The narrow coastal belt of Montenegro enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long dry summers and short mild winters. Average July maximum temperatures are around 28°C; the January average is 9°C. Annual sunshine amounts to more than 2,500 hours with a summer average of 300-plus hours per month – or 10 hours a day. November is generally the wettest month.
The central plain is colder in winter and warmer in summer than the coast. Podgorica averages a January temperature of 5°C and a July temperature of 26.5°C. The maximum can reach 40°C the minimum –10°C.
The nicest seasons to visit Montenegro are spring and autumn: either between late March and the end of June; or in September and October after the summer vacationers have dispersed, when the deciduous trees will be turning coppery but the sea will still be warm enough for bathing. The coast is a pleasant place to be at any time of year, but it can become uncomfortably congested in July and August, when temperatures and crowds reach their peak; moreover, accommodation is at its most expensive during this period, with rates almost doubling in some places.
While the mountainous interior is at its most temperate from late April to September – and these are the best months for hiking, climbing and rafting – the possibilities for skiing between late November and early April mean that a visit can be enjoyed almost any time of the year. Moreover, the mountains receive a fraction of the numbers that hit the coast, so you’re unlikely to have to worry about crowds.
Festivals and public holidays
For many of the festivals listed below the specific date will alter from year to year so dates given may be approximate. Local tourist offices will often be able to give details.
St Tryphon’s Day (Dan Svetog Tripuna) Religious celebration dedicated to Kotor’s patron saint, featuring folk and choral music performances, folkloric dances and a town-centre parade.
Kotor Carnival Procession of masked troupes through the Old Town, loosely based on the Venetian equivalent.
Mimosa Festival (Herceg Novi) Heralding the beginning of spring, this colourful festival celebrates the eponymous flower; festivities include fishermen’s fiestas, a sailing regatta, carnivals, literary evenings, painting exhibitions, floral exhibitions, plays and even a mimosa-arranging session.
Camellia Days (Kotor & Stoliv) Held in honour of the camellia flower. Floral exhibitions, painting exhibitions, plays, a camellia ball and a Lady of the Camellias contest.
Montenegro Dance Festival (Herceg Novi, Kotor & Tivat) Week-long dance jamboree with participants competing for prizes in all forms of dance, from ballet to hip-hop and ballroom to tap.
Žučenica Fest (Tivat) Gastronomic festival of Boka cuisine centred on the humble žučenica (dandelion).
Lim Regatta (Plav) Rafting race from the source of the river Lim at Plav Lake to the confluence of the Lim and Milesevka rivers.
International Folklore Festival (Budva) Enchanting folkloric singing, starring groups from across eastern Europe performing on a large stage by the Old Town walls.
Boka Navy Day (Kotor) Celebration of 12 centuries of the Boka Navy since a ship brought St Valentine’s relics to the town. Sailors dance the St Valentine’s Wheel Dance.
Perast Klapa Festival (Perast) Festival of traditional klapa (a cappella singing).
Southern Soul Festival (Velika Plaža, Ulcinj) Four-day music festival, with soul, R&B, jazz, hip-hop and disco spread over four nights, featuring top international names including the likes of Alex Barck, Rick Wilhite and Gilles Peterson.
Budva’s Summer Festival of Theatre (Festival Grad Teatar) Open-air theatre jamboree in Budva and other nearby locations such as the grounds of Villa Miločer.
Purgatorije – Tivat Cultural Summer Theatre, music, literary and artistic programmes.
Children’s Theatre Festival (Kotor) Exclusively for kids, this long- running festival offers a terrific programme of artistic and theatrical performances and workshops in the Old Town.
Bijelo Polje (White Field Jazz Festival) Well-established jazz festival which has been running since 2006.
Fašinada (Perast) A ritual procession of boats around the island of Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rock) near Perast.
International Kotor Summer Carnival (Kotor) International summer carnival held in front of Kotor’s Old Town, with carnival groups from Kotor, Montenegro and abroad.
Blueberry Festival (Plav) A ten-day festival celebrating the popular local fruit, with cultural events including art exhibitions, literary readings and music, and, naturally, a blueberry-picking competition.
Boka Nights (Kotor) The coast’s single most impressive spectacle, incorporating a dazzling fireworks display from a flotilla of barges in the bay.
Herceg Novi Film Festival – Montenegro Film Festival (Herceg Novi) The country’s premier film festival, showcasing the best of the region’s new movies in the atmospheric setting of the Kanli Kula (Blood Tower).
International Festival of Tamburitza Orchestras (Bijelo Polje) A series of lively concerts starring ensembles from mostly eastern European countries.
Petrovac Jazz Festival (Petrovac) Montenegro’s main jazz festival is an intimate affair taking place on the town’s lovely beach and featuring mostly eastern European acts, plus also the occasional UK or US artist.
Sea Dance Festival (Buljarica) Banging, three-day electronic and pop festival on Buljarica beach bringing together some of the biggest DJs on the planet, such as David Guetta and Robin Schulz.
Jazz Bay Festival (Herceg Novi) Small-scale, but very enjoyable, two-day jazz gathering.
Guitar Festival (Nikšič) Excellent programme of guitar- related events: concerts, competitions, lectures and symposiums.
Days of Širun (Budva) Annual fisherman’s festival that has been running for more than 50 years.
Days of Pljevlja Cheese (Pljevlja) Festival of local highland cheese and dairy produce.
The Olive Day (Stari Bar) Festival dedicated to the olive tree, with olive oil and other local products. Also exhibitions of traditional costumes, entertainment and culture.
Days of Wine and Bleak (Virpazar) Wine and food tasting, alongside small-scale concerts and poetry to celebrate the maturing of the wine.