Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

Montenegro - Ostrog Monastery - entrance side - j.k. photo

“All in all, a visitor to Montenegro is very aware of being in the Balkans. In contrast to Croatia, where quality of life is increasingly reaching the level expected of an EU state, this still cannot be said of Montenegro, even after ten years of independence. It’s also very apparent that the economy depends totally on foreign tourism. At the same time, though, they don’t seem to have a very good idea of what to do with all these tourists, whose number has almost doubled in recent years. The fact is, though, charging for everything when all you can offer in return is a run-down beach, crazy driving standards and dilapidated infrastructure simply isn’t good enough. Nor is it good enough just to jack up real estate prices in Budva and the surrounding area. They have to try to improve the whole look of the country, so that the first impression tourists have of the country isn’t a trash-filled parking lot full of local ‘craftspeople’ trying to sell them trinkets at inflated prices. It’s going to take a fundamental modernization of the country’s litter-disposal and infrastructure situation.
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Likes:

Crystal clear sea
The old town of Budva
The local hams and cheeses


Dislikes


This is really the Balkans
A hypermarket here means groceries and detergent, and not much else
Aggressive drivers
Parking here is a nightmare, and if you last more than a few days without damage to the bodywork of your car, that will be a miracle in itself
Hospitality staff are often grumpy and unhelpful

Getting to the more secluded beaches is a challenge, even with a car, and the only other option is being packed in like sardines at one of the fashionable beaches near the towns
If you don’t want to live on street food then be prepared to open your wallet – a seafood lunch costs between €18-22, and a kid’s pizza is €9 (not in Budva, but if you’re lying on the beach there you can reach out and scratch the belly of the person next to you)

All in all, I won’t be back. The sea and nature are beautiful, especially with the high mountains, but Makarska in Croatia is just as beautiful. The accommodation there might cost you €25 more, but it’s also a lot closer to the rest of Europe – it took us eight hours to drive the 8 hours between them. Croatia is also a lot closer to the rest of Europe in a cultural sense, and I’ll pay more for that. Montenegro is really the Balkans.
(E.n. 2018)


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“I really liked Montenegro. It’s a beautiful country with a mountainous, rocky landscape and mostly pebble beaches. This can be annoying, but I found that bathing shoes help a lot, and you can buy them locally.
Four kilometers from Budva are the little towns of Bečići and Rafailovići, where you can find better quality hotels. The latter is quite a bustling little place, with a lot of restaurants along the seafront promenade. You can get a table d'hôte meal for €5 (and the same goes for Budva too). The views are spectacular.

Čanj and Bar are a little quieter, and I’d recommend them more for those looking to relax. While we were in Čanj they began putting sand on the beach, so as things stand it’s mostly sand and small pebbles.
Montenegro has lots of sights for the visiting tourist: for instance, there’s the historic town of Kotor (though if you’re afraid of narrow roads along steep hillsides then driving there might not be for you – the hairpin road to Kotor is truly a nerve-wracking experience!) There are also possibilities for Jeep safari and boat tours.

On the beach, you generally have to pay for a sun lounger and umbrella (though in some places these are free). The price varies but is generally around €8 per lounger per day.
(Orsi, 2018)

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“The landscape is beautiful, and the coast is wonderful, but the law of the jungle prevails among the people. Driving standards are horrible, and we joked that at least you learn to drive here, the swearing latent within an outwardly calm and patient Hungarian also emerged while driving in a country where life-threatening collisions seem to threaten practically every kilometer.

The landlords will take away your personal documents for one day, on the grounds that you can visit the tourist office while they fill out all the official forms, but meanwhile, our documents may be stolen by specialized human traffickers. We’d soon had enough of this country :(“ (Monica, 2019)

Practicals

Transport

Driving&Parking

“Driving standards in Montenegro are terrible, though in fairness, not much worse than parts of the French Riviera and Italy. Anyone who does not drive regularly should go very carefully, paying attention to what is happening both in front and behind. We were overtaken twice from the other side on major roads and barely avoided a collision. This has perhaps happened once in my entire life so far, even though we have been to quite a few places in the world. Once on the way to Cetinje and once heading towards Zabljak. Of course, this may not seem as dangerous to others as it did to me.

In Budva, and in fact, right along the Montenegrin coastline, parking and transport are simply a mess. There are plenty of cars and apparently no infrastructure, no parking, and no real roads. Everyone drives selfishly and curses the way everyone else drives. Park where you like, even when it means another car can’t get out.

One-way signs are strictly optional, and overtaking around blind bends seems to be all the rage, especially for large SUVs, which are quite common here as well. There were times when at an intersection where a lot of pedestrians were crossing, a bus stopped crosswise, and all its passengers unloaded their luggage while everyone either waited or tried to get by to the right or left. If you go slowly, of course, they will honk their horns and give you looks that could kill :) (2012)

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“To be avoided by anyone with a fear of heights. Mountain roads, full of ravines and frequent, atrocious hairpin bends. I enjoyed the sight, but our driver nearly wet himself. On the way home, we went through Croatia, and the driving style there is shocking. It’s true that they come into your lane without batting an eye and view traffic lights as suggestions at best. They drive like crazy, but within two minutes, our driver had acclimatized himself to the style. If they’re not insecure or scared, experienced drivers will fit in easily enough.” (Renata, 2018)

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“Driving in Montenegro is a real experience. If you haven’t ever really mastered driving, you’ll learn there, and you’ll emerge from the training much more confident. The road quality is pretty good – I only encountered potholes within the smaller coastal settlements, though they were quite large. Not to mention the frequent lack of sidewalks and street lighting. On the outskirts, on the other hand, the roads are tidy, potholes rare, and away from the coast, there isn’t much traffic. Just when you’re starting to enjoy yourself, however, you find yourself stuck behind a truck and unable to overtake… Or perhaps a herd of goats will rush down the hillside just as (miraculously!) you are just breaking 80km/h on the single 500m-long straight section of a 100km trip…” (2016)

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There are no motorways or toll roads. We came across a single toll tunnel in the Podgorica area, where the tunnel fee has to be settled through a toll gate. Gas stations are in many places; refueling can be easily solved, fuel is as cheap as anything else in the country. The roads connecting the larger cities are of relatively good quality; you can drive on them, but the traffic is immensely complicating on the mountain roads. Driving on some sections is tiring and time-consuming, but a car is needed to explore the country thoroughly. For those arriving in the country by plane, I recommend renting a car and preferably choosing a more robust vehicle with higher ground clearance.(2021)


Montenegro - Durmitor N.P. , UNESCO World Natural heritage site - roadblock - k.k. photo

Montenegro - train - Ata photo

Accomodation

Due to the topographic conditions, it is to be expected that a lot of accommodation is located on a hillside, and you often have to walk uphill on your way home.

Food

“Food and drink: if you don’t sit, go to a fancy restaurant or cafe, there’s no extra cost. They don’t ask for a tip, since the locals never give one, but they’re happy to get €0.50 or €1. If you go back the next day, they will serve you first :)) In that case, the rich Russian is ignored! Yeah, those guys never tip. Rakija - the local liquor. It hits hard, and without warning!” (S.c. 2017)

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“If you like meat, you’ll love Montenegro. We bought various hams, cheeses, and salamis at the Kotor market – my favorite was a dried ham called pršut, but the milk and cheese cream called kajmak also made a big impression.
In addition to these, we consumed vast quantities of pljeskavica and ćevapčići. The former is a huge, fried meatloaf made from minced meat, also referred to in many places as a hamburger (then usually brought with bread and fried potatoes), but there are places where flatbread called burek is smeared with kaymak, ajvar, onions, and meat. Ćevapčići is similar, but instead of a single piece, you get small, spicy meatballs, often cooked on skewers, very similar to Turkish köfte. All of them are worth a try.

I especially liked that in most places there was more meat than a garnish: typically 2/3 of the portions were occupied by meat and a third by the garnish, which in most places consisted of fried potatoes and grilled vegetables. The local cold cuts are similar to those elsewhere, I went through a few varieties, all equally delicious.

My biggest favorite is the cream called Eurocream, which is practically a milk chocolate hazelnut cream similar to the black and white Nutella, but I also managed to import a bottle of Lino Lada cream, which I got to know in Croatia. Luckily, they make pancakes with these creams almost everywhere, so there’s something worth getting up for on the beach.” (2018)

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Restaurant prices are incredibly friendly, the food is mouth-watering, and they give huge portions. Meat dishes strongly dominate gastronomy. One of our favorites was ćevapčići, a meatball made from minced beef, and originally the national dish of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but one of the most typical dishes of the whole Balkans.

We drank divine Turkish coffee everywhere (0.50 - 1.50 EUR), and the price of restaurant meals ranged from 10-15 EUR / 2 people, with coffee and soft drinks. The most expensive dinner was 20 EUR for the two of us, but it was already really in the fluffiest place, in the old town of Kotor, in the square in front of St. Trifun's Church, with live music. (2021)





Montenegro - full meal - m.s. photo

Montenegro - burek - m.k. photo

Montenegro - Tivat - Fish - r.k. photo

Montenegro - grilled octopus - l.d. photo

Shopping

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Montenegro - fish market - l.j. photo

Fun

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Montenegro - folk dancers - n.l. photo

Public safety

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Montenegro - police car - v.e. photo

Others

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Montenegro - Bay of Kotor, off the coast of Perast- Our Lady of the Rocks, an artificial island - b.r. photo

Montenegro - a lookout bar somewhere between Kotor and Lovcen along a zigzag road - k.r. photo

Background

Montenegro - Kotor - St. John Fortress - national flag - crown over the heads of the eagles - the country is a republic but since 2011 the head of the royal house has an official role in Montenegro - g.a. photo

Montenegro - Herceg Novi - m.s. photo

Destination in brief

Montenegro is a Balkan country, which was part of Yugoslavia until 2006. 

Neighbors: Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina (north),Serbia, Kosovo (east), Albania (south)

Montenegro means Black Mountain.

Size: 13,812 km²  (5,332 mi²) - almost completely covered by mountains

Capital city:Podgorica 

Population (in 2020): 628,000

Montenegrins and Serbs are similar but different. The best comparison would be something like Germans and Austrians.

A lot of people in Montenegro still declare themselves as Serbs. Many say: Montenegrins are Serbs who live in Montenegro.

The factors that make Montenegrins different from Serbs are the different mentality, look, religion, and culture.

Montenegrins share a strong culture similarity with Albanians which they do not share with Serbs.

Language: Montenegrin - Linguists emphasize that Montenegrin and Serbian are basically the same languages.

Religions: 72% Orthodox (either Serbian Orthodox Church or Montenegrin Orthodox Church), 16% Islam

Form of government:parliamentary republic

Montenegro is not member of the European Union, but member of NATO 

Currency: Euro

Average net monthly salary (in 2020): 480 Euro

Most common surname: Popović

Geography

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Montenegro - Bay of Kotor - f.m. photo

Montenegro - landscape - j.k. photo

Bay of Kotor - sea urchin - v.z. photo

Montenegro - Brer fox - r.k. photo

History

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Montenegro - Kotor - a palace from the 17th century - g.m. photo

Montenegro - Kotor - the northern gate of the Old Town's wall - l.d. photo

People

"Thanks to their Southern-European mindset, Montenegrins are friendly and hospitable, considering it very important to build a good relationship. The older ones are also very respectful.

The population is very busy with construction and the development of the country. In restaurants, men get food first. At meetings, handshakes are common, but shoulder slapping is also normal, and in the case of an older relationship, it is not uncommon for a man to greet a man with a kiss, or rather three.

People are very family-centric. Late breakfasts are common in Montenegro – it is generally taken around ten in the morning. In this case, lunch is generally skipped, and they’ll eat a mid-afternoon snack instead. If they do eat three meals a day, dinner is always eaten very late, and they often sit down at the table around 9 pm. During the day, the locals prefer to have coffee – tea is drunk only rarely.

Montenegrins are reluctant to discuss the Balkan war and ethnic or religious problems (e.g. Albanian minority) with foreigners." (2017)

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“It’s important to be aware that Montenegrins are extremely distant and standoffish –  don’t expect any help from them, and even if they find out we’re in trouble, as likely seek to make it worse.

I recently went on an 1800 km bike ride in Croatia. I came home via Montenegro, and my bike broke in Petrovác. No one offered to help, not even the priest, and instead, they seemed to enjoy my plight. I wandered the city for two days looking for help, but in vain. Even at the bus station, the people working there just laughed at me, stating that I had no chance of putting my bike on the bus, even if I disassembled it. This was later confirmed by the bus driver. After enjoying himself looking at my sad face, he added that if I slipped him 30 euros, he would look the other way. Then there will be room for a bicycle... So I had to pay him €30 in addition to the €34 ticket, but I finally got home. My overall experience of the people there was very negative.” (Robert, 2018)

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“I won’t beat about the bush – Montenegrins aren’t the friendliest people in the world (not that I expected them to be). They have a pretty grumpy, uncouth mentality, unsurprisingly. They only seem cheerful when they’ve found some way to get money from you – and sometimes not even then. Knowledge of English and/or German is patchy – in some places, nobody speaks any foreign language. (In Zabljak Javoravca, for example, you just have to point at things, but sometimes that works too). On the other hand, I was able to communicate easily with the guy on the Jeep tour – his English was almost fluent. Apparently Russian is preferred – it’s a related language, plus they’ve bought half of Budva to build hotels, and they helped them in the war.” (2017)
 
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"I think the locals are extremely nice. Whether they are vendors or just strangers on the street, they know English, at least at a basic level (and some much better) and they’re happy to help. They look a little grim at first, but if you’re friendly to them, they suddenly blossom and became extremely pleasant. We received gifts in many places when shopping.” (Renata, 2018)

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Stereotypes - which you don't have to take completely seriously!

Montenegrins are notorious for being lazy.

Montenegro - local couple - k.j. photo

Attractions

Kotor

Kotor is a seaside town in Montenegro, located at the eastern tip of the Bay of Kotor, surrounded by 1000-1700 meters high mountains.

The old Mediterranean port of Kotor and the surrounding impressive city wall (built by the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty) have survived in excellent condition and enjoy UNESCO protection as a World Cultural Heritage site.

Between 1420 and 1797, Kotor and its environs were ruled by the Venetian Republic, and the Venetian influence still defines the architectural image of the city.

The Bay of Kotor is one of the deepest inland bays in the Adriatic, which is why it is sometimes called the southernmost fjord in Europe (although it is, in fact, a river valley flooded by the sea).

Together with the towering limestone cliffs of nearby Orjen and Lovćen, the Kotor area forms one of the most extraordinary Mediterranean landscapes.




Montenegro - Kotor - r.p. photo

Montenegro - Kotor - Old Town - r.p. photo

Montenegro - Kotor - f.m.

Montenegro - Kotor - Old Town - (on the left) Pima Palace (17th century) - g.a. photo

Kotor - Square of the Arms - the main square - g.m. photo

Montenegro - Kotor - h.g. photo

Budva

Population (in 2021): 18,000

Montenegro - Budva - l.z. photo

Montenegro - Budva - f.m. photo

Montenegro - Budva - f.m. photo

Montenegro - Budva - k.e. photo

Budva - beach - l.d. photo

Ulcinj

Ulcinj is the southernmost town in Montenegro. 12 km from here flows the river Shqiperia, which makes the Montenegrin-Albanian border.

Here is one of the longest beaches in the whole Adriatic, the 12 km long Velika Plaža (Long Beach).

The city beach (Mala Plaža, means Small beach) covers the entire shore of Ulcinj's bay. Wide, slowly deepening sandy beach, pre-installed sunbeds, and huge waves. The western end of the beach is closed by the Citadel. The city beach faces to the south, which means that the sun goes down pretty early. Long Beach is better for longer sunbathing. 



 

Montenegro - Ulcinj - f.m. photo

Ulcinj - Old Town and the Citadella - f.m. photo

Herceg Novi

Population (in 2021): 19,500

Montenegro - Herceg Novi - Trg Nikole Đurkovića – g.a. photo

Montenegro - Herceg Novi - Church of Michael the Archangel - g.a. photo

Podgorica

Population (in 2021): 136,400

Podgorica - Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, the world's third-largest Orthodox cathedral - g.m. photo

Podgorica - city center with walking street - g.m. photo

Podgorica - cathedral interior - g.m. photo

Podgorica - Petar I Petrović Njegoš Statue - g.m. photo

Sveti Stefan

The legendary Sveti Stefan originally was just a little island with a tiny hamlet, and a small church called Sveti Stefan. The island enjoys immense fame, embodies the concept of exclusivity. World stars, celebrities spend their holidays here, in luxurious conditions. Today the entire island is a fully exclusive hotel. You can hardly enter if you are not a guest, but you are free to swim in the nearby beach and have a superb view of Sveti Stefan.

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,, What is so disappointing about Sveti Stefan? It cannot be visited.

The entire island, built about 600 years ago and a fishing village until the 1950s, is now a luxury hotel that can only be accessed by guests who are willing to spend a minimum of € 773 per night, according to listings from current prices.

You can also visit the island by reserving a meal at their (expensive) restaurant or attending Sunday service at their church. Still, both times the hotel staff will quickly escort you in and out, without the remote possibility of exploring it.

The island streets seem to be an impressive must-see from photos posted online, but unfortunately, we mere mortals must settle for a panoramic view from the beach in front of it, where you can rent two hammocks and an umbrella for not less than € 80 per day.

For me, it is pretty disappointing, if not irritating, that a place that represents a relevant piece of cultural heritage is almost entirely off-limits to visitors.

Don't worry,  even though the Montenegrin coast is full of modern buildings due to the recent construction boom, you can still find ancient villages as beautiful as Sveti Stefan that you can freely explore and where you can enjoy a meal at a reasonable price. For instance, Perast has hardly any visitors, so you can remove all the bitterness Sveti Stefan had left you. "

Montenegro - Sveti Stefan - v.j. photo

Monasteries

Montenegro - Morača Monastery (Serbian Orthodox) - Elter photo

Beaches

Montenegro - Mogren Beach - l.d. photo

Montenegro - Jazz Beach - l.d. photo

Montenegro - Tivat - Waikiki Beach - l.d. photo

Montenegro - Ulcinj - Valdanos Beach - m.j. photo

Tivat

Montenegro - Tivat - Porto Montenegro - l.d. photo

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