Montenegro Travel Guide
Montenegro was originally settled by the Illyrians, followed by Romans and Slav colonies, then incorporated into the Serbian Empire in the 15th century before it was brought under Ottoman rule. Montenegrins refused to accept their Turkish rulers and in the 17th century rebelled numerous times, culminating with the Great Turkish War in which the Ottomans were defeated at the end of the century, making Montenegro the only country to defeat Turkish forces and become independent in 1878. The republic was succeeded to the Austro-Hungarian Empire when it was invaded in 1916 and King Nikola I and his government went into exile. In 1918, an Assembly in Podgorica deposed Nikola I and declared Montenegro part of the new ‘Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’ under a Serbian King, a move that was resisted by some Montenegrins. The new state was renamed the ‘Kingdom of Yugoslavia’ in 1929. During World War II, Montenegro fell under the control of the Italians following the Axis powers’ invasion of Yugoslavia. The communist leader of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz (Tito), granted Montenegro status as a republic in 1945 along with Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Montenegro remained an ally of Serbia in the early 1990s, fighting in Croatia and Bosnia and involved in the siege of Dubrovnik. When the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke up in 1992, Montenegro and Serbia declared themselves a new state under the same name, but Montenegro later distanced itself from Serbia and criticised its leader Slobodan Milosevic for his policies and his army’s actions in Kosovo in 1998-1999. In 2002 the two countries’ union loosened under a new agreement and in 2006 Montenegro held a referendum which resulted in moving towards independence. Serbia did not obstruct the ruling, confirming its own independence and declaring the union of Serbia and Montenegro ended shortly thereafter. Montenegro is now fully independent for the first time since 1916, and became the 192nd member of the UN on 28 June 2006.
Geography and weather
The independent state of Montenegro is a small mountainous region located on the Adriatic coast north of Albania, bordering Bosnia & Herzegovina to the west, Serbia to the east and Albania to the south in Eastern Europe. Its small Adriatic coastline harbors the main ports of Bar and those in the Gulf of Kotor. Montenegro has a Mediterranean climate on the coast, with alpine conditions towards the mountains on the borders with Serbia and Albania. The average summer coastal temperature is 27°C.
Our tours mostly operate from late spring (April/May) to early Autumn (in Eastern Europe) when the weather is generally at its best. Temperatures will vary but will still be cool in April/May and again in October. The warmest months tend to be July/August. The further south you are the higher the average temperatures. You can expect snow from December to late March.
A valid passport is required for entry. Most nationalities do not require a visa. However visa regulations change frequently so it is important you consult with the embassy prior to travelling to ensure you have the correct visas. In some cases you will be crossing the borders on overnight trains and without the correct visa for your nationality you will not be allowed to enter the country and will be asked to disembark the train. It is the responsibility of the traveller to obtain all correct visas needed prior to departure.
Montenegro is in the euro zone. You should use official exchange offices and banks only. Some ATMs accept Visa or MasterCard, but few accept international debit cards. Traveler’s cheques can often be difficult to exchange. Carrying cash is advisable and may be necessary for most payments.
It is customary to give round up the taxi fare and leave an extra €1-2 extra at restaurants. (If you are unsure your tour leader will advise a suitable amount). Tipping guides at the end of excursions is always appreciated and your tour leader will advise you on the amount for this.
Generally people find Eastern Europe to be safe and feel confident wandering alone during the day. However if you are unfamiliar with an area it is recommended that you exercise more caution at night and taxi taxis rather than walk, especially if you are a lone female traveler. In some cities bag snatching can occur so always keep a firm hand/eye on your personal items.
Petty theft, especially in Riga, is becoming increasingly common. If there is a safe available in your hotel it is recommended you use it.
Local food and drink
The cuisine in Montenegro has a distinctly Italian influence, so keep an eye out for national specialties such as lamb or kid’s meat, pizza, polenta, stuffed capsicums, cheese and sour cream and Vienna-style bread, clear fish soup, and prsuta (smoked ham) and steak from a region in Montenegro called Durmitor. Turkish influences can be found in moussaka (a baked aubergine and mince dish) and ćevapi (skinless sausages or meatballs served with onions, peppers and bread). Other specialties include gibanica (thinly layered pastry, eggs and feta cheese, burek (a pastry layered with cheese or meat), and ajvar (a relish made of roasted red peppers, aubergine and garlic). Fresh fish such as carp, trout and eel come from the Skadar Lake. Vegetables such as chicory, asparagus, leeks, fennel and nettles are common to many dishes.
National drinks you may wish to try are plum brandy (slivovica), nikšicko beer, lozova rakija (grape brandy) and wine. Please note that most places serving alcohol close by 10pm.
All drinks such as bottled water or soft drinks are at your own expense at all times and are fairly inexpensive. Alcoholic drinks vary in price, with wine and beer generally being the cheapest options. The legal drinking age is 18.
Strict vegetarians might struggle as chicken and fish are classed as vegetarian food and vegetable soups are likely to be flavoured with smoked ham.
The time difference in Montenegro is GMT/UTC + 1.
220 volts / 50 Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are in use.