Montenegro might be an unusual destination but it offers an incredible mix of stunning panoramas, turquoise beaches, historical cities, seaside eateries, and offbeat hikes. As its neighbour Croatia becomes more and more crowded (thanks Game of Thrones!), Montenegro presents the perfect opportunity to relish similar panoramas at half the cost. A road trip through Montenegro is an ideal way to explore offbeat European towns & cities that have so much to offer. Here’s everything you need to plan a memorable road trip to Montenegro.
Best time to visit Montenegro for a road trip
Traditionally summer months (June-September) are considered the best time to visit Montenegro. Warm weather and gorgeous beaches are almost a given that time of year. But so are crowds!
If exploring is a priority for you, then we’d suggest visiting Montenegro during shoulder months (March-May). The weather is just beginning to warm up, prices are low, and there are barely any tourists around. However do beware that the sea can be quite cold this time of year. We visited Montenegro during the month of April and had a great time.
Accommodation for your road trip in Montenegro
Montenegro is a small country. This means it is easy to explore it within ten days. We’d suggest staying in one place and driving in a different direction each day. There are a number of places that work well as a base for a road trip in Montengro. But we’d suggest staying close to Budva but outside the main town. This way you are close to large supermarkets, ATMs, and restaurants but you feel miles away from the hustle bustle of Budva. There are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in the area but we’d suggest choosing a scenic, beach facing hotel room– this is the most budget-friendly, convenient, and functional choice. Make sure you choose an apartment that has free parking and great views.
If you’re on your honeymoon or celebrating a special occasion and living in an apartment isn’t what you have in mind, then Aman Sveti Stefan is a great option.
Renting a car for your road trip in Montenegro
A roadtrip in Montenegro will take you to some really stunning places. But we’d recommend not renting a car here unless you have experience driving on narrow winding roads. That’s because there are plenty of them in Montenegro and you’ll really struggle parking, driving uphill and other such. But if you are comfortable driving, then there’s nothing better than a road trip in Montengro. Here are a few things to keep in mind while renting a car for your road trip:
- Don’t rent a 4X4 as some roads are very narrow. Instead rent a small car with good pick up as you’ll be going up a lot of hills
- Check a price comparison engine for the best deal as car rental prices can vary dramatically. We checked prices and booked our car here
- If you fly into Tivat (Montenegro) and fly out of another country (eg. Croatia) then you have to pay a one way drop off fee which reflects on all websites when you make your booking. However do beware that if you’re dropping your car in another country, you also have to pay an additional sum for a Green Card over the counter while renting your car. This is approximately €5 per day of rental. We ended up paying €65 even though we crossed the border just once to drop our car and catch our flight from Dubrovnik, Croatia. You could save some of this fee by making 2 separate car booking. Pick and drop the first car in Tivat after exploring Montenegro. Rent another car from Tivat airport just for one day and cross the border and drop it off. This way you will pay the Green Card sum just for a day but it does require additional effort and well, inconvenience.
- There is a LOT of police presence on the roads. As always, be careful and stick to speed limit, especially in hilly areas as roads can be narrow and winding.
Budgeting for your road trip in Montenegro
Montenegro is much cheaper than most European countries. You can use the breakdown of costs below to estimate the expenditure for your trip.
- Accommodation: €20-€30/night for a nice apartment
- Food: €20/day if you stick to buying groceries from supermarkets or €40/day if you prefer dining out
- Car Rental: €30/day for a car
- Fuel: Expect to spend around €100 on fuel for this entire trip
Highlights of a road trip in Montenegro
- Scenic views and beaches at Sveti Stefan, Przno, and Budva
- Hikes at Skadar National Park and Durmitor National Park
- Old world charm of Kotor and Perast
- Beaches at Ulcinj
- Day trips to countries like Albania
Day by day itinerary for a road trip in Montenegro
Day 1 – Pick up your car from Tivat and drive to your apartment
Irrespective of where you are flying from, spend your first day picking your rental car, driving to your apartment, and settling in. If you’ve followed our advice above, chances are you would’ve ended up with an apartment that is a short drive away from Budva. Stop by one of the many supermarkets in Budva to stock up on provisions for your roadtrip and take the evening to relax with some local wine or a hot cuppa tea as you drink in the views from your apartment.
Day 2 – Visit Sveti Stefan and take some memorable photographs of Montenegro
Sveti Stefan is one of the jewels of Montenegro and it is right at your doorstep. As you near Sveti Stefan, you will see several view points where you can park your car and drink in the view. Marvel over the characteristic orange rooftops jutting out in the sea. The islet is rimmed in turquoise waters.
Spend the afternoon lazing at the beaches near Sveti Stefan. Most of the beaches are privately owned by Aman Sveti Stefan but there is a small stretch to the south of Sveti Stefan, which is free for all visitors. The beaches in the area are rocky and pebbly but boast of spectacular views, so don’t pack a picnic. But go for a swim by all means. For sunset, we’d suggest driving to Blizikuce Church for one of the best views of Sveti Stefan. Most tourists don’t know about this church but it is popular amongst locals for wedding photoshoots as it boasts of a stunning view of Sveti Stefan and the surrounding coastline. Highly recommended!
Day 3 – Explore Kotor and go on a hike
The historical city of Kotor is as charming as they come. Jazz music resounds in alleyways dotted with outdoor restaurants and quaint bakeries. It reminded us so much of Split, Croatia. If you enjoy a bit of easy hiking, the city also offers two hikes that boast of great views of Kotor Bay – try the St. John Castle hike or Kotor Fort hike to make room for dinner. For the best views over Kotor Bay, we’d suggest hiking during the the day. Make sure you carry water, sunscreen, and a hat with you.
If you’re not in the mood for a hike, then you can also drive to a viewpoint which offers similar panoramas over Kotor Bay. For this, drive from Kotor to Cetinje on E-80.
Day 4 – Spend a relaxing day in Perast
Perast is one of Montenegro’s most charming villages and my personal favourite. It can get terribly crowded during summer months, but if you visit during shoulder season, then you’ll fall in love with it within seconds. Park your car and spend a lazy day in Perast. Take a boat ride to the artificial island of Perast (make sure you bargain!!), walk along the sea and photograph the stunning Boka Bay, or find yourself a table overlooking turquoise waters and linger over cocktails.
Day 5 Skadar National Park, Bend Lake, and Cetinje
After a relaxing day in Perast, it’s time for a long drive to some of the most gorgeous sights in Montenegro. Start your day by driving to Skadar National Park. As your enter the park you will see incredible views of mountains upon mountains upon mountains. These tiers of mountains make Skadar National Park fascinating to explore. Drive around, go for a short hike, or picnic – the choice is yours!
But do not forget to stop at the Bend Lake – a natural phenomenon so gorgeous it’ll leave you speechless. Rijeka Crnojevika provides a great view of Bend Lake and if you love waking up in the lap of nature, you can even book a stay at Gazivoda hotel, which offers a great view of Bend Lake.
On your way back, stop by Rijeka Crnojevika bridge, sometimes also known as Cetinje Bridge for a boatride in sylvan surroundings. We won’t blame you for thinking you’ve stepped back in time.
Day 6 Relax at Przno’s beaches or drive to Ulcinj’s beaches
If all that exploring on Day 5 left you exhausted, then take Day 6 to relax at one of the beaches in the vicinity of your apartment. Przno has several pebbly beaches and beachside eateries ideal for a relaxing day in the sun. But if you’re happy to drive some more or you’re craving powdery beaches, then head to Ulcinj. Ulcinj is home of some of Montenegro’s prettiest beaches – spend the day sunbathing, reading, and picnicking
Day 7 Drive to Lovcen National Park
We’re sure Day 6 of your road trip in Montenegro left you feeling totally relaxed. Day 7 is reserved for exploring another National Park that boasts of incredible panoramas. Lovcen National Park is famous for an iconic viewpoint. Drive upto the parking lot and make sure you have comfortable shoes on as you’ll need to climb 460 steps to the top.
The never-ending staircase leads visitors to a mausoleum with great views. You can pay €3 to enter the mausoleum for THE photo that you see in brochures and catalogues. But if you’re not interested in exploring the mausoleum, we’d suggest not paying the entrance fee. The views before the entrance are equally stunning. So save your money and enjoy the free views before the mausoleum unless you want to explore the actual mausoleum.
Day 8 Take a day trip to another country
Montegro’s close proximity with other countries such as Bosnia, Albania, and Croatia make it easy to plan a short day trip. However we’d suggest booking this day trip with a local tour agency instead of taking your car across the border as that can often translate into fines, border checks, and wasted time. If you haven’t visited Croatia before, we’d definitely recommend a day trip to the country. The two of us drove through Croatia a couple of years ago, so we decided to visit Albania.
We booked a day trip to one of its oldest cities Shkoder & Rozafa Castle with Montenegro Travel Service after reading good reviews about them online. We opted for a private tour instead of a group tour and it cost €140 per person. We were punctually picked up from our apartment early in the morning and the entire tour went seamlessly. We spent a long time exploring Rozafa Castle and the rest of the time in Shkoder’s historic centre. This little taster of Albania has tempted us into planning a longer trip to the country soon.
Days 9 & 10 Relax and/or explore Durmitor National Park
You’ve explored the sights and sounds of Montenegro on this road trip. It’s time to spend the last couple of days relaxing and taking it easy. If you’re in the mood for a drive, then we’d suggest visiting Durmitor National Park. However do check weather conditions before embarking on that trip. For instance the road leading to Durmitor National Park was completely snowed under when we visited Montenegro so we spent another evening on the beautiful beaches 😉
That’s it. 10 days and an epic road trip in Montenegro. The country is bound to surprise you and we can promise you’ll come away thoroughly rejuvenated. If you have any questions regarding driving in Montenegro or planning a visit to the country, leave them down below and we’ll try to answer them for you as soon as possible. For more road trip inspiration, read all our articles for road trips around the world.