Though there are two airports in Montenegro, there are no domestic flights available within the country.
Cyclists are a rare species even in the cities and there are no special bike lanes on the roads. Don’t expect drivers to be considerate; wherever possible, try to get off the main roads. The wearing of helmets is not compulsory.
However, the outlook for cyclists isn’t as grim as it sounds. The National Tourism Organisation has developed a series of wilderness mountain-biking trails, making a two-wheeled tour of Montenegro an excellent proposition. As most of the country is mountainous, you’ll have to be exceedingly fit to attempt it.
The key to a successful bike trip is to travel light, and don’t overdo it on the first few days. Even for the shortest and most basic trip, it’s worth carrying the tools necessary for repairing a puncture. You might want to consider packing spare brake and gear cables, spanners, Allen keys, spare spokes and strong adhesive tape. At the risk of stating the obvious, these won't be much use unless you know what to do with them. Maintenance is also important: check over your bike thoroughly each morning and again at night when the day’s touring is over. Take a good lock and always use it when you leave your bike unattended.
A seasoned cyclist can average about 80km a day, but this depends on the terrain and how much weight is being carried. Again, don’t overdo it – there’s no point burning yourself out during the initial stages.
The cycling enthusiasts at Montenegro Bed and Bike (www.bedandbike.me) can help with trails, bike rental and accommodation ideas.
There are no regular ferry services within Montenegro, but taxi boats are a common sight during summer. They can be hailed from the shore for a short trip along the coast or to one of the islands. They’re harder to find outside the high season; look for them at the marinas. Some boats advertise set cruises, but normally they operate on an ad hoc basis.
The local bus network is extensive and reliable. Buses are usually comfortable and air-conditioned; they’re rarely full.
Up-to-date timetable information and online booking can be found on www.busticket4.me. It’s usually not difficult to find information on services and prices from the bus station. Most have timetables prominently displayed. As with many service-industry types in Montenegro, some station staff are more helpful than others. Where English isn’t spoken, they’ll usually write down the price and time of the bus for you.
It’s a bit cheaper to buy your ticket on the bus rather than at the station, but a station-bought ticket theoretically guarantees you a seat. Reservations are only worthwhile for international buses, at holiday times, or where long-distance journeys are infrequent. Luggage carried below is charged at €1 per piece.
Smoking is forbidden on buses and this rule is generally enforced. The standard of driving is no better or worse than that of anyone else on the roads.
Car & Motorcycle
Independent travel by car or motorcycle is an ideal way to gad about and discover the country; some of the drives are breathtakingly beautiful. Traffic police are everywhere, so stick to speed limits and carry an International Driving Permit.
Allow more time than you’d expect for the distances involved as the terrain will slow you down. You’ll rarely get up to 60km/h on the Bay of Kotor road, for instance. The standard of roads is generally fair with conditions worsening in rural areas, especially in winter and after bad weather. A particularly notorious road is the Podgorica–Belgrade highway as it passes through the Morača Canyon, which is often made dangerous by bad conditions and high traffic. It’s a good idea to drive defensively and treat everyone else on the road as a lunatic – when they get behind the wheel, many of them are. That said, no matter how much they toot at you or overtake on blind corners, you should avoid confrontation.
The only toll in Montenegro is the Sozina tunnel between Lake Skadar and the sea (€3.50 per car).
The Automobile Association of Montenegro (Auto Moto Savez Crne Gore; www.amscg.org, 020-9807) offers roadside assistance, towing and repairs. The UK Automobile Association (www.theaa.com) has excellent information on its website, with specific driving advice for Montenegro.
Bring Your Own Vehicle
As long as you have registration/ownership papers with you and valid insurance cover, there should be no problem driving your car into Montenegro. If your vehicle has obvious signs of damage, the border guards should provide you with a certificate that must be produced upon leaving to prove that the damage didn’t occur inside the country.
It’s recommended that you arrange an International Driving Permit from your home country before the trip. Although many rental companies will hire out a car based on your foreign driver’s licence, there’s no assurance that the traffic police will accept it and it doesn’t pay to give them any excuse to fine you.
Fuel & Spare Parts
Filling up is no problem in any medium-sized town, but don’t leave it until the last drop. There are few late-night petrol stations. Diesel, unleaded 95 and 98 octane are easy to find. Spare parts for major makes will be no problem in the cities, and mechanics are available everywhere for simple repairs.
It’s not difficult to hire a car in the bigger towns. Budva, in particular, is overflowing with options. The major European car-hire companies have a presence in various centres including the airports, but the local alternatives are often cheaper. If you're flying into Dubrovnik, it will certainly be more convenient to arrange to collect your car at the airport, but this will need to be balanced against the (albeit minor) risk of vandalism against cars with Croatian plates in Montenegro.
Alamo (www.alamo.com) Pick up from Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik airports.
Avis (www.avisworld.com) Pick up from Budva or Bar, or Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik airports.
Europcar (www.europcar.com) Pick up from Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik airports.
Hertz (www.hertz.me) Pick up from Podgorica or Budva, or Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik airports.
In Montenegro (www.inmontenegro.com) Pick up from Herceg Novi, or Tivat, Podgorica or Dubrovnik airports.
Meridian Rentacar (www.meridian-rentacar.com) A reliable local option with offices in Budva, Podgorica and Bar, and Tivat and Podgorica airports; one-day hire starts from €30.
National (www.nationalcar.com) Pick up from Podgorica, or Tivat, Podgorica or Dubrovnik airports.
Sixt (www.sixt.com) Pick up from Herceg Novi, Tivat, Budva, Podgorica or Bar, or Podgorica, Tivat or Dubrovnik airports.
Third-party insurance is compulsory and you’ll need to be able to prove you have it in order to bring a car into Montenegro. You should get your insurer to issue a Green Card (which may cost extra), an internationally recognised proof of insurance, and check that it lists all the countries you intend to visit. You’ll need this in the event of an accident outside the country where the vehicle is insured. The European Accident Statement (known as the ‘Constat Amiable’ in France) is available from your insurance company and is copied so that each party at an accident can record information for insurance purposes. The Association of British Insurers (www.abi.org.uk) has more details. Never sign accident statements you cannot understand or read – insist on a translation and sign that only if it’s acceptable.
Some insurance packages (particularly those covering rental cars) do not include all European countries and Montenegro is often one of those excluded – make sure you check this before you rent your car. When you’re renting a car, ensure you check all aspects of the insurance offered, including the excess (you may wish to pay extra to reduce it) and rules regarding where you may or may not drive it (on dirt roads, for example).
Local parking habits are quite carefree, so it’s possible you can be blocked in by someone double-parking next to you. Sometimes parking that looks illegal (eg on footpaths) is actually permitted.
- As in the rest of continental Europe, people drive on the right-hand side of the road and overtake on the left. Keep right except when overtaking, and use your indicators for any change of lane and when pulling away from the kerb.
- School buses can’t be overtaken when they stop for passengers to board or alight.
- Vehicles entering a roundabout have right of way.
- Standard international road signs are used.
- You are required by law to wear a seatbelt (including in the back seat if they’re fitted), drive with dipped headlights on (even during the day) and wear a helmet on a motorbike.
- Children’s car seats aren’t compulsory but kids under 12 and intoxicated passengers are not allowed in the front seat.
- Using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, although plenty of people do it anyway.
- Driving barefoot is a no-no.
- Penalties for drink-driving are severe and could result in jail time. The legal limit is 0.03% of alcohol in your bloodstream. Police can issue an on-the-spot fine but cannot collect payment.
- Standard speed limits are 50km/h in built-up areas, 80km/h outside built-up areas and 100km/h on certain roads. Often the limit will change several times on a single stretch of the road because of the mountainous conditions. Excessive speeding (30km over the limit) could lead to your driver’s licence being temporarily confiscated.
- Cars must carry a set of replacement bulbs, a first-aid kit, a warning triangle and a reflective jacket.
- If you’re involved in an accident resulting in major injury or material damage to your or another vehicle, you’re legally obliged to report it to the police.
Hitching is never entirely safe but it is a common practice in Montenegro. Wherever you are, there’s always a risk when you catch a ride with strangers. It’s safer to travel in pairs and to let someone know where you’re planning to go. Once you’ve flagged down a vehicle, it’s safer if you sit next to a door you can open. Ask the driver where they are going before you say where you are going. Trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable about getting in, and get out at the first sign of trouble.
Most Montenegrin towns, even Podgorica, are small enough to be travelled by foot. Podgorica is the only city to have a useful local bus network, costing 80c per trip. Taxis are easily found in most towns. If they’re not metered, be sure to agree on a fare in advance. Some Budva taxis have their meters set at extortionate rates, so ask to be let out if you suspect something's amiss.
Montenegro Railways (Željeznički prevoz Crne Gore; www.zpcg.me) has limited services heading north from Bar and crossing the country before disappearing into Serbia; useful stops include Virpazar, Podgorica, Kolašin, Mojkovac and Bijelo Polje. A second line heads northwest from Podgorica to Danilovgrad and Nikšić.
The trains are old and can be hot in summer, but they’re priced accordingly and the route through the mountains is spectacular. Apart from a derailment in 2006 and a crash in 2012, the trains are generally a safe option.