Montenegro is a favourite with travellers looking to explore Southern Europe’s emerging tourist destinations. A naturally beautiful destination, seeing the best of Montenegro is easy, even if you’re travelling on a budget.
Getting to Montenegro
Getting to Montenegro is easier than you might imagine. Although a tiny country, there are two international airports: one in the capital, Podgorica, and one on the coast in Tivat. To save money on flights to Montenegro, consider flying into Dubrovnik airport in Croatia, which is just 20 minutes from the Montenegrin border. If you’re really flexible, look for cheap one-way fares into one airport and out of another.
Visit in the off-season
Montenegro’s peak season, July and August, is also the most expensive time to visit. Aside from being the busiest, taxis and accommodation also cost more than in other months. For the best weather, visit during May, June, September or October. You’ll benefit from lower prices, no traffic, and fewer crowds. The milder temperatures of these months also makes exploring Montenegro much more pleasant.
Montenegro’s coast is the most popular place to stay. While planning a trip, add in a few nights in the underrated inland to both enhance your trip and stretch your dollar. Montenegro’s inland is mountainous and ruggedly beautiful. Because it’s not as busy as the coast, everything is more competitively priced.
Eating in and out
Montenegro has some fantastic budget-friendly food options on offer. Visit your local bakery in the morning for a slice of burek, the Balkans’ answer to a meat pie. Layers of filo pastry are filled with meat or cheese and baked until crunchy and golden. Some bakeries also offer potato or spinach burek. Pair it with a tub of natural yogurt (also sold in bakeries) and you’ve got a hearty breakfast for just a couple of euros. Fresh bread from the local bakery is also one of the cheapest staples in Montenegro. A loaf of bread costs just 70 cents and the price hasn’t changed in over a decade.
A walk through any summer resort will pass at least one Balkan grill joint. Eschew the tables and chairs in favour of grabbing a takeaway burger. Filled with your choice of čevapi (sausages), pljeskavica (burger pattie), or chicken, you add the salad and dressings in the giant lepinje bun. For the real deal, swap ketchup for ajvar, a roasted pepper spread. These burgers are available at butchers and grill stands everywhere for just a few euros.
A nice restaurant meal is also possible, even if you’re travelling on a budget. Head away from the main tourist areas along the seaside and visit a restaurant in a small hamlet or with no sea view. If it’s full of locals, you’ll know it’s guaranteed to have good food and fair prices.
Every town has a local farmers’ market and these are the best places to shop. Seasonal produce like tomatoes go for just a few cents a kilogramme in the summer. Add some cucumber, red onion, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a drizzle of olive oil and you’ll have the perfect summer salad to go with some takeaway čevapi.
Getting around Montenegro
Montenegro is small and easy to navigate. Hiring a car and driving yourself can save you money on tours. Driving yourself to the Tara Canyon for a rafting trip will save around 30 euros per person compared to booking a tour with transport, and it will allow you to stop at some of the sights along the way.
If you’re not planning to do much sightseeing, take advantage of the local bus networks. City buses usually go on a half-hourly schedule, while inter-city buses go several times per day. To find schedules visit Busticket4.me or Balkan Viator.
Choose your activities
Visiting museums costs just a couple of euros throughout Montenegro and gives an enlightening glimpse into Montenegrin history and culture. Choose to visit the national parks, go for hikes and hire bicycles to see some of the country’s most stunning scenery for next to nothing. The coastal old towns are top attractions and cost nothing to visit, but we do recommend budgeting a euro or two for gelato while you’re there. While some top attractions like San Giovanni Fortress do charge entrance, most entrance fees cost only 1-3 euros. In the summer, all beaches are required to have an area where people can lay their towels for free.
Cheap accommodation options
Montenegro has some fantastic hostels, like those in Kotor and Budva. You’ll find nice accommodation (and plenty of parties usually) in top locations for a fraction of the price of a hotel room.
For an authentic experience look for an etno selo. These traditional villages offer self-catering cabins in idyllic locations in the countryside. These cabins often sleep up to six and have their own bathrooms and even fireplaces – cosy!
Booking a room in a house is also a popular tradition throughout the Balkans. Beds go for around five to 10 euros per person and you’ll find them wherever you see signs saying ‘sobe’.
With its Mediterranean climate, Montenegro is also a popular camping destination. The coast has lots of seaside campsites where you can pitch a tent or park a campervan.