The Ultimate Guide To Planning A Holiday To Montenegro

Multiple small houses placed on an island over blue water

6.18min read

Published 11 April 2022


What is it like to travel on a holiday to Montenegro?

Close your eyes. Imagine towns and cities as ancient as Greece.

Picture the tranquil calm, stunning beaches and turquoise waters of Croatia; and the monumental, snowy, ice-capped peaks of Switzerland.

Mix them together and transport them to the lush climes synonymous with the Mediterranean and what do you get?

Magnificent Montenegro, of course!

Bursting with rolling, majestic peaks, secluded and stunning beaches (240 km of seacoast), medieval towns and heritage sites dating back to the 12th Century and hidden gems galore, topped off with some of the friendliest folks in the world, the small but mighty country of Montenegro is a slice of Adriatic heaven.

Travel preparation is the key to a hassle-free trip, however, so do your homework before you leave and greatly reduce the risk of anything going wrong.


Bridge to mountains

Best tips for visiting Montenegro

Montenegro is a bucket list destination for many and when it comes to natural beauty, you will be spoiled for choice on where to go. With so much to see and do, try not to skimp on time there if at all possible.

Whether you want to simply go wild, live on the edge, laze on the sand, or discover a new way of life, there are endless reasons why Montenegro needs to be your next holiday destination according to Culture Trip.

The best time to visit Montenegro is between June and August. It has a temperate climate with warm dry summers and cooler winters. The hottest month of the year is July with an average daily maximum of 31ºC and an average low of 22ºC. The coolest month of the year is January with an average daily maximum of 11ºC and an average low of 2ºC.

An affordable destination, Montenegro is even less expensive than neighbouring Croatia. That said, hotels can be a bit pricey so you might want to look at a private house or self-contained villa instead. Opt for self-drive car hire and avoid the coach tour tourist traps during peak periods of the day. Take the roads less travelled inland and along the coastline. Like all places along the shore of the Med, the cuisine in Montenegro is typically Southern European. Compared to Western Europe, however, restaurant meals are relatively inexpensive.

Try the octopus salad, fish soup and shellfish dishes aplenty. If you want to get ultra-local, gobble down everything from ćevapi (kebabs) to karađorđe vasnicla (breaded veal roll filled with cheese) and sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with mincemeat). Wash it down with Niksicko, the beer of choice in Montenegro or enjoy a glass or two of local vino from Plantaze winery.

Fancy finishing off with a shot of ‘Montenegrin moonshine’? Then order Rakija which is produced from a variety of fruits. This would be a good time to say Živjeli! Or ‘Cheers!’ as we know it. With an alcohol content ranging between 40 - 80 per cent, however, you’ll definitely be taking the bus ‘home’!


Ariel view of green mountains

What should I know about Montenegro?

Let’s look at some of the basic ‘need-to-knows before looking at where to go and what to do:

Languages: Montenegrin (very similar to Croatian) is the official language while Bosnian, Serbian and Albanian are commonly used in some areas. English is widely understood in the capital, Podgorica, and in the coastal resorts and main tourist spots.

Currency: The official currency is the Euro (€). Important to note is that if you are entering Montenegro with more than €10 000 you should declare the amount on entry or risk confiscation on departure. All major international bank cards are accepted in major cities, towns as well as larger hotels, restaurants, shops etc.

Health: Pharmacies across the country stock a good supply of medicines but it’s recommended that visitors pack sufficient medical supplies for the duration of their stay.

Safety: While a safe destination overall for travellers, it’s wise to take sensible precautions against street crime in the towns and cities, just as you would in any other European country … or at home.

Local customs: Dress should be modest when visiting monasteries in Montenegro and it's expected that visitors to shrines walk backwards when exiting. There are designated nudist beaches and over-exposure is frowned upon elsewhere.

Nudity:  Despite the conservatism, naturism is a growing phenomenon in Montenegro, with plenty of choices for clothing-optional beaches and camps. One popular getaway is Camp Full Monte, an off-grid, eco-friendly campsite close to Croatia. In Christian areas, topless sunbathing is fine on regular beaches. It is totally frowned upon in Muslim places, such as Murici. Removing your bikini bottom anywhere other than a nude beach is strongly condemned. 

Tipping: Service charges are generally not included in restaurant and hotel bills in Montenegro and a tip of 10 per cent is appreciated. Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but a small gratuity is always welcome.

What are some good unknown places to visit in Montenegro?

Montenegro, with its prime location in Eastern Europe, is a treasure trove of hidden gems.

Compared to Western Europe, there are far fewer tourists to contend with and way more room to breathe and enjoy the scenery.

From St George’s Island to Sveti Stefan - an island that offers the best in modern European luxury - if it’s solitude and plain sailing you’re after, Montenegro’s hidden wonders really do have it all says

It is home to one of Europe’s deepest canyons, the Tara River Canyon which has a mind-boggling 1 300m drop. Yes, it looks quite dreamy from above, but you’ll find the best views bobbling along the water. And yes, people come here mostly to brave the waves on a raft.

Not a fan of water? Then hike to the top of Mount Ćurevac for a breathtaking panorama.

Ostrog Monastery, a cave church built against an almost vertical mountain backdrop, is the country’s most popular pilgrimage site and as miraculous as it gets. A sight and experience not to be missed …


What are unique experiences not to miss in Montenegro?

We’ve not even scratched the surface of what’s to see and do in Montenegro and here are a few firm favourites:

Perast is one of Montenegro's most magnificent towns and according to Culture Trip looks like a chunk of Venice! Humming with history, memories of grandiosity and colonial power (remnants of which you can still see today), the place really does give the Venetian doge’s a run for their money. With only one main street winding through the town centre, this mini cultural utopia boasts 16 mind-numbingly gorgeous churches and 17 grand palazzos.

You’ll find oodles to do here, but if you only have time for one thing, catch a boat ride with a local fisherman around the Bay of Kotor - it’s so worth it.

Epic views from the Castle of San Giovanni

One of the best viewpoints in all of Montenegro you’ll have to get physical and climb nearly 1 400 stairs to a height of 1 200 metres. Tip: the light is better earlier in the day so aim for a sunrise rather than a sunset climb.

Kotor’s Old Town is beautiful but it can be packed in the afternoon - especially if there’s a cruise ship in the harbour, which there often is in the summer. During the tourist season, things tend to hot up around 09h30 - 10h00. To ensure a good photo opp, best get there early.


The Old Town is surrounded by medieval fortifications between 2 and 16 metres thick. One of Kotor’s main attractions the old city walls are well worth checking out. Strolling around the Bay of Kotora UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979 is a must. It’s especially nice to do around midday when tourists are thronging the Old Town.

A twitcher’s delight, Skadar Lake is considered one of the best places for birdwatching in all of Europe, with over 280 species calling the lake home. One of the most sought-after sightings is the Dalmatian pelican. No, not named for the dog with its black and white spots, but rather for the Dalmatia region of neighbouring Croatia.

One of the most memorable things to see in Montenegro is the Catholic Church floating in the middle of the Bay of Kotor, called Our Lady of the Rocks. The island was artificially created over 500 years ago by Croatian fishermen. To get there, you have to go via boat so a tour that combines the nearby Blue Cave, is the way to go. Both are definitely worth the trip. Yet another tourist destination is the city of Ulcinj whose architecture has been influenced by the Greeks, Byzantines and Asians.

When the sun’s gone down and you’re looking to boogie, head to Budva, a glorious medieval walled city known for its awesome nightlife and arts scene. Clubs, bars, you name it. Budva’s got it!

How will I get to Montenegro?



There is no direct flight from South Africa to Montenegro. Several airlines route via European hubs but the fastest route between the two countries is on Turkish Airlines departing Johannesburg to Istanbul (9h 40 m duration) with a layover and connection (2h 45m) to Podgorica in Montenegro (1h 45m). Total duration: 14h 10m

Take care when booking as the same routing on another Turkish Airline flight incurs a 14h 20m layover connection clocking in at over 25 hours total flight duration! But don’t worry our Travel experts know exactly how to get you there with a stopover in Europe to ensure you maximise your time.

Car Rental:

Although Tivat and Podgorica are Montenegro's main international airports, it is often easier for visitors to arrive via Dubrovnik Airport (next door to Croatia), as it is served by a greater range of flights and airlines. From there, you can opt for cross-border self-drive car hire. Bear in mind however that some car rental companies charge extra if you want to take the car across the Croatia-Montenegro border.  

Once in Montenegro, buses are a reliable and cheap way to travel between the small villages and towns on the coast.

Passport: Visitors are advised to carry their passports on them at all times. It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months of validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.  

Visa: A visa is required by South Africans except for a maximum stay of 30 days for holders of a valid visa issued by Ireland, the UK, the US, or a Schengen Member State.

There is a Serbian Consulate in Pretoria which supplies visas for Montenegro but during the COVID period, it has, periodically, been non-operational.

Embassy: The South African Embassy in Athens, Greece serves Montenegro.

COVID: Currently global travel is a ‘go’ but as we well know, this can change overnight. Stay abreast of current regulations on our website before making your booking.

Montenegro got you feeling magical? Speak to one of our travel experts today to see how you can visit this jewel of a destination.


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