Europe · Planning

10 day roadtrip itinerary through Montenegro in autumn

As 2022 progressed and managed to throw some punches left and right in my personal life it became clear to me that international travel wouldn’t be on the agenda this year. With the corona virus in the back of my mind as well,, I figured it would be a safer choice to stay closer to home and opt for a cheaper holiday destination.

For a while now I’d been interested in the Balkans but up until now I’d never been able to make a decision on what country I’d pick out of all of them. When a friend of mine visited Montenegro this summer, I felt an overwhelming urge to head in the same direction. When Ryanair then tempted me with 33 euro return tickets, the choice was easily made. Montenegro, here we come!

To make going from A to B a lot easier, we got ourselves a rental car from Hertz, through AutoEurope. If you want to visit this country, a car is a definite must. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of public transportation available and the freedom of your own car is something I wouldn’t want to give up. I’ll add another more elaborate post on our rental experience in Montenegro later and will mark the places that I’ll write more about with a * in the rest of this post.

Something important to bear in mind is that Montenegro is not a part of the EU. So if you’re coming from Western Europe, you’ll have to pass border control. They do however use the Euro currency. Also your phone bill might explode if you keep using your own provider. It’s a better choice to buy a local sim card upon arrival. In the airport or even in the supermarkets you can easily find one. We got the One sim card with 1GB of data for 10 euros.

So, rental car and local sim picked up, and you’re ready to go! Before departure we hadn’t booked a single hotel. We wanted to be able to stay longer in places that we loved and move on quicker if needed. With the app booking a hotel was always easy enough. Perks of traveling in the off season!

Our initial plan for the itinerary was to head north first, as the first few days of our trip had good weather predictions, and then return back along the coast of Montenegro to relax the last few days. This way we be certain of the sunshine in the mountains. But because I was stupid enough to end up in the ER two days before departure, we had to change things a bit. It was only a bruised leg, but thank god no hotels were booked beforehand so we had some freedom to adapt our plans. Instead of heading for the mountains – and the more physical part of our trip – first, we decided to take things slow along the coast to start. This way my leg would have more time to heal and see what physical activity it could take. Fortunately it quickly looked like I’d had more of a scare than anything else and I only had to be a bit more careful with putting my full weight on that leg. Phew!

It was after dark when we arrived in Podgorica Airport, so that evening nothing was planned except making it to our stay for the night. For the first full day of our trip; we explored Skadar Lake*. A beautiful, big lake on the border of Montenegro and Albania.

By noon we were on our way to Petrovac,where we enjoyed our lunch before continuing our route to Sveti Stefan. This town is situated on an island and often one of the first pictures coming up when you google Montenegro. It houses a resort so can’t be visited. It’s mostly the view on the island that’s interesting because other than that, it’s not much to write home about. So we made it to Budva sooner than expected. We had the late afternoon and evening to explore the medieval town of Budva.

The next morning we were already on our way, to the Lovcen National Park*. In the afternoon we then continued to Kotor with beautiful views over the bay before exploring the medieval town.

A visit to St. John’s Fortress* can’t be missed when in Kotor so that filled up the morning of our fourth day pretty quickly. We had lunch on our way to Perast, where we then too a little boat to the island Our Lady of the Rocks for five euros each. The island itself was very small and not that much, but the view on Perast from the boat was definitely worth it.

Our day ended in Herceg Novi, another coastal village with a medieval town. After a while they all look a bit the same but the ambiance is still pretty nice and relaxing.

On day five we had a bit of driving ahead of us. We’d go all the way up north, to Durmitor National Park. There we’d planned to stay a while. That same day we still explored the Black Lake, also known as Crno Jezero. Day six started by driving the south part of the Durmitor Ring, through the Piva Canyon and to Bosnia and Herzegovina to go rafting the Tara River*. In the evening we drove back to Zabljak (in Dumitor National Park) via the north part of the Durmitor Ring.

The next day was the day I had been looking forward to the most. The hike to Bobotov Kuk*, the (second) highest point in Montenegro. A beautiful day in nature.

The second week kicked off with a bang, with a zipline over the Tara Canyon, the deepest Canyon in Europe. Something that sounded like a lot of fun but in the end was pretty touristic and rushed. Driving through the Tara Canyon in a gorgeous scenery, we made our way to the east of the country. But not without a stop in Biogradska Gora, one of the only remaining primeval forests in Europe. A short hike around the lake and a bit off the path to enjoy some peace and quiet.

We arrived at the Prokletije National Park in the evening, after a few hours of driving. And although my legs were still sore from Bobotov Kuk, I couldn’t refrain from starting another hike the next day; the Three Peaks*. Another absolutely stunning hike! Worth every ache and drop of sweat!

Our last full day in Montenegro was mostly spent driving back to the capital city Podgorica. On our way we made a – pretty long – detour for one last stop; Bukuminsko Jezero. A small lake with with a gorgeous backdrop of mountains. The last mountains of our trip. Snif.

In Podgorica itself we had planned to stop, but couldn’t immediately find a place to park our car. Add to that that we didn’t really find any points of interests to visit, so instead we just continued to our airport hotel to relax and enjoy the last evening of our holiday. We had an early flight the next morning, so time to rearrange the luggage, return the rental car – after a nice clean – and savor one last meal.

The end of an a-ma-zing roadtrip through a country that surprised me more than once. My expectations had been high due to the stunning pictures I’d already seen while doing research, but I was still blown away by the natural beauty of Montenegro. It also helps that we had ten days of good weather. Lucky us! Definitely one of my favorite roadtrips ever, so I’m very much looking forward to telling you all more about my favorite parts of this trip!

And once again, I’ve got it all written up in a tidy little schedule so it’s easier to have an overview:

Day 1: Flight Brussels > Podgorica + drive to Skadar Lake
Day 2: Skadar Lake cruise + Petrovac + Sveti Stefan + Budva
Day 3: Lovcen National Park + Kotor
Day 4: Kotor + Perast + Herceg Novi
Day 5: Drive to Durmitor National Park + Crno Jezero
Day 6: Durmitor Ring – Piva Canyon – Tara Canyon Rafting
Day 7: Bobotov Kuk hike
Day 8: Tara Canyon + Biogradska Gora + drive to Prokletije Mountains
Day 9: Three Peaks Hike
Day 10: Bukuminsko Jezero + Drive back to Podgorica
Day 11: Flight Podgorica > Brussels

So, that’s it once again. I hope this might be helpful to get you on your way to plan your own roadtrip. And if it’s not enough, don’t hesitate to contact me if you need some help or extra information.

♥ Ellen


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