Flights & getting there
Whether you choose to fly, train, ferry, bus or drive, it’s not difficult to get to Montenegro these days. New routes – including those served by low-cost carriers – are continually being added to the busy timetable at the country’s two airports. It’s also possible to make your way from neighbouring countries, especially Croatia. Dubrovnik’s airport is very close to the border and the beautiful city makes an impressive starting point to a Montenegro holiday. Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.
Airports & Airlines
- Montenegro’s largest and most modern airport is immediately south of the capital, Podgorica. If you’re wondering about the airport code, it's 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 second international airport, at Tivat, is well positioned for holidaymakers heading to the Bay of Kotor or Budva and now welcomes over 1.1 million passengers annually.
- Montenegro’s de facto third airport is actually in neighbouring Croatia. Dubrovnik Airport is a modern facility only 17km from the border and the closest airport to Herceg Novi. Commonly referred to locally as Čilipi airport, it’s used by more than 2.3 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 116-seater planes. Apart from a skid at Podgorica airport while landing in snowy conditions in 2005, its safety record has been unsullied during its 14-plus years of operation. It has code-share agreements with Adria, Air France, Air Serbia, Alitalia, Austrian, Etihad and Russia's S7 Airlines.
Departure tax is included in the price of tickets.
Montenegro may be a wee slip of a thing but it borders five other states: Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH), Serbia, Kosovo and Albania. You can easily enter Montenegro by land from any of its neighbours.
Feature: Roads of the Future
Two new international motorways are currently in the works. The Adriatic-Ionian motorway is an ambitious highway that will connect its two namesake seas and run along the entire western Balkan peninsula, taking in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, possibly BiH, Montenegro, Albania and Greece. The proposed Montenegrin section will be about 100km, either entering the country from Croatia or via Trebinje (BiH). About 10km of the Montenegrin road would be shared with the future Belgrade–Bar motorway, a 445km route designed to connect the Serbian capital with the Adriatic while bypassing the dangerous Morača Canyon road. Construction of the 164km Montenegrin section will include the building of 50 tunnels and 95 bridges. Work started in 2015 on this motorway; they’re still nutting out the details for the Adriatic-Ionian. Don’t expect either to be completed soon, but be aware you may come across major construction works.
There are no problems bringing a bicycle into the country, though there are not many cyclists here so road-users are not cycle savvy – and remember that there’s a monte (mountain) in the country’s name for a reason.
If you want to bring your own bike, most airlines allow you to put a bicycle in the hold for a fee. You can either take it apart and pack all the pieces in a bike bag or box, or simply wheel it to the check-in desk, where it should be treated as a piece of check-in luggage. You may have to remove the pedals and turn the handlebars sideways so that it takes up less space in the aircraft’s hold; check all this with the airline before you pay for your ticket. If your bicycle and other luggage exceed your weight allowance, ask about alternatives or you may find yourself being charged a small ransom for excess baggage.
- Albania There are two main crossings: Sukobin (between Shkodra and Ulcinj) and Hani i Hotit (between Shkodra and Podgorica). If you’re paddling about on Lake Skadar, remember that the border runs through the lake and be careful not to cross it. Because of problems with trafficking (of cigarettes, drugs and women), the Montenegro police patrol the lake. The same caution should be applied while hiking in the Prokletije Mountains; you'll need a cross-border permit.
- Bosnia & Hercegovina There are four main crossings: Zupci-Sitnica (between Trebinje and Herceg Novi), Klobuk–Ilino Brdo (between Trebinje and Nikšić), Hum–Šćepan Polje (between Foča and Nikšić) and Metaljka (between Sarajevo and Pljevlja). Other more remote crossings are marked on some maps but these may only be open to local traffic (if they are open at all) and we've heard of travellers being turned back at some crossings.
- Croatia Expect delays at the busy Debeli Brijeg checkpoint on the Adriatic highway (between Herceg Novi and Dubrovnik). You can avoid them by taking a detour down the Prevlaka Peninsula to the Konfin-Kobila border post, although this has become more popular and sometimes also has queues. To reach it from the Croatian side, turn right off the highway a few kilometres before the main border crossing and pass through Pločice and Vitaljina. The road rejoins the highway on the Montenegro side just before Igalo.
- Kosovo There’s only one crossing, Kulina, on the road between Rožaje and Peć.
- Serbia The busiest crossing is Dobrakovo (north of Bijelo Polje), followed by Dračenovac (northeast of Rožaje) and Ranče (east of Pljevlja). The train crosses at Dobrakovo.
There’s a well-developed bus network linking Montenegro with the major cities of the former Yugoslavia and onward to Western Europe and Turkey. 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.
Useful websites include www.busticket4.me, www.eurolines.com, www.getbybus.com and www.vollo.net.
- Albania Direct services from Tirana to Podgorica, Ulcinj, Budva and Kotor.
- Austria Buses between Vienna and Kotor.
- Bosnia & Hercegovina Buses head from Mostar to Kotor via Trebinje, Podgorica, Cetinje, Budva and Tivat. There are also services from Sarajevo to Herceg Novi, Kotor, Budva, Ulcinj and Podgorica.
- Croatia Direct buses from Zagreb to Podgorica via Split, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Herceg Novi, Kotor and Budva.
- Kosovo Buses from Pristina to Ulcinj via Peja and Podgorica.
- North Macedonia Buses head all the way from Skopje to Herceg Novi via Podgorica, Budva, Kotor and Tivat.
- Serbia Coaches from Belgrade to Žabljak, Podgorica, Cetinje, Ulcinj, Budva, Tivat, Kotor and Herceg Novi.
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.
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 Herceg Novi, Nikšić or Pljevlja. You'll see the words 'auto šlep' and an adjoining phone number spray-painted along all the roadways in the country; this is low-cost advertising for local towing services.
There have been incidences of attacks on cars with Montenegrin plates in Croatia (particularly around Dubrovnik) and on cars with Croatian plates in Montenegro (particularly around Herceg Novi). These are usually limited to minor vandalism, such as cars being keyed while parked on the road.
Montenegro’s main train line starts at Bar and heads north through Podgorica and into Serbia. At least two trains head between Bar and Belgrade daily (€21, 11¾ hours). You’ll find timetables on the website of Montenegro Railways (www.zcg-prevoz.me). From Belgrade it’s possible to connect to destinations throughout Europe; see the website of Serbian Railways (www.serbianrailways.com) for timetables.
Montenegro is one of the countries included on the Eurail (www.eurail.com, for non-European residents) and InterRail (www.interrail.eu, for European residents) Global Passes. It's also included on the Balkan Flexipass, sold by Montenegro Railways, which covers rail travel in Montenegro, BiH, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Turkey
Feature: Flight-Free Travel
If you fancy a guilt-free, low-carbon journey from London to Montenegro, log on to www.seat61.com and click on 'Montenegro' on the side navigation. You’ll find detailed instructions on how to get from London to Belgrade by train and then connect through to Montenegro, including departure times, fares and travel-pass information.
Although we don't recommend it, it's entirely possible to hitch in or out of Montenegro. As with any border crossing, be sure you have your passport and any relevant visas. Some drivers may ask for money, but it's not a common practice.
Montenegro Lines (www.montenegrolines.com) has boats from Bar to Bari (Italy), at least weekly from May to November (deck ticket €44 to €48, cabin €63 to €210, 11 hours); and from Bar to Ancona (Italy), at least weekly from July to August (deck €60, cabin €80 to €230, 16 hours). Cars cost €56 to €90.