Unlike most other Ex-Yugoslavian countries, Montenegro has chosen to take a slow path into independence. Faithfully, it stood with Belgrade during the Yugoslavian wars. Afterwards the ties to Belgrade’s rule were loosened gradually and only in 2006 independence was declared. Although Montenegro’s involvement in the Yugoslavian wars took place exclusively on Croatian soil (a fact that Montenegrin politics all star Milo Ðukanovic has apologized for several times), it did not stay untroubled from the devastation, the wars had left in the whole region. Travel into regions of war and crisis is a pretty small niche and the once looming tourism industry of Montenegro suffered big time.
But it looks like times are changing again and tourism is slowly growing up to its old strength again. For a good reason! Montenegro has it all. A brilliant coastline for the sun-worshipers, mountains that offer all kinds of outdoor activity in summer and skiing in winter. Add a whole lot of cultural history and you’re in Montenegro. And there is a pretty low price tag on that package. Compared to Croatia, Montenegro is a less developed and its distance to Central Europe is bigger. That leads to a price level which is lower in general. Read dirt cheap for Western European tourists.
People and Language
In touristy regions, you will have no problems finding somebody that speaks English. But do not rely on it elsewhere. Even in the capital, Podgorica, we had some issues with English at some shops. But don’t worry, Montenegrins are nice and will find a way to help you. On the other side, we were surprised about the knowledge in German language of a few people we met.
Money is an odd thing in Montenegro. Although they’re neither part of the European Union nor the Euro zone, they use the Euro as their currency. But, of course, they are not allowed to issue their own coins or print bills. They introduced the Deutsche Mark back in 1999, when the Yugoslavian Dinar was suffering from heavy inflation and the country was in search for a stable currency. When the Euro was introduced in 2002, they just started to use the Euro as well. A fact, that the European Central Bank does not particularly like, but also does not worry about too much.
Campgrounds (“Kamps”) are widely available. In early season we always payed 10 € give or take per night for one vehicle and two persons. Facilities usually include showers, toilets. WiFi is usually available. Do not expect it to be super fast.
Wild camping is officially illegal but possible in rural regions. Expect to be close to a farm or a shepherd and ask for permission or forgiveness.
Along the coast you will also find a huge range of private accommodation. You really cannot miss it. Prices vary depending on season, region and amenities. Expect to pay 25 to 60 € for a double. The landlord may not always be present, so it is wise to call ahead or visit the local tourist information.
Groceries and Food
In our impression, the two predominant supermarket chains are Idea and Voli. You will pay Western European prices for imported food like breakfast cereal. Local produce of diary, meats and vegetables are considerably cheaper. You will also find stands along the road that sell fruits, vegetables, honey, and rakija. We generally choose those over big chains.
Main dishes in restaurants start at around 6 €. You will find Balkan cuisine (read lots of grilled meats) and seafood along the coast. Expect to get fed! Beer or soft drinks cost 1 to 1.50 €. Coffee is around 0.7 € and usually a Turkish coffee.
Road quality ranges from newly made and perfect to non-existent. On your paper map, the main roads will usually be in good shape and allow somewhat fast travel. Although there are no superhighways. The smallest road category on a paper map can be anything from a paved track to non-existent, where the probability is high that you will not find traces of pavement. Traveling on those roads can lead to a dead end. If you have time and enjoy off road sections, these roads can be fun and offer an authentic picture of the countryside. Medium categories will most likely exist but can be pretty rough in some places. Better do not drive at night. Especially on those small mountain roads, as road barriers are not always present.
It is required that you keep your headlight on, even during daytime.
Other than in Podgorica, traffic is pretty low and Montenegrins tend to have a not overly aggressive Balkans style of driving.
Continue reading our Montenegro travel guide!