“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.
Crystal clear sea
The old town of Budva
The local hams and cheeses
This is really the Balkans
A hypermarket here means groceries and detergent, and not much else
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.
“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.
“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)