man sailing into the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro
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Sailing to Montenegro from Croatia: A Complete Guide

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Done sailing Croatia for now? Ready to continue exploring the Adriatic coast coastline of Montenegro? Sailing to Montenegro from Croatia is a popular route and entering the country by sea from Croatia is relatively straightforward.

We have compiled all the information you need so you’ll know exactly what to expect when sailing from Croatia into Montenegro.

You can watch our journey sailing to Montenegro from Croatia on YouTube

Sailing to Montenegro From Croatia

Croatia’s 1800-kilometer coastline ends shortly after the famous medieval city of Dubrovnik. As you sail away from the walled port, there is a marked change in geography as the Dinaric Alps meet the sea on Croatia’s southeastern border. This steep and rocky range comes all the way up to the coastline and the winds that whip off it are unpredictable in direction and strength. Although they play havoc with the winds, the mountains provide a beautiful backdrop for the thirty-odd-nautical-mile journey.

The fortress at Herceg Novi in the Bay of Kotor is a popular attraction for those sailing to Montenegro from Croatia.
The fortress at Herceg Novi in the Bay of Kotor is a popular attraction for those sailing to Montenegro from Croatia.

Leaving Croatia behind, as you enter the waters of Montenegro you will need to sail into the mighty Boka, the Bay of Kotor, a beautiful fjord-like bay surrounded by the imposing mountains of the Dinaric Alps. Upon the pebbled beaches at the base of these mountains, you can find a number of seaside resort towns famous amongst tourists from Russia and Eastern Europe. Here, sailors will also find the port authorities and border control agents who will need to check you in.

The Route: Dubrovnik to the Bay of Kotor

The beautiful Bay of Kotor is one of Montenegro's most famous destinations and the first place you'll need to stop when sailing from Croatia to Montenegro
The beautiful Bay of Kotor is one of Montenegro’s most famous destinations and the first place you’ll need to stop when sailing from Croatia to Montenegro

The route between Croatia and Montenegro usually begins and ends in two of the most beautiful destinations in either country. The famed medieval city of Dubrovnik in Croatia and the stunning Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.

The last major port city and tourist attraction in the south of Croatia is Dubrovnik. This is also the last port with marina services where you can take on water, electricity, and shelter in poor weather. Most voyages to Montenegro begin in Dubrovnik or one of the anchorages nearby.

Before leaving Croatia, you will need to visit the port authority and the police to check out of the country. You can do so in either Dubrovnik or the town of Cavtat six nautical miles south of Dubrovnik.

Once checked out, you must sail directly without stopping for the border of Montenegro. Similarly, once you enter the waters of Montenegro you must sail directly, and without stopping, to the port authority and border police to check-in. Should you arrive at a port where the harbor master is closed, you should still visit the immigration office to notify them that you have entered the country.

The first possibility where you can (and in most situations must) check into Montenegro is in the village of Zelenika in the Bay of Kotor.

How to Check Out of Croatia

When leaving Croatia by private sailboat you need to check out your boat at the harbor master’s office and officially exit the country at the office of the border control police.

If you are traveling south to Montenegro you can check out and exit in Dubrovnik at the Port of Gruž or in Cavtat.

In Dubrovnik you can, ostensibly, check out 24/7, 365 days a year. However, we would strongly recommend going during regular office hours to avoid long waits or pissing off the border agents.

In Cavtat, the harbor master and border control only operate during the sailing season between April and October and only between 7 am and 3 pm Monday to Saturday.

Sailing into Cavtat on a cloudy day, the last port to check out of Croatia
Sailing into Cavtat, the last port to check out of Croatia

To check out of Croatia in Cavtat, you will need to either anchor in the bay or dock at the town quay. If you dock at the town quay, someone from the harbourmaster’s office will (likely) assist you with mooring. If so, be prepared to pay $100 kuna ‘docking fee’ for their assistance and use of the dock even though you will probably be there for less than an hour.

We checked out of Cavtat. After sailing into the port, we were waved in by a mariner presumably working with the port authority. We were given directions to the harbor master’s office and border control.

First, you need to visit the harbor master with your Croatian vignette, boat registration, and crew list to check out. Take along other important documents like ownership documents, insurance, and copies of sailing licenses and passports just in case. If you began your journey in Croatia and did not sail into Croatia (like us) you will not have a crew list. In this case, the harbor master will create one and provide three copies. For us, the check out process took less than 5 minutes.

Once the boat is checked out, it is time to head to border control. Simply present your passport and boat documents including Croatian vignette, boat registration, and crew list. When we checked out around midday on a Friday just one bored-looking official was working and he checked us out in under five minutes.

The whole process took us just 15 minutes, and we were on our way to Montenegro. Of course, when it is busier, wait times are sure to increase.

How to Check in to Montenegro

The Marina Lazura in Zelenika
The Marina Lazura in Zelenika

The southernmost point of Croatia is Punta Oštro, this fortified peninsula is also the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, once you sail past you are officially in Montenegro. Head into the Bay of Kotor, otherwise known as the Boka, and head for the village of Zelenika, four nautical miles inside the bay.

If for some reason you can’t check into Zelinika you may be able to (with permission from the authorities) check in at Porto Montenegro, Herceg Novi, or in the Port of Kotor. Checking in at one of these other ports is, however, not recommended if it’s avoidable as these offices have been reported to be either overly fastidious and beauracratic or underhanded, imposing unexpected ‘tourist taxes’, or both.

At Zelenika, you can find a long public jetty where the border control office is located. You can moor at this jetty while you check out.

The large black fenders on the dock will leave black markings on your boat. We recommend making sure you put out plenty of fenders to avoid having to clean your boat later.

First, you’ll need to visit the harbor master which can be found to the left of the jetty along the shore in an old stone house. It’s a bit hard to spot as there isn’t any signage but it’s about 100 meters northeast of the border control office and the dock.

To check in, you will need to provide the harbourmaster with the boat registration, crew list, proof of insurance, boat license, and passports of the crew. It is best to have copies of these documents printed in advance, however, the harbourmaster’s office does have wifi available if you need to email one of the documents to the harbourmaster.

The cost to enter Montenegro and obtain a vignette depends upon the length of stay and the size of your vessel. We paid €52 for an eight-meter sailboat for 30 days.

After registering the boat in Montenegro, you will need to head back to the dock to be checked in by the border control agent. The border control agent will request to see the boat registration, the new vignette, crew list, and the passports of all crew members.

Now you are checked in and free to sail Montenegro.

More Tips and FAQs for Sailing to Montenegro from Croatia

A woman on a sailboat sailing into the Bay of Kotor
Sailing into the Bay of Kotor

Is Montenegro Good for Sailing?

Montenegro shares with Croatia a similar climate, culture, and similarly beautiful villages and wild places to explore, as such Montenegro is fantastic for a sailing adventure. Montenegro has an established sailing culture, even if it is not quite as developed as Croatia, you will find plenty of marinas and other services for boating. Whether you have your own sailboat or are renting a sailboat for a week or two, Montenegro ticks all the boxes.

Unlike Croatia, you do not have the same archipelago providing shelter from the weather in any given direction. You also have to contend with mountains that tend to create gusty and unpredictable wind patterns regularly. On the upside, prices in Montenegro are a little bit cheaper than in Croatia.

How Far Is It to Sail from Croatia to Montenegro?

Sailing to Montenegro from Croatia is a lengthy sail in a small sailboat as you cannot stop between check in and check out ports
Sailing to Montenegro from Croatia is a lengthy sail in a small sailboat as you cannot stop between check in and check out ports

It is thirty-odd nautical miles between the ports of Dubrovnik and Zelinka. It is pretty much a straight shot southeast along the shoreline from Dubrovnik to the entrance of the Bay of Kotor. The cliffs and mountains that dominate the coastline at the bottom of Croatia and the top of Montenegro create unpredictable wind patterns that shift and gust. If you plan to sail, you may want to sail offshore first.

How to Get a Sim Card in Montenegro?

You can easily get a tourist data sim in Montenegro from a newsstand or kiosk. Take your passport as the agent will be required to activate the sim before you can use it.

Do not purchase a sim card from the supermarket, our experience was that they were unable/unwilling to activate it.

If you arrive in Zelenika, you can also get a tourist sim card from a nearby the border control office (do not get a sim from the supermarket as they appear to be unable/unwilling to activate it). The kiosk has a range of sims from different providers and different packages available. We paid €10 for 500GB for 15 days with mtel*.

Depending on where you are sailing, different carriers may offer better service in your region of interest. Check out the coverage map at Nperf to get an idea of carrier coverage. The staff at the kiosk will need to activate the sim, and they will need your passport to do that. If they don’t activate the sim it won’t work.

On mtel, you can check your data balance by dialing *108#

Where Can I Stock Up on Groceries in Montenegro?

If arriving in Montenegro from Croatia in Zelenika, you can stock up on groceries at the iDea Super supermarket, located behind the border control office, it is one of the better supermarkets in the region, although it still does not have the variety of larger Croatian supermarkets so be sure to grab anything unusual before you arrive.

Where Can I Buy a Montenegrin Courtesy Flag?

There is a marine supply store nearby the border office, next door the iDea Super supermarket, that sells flags.

Where to Anchor or Moor when You First Arrive in Montenegro

There is an anchorage to the west of the jetty where you checked in. It is amongst a field of mooring buoys and other boats have reported being moved on when they have tried to use these buoys in the past. Nevertheless, the seafloor is mud and holds well, even in the gusty conditions of Zelenika.

Alternatively, the nearby Marina Lazure is beautiful and modern and the staff is very helpful.

Both options provide a good base to explore the village of Zelenika and the nearby seaside town of Herceg Novi.

General Information for Traveling in Montenegro

Climate in Montenegro

The coast of Montenegro enjoys a Mediterranian climate with warm summers that average between 23 and 24 degrees and cool winters when the average temperature dips below 10 degrees.

Water temperature in Montenegro ranges from 15 degrees Celsius in winter to 25 degrees in summer.

The coast experiences a rainy season between September to April when periods of heavy rain are common.

Language(s) of Montenegro

The official language in Montenegro is Montenegrin. Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Albanian languages are officially used too. English is less common in Montenegro than in Croatia, while most people in the tourism or hospitality industries speak some English, many… do not. Many people speak Russian, and there is a lot of signage in Russian, especially in tourist areas.

The Cyrillic and Latin alphabet are equally used.

Helpful Phrases in Montenegrin

  • Hello: Dobar Dan / Zdravo
  • Thanks: Hvala
  • I don’t understand: Ne razumijem
  • Goodbye: Doviđenja

Credit Cards and Currency in Montenegro

The currency used in Montenegro is EURO (€).

There are plenty of ATMs in villages, towns and tourist centers.

Credit cards: Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Diners.

Time zone in Montenegro

Montenegro is in the Central European time zone (GMT + 1).

On the last Saturday in March, the time zone switches to GMT + 2, until the last Sunday in October.

Drinking-Water in Montenegro

Tap water is safe for drinking in the entire country.

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Hopefully, you have found some useful information about sailing to Montenegro from Croatia, but if you have any questions or comments please let us know below!

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