Our recent travel to Montenegro has become easily one of our favorite trips in Europe. It is such a small country with so many breathtaking views of the mountains, ocean and lots of bay areas plus plenty of gorgeous people!
How did I know this place?
Initially, I had no clue where Montenegro was. We were planning for a weekend out-of-country getaway to celebrate my 30th birthday when I read some blogs about Montenegro. I quickly googled the place and immediately, I got attracted by the beautiful photos I saw. It is probably one the eu-destinations that are yet to be discovered by most of the people. Specially us, living in Asia.
How to get there?
We flew from Dubai and it took us almost 6 hours to reach the country of Montenegro. Currently, FlyDubai caters flight to Tivat only during summer.
(disclaimer: the next paragraphs you’ll read will probably the only negative things you’ll hear from me about Montenegro).
We were so excited to land in Montenegro considering we only have four days to explore the country. Unfortunately, disappointments welcomed us at the airport. Probably it is one of the worst airports I’ve been to, not because of the size but simply because there is no system. The airport scene was chaotic. There were 2 doors to enter the airport which bring you immediately to the immigration counters. We had to wait roughly 40 minutes for our turn and when we were literally next on the line, suddenly a group of people from another flight who just arrived came and cut all the queues. The airport is small so you could imagine how 300+ passengers are squeezing on the line but authorities seemed to not care about the situation.
After braving the line on the immigration counter we finally got our luggage and quickly exited the airport. I booked a car rental (Chevrolet Spark) for 3 days via Auto Europe for $140. This is when the second chaotic scene happened . A customer who’s returning his car rental had a heated argument with the agent as he was charged hundreds of euros as he allegedly damaged the car. The argument took about 30 mins (30 minutes of mental torture for us as well). When our turn came, I quickly brushed off the mood by saying “Can we not have that kind of argument?” and both of us laughed. I ended up buying additional insurance amounting to €54 just to have a peace of mind the rest of the trip. The good thing is, the agent gave us free car upgrade to Fiat 500L!
Definitely, these are not the most ideal way to welcome tourists.
…..now let’s go back to the good part.
How’s the driving in Montenegro?
I’m always anxious driving in a foreign country specially when I’m driving a stick-shift car. What made me even more anxious was because of the narrow steep mountain slopes. I read a lot of blogs saying that driving in Montenegro is quite dangerous because of the frustrated local drivers which causes most of the accidents. I was extremely causious and tried not to drive while touring towns if possible. The good thing or probably the best thing in driving in Montenegro is you get a lot of breathtaking views and you can stop and take pictures whenever you want.
We first drove down to Perast, it is a small town built along the beautiful Bay of Kotor and a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s such a charming village that has Venetian houses and churches. It’s pity that we only had few hours to explore this place and was not able to see Our Lady of The Rocks – a man-made island at the Bay of Kotor. The small main street of Perast has a stretch of cafés and restaurants where you can sit down and marvel with the beautiful surroundings.
After a morning walk in Perast, we headed straight to Old-Town Kotor. We were so excited to see this place and see the breathtaking view of Kotor.
Old-Town Kotor is probably one of the touristic places in Montenegro. Several cruise ships dock here so you could imagine the number of tourists roaming around the small town. Same as Perast, Old-Town Kotor is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a walled medieval town with amazing citycape and stunning views surroundings it. Before exploring the Old Town, we went straight and climb the Kotor fortress also known as St. John Fortress or Castle of San Giovanni where the iconic landscape views of Montenegro are taken. It was a dreadful climb of roughly 1,300 steps 280 meters high under the 32°-35° summer heat. But each moment you look down and stare at the view, you’ll see that it is definitely worth the climb! The first stopping point is the Church of Our Lady of Remedy . The higher we ascended the better views became. But obviously, we were not physically ready for this challenge and decided to stop our hike at the next viewing deck where there’s an 180° view of Kotor. The landscape view was incredible! I couldn’t belive how beautiful it was. We sat down for a moment to reward ourselves with the breathtaking view of Kotor. It took us an hour to reach the deck and another 30 minutes descend the hill.
We were completely exhausted after the hike and found ourselves sitting on one of the restaurants in the Old-Town.
What’s the food in Montenegro?
Plenty of Seafood. I find the Montenegrin dishes very similar to Italian. Pasta & Pizza are dominating the menu. Grilled fish and meats are available too.
How much does it cost?
Depends where you go. There are plenty of choices but during our trip average meal ccost about €13-€15 for a pasta and meat dish.
Budva is a small town in Montenegro alongside the Adriatic Coast. It is roughly 30 kilometers away from Kotor and is known for its nightlife and sand beaches. The town has plenty of commercial buildings, hotels, bars and malls around it. It’s way busier than Kotor. It’s probably the least of my favorite places in Montenegro. The shore is completely packed of sunbeds and umbrellas which block the view of the ocean. It reminded me of Puerto Galera in Philippines. Too busy and commercialized.
But only few meters away, you’ll find a hidden gem in the city – The Old Town Budva. It felt like we were transported suddenly to a different world. Coubledstone narrow streets, century-old churches and charming small restaurants and art shops.
And if you drive few kilometers from Budva, you’ll find the small jewel of Montenegro, Sveti Stefan.
It is a small islet which is home to a 5-star hotel run by Aman Resorts – the same hotel group that runs Amanpulo in Palawan, Philippines. Sveti Stefan is located at the Adriatic Coast southeast of Budva and is connected to the mainland with a narrow causeway. The island is only exclusive to the hotel guests, so obviously we just enjoyed looking to it from afar. Though the island is exclusive, you can still hang out and have refreshing dip on the Adriatic Sea. Our hotel, Hotel Adrović is a perfect location with the view of Sveti Stefan and Budva. Will definitely come back and stay here the next time we visit again.
The next day, we headed to our last destination Podgorica.
It’s the capital city of Montenegro. Usually, when you know it’s the capital city you would expect busy streets, people walking around and lots of cars. But this is not the case in Podgorica, the city was completely dead and quiet the moment we arrived. The streets were literally empty, also because we came on a Sunday. On the positive note, the city is all ours and the driving was very smooth. We stayed at Hotel Hemera which is located at the heart of Podgorica and next to it are the lined up restaurants and bars. We had a total staycation on this city.
Due to the lack of time, we had to cancel our plans to visit the Ostrog Monastery which is almost an hour away from the capital and 2 hours to Tivat airport. We drove back to Old Town Kotor to have a quick lunch and bid our good bye to this magical country. We left plenty of things still to see for our next visit. Probably Montenegro will become our summer getaway from Dubai.
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