Accessible Travel

The mobility-impaired will find Montenegro's many cobbled lanes and numerous stairways – especially in 'old towns' – extremely challenging. There are very few specific facilities for either travellers or residents with disabilities. Some of the top-end hotels have wheelchair-accessible rooms.

Bargaining

Haggling is not generally part of the shopping culture here. If you're negotiating a ride in a private car or unmetered taxi (without published set fares), though, definitely give it a go.

Dangers & Annoyances

  • Montenegro is generally safe and street violence is uncommon.
  • The roads are usually in good condition but many are narrow and have sheer drops on one side. Local motorists have no qualms about overtaking on blind corners while talking on their mobile phones. It’s best to keep your cool and stick to the speed limit: the traffic police (some of whom are wont to ask for bribes) are everywhere.
  • Montenegro has two types of venomous vipers but they’ll try their best to keep out of your way. If bitten, head immediately to a medical centre for the antivenene.

Discount Cards

  • The Montenegro Card (www.montenegrocard.com; €14) offers discounts on museums, restaurants, rental cars, activities, tours, shopping and more. Buy online or see website for vendors.
  • The International Student Identity Card (ISIC; www.isic.org), which is issued to full-time students aged 12 years and over, entitles the bearer to discounts on train trips and some admission charges, shops, eateries, accommodation and other services in Montenegro. It's available online, from student unions, hostelling organisations and some travel agencies.
  • The same organisation issues the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC; available to people who are between 12 and 26 years of age and not full-time students) and the International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC; available to teaching professionals), both of which give similar discounts to the ISIC.

Embassies & Consulates

For a full list of foreign missions in Montenegro, see www.mvpei.gov.me. The following are all in Podgorica, unless otherwise stated:

Albanian Embassy

Bosnia & Hercegovinia Embassy

Croatian Embassy & Consulate Podgorica; Kotor

French Embassy

German Embassy

Serbian Embassy & Consulate Podgorica; Herceg Novi

UK Embassy

US Embassy

The following countries are represented from offices in nearby countries:

Australian Embassy

Canadian Embassy

Dutch Embassy

Irish Embassy

Emergency & Important Numbers

International access code00
Country code382
Police122
Ambulance124
Roadside assistance9807

Entry & Exit Formalities

Entering Montenegro doesn’t pose any particular bureaucratic challenges. In fact, the country’s dead keen to shuffle tourists in. Unfortunately, Croatia seems less happy to let them go, if the long waits at their side of the Adriatic highway checkpoint are any indication; if you need to be somewhere at a certain time, it pays to allow an hour. The main crossing from Serbia at Dobrakovo can also be slow at peak times.

Customs Regulations

  • In a bid to stop tourists from neighbouring countries bringing all their holiday groceries with them, Montenegro restricts the quantity of food that can be brought into the country to a total of 5kg of fresh fruit and vegetables, and 1kg of other products.
  • Restrictions apply to tobacco products (200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco) and alcohol (1L spirits, 4L nonsparkling wine, 16L beer).
  • Amounts greater than €10,000 of cash or travellers cheques must be declared when entering or leaving the country.
  • Drug laws are similar to most other European countries. Possession or trafficking of drugs could result in a lengthy jail sentence.
  • When you enter the country you need to receive an entry stamp in your passport. If you don’t, you may be detained or fined when you seek to leave for entering the country illegally.
  • The Montenegro Customs Bureau has more information (some in English) at www.upravacarina.gov.me.

Passports

Make sure that your passport has at least six months left on it. You’ll need a visa if you’re not from one of the many countries with a visa-waiver arrangement. There are no particular nationalities or stamps in your passport that will deny you entry. Make sure that your passport is stamped when you enter the country or else there may be difficulties when you leave.

Visas

Many nationalities are entitled to a stay of up to 90 days without a visa.

More Information

Visas are not required for citizens of European countries, Turkey, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. In most cases this allows a stay of up to 90 days. If your country is not covered by a visa waiver, you will need a valid passport, verified letter of invitation, return ticket, proof of sufficient funds and proof of medical cover in order to obtain a visa. Go to www.mvpei.gov.me and follow the links to 'Overview of visa regimes for foreign citizens'; find your country on the drop-down map for visa regulations.

Etiquette

  • Greetings Some Montenegrins (especially those of Serbian heritage) engage in a three-kiss hello.
  • Visiting Take off your shoes when entering a home. Montenegrins are typical Slavs and are obsessed with draughts and cold extremities; they'll have slippers for you. Bring a small gift, like wine or bag of coffee.
  • Conversation Politics, religion, history and ethnicity can be minefields; tread cautiously.
  • Religion Walk backwards out of a shrine.
  • Personal Space Don't expect much; Montenegrins love to touch and huddle.
  • Dress Be modest when visiting religious buildings. Topless sunbathing is usually reserved for nudist beaches.
  • Eating If you're dining with locals, arrive hungry. This is a nation of feeders.
  • Drinking Engaging in a toast without eye contact may result in calamity, as will pouring your own rakija (fruit brandy).

Insurance

A watertight travel insurance policy covering theft, loss and medical problems is recommended. While theft isn’t a huge problem, rental cars are sometimes targeted by opportunists and Montenegro’s roads aren’t the world’s safest. There are plenty of policies to choose from – compare the fine print and shop around.

If you’re an EU citizen, you will be covered for most emergency medical care except for emergency repatriation home. Citizens from other countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Montenegro. Strongly consider a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or if it will reimburse you later for any overseas health expenditures. The former option is generally preferable, especially if your finances are limited.

Some policies specifically exclude designated ‘dangerous activities’ such as scuba-diving, parasailing, paragliding, canyoning, white-water rafting, skiing and even hiking. If you plan on doing any of these things (a distinct possibility in Montenegro), make sure the policy you choose covers you fully and includes ambulances and emergency medical evacuation.

If you need to make a claim, ensure you obtain and keep all relevant documentation. This may involve a police report in case of theft and invoices for medical expenses incurred. Some policies ask you to call back (reverse charges) to a centre in your home country where an immediate assessment of your problem is made.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/bookings. You can buy, extend and claim online any time – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Most accommodation providers (including the majority of private accommodations, unless you're really in the back of beyond) offer free wireless connections, although they may not always penetrate to every part of the building and can be limited to the reception area. Many bars and cafes also offer wireless. You'll find free wireless access at tourist hot spots in bigger cities.

Some libraries and hotels offer terminals for guests to use, but this practice appears to be on the way out with the proliferation of personal devices.

We've used the internet symbol for accommodations that have a computer linked to the internet for guests to use. Places that have a wireless connection are marked with the wireless symbol. Note that the symbols don't imply that the service is free, but in most cases it will be.

LGBT Travellers

Where’s the party? The answer’s nowhere. Although homosexuality was decriminalised in 1977 and discrimination outlawed in 2010, you won’t find a single gay or lesbian venue in Montenegro. Don’t be fooled by all the men walking arm in arm, or hand in hand in the Albanian areas. Attitudes to homosexuality remain hostile and life for gay people is extremely difficult, exacerbated by the fact that most people are expected to live at home until they’re married.

In recent years there have been high-profile incidents of violence against gay activists. The country's first Pride parade was held in Budva in 2013; an Orthodox priest consecrated the town afterwards to 'stop the disease spreading'. Since then, Podgorica has held annual parades, the most recent of which have passed without serious incident.

Many gay men connect via apps or take their chances at a handful of cruisy beaches. These include Jaz Beach near Budva (eastern end), Ada Bojana and below the ruins of Ratac near Bar. Lesbians will find it harder to access the local community.

Check out Queer Montenegro (www.queermontenegro.org) for details on Pride, arts and cultural events, and news updates.

Maps

Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of driving on back roads, you shouldn't need to buy a road map (auto karta). Sheet maps are available from bookshops and some tourist offices. Intersistem Kartografija publishes a Montenegro road map (1:370,000).

Detailed maps for hikers exploring the Lovćen, Durmitor, Prokletije or Bjelasica mountains are available from national park visitor centres and tourist offices in the vicinity.

Media

  • Print Media Vijesti (The News), Dan (The Day), Dnevne Novine (Daily Newspaper) and Pobjeda (Victory) are all daily newspapers. Monitor, a weekly news magazine, joins local-language versions of international titles on the news-stands.
  • Radio & Television RTCG (Radio TV Montenegro) is the state broadcaster, with two radio stations and three TV channels. In total there are 11 more-or-less national TV channels and six regional channels. There are dozens of independent radio stations broadcasting around the country.

Money

ATMs widely available. Credit cards are accepted in larger hotels but aren't widely accepted elsewhere.

More Information

  • Though they're not in the EU, Montenegro uses the euro (€) and we quote all prices in that currency, unless otherwise stated.
  • You’ll find banks with ATMs (bankomat) in all the main towns, most of which accept Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus. ATMs tend to dish out big notes, which can be hard to break.
  • Don’t rely on restaurants, shops or smaller hotels accepting credit cards.

Exchange Rates

AustraliaA$1€0.64
CanadaC$1€0.66
Croatia1KN€0.13
Japan¥100€0.78
New ZealandNZ$1€0.60
Serbia100DIN€0.85
UK£1€1.12
USUS$1€0.87

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Tipping

  • Bars, Cafes & Taxis Tipping isn’t expected although it’s common to round up to the nearest euro.
  • Restaurants Up to 10% at better restaurants, but only if you're satisfied with the service.

Opening Hours

Montenegrins have a flexible approach to opening times. Even if hours are posted on the door of an establishment, don’t be surprised if they’re not heeded. Many tourist-orientated businesses close between November and March.

Banks 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 8am to noon Saturday.

Post offices 7am to 8pm Monday to Friday, sometimes Saturday. In smaller towns they may close midafternoon, or close at noon and reopen at 5pm.

Restaurants, cafes & bars 8am to midnight. If the joint is jumping, cafe-bars may stay open until 2am or 3am.

Shops 9am to 8pm. Sometimes they’ll close for a few hours in the late afternoon.

Post

Every town has a post office that locals use for paying their bills, so be prepared for horrendous queues. Parcels should be taken unsealed for inspection. You can receive mail, addressed poste restante, in all towns for a small charge. International postal services are slow.

Public Holidays

New Year’s Day 1 and 2 January

Orthodox Christmas 6, 7 and 8 January

Orthodox Good Friday & Easter Monday Date varies, usually April/May

Labour Day 1 and 2 May

Independence Day 21 and 22 May

Statehood Day 13 and 14 July

Smoking

Smoking on public transport and in bars, clubs and restaurants is apparently banned in Montenegro, but someone forgot to tell the Montenegrins. While you won't find passengers lighting up on a bus, the same doesn't necessarily hold true for the driver. As for the rest: good luck. Cigarettes and coffee/booze go together like fish and soup in Montenegro, and if you get between a local and their after-dinner cigarette, you'd better have insurance.

A few eating establishments are starting to offer nonsmoking sections, and many hotels don't permit smoking in the rooms.

Taxes & Refunds

Value-added tax (VAT; locally, PDV for porez na dodatu vrijednost) is a 19% sales tax levied on most goods and services. Restaurants and shops usually include VAT in their prices. Visitors are required to pay a small nightly tourist tax (usually less than €1 per person per night) to their accommodation providers; it's sometimes included in the quoted rate but usually added to the bill at the end.

When buying anything from a shop displaying a 'tax refund' sign, ask for a refund form. Upon leaving the country, present your purchases and receipts at the Customs desk to get your refund voucher validated.

Telephone

  • The international access prefix is 00, or + from a mobile phone.
  • The country code is 382.
  • Press the i button on public phones for dialling commands in English.
  • Mobile numbers start with 06.
  • The prefix 80 indicates a toll-free number.
  • You can make phone calls at most larger post offices. Phone boxes are otherwise few and far between.

Mobile Phones

Local SIM cards are a good idea if you’re planning a longer stay and can be used in most unlocked handsets. The main providers (T-Mobile, M:tel and Telenor) have shopfronts in most towns.

Time

  • Montenegro is in the Central Europe time zone (an hour ahead of GMT).
  • Clocks go forward by an hour for daylight saving at the end of March and return to normal at the end of October.
  • Outside the daylight-saving period, when it’s midday in Montenegro it will be 3am in Los Angeles, 6am in New York, 11am in London, 9pm in Sydney and 11pm in Auckland.
  • Montenegrins use the 24-hour clock, so hours are usually listed as ‘9–17’ rather than ‘9am–5pm’.

Toilets

  • Sit-down toilets are the most common commode, though you'll still find squat or pit toilets in many campgrounds and in some public facilities.
  • You may have to pay a small fee to use public toilets; carry change.
  • It pays to bring your own tissues; restocking loo paper isn't high on the Montenegrin agenda.
  • Most toilets have a WC sign, or may read toalet or тоалет.
  • Men's toilets are marked 'M' (muškarci) and women's 'Ž' (žene).

Tourist Information

Official tourist offices (usually labelled turistička organizacija) are hit and miss. Some have wonderfully helpful English-speaking staff, regular opening hours and a good supply of free material, while others have none of the above.

National Tourism Organisation Operates a free call centre and an excellent website, which includes a listing of the country's regional tourist offices.

Travel with Children

Montenegrins absolutely adore babies and kids. For many parents this is half the battle won. Hotels, restaurants and cafes all warmly welcome children, and we’ve even seen the occasional young teenager boogying with their parents at beachside nightclubs.

With the relatively safe environment allowing them off the leash a little, older offspring should have a blast in Montenegro. You may find that they’re kicking a ball around with the local scallywags in no time. The opposite is true for toddlers and small children, as a generally lower standard of safety regulations (missing railings, unfenced pools etc) means you’ll have to keep a closer eye on them.

You’ll struggle to get strollers along the cobbled lanes and stairways in the older towns and you’ll often find yourself having to trundle them along dangerous roads due to parked cars blocking the footpaths. A baby carrier or sling takes up less luggage space and makes exploring easier. Still, bringing a pram is a good idea, if only so you can join the legions of other parents promenading with their sleeping babies on summer nights.

Any hurdles you may strike will be insignificant compared to the wonderfully family-friendly atmosphere, fresh air and gently lapping Mediterranean waters that Montenegro provides. Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children offers further tips for hitting the road with the brood in tow.

Practicalities

Better hotels may have cots available, but it’s best to check in advance. The same goes for car seats at rental-car agencies or taxi companies. Car seats aren’t legally required, but given the dangers on the roads you should consider bringing your own or buying one; Podgorica's malls all have childrens' stores. Highchairs are the exception rather than the rule at restaurants.

You won’t find often children’s menus but the ubiquity of kid-friendly favourites like pasta, pizza and hot chips (fries) makes mealtime easy. Bakeries (pekara) are also a good choice; most kids love burek, despite – or because of – the crumbly mess it makes. Babysitting services are only offered in the most exclusive five-star hotels.

Disposable nappies (especially Pampers and Huggies) are easy to come by. Infant formula is available in the bigger supermarkets, but it’s a good idea to bring a few days’ supply with you. The main brands are Bebelac and Nestle and you can sometimes find Aptamil as well.

You’ll rarely see anyone breastfeeding in public, but given that this is strongly encouraged here you’re unlikely to strike negative reactions. You're best to bring sufficient breast pads with you, as they're hard to find in Montenegro.

Medical care is generally very good, but language difficulties can present a problem. Every town has a medical centre (Dom zdravlja). They generally have a separate section for children with two waiting rooms: one for kids with potentially contagious infections (sniffles etc) and one dealing with broken bones and the like.

Volunteering

Montenegro isn't high up on international volunteering agencies' agendas, but there are ways you can get involved in local projects.

  • Responsible Travel (www.responsibletravel.com) runs voluntourism projects in Montenegro; in 2016 they offered an expedition for volunteers to take part in a Balkan lynx-monitoring program in Prokletije National Park.
  • Green Home (www.greenhome.co.me) is a Podgorica-based NGO dedicated to sustainable development, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation; contact it for volunteering opportunities in any of the national parks.
  • Drop the good people at Undiscovered Montenegro an email about volunteer work in the Lake Skadar region.
  • While Montenegro doesn't have a national WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) organisation, there are still opportunities to volunteer in the country. See www.wwoofindependents.org for regularly updated lists of hosts and vacancies.

Weights & Measures

  • Weights & Measures The metric system is used.

Women Travellers

Other than a cursory interest shown by men towards solo women travellers, travelling in Montenegro is hassle-free and easy. In Muslim areas, some women wear a headscarf but most don't.

Work

Montenegro doesn’t issue working visas, and working here is a complicated business that involves a forest’s worth of paperwork and bucketloads of patience. A work permit, permission for permanent or temporary residence and a work contract are all required. The Employment Bureau of Montenegro (www.zzzcg.me, in Montenegrin) ostensibly can assist with the process. The www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-montenegro website has more information.