Getting there & away
BiH The main checkpoints are at Sitnica, Dolovi and Šćepan Polje.
Croatia There’s a busy checkpoint on the Adriatic highway between Herceg Novi and Dubrovnik; expect delays in summer. A longer-distance but often quicker check-point is Kobila, on the tip of the Prevlaka peninsula.
Kosovo The main crossing is on the road between Rožaje and Peć.
Serbia The busiest crossing is north of Bijelo Polje near Dobrakovo, followed by the checkpoint northeast of Rožaje and another east of Pljevlja.
You will have no problems bringing a bicycle into Montenegro but remember it’s a hilly country. There are few cyclists so road-users are not cycle savvy.
There’s a well-developed bus network linking Montenegro with the major cities of the former Yugoslavia and onwards to Western Europe and Turkey. Podgorica is the main hub but buses stop at many coastal towns as well. From Herceg Novi, for example, there are buses to Dubrovnik (two hours, two daily), Sarajevo (seven hours, four daily) and Belgrade (13 hours, nine daily).
At the border, guards will often enter the bus and collect passports, checking the photos as they go. Once they’re happy with them they return them to the bus conductor who will return them as the driver speeds off. Make sure you get yours back and that it’s been stamped.
Car & Motorcycle Crossing into Montenegro with a private or hire car won’t pose any problems as long as you have all of your papers in order. You must have vehicle registration/ownership documents and a locally valid insurance policy such as European Green Card vehicle insurance. Be sure to check your hire car insurance cover as some Western European companies will not cover you for travel in Montenegro.
On 15 June 2008 the Montenegrin Government introduced an eco-tax on all road vehicles. The funds raised will be used for the implementation of environmental preservation and protection projects. Foreign nationals must pay the tax when entering Montenegro by car. The fees range from €10 (for most cars with a capacity of up to eight passengers) to €150 (for coaches) and are determined according to the make and size of the vehicle. The eco-sticker obtained upon payment of the tax is valid for one year and must be displayed on the inside of the front windscreen in the upper right-hand corner.
From the major border crossings with Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania you won’t have to drive more than 25km to find a petrol station or assistance with mechanical repairs. From the Bosnian crossings don’t expect to find anything before Nikšić.
There have been incidences of problems involving cars with Montenegrin plates in Croatia. During our research we had our car spat upon by a group of youths as we stopped at an intersection near Dubrovnik’s Old Town. There are also reports of cars being keyed while parked on the road. If you do drive a Montenegrin hire car into Dubrovnik you’re strongly advised to park in one of the official car parks near the Old Town – and it may pay to keep the windows up while you’re driving.
Montenegro’s only passenger train line starts at Bar and heads into Serbia. Two to four trains head between Podgorica and Belgrade daily (€22, 71⁄2 hours) with one continuing on to Novi Sad. You’ll find timetables on the website of Montenegro Railways (Željeznica Crne Gore; 020-441 211; www.zcg-prevoz.me).
From Belgrade it’s possible to connect to destinations throughout Europe. The Serbian Railways website (www.serbianrailways.com) has timetables and lists special offers. Montenegro can be included as part of the Eurail (www.eurail.com) Select Pass, which offers varying days of rail travel over a two-month period in three, four or five neighbouring countries. Adult prices range from €319 (five days, three countries) to €1235 (15 days, five countries). There are youth discounts for those 25 years old and younger.
InterRail (www.interrailnet.com) passes can only be used by European residents of more than six months’ standing. The Global Pass allows free train travel in 30 countries (including Montenegro) during a certain period of time. Some are valid over a continuous period of time, while others are more flexible. Prices depend on age and class; youth passes for those younger than 25 are cheaper than adult passes, and child passes are 50 less than adult. For some examples of prices, a Global Pass valid for five days in a 10-day period costs €249/159 per adult/youth, or €599/399 for one continuous month. Terms, conditions and occasional surcharges may apply on certain trains.
The Balkan Flexipass from Rail Europe (www .raileurope.com) covers rail travel in Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey. It covers travel in 1st class only, and costs from US$283 for five days’ travel in one month to US$591 for 15 days’ travel in one month. Discounted passes are available for both youth (under 26) and seniors (over 60); with five days’ travel costing US$166/226 respectively and 15 days’ travel costing US$356/475.
If you plan to travel extensively by train, it is worth getting hold of the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable, which gives a complete listing of train schedules, reservation information and indicates where supplements apply. It’s updated monthly and available from Thomas Cook outlets or by order online via www.thomascookpublishing.com.
Montenegro’s largest and most modern airport is immediately south of the capital Podgorica (TGD; 020-872 016; www.montenegroair ports.com/podgorica/). The entire south of the country and everywhere as far north as Kolašin is within 100km of this airport. If you’re wondering about the airport code, the TGD is a hangover from Podgorica’s previous name Titograd. Locals sometimes call it Golubovci airport as it’s close to a village with that name. The airport’s safety record is blemished only by a small plane skidding while landing in snowy conditions in 2005; there were no serious injuries.
The second international airport at Tivat (TIV; 032-617 337; www.montenegroairports.com/tivat/) is well positioned for holidaymakers heading to the Bay of Kotor or Budva and now welcomes over half a million passengers annually. Despite its mountainous surrounds and a runway that ends only 100m from the water, there has never been an accident here in the airport’s nearly 40-year history.
Montenegro’s de facto third airport is actually in neighbouring Croatia. Dubrovnik airport (DBV; 020-773 100 in Croatia; www.airport-dubrovnik.hr) is a modern facility only 12km from the border and the closest airport to Herceg Novi. More commonly referred to locally as Čilipi airport, it’s used by over a million travellers annually.
The word for airport in Montenegrin is aerodrom (АЕРОДРОМ). This was also used in Croatia until independence but in a fit of French-style linguistic nationalism the official Croatian term has been changed to a direct translation of the words for ‘air’ and ‘port’, zračna luka – a potential trap for English speakers.
Montenegro Airlines is the national carrier, running a small fleet of 102 to 116-seater planes. Apart from the skid at Podgorica airport mentioned above, its safety record has been unsullied during its 10 years of operation. It has code-share agreements with Adria Airways, Austrian Airways and Malév.