)
- One night in a low-cost apartment – €20-€30 a night
- Public transportation – €1-2 euros
The best place to stay in while backpacking Montenegro is Kotor. It is also one of the most popular and stunning cities in Montenegro and is best known for its old town which is very similar to Dubrovnik but less busy. There is so much to do and see in Kotor but the best thing about the city is its central location and close proximity to all the other best places to go in Montenegro.
For this backpacking guide to Montenegro we’ll therefore assume you’ll base yourself in Kotor and then can visit all the other cities and towns suggested with ease via local bus (or taxi if you’re feeling fancy). All are close enough you could visit them just for day trips or stop over night where you’re really enjoying the locations.
In Kotor you can explore the old town, which is a highlight, or hike the Kotor fortress which offers some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the bay of Kotor. Many people go to Kotor just to complete this hike and view the stunning mountains of Montenegro and the city down below.
In the middle of the Kotor Bay sits Our Lady of The Rocks . This is an artificially made island that is only reachable by a 15-minute boat ride from Kotor. The island holds a church and is wonderful to explore and admire. You can either find a boat company that goes directly here or take a Bay of Kotor boat excursion which will bring you all around the Bay of Kotor and show you various stunning attractions. A tour like this takes around 8 hours and will cost around €18.
Old Town Youth Hostel is the most popular place to stay for backpackers and will make it easier to meet others to go on adventures with.
Just a short 30-minute public transport ride from Kotor is the authentic city of Herceg Novi. This is a great city to visit to escape the tourist crowds that frequent Kotor and to see a different side of Montenegro. In Herceg Novi you will be welcomed by tighter knit and local community and an abundance of beauty. The whole city is located along the coast and the shoreline is packed with beaches. Plus, there are two old fortresses open for exploration and some historic insight into the area. Herceg Novi offers a welcome breathe of fresh air that should not be missed.
Perast is located 20 minutes from Kotor also by bus and is ideal for a quick getaway from Kotor. In the summer months Kotor gets busy, especially at midday. This is because cruise ships come in and unload all the passengers to explore for the day. When this happens and you are in need of a quick getaway make a run for Perast.
This is like a miniature Kotor with white stone buildings, local restaurants, and even a museum. It is the perfect place for a relaxing lunch to enjoy while overlooking the water. Plus, the prices here are lower than in Kotor which makes it a great place to grab a bite.
One of the closer cities to Kotor is Tivat which is very different from all of the other places in Montenegro. Tivat recently went under construction and the whole city has been remodelled to be very modern and luxurious. It is almost like the Monaco of Montenegro with its high-end beach clubs and super yacht marina.
Budva is the second most popular city in Montenegro and well worth a visit while you’re in the area. There are public transport buses that can bring you here from Kotor so you can explore the beautiful city for the day. Budva has a beautiful beach, a stunning old town, and a buzzing atmosphere. It is a wonderful place to visit in Montenegro and might even be better than Kotor!
Durmitor National Park
A UNESCO world heritage site, while it would be possible to get to Durmitor National Park and back in one day from Kotor it wouldn’t leave you a lot of time to explore so you’ll be better off staying over night. You’ll want to leave enough time to visit the Ostrog Monastery just outside the park, hike up Bobotov Kuk peak (the tallest peak in the park), walk around Black Lake, and grab some food in town. The closest town to the national park is Žabljak which is where you’ll get the bus to and from as well. From there it’s about a 30 minute walk to the national park. Definitely one of Europe’s hidden gems.
If you do need to get to the national park and back in one day an organized day tour would be your best bet to make sure you have enough time to see everything you’d like to.
Editor’s Note: For those who have been to Sri Lanka and loved the 9 Arch Bridge in Ella make sure you check out the Tara Canyon Bridge before leaving the national park. IT has beautiful views from the bridge and one of the deepest gorges in the world.
Is it safe to visit Montenegro?
Montenegro is actually a very safe place to visit in Europe. Crime rates are quite low here but like anywhere petty crime does happen. As a tourist take reasonable precautions and look out for your belongings.
Editor’s Note: As a solo female traveler one of the reasonable precautions I always take is to travel with a bum bag rather than travel with a handbag of any sort. It makes it much harder for someone to pickpocket you and there’s less chance of someone attempting snatch and grab bag theft on you when using one.
What did you enjoy seeing the most while backpacking Montenegro? Let me know if the comments below.
Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a twenty something traveler on a mission to explore the world to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to explore this wondrous world. Her objective is to learn about the world while also searching for her place in it. Check out Sam Sees World for valuable information on the best things to do, see, eat, and experience while traveling and making memories along the way.
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