Is this small country on your bucket list? I have spent 3 months there and the best way I can describe it is : imagine Albania and Italy having a baby. What does that mean? You will get all the beautiful lakes, beaches and mountains but you will have to compromise on comfort and good customer service.
Number 1: Public transport
Getting to and from the airport: either a taxi which will set you about €20 (depending on your bargaining power) or you can walk 20 mins to the train station.
Buses. This is the official website for timetables and routes. There is an option to buy ticket online for some routes but I have never tried it.
There is also a separate timetable for Stari Bar-Canj which can be find on bus stops in Bar or Sutomore.
When you buy ticket from a bus station you will be charged 1€ extra. Also luggage costs extra too (1-2€ per bag).
You pay at the beginning of the ride unless there is a conductor.
The “no smoking” sign does not apply to the driver which is a nightmare in winter. Anywhere indoors in public is a nightmare if you are non smoker like me.
Don’t expect politeness such as queuing or men offering you seat on the bus.
In addition to public buses sometimes taxis or private cars will pull up at a bus stop and ask if you need a ride. The price should be the same as a bus fare so agree on that before hoping on. Also make sure you roughly know the direction you are going into. I almost shat my pants when my driver took a turn towards Ulcinj instead of stari bar, as I thought he was kidnapping me to Albania.
Here is a list of the routes I used with prices and journey time:
-Podgorica to Sutomore €4 (1hr)
-Podgorica to Budva €6 (1hr 30mins)
-Sutomore to Petrovac €3
-Sutomore to Budva €4.50 (1 hr)
-Sutomore to Bar €1.50 (20 minutes)
-Sutomore to Stari Bar 1.50€ (45 mins)
-Sutomore to Kotor €6-8 (depends on the time of the day) 2hrs
-Kotor to Perast €1 (1hr).
-Budva to Cetnije €4 (30 mins).
-Sutomore to Ulcinj €5 (1hr 30mins)
-Podgorica to Tirana €20 (4 hrs)
Sutomore to Podgorica €2 and it takes about an hour. Trains are often delayed and journey will take longer. Announcements will be made only in Serbian so make sure you ask which platform when buying the ticket. There are only two regional trains: Bar to Podgorica and Podgorica to Niksic. There is also a train to Serbia.
You can use this link to check the train schedule:
Number 2: SIM card, Wi-Fi
Best SIM card deal in Europe so far : 15€ for 500gb for 30 days or 10€ for 15 days. Make sure you have your passport and tourist tax receipt (sometimes they ask!) when buying or topping up your sim. You will have three options to chose from.
Also very important: the SIM card does not come with free minutes so you will not be able to call anyone except for suing WhatsApp. This may be a problem if you end up stranded somewhere and need a taxi.
The solution is to buy one with 400gb and free minutes. You can buy SIM cards at kiosks or mobile stores.
Most cafes and accommodations will have Wi-fi.
Number 3: Tourist tax
You have to pay it for every city you are planning on staying at overnight. It has to be done within 24hrs of your arrival. Not every accommodation will do it for you so please double check. You may be asked for receipts when leaving the country so bear that in mind. I got asked but when I demonstrate the proof, the guy at the border didn’t even want to look.
Amount of tax varies between cities too. The more touristy the area the higher the tax like in Zabljak and Kotor.
To register you need to go to Tourist office or some Post Offices will have that service as well. Bring your passport and tell them how long are you staying for. Price is between 0,60 cents to 1,5€ a day. It may be more in high season.
Number 4: Public toilets
You can find public toilets at bus and train stations, in some places by the beach. Make sure you carry spare change as they are not free. Be prepared to squat also. The only free public toilet and the best one I have ever used is located at Lustica Bay.
Here you can see the difference between paid public toilet in the capital and free public toilet in Lustica Bay.
Number 5: ATMS
There are two ATMS that will not charge you a withdrawal fee:
All the other ATMS have a fee of €5 for single transaction. Also if you happen to damage your euro notes do not even bother to go to the bank in hopes they will exchange it. First time ever I have seen bank refused to accept money 😂
Number 6: Accommodation
Plenty of hotels and apartments, Airbnb is very popular as well. Make sure you establish if the tourist tax is included or you have to pay it on top. During my 3 months stay I had few bad experiences with hosts so be careful. This so not a European Union and the customer service is lacking.
If you planning on staying in Budva I can recommend this hotel:
It is run by my friend Ali and I know he will take good care of you. He knows the country pretty well and has plenty of recommendations up his sleeve:) He will always make sure you get a good deal. And no, he doesn’t pay me to say that.
Number 7: Safety
Not once did I feel like someone is going to rob me but sexual harassment was a reoccurring thing especially in Stari Bar. There is a place called Starobarski Kutak and my advice would be to not park your car there nor linger there for too long. Every time I passed that place (it is on the way to the bus stop unfortunately ) I was cat called and followed. If you decide to park your car there you will have to pay extra and I would not guarantee your car will be there when you are back.
Also if you decide to jump into a taxi or a car instead of using the bus, make sure you agree the fare beforehand. In one instance I got in the car thinking I will pay the same as for the bus ride only to be informed 5 mins into the ride that this driver charges £1 per kilometre. I only had €5 on me but wasn’t going to argue. When we got to my destination I gave him the note and he told me that is not enough. When I said it’s €5 or nothing he proceeds to drive off with me still inside. I quickly jumped out and threw the money at him. Luckily I was sitting in the front so no child lock but it was scary.
Number 8: Card/Cash
Majority of restaurants and most supermarkets accept card payments.
With accommodations it depends if it is hotel or private apartment. Most of them will ask for a cash if it is the latter so maybe ask in advance.
Number 9: Food
Very disappointing I have to say. Maybe it was because I was during off season and most places were still closed but generally you won’t find many cuisines. Montenegro doesn’t seem to have National dishes, rather weak imitation of Italian and Mediterranean dishes. But I managed to find few wonderful places where the food hit the spot every time.
Service is slower than you would expect and portions can be quite big so get easy on those starters.
Most restaurants and bars allow indoor smoking which is why I didn’t go out as much. Smelling like an ashtray is really not appealing to me.
Lack of fast food except for Burger King.
Number 10: Hiking tips
In summer many water sources dry out.
Be aware of hunters ( they usually hunt on weekends between 6am-11am).
Not every trail is marked and some are in very bad condition with overgrown bushes. Due to excessive hunting there’s barely any wild animals so count yourself lucky if you see as much as a dear or an eagle. You will meet lots of cows, goats, sheep and horses too. And dogs. They can be a pain in the ass but I found a rock would usually keep them at bay. Most of the time the motion of me picking the rock did the trick, few times I had to pretend I throw it and twice I really had to throw it to keep them away.
Fairly dirty country. Very common to find a beautiful view point or place in nature trashed with rubbish. Drives me crazy as getting to those places requires more effort than driving to a skip.
Except for Intersports there doesn’t seem to be any store for outdoor gear so make sure you have all your equipment and spare parts. Not to mention even the basics like hiking poles can be very expensive (cheapest one I saw were €60 whilst in most EU you can buy simple ones for half the price). For country that claims to offer amazing hiking experiences I found that very odd.
Your best shot would be shopping centres in Podgorica.
There you have it:) hope it will help to plan you your next trip and don’t hesitate to ask anything in the comments!