Tips for traveling in Montenegro

Having had almost half a year to reflect, I realized that despite talking quite a bit about my Montenegrin adventures, I neglected to mention the basics of my time there. And seeing as how this blog prides itself in helping others plan their trips, I figured it’s finally time to cover the nitty gritty details.

The first question that people (myself included) ask(ed) is if it’s an expensive country. Yes and no. See, I get paid in rubles and the conversion rate is pretty terrible-around 66 rubles to the euro. However, the prices were pretty reasonable, especially considering I was in the touristy area of Montenegro. My hostel, Old Town Hostel, was 10 euro a night plus a 1 euro tourist tax, so for seven nights, it was about what you’d expect for a very good hostel. Food also was solidly priced: the average meal was between 6 to 15 euros. Alcohol was rather cheap, at around a euro a pop for beer and small third-liters of wine ran for may a euro or two more. Overall I didn’t quite adhere to a strict budget, as I admittedly didn’t have a set itinerary, but if you decide to limit your spending, it’s entirely feasible.

To get there through the magic of flight, you have two options: Tivat or Podgoric airports. As the latter is quite a ways away from the coast, I opted for Tivat, which was about a 15 minute taxi ride from Kotor. This airport is very bare bones, as it has the minimum amount of amenities needed to get you from point A to point B. Be aware that all passengers are funneled from the tarmac to passport control, so it’s very likely you’ll be in a mosh pit when waiting to formally enter the country. Thankfully, once you get through, things calm down. The bigges complaint of mine was that there is, to my knowledge, no ATM to exchange currencies, which was surprising. After all, it is one of two international airports within Montenegro! Therefore you should bring euros in advance with you, which I was fortunate enough to do on a whim. Once outside, you’ll be greeted by both buses and an abundance of taxi drivers, so you’ve got options. However, be known that the official rate for taxis from the airport to Kotor and Budva is 15 euros, so knowing that can prevent you from vastly overpaying; I got quoted a staggering 35 euros.  Just, be careful and if you’re quoted a high price, don’t be afraid to tell them that you see right through their scheme. Aside from scummy taxi drivers trying to rip off a weary traveler, everybody there was honest and friendly.

Once you arrive in Kotor, your taxi will have to park outside the city walls, assuming you’re staying there, but thankfully there are spaces available for them to drop you off at. Plus, at the main entrance there is an information stand, so you’d be able to find basic material on what to do as well as picking up maps. Regarding Budva, I unfortunately can’t exactly speak for it, as it’s far bigger than Kotor. If you’re arriving by car, note that the walled Old City is situated on the bay, so depending on where you park, you may have to walk a lot longer to your destination. The city itself is one of the biggest along the Bay of Kotor, so there’s a sprawling configuration; personally, I didn’t like it as there was plenty of construction going on at the time, not to mention the mass of people there. When you’re there in their historic quarter, it was honestly a bit confusing

With the old city of Kotor, there are many entrances, so at times it can be confusing, but you’ll get the hang of things rather quickly. Maps were provided in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and I believe Russian, so no matter your nationality, you won’t be left to dry. As alluded to in the previous paragraph, you won’t be overwhelmed thanks to the very manageable size. The only thing you should be aware of is that given its long, proud history, Kotor’s Old Town is nothing but cobblestone, so your knees may feel ever so slightly sore when walking. Also, when it does rain, the tiles get a bit slippy, so just be careful. Though if that’s your only concern, life is pretty good right?

Should you desire to take trips around the Balkans/Montenegro, bus stations abound throughout the country. As covered before, you’ll generally pay between 15-20 euros, and you can check the national bus service’s website for information about routes, times, and prices. Buying tickets was a relatively painless process, as you can pay with card or cash, and I didn’t personally witness any long queues. Oh yeah, the Although, if you’re traveling out of the country (in my case Croatia and Albania), be prepared for sporadic stops and even non-direct trips.

Much to my relief, I found that the language barrier didn’t exist. Of course, it helps if you know a few phrases of Montenegrin, but most people spoke English at rather high levels. The caveat to this is that, again, having spent time in the areas with high concentrations of tourists, this may not be absolutely representative of the country as a whole; I did encounter some older folk whose linguistic skills meant we had to mime to communicate. Knowing Russian did help, because as Slavic languages, there’s a high level of similarity between the two. Thus, should an emergency situation arise, I do believe I would have been fine.

So, I hope this helps if anybody is curious about what it’s like traveling around Montenegro. If there’s anything you think I missed or you want to know more about, let me know in the comments!

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