Travel and visas in Montenegro

Visas

Citizens of EU countries, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, and most countries of eastern Europe do not need visas for single-entry 90-day visits (for citizens of Russia, Albania and Ukraine the limit is 30 days). After the UK leaves the European Union, documentation requirements for UK citizens may change. Check before travelling.

It is now routine and hassle-free to make side trips without visas to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Kosovo.

Getting there and away

By air

The national carrier, Montenegro Airlines, folded in 2020 and was replaced by Air Montenegro in 2021. However, they do not currently operate flights to the UK, though this may change. Easyjet has flights from both London Gatwick and Manchester to Tivat – all these flights are seasonal, operating April to October. Flights take 3 hours.

Ryanair flies year-round from London Stansted to Podgorica. Note that airlines can, and do, change their schedules at short notice, as well as introduce new routings, so do check beforehand.

By sea

The one international ferry line is that which links Bar with Bari in Italy, with ferries operated by the Croatian company Jadrolinja. There are typically one or two sailings per day depending upon the season. These generally leave port (at both ends) between 21.00 and 23.00, arriving the next morning after an early breakfast (around 07.00–08.00).

One-way passenger fares to and from Bari range from about €55 for a reclining seat to €120 for the best cabin. Return (round-trip) fares give a significant saving. Cars are around €60 each way. 

By train

The only international railway link into Montenegro is through Belgrade, which is one of the world’s most spectacular rail trips. Two trains a day make the journey, stopping at Bijelo Polje, Mojkovac, Kolašin and Podgorica en route to the final destination of Bar on the coast; one train departs Belgrade at 09.00 (arriving in Bar at 19.56) and the other (night train) departs at 21.10 (arriving in Bar at 08.12). Going in the opposite direction, trains depart Bar at 09.00 (arriving in Belgrade 20.02) and 19.00 (arriving in Belgrade 06.15). Do, though, check times before you intend to travel as these may well change; visit zcg-prevoz.me or seat61.com.

Fares are very reasonable: a standard-class ticket costs around €24 and a first-class ticket around €32; the latter is well worth investing in unless you’re on a tight budget. For travel on the night train, a six-berth couchette costs around €6, a bed in a three- bed sleeper costs €15, while a bed in a two-bed sleeper costs €20. A reserved seat on the day train costs €3. Note that tickets for this train cannot be booked online.

By car

There are numerous border posts on roads to neighbouring countries, and while these are normally a mere formality, in high season there can be time-consuming queues on some routes.

Apart from the crossings from Dubrovnik (Croatia) at Debeli Brjeg and Kobila, it is possible to enter from Serbia via Čemerno (near Jabuka) or Dobrakovo (north of Bijelo Polje); from Bosnia and Herzegovina via Sitnica (near Herceg Novi), Vilusi, Vraćenovići, Šćepan Polje or Metaljika; from Kosovo via the Kulina Pass between Rožaje and Peć or Špiljani Draga; or from Albania via Bozaj (Hani i Hotit), Sukobin or Grnčar near Plav.

Confusingly, two different roads traversing Montenegro are referred to informally as the ‘Adriatic Highway’. Most frequently the term is used for the coastal road linking Herceg Novi and Ulcinj; alternatively, the phrase may sometimes be used for the road linking Belgrade (Serbia) with the coast.

Getting around

By bus

Montenegro’s bus network consists of a well-co-ordinated array of private companies, and is far and away the best way to get around. By and large, services are cheap, clean and reliable, with buses rarely full; the only downside is sometimes the lack of air conditioning. A fairly comprehensive network of buses fans out from Podgorica, and there are also plentiful services along the coast, where a constant stream plies between all the major resorts, covering most other places en route. Inland, and particularly in mountainous regions, services are far more sporadic.

Bus drivers are normally quite happy to drop passengers off at the roadside (for example, if you want to see a particular attraction), though you do then face the problem of not knowing when the next bus might come along. In addition, there are fairly good connections to neighbouring countries, for example, Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia, Belgrade and Novi Sad in Serbia, Foča and Sarajevo in Bosnia, Peć in Kosovo, and Priština in Albania.

At any time, schedules are notoriously subject to change, so it’s best to check, prior to travel, with either the local tourist office or the bus station. Otherwise, the best source of information is busticket4.me. Contact details for the main bus stations are given in the individual town sections. For most destinations within Montenegro, the one-way fare will be under €10. Generally, you pay an extra euro on top of the fare if you buy your ticket at the bus station rather than on the bus, but the former will assure you of a seat. If you want a return ticket you’ll need to buy it at the bus station.

By car

Driving in Montenegro is, on the whole, a highly appealing option. Away from the major coastal road, the roads are relatively traffic-free, and many routes are wonderfully scenic. That said, the state of the country’s roads is highly variable. Montenegro has no highway, though plans are underway to construct a motorway linking the south and north of the country, and extending all the way to Belgrade, though this will take some years. The main roads are, generally speaking, in fairly good condition but minor roads are invariably poor, with many disintegrating and littered with pot-holes – this is particularly the case in the north of the country and around the mountain regions. Indeed, great care should be exercised if driving here (especially in winter), as the roads are often poorly surfaced and narrow in places. Here, too, secondary roads can be completely closed by snow in winter, while prolonged rain may lead to rockfalls or small landslides.

More generally, Montenegrin driving habits often leave much to be desired, a particular danger being the tendency to overtake at absurdly risky moments. The accident rate here is quite high (indeed it’s one of the highest among European countries) – as evidenced by the many (rather distracting) roadside memorials.

By train

The Montenegrin railway network (Željeznice Crne Gore) covers just 294km, with the main line running from the border near Bijelo Polje in the northeast of the country, down through Mojkovac, Kolašin and Podgorica to Virpazar on Lake Skadar, and then down to Bar on the coast. Because this route originates in Belgrade, the line is extremely popular in the summer with vacationing Serbs visiting the coast. A second line runs between Podgorica to Nikšić, a distance of around 50km.

There are two types of train: brzi (fast) and lokalni (local) – though there’s actually little distinction between the two, and the cost is the same regardless of which one you travel on. Timetables (vozni red) are displayed in stations and offices – arrivals (dolazak) are usually on a white board, departures (odlazak) on a yellow one – though don’t expect trains to conform too closely to them.

Fares are calculated by distance travelled, and are extremely low: a journey of 50km, for example, will cost around €2 in second class, €3.50 in first class (there’s not much to distinguish between the two classes, save for the fact that the seats are bigger and more comfortable in first). Expect to pay around €3.50 from Podgorica to Bar and €5.50 from Podgorica to Bijelo Polje.

Refreshments are frequently unavailable on regular trains so it is wise to carry water and snacks for your journey. The Railways of Montenegro website is a useful resource.

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