Montenegro holds a unique position among the Mediterranean countries. It’s small yet extremely rich in sights and natural drama – and very affordable to travel around at that. Public transport is relatively good, yet the best way to explore this compact country is with a rental car so that you can self-drive. In this post, experts from the local car rental agency Sitngo share their favorite road trip itineraries in Montenegro.
1. The Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska)
The drive along the shore of the Kotor Bay is one of the most enticing and scenic routes in the whole Mediterranean. It has everything: magnificent views of the sea and mountains, medieval towns, delicious food, and even ancient mosaics.
The road you’ll take is called Jadranska Magistrala (E80/E65), or the Mediterranean Highway. It’s a very good and fast road, but traffic can be very heavy in high season. You can still enjoy the trip even in summer, but April, May and September are much better.
You can start the drive from any of the popular locations around the bay, such as Kotor, Herceg Novi, or even Tivat airport. If you want to make this a round trip, you can use the car ferry at Lepetane. For the fullest possible experience, start from the airport in Tivat and end in Herceg Novi – a charming town with few tourists. By the way, when renting a car from Sitngo you’ll get a green card for free, so you’ll be able to proceed from Herceg Novi to Croatia. This is a great opportunity to combine your tour of Montenegro with a visit to Dubrovnik.
The medieval city of Kotor is the star attraction of this road trip. Its walls, churches and atmospheric alleys can occupy several hours of your time, and you might even break your journey here for the night. Other points of interest include Perast with its noble palaces, Risan and its exquisite Roman mosaics, and the ultra-luxurious new marina of Porto Montenegro. However, arguably it’s the incredible sea vistas that steal the show.
2. Kotor – Lovcen Mausoleum – Cetinje
This itinerary takes you from the sea high into the mountains and to the old royal capital of Cetinje. The views are among the best in all of the Balkans, and the road isn’t nearly as treacherous as some say. You’ll start from Kotor, taking first P22 and then P1. The road climbs quickly along 25 hairpin bends, with more spectacular panoramas opening up on every turn. It’s quite narrow, so be ready to reverse a bit if a tour bus comes your way. There are a few points where you can safely stop to take pictures.
Just after Zanjev Do, the road splits. Turn right for Lovcen and negotiate a much smaller (but equally beautiful) mountain road that leads into the heart of the Lovcen national park. Make sure to take a sweater: it’s much colder up there. On top of mount Lovcen you’ll find the mausoleum of the last ruler of independent Montenegro. From the viewing platform next to the mausoleum, you’ll get magnificent vistas across the Dinaric Alps.
From this point, you can either retrace your steps to Kotor or proceed to Cetinje. There, you’ll find several ancient churches and a quiet, mysterious atmosphere that is worlds away from the hubbub of the coast.
3. The canyons of Moraca and Tara
Some of the deepest gorges and most dramatic mountain landscapes in Europe await you on this amazing drive. Few tourists head this way, so you can be blissfully alone.
You can complete this fantastic road trip in one extremely long day (sunrise to sunset in summer). But to get the most out of it, break your journey at a farmstay.
The best place to start is the capital, Podgorica. First, E80 will lead you into the 1200 feet-deep Moraca canyon. Be very careful on this road: Montenegrins are reckless drivers.
At the end of the canyon, you can visit Moraca monastery with its very old frescoes. After a well-deserved break, proceed first to Kolasin and then to Andrijevica. This part of the itinerary is just as jaw-droppingly beautiful as the first one, with Jurassic Park-like peaks on the Albanian border as the backdrop.
Once you reach Mojkovac, take P4 to reach the Tara canyon with its iconic bridge. Staying on the same side of the bridge, proceed to Zabljak and then to Pluzine. This is quite simply the most impressive road in the country, passing along the canyon of Piva and through Durmitor national park. Try to allocate some time for hiking in Durmitor after this – it’s a spectacular area, worthy of your time even if you’ve hiked in other parts of the Alps.
Some tourists are worried about renting a car in Montenegro. There are all sorts of stories about crazy local drivers, and rough, unpassable roads. None of this is true, though. The roads are generally good, and the drivers aren’t any worse than in any other part of the Balkans. Have some courage and go for it: a road trip through Montenegro will become one of the most memorable trips of your life.