Is Montenegro worth visiting?
Don’t let its small size fool you Montenegro packs some punch. Nestled in the mountainous southwest of the Balkan Peninsula, along a scenic slice of Adriatic coastline, Montenegro is a country that beckons travelers with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and unique cultural blend.
Known for its picturesque and historic towns, rugged mountains, and pristine beaches, Montenegro offers a diverse array of experiences for those seeking adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion. However, as Montenegro surges in popularity, some wrinkles have emerged in the fledgling tourism industry here.
We delve into the pros and cons of visiting this European gem to help you decide whether Montenegro should be your next travel destination.
Is Montenegro Worth Visiting?
Yes, we think so.
We have spent three months traveling in Montenegro and found it very rewarding. However, our journey has not been without its challenges.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of visiting Montenegro so you can decide if Montenegro is worth visiting.
Pros of Visiting Montenegro
First, let’s outline why we think Montenegro should be on your travel bucket list.
+ Breathtaking Scenic Views
It is hard not to be moved by the beauty of this small country. Its rugged coastline hemmed by the rocky black mountains that fall into the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea creates some of the most scenic stretches of the Adriatic. The Bay of Kotor, in particular, is one of the highlights that draws visitors from around the world to marvel at its beauty.
But Montenegro’s beauty doesn’t end at its coastline. The interior of Montenegro is just as wild and rugged as the coastline with destinations such as Durmitor National Park, part of the Dinaric Alps, and Skadar National Park, offering an incredible array of breathtaking landscapes including mountains, canyons, rivers, and lakes.
These pristine natural landscapes are a playground for avid hikers and adventure enthusiasts.
Fun fact: The Bay of Kotor, also known as the Boka, is not actually a fjord but rather a river canyon that has collapsed and been submerged by the Adriatic Sea!
+ Historic Medieval Towns and Fortresses
If you love the old-world medieval charm of destinations like Dubrovnik, then visiting Montenegro should be high on your agenda. Montenegro is dotted with beautifully preserved medieval towns, fortresses, walls, and churches.
Along the coast, in particular, medieval towns complete with stone walls, and ancient castles can be found everywhere. Kotor, Perast, and Budva’s old town, Sveti Stefan are some of the most famous but it seems that every settlement has at least some remnants of Montenegro’s long history.
History buffs will also find fortresses and monasteries scattered throughout the hidden in the hills and mountains of Montenegro’s interior.
+ Exciting Adventure Sports
If you are an adventurer or a thrill seeker, Montenegro is a wonderful place to visit. Despite being a small country, the diverse terrain lends itself to a wild array of adventure sports. Hiking, white water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, skiing, ziplining, and many more are possible.
Explore the Tara River Canyon, one of the deepest river canyons in Europe, on an epic one-day, two-day, or three-day white water rafting tour.
Soar over the dramatic coastline near Budva on a paragliding adventure.
Hike the 192-kilometer Peaks of the Balkans Trail through Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo!
Scale one of the many rock climbing routes in Smokovac outside of Podgorica.
Try your hand at canyoning in Nevidio Canyon.
The options for adventure sports in Montenegro go on and on!
+ Spectacular Sailing
When you think of a sailing destination in Mediterranean Europe, you likely think immediately of Greece and Croatia with their multitude of islands and famous yacht weeks, but Montenegro is slowly but surely becoming a world-class sailing destination. But what makes Montenegro such a great place to sail?
Beyond the breathtaking scenic views and alluring coastal medieval towns that we already mentioned, Montenegro’s sailing amenities are top-notch. There are a multitude of amazing marinas in Montenegro and spectacular anchorages. Plus, you can visit almost all of the coastline of Montenegro in a single week!
Perhaps our favorite part of sailing in Montenegro is that there are so few people sailing here when compared to Croatia and Greece.
If you haven’t ever considered Montenegro for a sailing holiday, now is the time before the word is out!
Compared to many European destinations, Montenegro remains relatively affordable, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers. While there are many businesses and destinations in Montenegro that have positioned themselves for the luxury market, many places remain affordable.
Local food and drink are cheap, as is accommodation in Airbnbs or local guest houses. Internet and transport are generally affordable too.
+ Pristine Beaches
Montenegro’s beaches are some of the prettiest in the Mediterranean, they are also some of the best preserved and protected. With everything from secluded coves to bustling beach towns, to exclusive luxury resorts with private beaches, Montenegro has something to suit any preference.
Be aware that because of the terrain here, not all the coastline has accessible beaches and much of the coast is rocky, mountainous, or both.
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Cons of Visiting Montenegro
While there are many great reasons to visit Montenegro, there are also a few things you may want to consider before you start packing your bags.
– Limited Infrastructure:
While Montenegro has been making efforts to improve its infrastructure, there are still some areas, particularly in rural and less touristy regions, where roads, public transportation, and amenities might be less developed. In some popular areas, infrastructure has failed to keep pace with tourism growth which leads to issues in the busy summer months.
On the other hand, some services such as mobile internet are widely available and very affordable.
Montenegro, like many popular European tourist destinations, suffers from over-tourism, especially in July and August. Crowds in more popular destinations are starting to overwhelm the existing infrastructure, and can definitely detract from the luster of Montenegro’s once-undiscovered gems.
Issues like traffic, pollution, overdevelopment, overcrowding, and price gouging are emerging in some of the most popular areas of Montenegro. Tourist destinations such as the Bay of Kotor and Budva are impacted the most by over-tourism.
A combination of overcrowding, the natural terrain, and lack of infrastructure can lead to traffic congestion in Montenegro. Reaching popular destinations, or driving across borders can become whole-day events despite the country only being a few hundred kilometers long.
– Environmental Concerns
The surge in tourism has raised concerns about the environmental impact on Montenegro’s fragile ecosystems.
Particularly in places like Budva, Bar, and the Bay of Kotor. The Boka in particular has been so heavily crowded by tourists and cruise ships over the last few years that it is at risk of losing its UNESCO status. Sustainable travel practices are essential to help preserve the country’s natural beauty.
– Montenegrian Food
This might be a personal preference but for us Montenegrian food simply is not as exciting and delicious as some other Mediterranean destinations such as Greece or Italy.
Montenegrin staples like burek, cevapi, cured meats, and cheeses are certainly delicious but these heavy, meat-based dishes can become repetitive after a while.
One exception to this is the fresh seafood available on the coast is both delicious and affordable.
– Limited Accessibility to Remote Areas
Some of Montenegro’s most pristine natural landscapes, such as those in the northern mountains, might be challenging to reach without a private vehicle or guided tour.
– Cultural Differences
One of the differences we have noticed traveling Montenegro for three months is the lack of a service mentality. As a default, the service mentality doesn’t exist here. In high-end restaurants or accommodations, it may have been adopted, but in most places, it is not a thing.
This can be a little bit jarring if you come from a place where it is highly valued. Just keep in mind that most service staff and people, in general, may not feel at all obligated to treat you with the same level of enthusiasm or sympathy that you might be accustomed to back home.
So, Is Montenegro Worth Visiting?
We can’t make that decision for you, but we think that it is. For those who appreciate stunning landscapes, cultural diversity, and the thrill of exploring lesser-known destinations, Montenegro undoubtedly offers a wealth of unforgettable experiences.
However, potential visitors should be aware of the seasonal crowds in the most popular destinations, cultural differences, and varying levels of infrastructure as they plan their journey. By weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision and embark on a journey that will likely leave you captivated by the beauty and charm of this unsung Adriatic jewel.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you answer the question, is Montenegro worth visiting? But if you have another question or comment please leave it below.
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