Kate in Montenegro

An Australian Living & Exploring in the Balkans

Category: Montenegro (page 1 of 3)

What To Do in Podgorica

Welcome to my town, the capital of Montenegro! I’ve lived here for more than five years now, so I wrote this beginner handbook on what to do in Podgorica with some info and tips to make your stay easier.

I’ve assumed you’ve just arrived in the centre of town from the airport or the bus or train station. Everything mentioned on this page is on Google Maps, so just search there for specific reviews and directions.

Get Started

First thing, buy a tourist SIM card for 15 euros or so in the One store opposite the main square (Trg Republike).

If you’re hungry, there’s a decent Voli supermarket less than 50m from the One store (just keep walking past Hotel Kerber on the map above).

Opening hours for superarkets in Podgorica are 7am-10pm most days, closed on Sundays. They sell fresh bread, cheeses, toiletries, canned stuff, yoghurt, a small amount of fresh veg and fruit, etc, plus a good range of booze.

Montenegro uses the Euro. Restaurants used to tourists will mostly take cards, but you’ll need cash for taxis, small cafes and market stalls.

Some streets or buildings might look run down but it’s super safe, especially in the city centre.

Places to Eat in Podgorica

I don’t eat out that much in Podgorica (all my favourite restaurants are in the north or the coast) as PG restaurants generally have the same Montenegrin-flavoured menu of pizza, pasta and wraps, but these I either like or come recommended.

Near The Centre

Sicilia – Nothing too special, but if you’re hungry and in the mood for quick or takeaway Italian fare it’s fine.

Home of Gyros – Decent kebab shop if you’re in the mood for fast and filling street food.

Calabria – Low end pizza joint with wood fired pizzas (I’m told it’s the best in town).

Steak House – Great steaks and decent wine list. I like this place.

Goodfellas – Pretty good American style burgers.

Welder Pub – Decent sandwiches with fries, burgers, that kind of thing. Walk through the indoor space to the nice courtyard at the back. Better in the day as at night it turns into a very loud bar with live music.

Porto – High end restaurant beloved by politicians. Haven’t been there but food is supposed to be very good. Might need a reservation at night.

Further Away

Baščaršija – The best burek in town. Burek is kind of a savoury pastry that comes with either meat, cheese or spinach inside and is sold in every bakery everywhere. The cheese one from here is amazing.

Masala Art – An amazing Indian restaurant that rivals any metropolitan city. Beloved by all expats.

Mr Grill – Excellent local burger shop on a road heading to the north of Podgorica. Looks like nothing and costs about 3 euro a burger but this is the best fast food in town. Order at the window (I recommend a gurmanska), then when it’s ready they will call you to add your chosen toppings and pay.

Pod Volat – A classic Montenegrin restaurant serving huge piles of meats and sausage with fries. Haven’t eaten here but I’m told it’s good.

Wine Bar Bucca – Fine dining in Podgorica. My diplomat friends love this place and it’s considered one of the best restaurants in town.

General Eating Out Tips

Anywhere except the fanciest places just walk in and sit down, no need to wait to be seated.

You’ll get a receipt for each round of things you order and then the waiter will total them all up at the end. Tip a few euro on the full bill if you like, but it’s not required.

You can also get food delivered with the Glovo app.

Transport Around Podgorica

Hailing taxis on the street isn’t really a thing (they’re usually busy or on the way to pick someone up), but there is a taxi stand outside the One phone shop at the main square in the centre of town. Or, better to call one using an app.


There’s no Uber here but this is the closest equivalent where you can input your pickup point and destination without testing the language skills of the driver. You pay in cash or card in the taxi.


The local Whatsapp equivalent. You only get data with tourist SIM cards so you’ll need this to call taxis or contact locals.

To call a taxi, send a Viber message to one of these numbers with your address and your name (ie, Hercegovacka 72 za YourName). Drivers probably don’t speak English but can read maps and put your desired address into Google Maps.

Lider Taxi – 069 119 775

Nas Taxi – 069 019 709

These taxis only take cash payment.

Transport Outside of Town

If you have a taxi driver around town that you like, get their private number and call them when you need a ride. If they can’t go, they will send a friend or colleague to pick you up. Don’t worry, this is normal.

Points of Interest Around Podgorica

Podgorica is not a tourist town for a reason but it’s nice to walk around. Here’s a few nearby things to check out.

Bokeška Street – Bokeška is a pedestrian street with a strip of cafes and restaurants to the back of the main square. Locals come here to people watch and show off their newest outfits. It’s more chill during the day, at night it’s the main going out area.

Gorica Park – Only a few hundred metres from the centre, it has an adventure park for kids, a cafe, and walking trails with great views. There’s a cool church that is the oldest in Podgorica (I’m told dating back to 12th century) right at the entrance gate.

Sahat Kula – Turkish clock tower in a small square. Pod Volat is here too.

Old Ribnica River Bridge – Cool old bridge over a small river and next to a fortress. Nice place to hang out and enjoy the sound of the water and atmosphere.

Njegosev Park – Nice park in the centre of town and alongside the Moraca river. Nice trees and vibe and there is a concrete foothpath along the river edge (totally safe with railings, etc).

Walks in Podgorica

Podgorica is great for walking and wandering around as it’s flat, has footpaths, and cars generally stop for pedestrians at crossings (watch them though as a lot of people are on their phone). Wandering around is enjoyable and safe.

For longer walks, my favourite is from the centre to the Duklja ruins, and then optionally onto the Spomenik Partizanima (Monument to the Partisans). It takes about 2 1/2 hours at a decent pace.

Use the route that Google Maps gives if you want to be on proper footpaths all the way, it will take you along the left bank of the Moraca. Great views but lots of traffic on this road.

The better way is along the right hand bank but this is a narrow trail on a cliff edge. To find the trail – from the Gazela Bridge, get to the right hand bank (the side with all the tall apartment buildings), go up the left-hand stairs to the small one lane road at the top, continue north until the very end of the lane and there you’ll see a tiny path going off to the left. Follow the path along the canyon, cross the train bridge, and you’re at the ruins.

For a shorter walk, you can head south to Ljubovic Hill and then back to the centre which takes about 20 minutes each way. For a longer hike keep going south to Dajbabska Hill (the one with the weird radio-tower looking thing on the top at the south end of the city). This one takes about an hour each way.

Podgorica For Kids

Gorica Park has an adventure park suitable for older kids where they get safety gear and clipped in and climb around above ground.

Movies at the biggest little shopping centre in Montenegro. Big Fashion (the mall was previously called Delta and taxi drivers will still know it as that). Super cheap tickets and movies in English are subtitled in Montenegrin, not dubbed. Movie timetable is here.

In winter there is an ice skating rink set up on a basketball court, across the river near the Hotel Podgorica. Very popular with older kids and teenagers.

Donkey Farm Martinici is about 15 minutes drive from Podgorica. Open to the public Sundays 10am-1pm. More info here. Good reputation for animal welfare which is rare in Montenegro.

Enjoy your time in Podgorica!

Further Reading

What To Know Before Coming to Podgorica

Things To Do Around Podgorica

Shopping in Podgorica

Things to Do Around Podgorica

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen tourists warned away from visiting Podgorica.

It’s so boring, there’s nothing to see, just skip it entirely, people say. (There’s even a blog post that calls it the ugliest and most boring capital in Europe…!)

I think that’s rather unfair, as there are some lovely spots to see within five minutes to half an hour’s drive from the capital.

The Roman Ruins at Duklja

The Roman ruins just outside Podgorica

Five minutes driving (or a pleasant 20 minute walk) outside the city are the ruins of the Roman city of Doclea (Duklja in the local language). It’s in a beautiful spot where two rivers meet, and where you’ll also often see the local sheep and goats cropping the grass nearby. There’s no entrance fee and you can wander around the site as you please.

This is one of my favourite local spots, so I’ve written a full article on the Roman ruins here.

Niagara Falls (The Podgorica Version)

Niagara just outside Podgorica

Niagara is a quirky restaurant on a man-made but still beautiful waterfall on the Cijevna river canyon, just ten minutes outside the city. The restaurant is famous for its tres-leches cake, made in the Albanian style, and has quirky decor including an indoor waterfall, pet rabbits and wood fires in the winter.

The river outside falls onto the rocky part of the riverbed and is really quite beautiful. It’s largest and most impressive after heavy rain but it’s pleasant here even in summer.

Žabljak Crnojevića

Zabljak Crnojevica, not far from Podgorica

Take the road from Podgorica towards Virpazar and the seaside. In a long stretch of empty road past the airport, you’ll find a small yellow sign on the right pointing to Ponari and a narrow one lane bridge over the Morača river. After the village of Ponari, turn left and follow the road to the end and you will find a small restaurant on the water, and a small village on a hill.

At the top of the hill is an old fortress dating back to the 10th century with absolutely stunning views over the fields, hills and water around Lake Skadar.

It’s short and graded trail up the fort. To find the trail, walk along the river for about 50m until you see what looks like a steep driveway going up to the left. Follow it up and this small road will take you to the local church and then you can continue up to reach the fortress.

The fortress is being partially restored but it still mostly ruins that you can explore as you like, and enjoy the fabulous views in every direction!


Medun's old town near Podgorica

Twenty minutes east of the city, on the road to the Korita ring and Grlo Sokolovo, are the ruins of the old town and fortress of Medun. The original town dates back to 4th century BC and was built by Illyrians and has an amazing view over the existing village and down the valley back towards Podgorica.

The road to Medun climbs up out of Podgorica, and also has some great views back over the city.


Vizpazar, near Podgorica

Half an hour from Podgorica is the small lake village of Virpazar. It has some quaint restaurants (famous especially for lake fish like trout and carp), and is the base for boat tours around the bigger part of Skadar Lake.

Walk up the hill to fort Besac, which has been rather beautifully reconstructed into a restaurant and cafe complex with views over Lake Skadar. It’s free to enter and wander around or you can have a drink overlooking the view.

Rijeka Ćrnojevica

Rijeka Crnojevica, base for boat trips of Lake Skadar

This little village is thirty minutes from Podgorica in the direction of Cetinje. It’s on a river that flows into Lake Skadar, and is famous for being the holiday spot for the Montenegrin royal family a hundred years ago, and for its lovely bridge.

It has some cute restaurants with terraces overlooking the water which are really peaceful in the spring and autumn. It gets busy in the summer as it is a base for boat tours of the inner part of lake Skadar and a common stop for coach tours.

The most famous view in Montenegro, Pavlova Strana

If you’re coming from the Podgorica direction, you’ll also come across one of the most famous views of Montenegro – the lookout at Pavlova Strana. There was only a viewpoint with an abandoned hotel above it here for many years, but it’s been rejuvenated and there’s now a restaurant and terrace where you can sit and enjoy the view.

Enjoy! Let me know your favourite spots and things to do around Podgorica.

Further Reading

Things To Do In Podgorica

What To Know Before Coming to Podgorica

Christmas in Montenegro

Two really common questions I see from tourists coming to Montenegro in the winter are:

What is Christmas like in Montenegro? Is anything open on Christmas Day, December 25th?

The answer is everything… because in Montenegro Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on the 6th and 7th of January! The rhythm and importance of the winter holidays is completely different to how it is celebrated in English-speaking countries, so let me explain how it works here.

I’m from Australia, so I was used to December 25th being the big Christmas holiday involving gifts, family, and big lunches. New Year’s Eve for me was a social celebration involving parties with friends, champagne, fireworks (and falling asleep at 10pm if you’re over 40).

However, in Montenegro, December 25th is known as Catholic Christmas and it’s a normal working day. While you can find the odd restaurant offering Christmas lunches for expats and some church services at Catholic churches, it’s otherwise a normal day – except for the locals making frenetic winter holiday plans and getting ready for the real event – New Year’s Eve!

December 31st, New Year’s Eve, in Montenegro is HUGE. It’s a fascinating mix of Western Christmas traditions and New Year’s traditions all in one. A lot of the symbols – Santa Claus, Christmas trees, lights and decorations – that we associate with Christmas are linked here with New Year’s instead.

It’s the big culmination to the year with parties, concerts and plenty of drinking… but it’s also a time for family gatherings in the evening and presents for kids from Santa. Once the kids grow up, they move on from the family celebrations and head out in their best clothes to a typical New Year’s party as we know it.

Local TV stations put on all night music concerts of Balkan music. There is also always a huge concert in Budva featuring famous and now elderly Balkan singers (almost every year it’s Zdravko Čolić).

It’s also the beginning to the winter holiday break, two weeks of school holidays that most people also take off work, that lasts from New Year’s to the weekend after Orthodox Christmas. A lot of restaurants take their only breaks of the year for a few days after New Year’s Eve.

Orthodox Christmas itself is a wildly different experience to Western Christmas. It’s much more about family and religion than consumerism and gift-giving, with some pagan rituals scattered in between.

In the days leading up to Orthodox Christmas, you’ll see people selling oak branches on the side of the road and outside churches. This is for Badnji Dan – Orthodox Christmas Eve – when a family buys an oak branch – a badnjak – or cuts one from their own trees if they live in a village, and then for good luck, the man of the family sets it alight.

The lighting of the badnjak on Orthodox Christmas

People do this (somewhat dangerously) in their apartments, or at huge public bonfires at the main church in each city. People take their oak branch and throw it on the communal fire. In Podgorica this is outside the Hram and is a serious cultural experience involving a concert of gusle music and deafening firecrackers set off metres away by local teenagers.

There’s also a big family meal on Orthodox Christmas Eve, and traditionally it is the last day of the six-week Christmas fast, so it relies heavily on beans, potatoes and vegetables and doesn’t include meat, fish or dairy.

January 7th, is Orthodox Christmas Day. It’s a public holiday where absolutely everything is closed and people spend time with their family, leading up to the big lunch in the afternoon.

It’s usually a family gathering, much like western Christmas, but without the gift-giving. The religious fast has now ended, so this is a huge meal involving all kinds of meat! There’s also a special kind of Christmas bread called česnica, baked with a coin inside – and whoever gets the coin gets special luck for the year ahead.

Around this time of year, you’ll also hear a lot of firecrackets (and even gunshots, if you live outside the cities). Firecrackers and fireworks are legal and easily purchased and teenagers LOVE throwing them in apartment entrances and at unsuspecting people’s feet.

You’ll hear firecrackers at random times all through the holiday season, with peaks at New Year’s, Orthodox Christmas, and then Orthodox New Year’s on the evening of January 13th (not hugely popular but still celebrated by more religious residents).

I hope you enjoy your Christmas in Montenegro – there aren’t many places in the world where you get two Christmases every year!

Driving in Montenegro

One of the most common questions I get from friends coming to Montenegro is – should I rent a car and what is the driving like?

You can absolutely see a lot of the country by public transport (I’ve written all about how that works here), but to see the best of the national parks and to get away from the crowds, yes – you will need to rent a car.

However, there are a few things to be aware of first.

Driving Culture in Montenegro

Driving culture in Montenegro is probably different to what you’re used to.

Roads are narrow and winding and local driving can be erratic, tending to dangerous. It’s extremely common to see people on the phone or texting while driving (if you’re wondering why that car is front is doing 30kmh in a 60 zone and veering slightly out of their lane, that will be why).

Overtaking is also done in a highly optimistic fashion. On blind corners, in the passing lanes for the other side, or attempting to overtake three or four cars at once are all common. You’ll see a car coming in the opposite direction and in your lane heading for you — and it’s up to you to brake and give them the space to get back into their lane.

Likewise, if someone behind you is overtaking and they misjudged exactly how many cars they could overtake at once, give them space as they will try to duck back into the correct lane right in front of you.

If you get stuck behind a truck on a winding road, the driver will often try to help the column of traffic behind by indicating when it’s safe to pass. Right indicator on means it’s safe, left indicator on means there is oncoming traffic so keep waiting.

Many rural roads are one lane only. It’s safer to stick to the right instead of the middle of the road, even if the road seems empty. Mostly you’ll only meet a farmer in a Golf 2 coming the other way but occasionally you’ll get surprised by a youngster in a BMW going way too quickly so always be alert and checking what might coming around the next bend.

On these back roads, also watch out for herds of sheep or goats. It’s better to wait and let them pass, but if you’re impatient you can usually slowly nudge your way through without damage to you (or them).

Cows can also be a hazard in some rather unlikely places. In the winter, the main road between Budva and Petrovac, right above Sveti Stefan, is also the road home for a herd of cows.

Basically, always have your wits about you when driving in Montenegro as you never know what might be ahead. Cows, randomly parked cars, rockslides, pedestrians on their phones – it’s always an adventure.

The Roads in Montenegro

Major roads between cities are two lanes (one lane each way) with frequent third lanes for passing if it’s very steep. Minor roads are often one lane, but usually there is enough shoulder to pull over to let oncoming traffic to pass. All roads are paved and generally in decent condition unless you are really out in a rural area or it’s someone’s driveway.

If it’s your first time in the country you probably won’t encounter any of the really bad roads. (Caveat: there is one major exception: the road to Korita that is part of the scenic tourist drive, the Korita Ring. Approaching Korita the asphalt is very badly damaged – almost non-existent – and the potholes are metres wide. Don’t try it in a car with low suspension.)

In the winter, the mountain roads can get icy in spots or even be under snow. Roads in the north and even around known tourist regions like Žabljak can be cut off by snowfall for a day or two, or even the whole season in particularly isolated spots.

In the summer, traffic on the coast or at the borders can be horrendous (two hour plus traffic jams). Make sure you have water and plenty of time up your sleeve if you’re trying to make it to the airport.

There is one highway that runs between Podgorica and Mateševo (near Kolašin in the north of the country) and the toll is 3.50 euros. There is one other toll road that runs from Podgorica to the coast, and the fee is 2.50 euros. Cash payment is fine for both, you don’t need an electronic pass.

Google Maps mostly works for directions. It doesn’t always know the difference between an actual road and a hiking path for some more northern and isolated locations, but between towns it will be fine. Besides, if you get lost, there is almost always a helpful local around to tell you where to go.

Legal Things to Know

Montenegro drives on the right-hand side of the road.

Seatbelts are required.

It’s a legal requirement to have headlights on low at all times (even during the day).

Don’t drink and drive as the blood alcohol limit is very low (0.03%).

You don’t need an International Driving Permit if your licence is in English or written in the Latin alphabet.

In the winter, you will need special winter tires if you are driving outside the Podgorica region.

How to Rent a Car in Montenegro

There are some of the usual large companies in the country, like Europcar, Avis, and Sixt but there are also many smaller companies and even individuals renting cars to make some extra cash. A couple of times I’m pretty sure I’ve had grandma’s car for the week.

These smaller companies for renting a car in Montenegro come with recommendations from my friends and other expats…

MTL Rent a Car

Ideal Rent a Car

Simeun Rent a Car

Tara Car

PS Rent a Car (Herceg Novi)

Delta Car

Automatics are rare (as is typical in Europe) so you’ll be better off if you can drive a manual. You don’t need a big SUV or 4WD here, in fact a small hatchback will be way easier to drive and to park.

Finally, don’t assume you can just cross the border to Bosnia or Albania with your rental car – make sure you tell your agency your plans so they can organise the correct papers and insurance for you.

Drive safe, and enjoy your trip! If you decide driving is a bit too much for you, here’s my guide to public transport in Montenegro.

Things to do in Plužine

I’d never seen Plužine, a northern region bordering Bosnia, in any tourist brochures before and had considered it a last resort for a weekend trip.

But in the middle of a very hot summer with two imperatives: get to as high an altitude as possible, and as far away from the coastal crowds as possible, I went exploring.

And was very pleasantly surprised – at both the lack of crowds and the spectacular views.

Pivsko Jezero

Pivsko Jezero in Pluzine, Montenegro
No filters, I swear

The area is most well known for Pivsko Jezero (this translates to Piva Lake, which sadly is not a lake of beer), an artificial lake created in the 1970s for a hydro-electric dam.

The water is a rather magical and unreal looking deep blue-green colour, and spectacular from its many angles, both near the town of Plužine and along the canyon that runs many kilometres to the south.

It’s possible to do boat trips on the lake, or there are several cafes in the town where you can sit and look out at the lake.

Donja Brezna

Donja Brezna in Pluzine, Montenegro
Donja Brezna on a hot summer day

On the road to the town of Plužine, you will see plenty of signs exhorting you to stop at Etno Selo Montenegro. It really is worth a visit (see the next section for more details), but so is the valley it is located in, Brezna.

Brezna is a incredibly peaceful valley just off the road, named for and known for its birch trees. I’ve never seen so many anywhere else in the country. There are two parts, Dornja Brezna (lower Brezna) the wider section closer to the main road, and Gornja Brezna, which is the more distant, more narrow and more treed part of the valley.

The residents have put a lot of effort into labelling all the attractions of Brezna, including signs for each farmhouse and what they sell (cheese, prsut, mushrooms, paintings, whatever). I haven’t been brave enough to knock on anyone’s door to make a purchase but, next time!

Traditional house in Montenegro
Traditional farmhouse in Gornja Brezna

There are also well marked signs for hikes to the two mountains bordering the valley, viewpoints of the Komarnica canyon, lover’s strolls, herb walks and more.

There’s enough to do for a couple of days, although I’ve been to this area a few times and still haven’t done most of them. Usually because the valley’s slow pace gets to me and I end up sitting under a tree for the afternoon instead.

Etno Selo Restaurants

Old building in Pluzine, Montenegro
An old builidng at Etno Selo Izlazak

I love a good etno selo restaurant and Plužine has two excellent ones: Etno Selo Montenegro and Etno Selo Izlazak.

Map of Montenegro

Etno Selo Montenegro is in the above-mentioned Brezna valley. There they have a number of little houses with displays of old Montenegrin life, weekend houses for rent, some amusing yearly events like the competition for who can lie down the longest (Montenegrins always win) and a super chill outdoor restaurant with a dozen rustic tables under the trees.

They serve all the traditional foods but portion sizes are IMMENSE, easily for four people, so be warned!

Cats in Montenegro
My lunch companion at Etno Selo Montenegro

The restaurant also has a lot of well cared for and relaxed dogs and cats about the place (that will probably come to greet you when they smell your lunch arriving).

View of Pivsko Lake in Montenegro
The view from the restaurant at Etno Selo Izlazak

Etno Selo Izlazak is about 20 minutes further on from the Brezna valley, and is a totally different vibe. It’s perched high up on the edge of the narrowest part of the canyon with a fantastic view of the blue-green water below from the breezy, shaded wooden tables.

Prignanice for breakfast!
Priganice with cheese, jam and honey

They also serve excellent priganice and are also just a nice place for a coffee to fuel you up before starting off on an interesting and very unknown road trip…

The Plužine Ring

A country road in Montenegro
The Plužine Ring

I call this route the Plužine ring as it passes through a gentler version of the much same kind of scenery as the Durmitor Ring – treeless high mountain landscapes, winding descents in forested canyons, incredibly isolated villages, and in the summer, past a lot of lonely shepherds hanging out with noone but their sheep for company.

The mountains and plains in Pluzine
The high plain in Plužine

But the main and most important difference on this drive is there are no campers clogging the road, no groups of bikers, and zero tourists. In high summer in Montenegro, this is a rare and precious thing.

Stecci, ancient gravestones, in Pluzine Montenegro
Stećci in Plužine area

There is also a site of stećci on this drive, the medieval grave markers that I find so fascinating. They’re in a lonely and wind-swept spot on the far side of the village of Dubljevići. These unknown tribes definitely had a nice aesthetic sensibility: their carvings and their choice of burial locations are always quality.

A road tunnel in Pluzine, Montenegro
The tunnels along Lake Piva

From the stećci, you pass through some lonely farmsteads and then descend into the forested canyon and the village of Boričje. When the forest opens out, you find yourself ending the drive with dramatic finish along the edge of Piva Lake through several hand-carved tunnels in the rock.

Pivsko Lake in Montenegro

There are also beautiful views of Piva Lake from a dozen viewpoints along this last stretch, including of the bridge that will finally take you back to the town of Plužine and to civilisation.

Road signs in Montenegro
Follow the signs to Piva Most / Bridge

To start this drive, just continue further down the road to Izlazak, cross the small bridge across the Piva, then climb up the other side of the canyon. At the top there is a crossroads with a sign for Bezuje, turn left here.

From there, there are yellow hiking signs at all the major crossroads, just follow the ones pointing to ‘Piva most / bridge’.

Unpaved road in Pluzine, Montenegro
Macadam section leading (thankfully) to the paved road

This road on this circuit, while always narrow and one lane wide, is actually paved almost the entire way, except for one section not far beyond the stećci. This is a 2km section of bone-rattling macadam but it is passable by normal cars – you don’t need a 4W4 –  as it’s not holed or dangerous, just a bit rocky and slow to drive.

This circuit is however fairly challenging for the driver, with hundreds of small curves, ascents, and descents. The upside is usually long views of the road ahead (no getting surprised by oncoming cars) — and the fact that there are virtually no cars on this road anyway.

The Road to Nevidio

It’s also possible to turn right at the crossroads at the top of the canyon opposite Izlazak, and head through the village of Bezuje. Continuing from there, this road will eventually take you to Nevidio canyon and then to the main road to Žabljak.

I have drive on my list, but have yet to try it as I’m told there are very long stretches of macadam in between the paved sections and my patience (and car) isn’t up to that.

Access to Plužine

The other attraction of Plužine is how easy it is to get there. From Podgorica it is one and a half hour drive; from the coast around two hours. From both starting points, the road is wide, two lanes, and well maintained – like a normal road in any other country.

It makes a nice change from heart-stopping canyon roads like the way to Kolašin or the nausea-inducing serpentines in the forest like the way to Žabljak.

Enjoy this quiet, much less touristed section of the north!

Things to Do in Žabljak

Usually when people are coming to Montenegro I get asked the same question every time: should I stay in Kotor or Budva?

The answer is always Kotor — but there’s a lot more to Montenegro than just the coast. The north of Montenegro is like another world ten degrees cooler and home to the wild beauty advertised on all the tourist brochures.

Žabljak is probably the most well known spot in the north, a small town of 2000 people and hiking hub, and base for exploring the Durmitor National Park.

In winter the area disappears under metres of snow, but in the summer it is an interesting combination of Podgorica people escaping the lowland heat for their weekend houses, Hungarian bikers enjoying the picturesque roads, and fit-looking hikers from all over the globe.

I’m yet to reach the level of hiking prowess necessary for scaling peaks, so I usually go to Žabljak just to enjoy some decent long walks and views of rather gorgeous scenery.

Here are a few of my favourite things…

The Durmitor Ring

The Durmitor Ring in Montenegro
A classic view on the Durmitor Ring

The most famous tourist attraction is the Durmitor Ring, a circular road beginning and ending in Žabljak that takes you through the wild mountain scenery of Durmitor National Park. It passes through tiny villages, picturesque lakes (if you go in spring you’ll see all of them), canyons hundreds of metres deep, pine forests, and high country summer sheep holdings.

It’s just incredible.

Durmitor in Montenegro
Just the beginning of the views from the Durmitor Ring

Don’t bother to look this route up on Google Maps, it isn’t there. Here is a link to an official map if you need it, but once you’re on the ground the route is well signed and difficult to get lost. You don’t need a 4×4 as the roads are paved, but they are one lane and very narrow, so watch out for oncoming traffic.

You can do the ring in two directions: one begins from the town of Žabljak itself and climbs down into the canyon and Šusičko lake. The other begins a few kilometres outside town back towards Šavnik and climbs to Sedlo Pass.

I recommend the first option, as the most challenging driving on the ring is in the forest, up and down into the canyon, and you’ll do that while you’re fresh. You also get a nice build up from forest views to green plateau plains and then the most spectacular mountains towards the end of the ring.

Caveat: don’t try this road before late May at the very earliest as you’re likely to be confronted by a wall of snow rather than a road. Not many people live up there and so the roads don’t get cleared all winter.

The Lakes

The lakes of Zabljak Montenegro
Vražje Jezero

Across from the main highway to Žabljak is a huge plain of green that hides my favourite lake in Montenegro, Vražje Jezero (Devil’s Lake). It’s supposedly called this way because it looks like an eye – it has a pale blue ring around a deep blue center.

Go in the late afternoon, the angled sun brings out the fullest contrast in the colours and you can sit on the hill next to it. Climb the small hill next to the lake to enjoy the view, and listen to the local shepherd singing to his sheep.

Black Lake in Montenegro
Crno Jezero

The most famous lake in Montenego is Crno Jezero (Black Lake). This is maybe a fifteen minute walk from the centre of Žabljak and has all the Montenegrin accoutrements necessary for life – a cafe, music and lots of good spots for Instagram photos.

You can take an easy 45 minute walk around the lake in summer (in spring the trail might be broken by small waterfalls).

Zminje lake in Montenegro
Zminje Jezero

Continuing further from Black Lake, past old mills and streams, you can continue to the next lake, Zminje Jezero (Snake Lake). Do this walk in August and you will still find springs to fill up your water bottle and wild berries to snack on along the path (the tiniest but most delicious raspberries, strawberries and blueberries you will ever have).

Hiking in Montenegro
Jablan Jezero from the climb to Crvena Greda

Another of my favourites, at the beginning of the Durmitor ring and less than an easy hour’s hike from the road, is Jablan Jezero. A short hike up the hill next to it and you can perch on a rock and enjoy the lake from above (always the best way to see these lakes, in my opinion).

Susicko Lake, a spring lake, in Montenegro
Sušičko Jezero

Further along the Durmitor ring, down in the canyon, is Sušičko Jezero (Dry Lake). I was extremely puzzled on my first visit here, as all I found was a large grassy field.

It’s actually a spring lake – it only exists in early spring when the snow is melting. If you’re here in early to late June (time varies each year depending on the amount of snow and when spring arrives) it’s a seriously gorgeous spot.

The Stećci

Stecci, ancient gravestones, in Zabljak Montenegro
Stećci near Žabljak

Last year I saw some new and clearly EU funded signs around Vražje pointing to ‘Stećci’ and decided to follow them and see what was there.

Surprisingly it did not lead to a small village called Stećci but instead to a field with beautiful carved stone gravestones just lying about.

The stećci are actually tombstones and grave markers of a mysterious medieval tribe who lived in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina and northern Montenegro. There are two sites near Žabljak, one near Riblije Jezero and another on the same road a few kilometres further to the north.

Stecci near Ribilije Jezero, Montenegro
Stećci near Riblije Jezero

Very little is known about the tribes, but they definitely had an eye for the best sites around for their burials.

The Food

Lunch in Montenegro
Lunch for two

After a day of walks and exploring I like to finish up at the at the restaurant at the Etno Selo Šljeme. Down a side road that parallels the main highway, the restaurant has one of the best views in the area, staring straight at Savin Kuk mountain.

Unusually for a restaurant with a view they also do decent food – particularly the meat. The porodični ručak (family lunch) is of ridiculous size, served up with almost two kilos of meat and costs less than 30 euro. Best to walk the 6km back to Žabljak after dinner here…!

Enjoy this part of the north and all the things to do in Žabljak! Eventually I hope to be able to write about the hikes in this region as well, just give me a few more seasons to get into Montenegrin hiking shape.

More Resources

Detailed Road Map of the Durmitor Ring

More Comprehensive List of the Lakes of Durmitor

Top Proper Hikes Around Žabljak (according to proper hikers)

Things That Don’t Exist in Montenegro

After living in Montenegro for a few years now, I’ve discovered there are quite a lot of things that are taken for granted in bigger countries that just don’t exist here at all.

So, to avoid all the hours of fruitless searching, asking and wondering that I went through – here are some of the things that can’t be had for love or money.

Is there Amazon in Montenegro?

No. Very few online stores will actually deliver to Montenegro. I’ve heard various reasons for this: too small a market, too many packages that went missing, or too many people that reported packages as lost (but actually received them).

You can however get a lot of the same Chinese-made products that are on Amazon here through Aliexpress.

The other alternative is to make friends with someone who lives over the border in Croatia (in, say, Cavtat) and is willing to receive Amazon parcels for you.

Are there self-storage units in Montenegro?

No. The kind of building with purpose-built self-storage units you might find in the US or Australia for storing all your furniture while in between houses or extra stuff that doesn’t fit in your apartment doesn’t exist here.

There is one guy near Tivat who has set up a sort of storage facility where you can hire a shipping container with key, and all the containers are locked in a yard with cameras and dogs, but that’s it.

Is there recycling in Montenegro?

No. Sorting your trash or rubbish into glass, plastics, aluminium, etc, the way you would in other countries doesn’t exist here. I have seen some mobile recycling containers you can take bottles and plastic to but there’s no evidence that they are actually recycled and don’t just go to the landfill with everything else.

Is there proper black tea in Montenegro?

No. Not the kind beloved by the English or the Australians. There are a couple of local brands of black tea but they are either weak or terrible or both. Tea addicts need to bring them back on holiday or buy them from a store like britishcornershop.co.uk (a lovely online store that does deliver to Montenegro).

Are there decaf coffee beans in Montenegro?

No. I searched everywhere and while regular caffeinated coffee beans are easily available in small stores or at the green markets, decaf is extremely hard to come by.

Some supermarkets sell a brick of already ground decaf coffee from Lavazza, but for whole beans you’ll need to bring them back or order them from this one store I found in all of Europe that will ship to Montenegro – https://www.horshamcoffeeroaster.co.uk/.

Is there Ikea in Montenegro?

No. There are a couple of stores that import Ikea furniture at a heavy markup, but there’s no actual Ikea store here. It’s just too small a market.

Is there Starbucks in Montenegro?

No. And that’s a good thing! It’s one of the few countries you can visit without the ubiquitous American coffee chain everywhere. Instead, you have hundreds of local cafes to choose from instead.

Is there McDonalds in Montenegro?

No. The golden arches are absent from the country. I did hear that there was a kind of pop-up McDonalds here a few years back, but I’m not sure it was legit and it didn’t last long. There is a Burger King in Podgorica, however, and local burger shops with far more delicious burgers called pljeskavica are literally everywhere.

Is there an Apple store in Montenegro?

No. There isn’t one in the entire Balkans. The closest Apple stores are in Vienna, Venice, or Rome.

There is a reseller store called iCentar in Big Fashion mall in Podgorica, but it’s basically a showroom and they don’t have very many items actually in stock. (I once went in and enquired about the new Macbook Pro model. Do you have it, I asked. No. Can you order it in, I asked. No. The end.)

You can however get new iPhone models and some laptops from Tehnomax stores.

Is there PayPal or Stripe in Montenegro?

No. If you’re in Montenegro and run a small business, and hope to receive payments by PayPal or Stripe, you’re totally out of luck. You can send money to PayPal accounts in other countries, or purchase by Stripe while you’re in Montenegro, but you can’t receive it here.

While in the beginning the lack of familiar things in Montenegro can be frustrating, it actually makes them more special when you can get them! Either that or you just go native and convert to the local way of doing things…

Moving To Montenegro

So, you heard about the low tax rates and cost of living, you want to retire somewhere sunny, or you came here on holiday and you fell in love with the beautiful nature and hospitable people… and now you’re thinking of making a permanent move to Montenegro.

You might already have read the dozens of other blogs that wax lyrical about low taxes, ease of buying property, and future EU accession, and now already be dreaming of your villa by the sea or apartment with views of Kotor’s old town.

But… these websites are usually promoting their real estate, relocation, or legal services so they have a vested interest in convincing you to sell up and come here permanently, not in telling you the truth of what it’s actually like to live here!

I’ve lived in Montenegro for more than five years now, plus I learned the local language, so I wanted to write this to cover some of the things that you might not have noticed on a quick scouting trip, and can’t find out online – so you can make an educated decision about moving.

The #1 Thing to Know: It’s Not A First World Country

Montenegro is not a first world country. It looks stunningly beautiful in the photos (and it really is that beautiful in many places) but don’t be fooled just because there is an expensive marina at Porto Montenegro and it’s technically in Europe… it doesn’t work like a Western or even a European country.

It’s not regulated like a first world country when it comes to traffic laws, trash handling, environmental protection, animal welfare, child protection, building regulations or even purchasing real estate, just to name a few.

The gap between the law and the reality can be stunningly wide. Yes, something may be written in the law or in some article online, but it may not be enforced. Or it may be intermittently enforced, depending on your status, connections, and the mood of the official or bureaucrat on that day.

Corruption is rife. Locals can do a lot of things without consequences that foreigners can’t. They get a speeding fine? They just call their cousin in the police department to tear it up. They want to build on protected environmental land? Just grease the right palms.

It can be a very shocking transition for people coming here directly from the US or Canada, UK, Western Europe, or Australia who expect things to work like they did at home.

The happiest and most successful expats I know in Montenegro have lived or spent significant time in less developed countries before coming here.

The #2 Thing to Know: Connections Matter

Montenegro is a country where who you know matters more than what you know or what the law says.

It’s a tiny country of little more than 600,000 people and everyone knows EVERYONE. Need a recommendation for a doctor, plumber, restaurant to eat in the town you’re visiting? Every local will just call their friend or relative (or more than one) for a direct recommendation.

Most things are still done by calling someone directly, or failing that, text message. Don’t expect websites to be updated or even accurate. Instagram is where most things are marketed if you’re trying to find a beautician, dentist, holiday apartment, personal trainer or that kind of service.

It can even be hard to rent an apartment as foreigner, because noone knows you or your family and they can’t vouch for you.

So, if you don’t have any connections when you move to the country, then I recommend paying for them. Try to find a company with good local connections in your city who can help you with getting your residency permit, opening your bank account (which is not as easy as it once was), and dealing with any bureaucratic hurdles.

The #3 Thing To Know: Polako, Polako

This is the first word you should learn in Montenegrin. Polako means slowly, take it easy.

Everything is slow here. Bureaucracy is stuck in the 1980s and a lot of things are still done on paper (you should see the eight feet high stacks of paper in the courts and notary offices).

If some government department is busy, they don’t hire more people – it just takes longer. And sometimes they don’t work at all. At one point, people in Tivat were waiting up to a year for their property purchases to be officially recorded because the office was closed for some local political reason.

Dentists and doctors still use paper appointment books and will scribble in your next appointment in pencil. Companies all have a very important stamp that is necessary to validate all documents; there is no such thing as an electronic signature.

Everything you do here will take time and longer than you think. The culture is relaxed and you will need to be too unless you want to burst a blood vessel. So chill out, go for a coffee and sit in the sun for two hours, and then go home and have a nap, Montenegrin style.

The #4 Thing to Know: Don’t Count On An EU Passport

I came here in 2018 and people told me that Montenegro joining the EU was five years away. Currently, the expected date for accession to the EU in 2030. There are so many things that need to change internally in Montenegro to reach EU standards that it’s very likely it will take even longer than that.

And as for a Montenegrin passport… you will read articles online that tell you after just five years of temporary residency you can apply for permanent residency (this is true), and then after another five years of permanent residency you can apply for a passport.

This, however, is not true – it’s just another example of the law being different from the reality in Montenegro. I have never heard of a single foreigner getting a Montenegrin passport simply based on residency. (If you marry a local, then it may be possible).

For complicated political reasons I won’t go into here, you will probably never get a local passport just though residency.

The Top #2 Things That Will Break Your Heart

The top two things that will break your heart as an expat or resident in Montenegro are the garbage situation and the plight of animals.

The Garbage Situation

To my knowledge, the country has never had an anti-littering campaign like those that were common in Western countries in the 80s and 90s. Recycling is non-existent and plastic bags are still supplied for everything. (I’ve said to friends that Montenegro’s national flower is a plastic bag in a tree).

Houses don’t have individual bins; there are communal garbage containers in each street in the city or in each village. But somehow putting waste inside these bins is too much for a lot of people and next to the bin will do, making the area around the container a messy disaster.

Illegal dumping is also everywhere. Rather than pay a few euros to legally get rid of concrete chunks, bricks or old roofing tiles, people just dump it in isolated spots (just below a beautiful lookout point is a particular favourite for some reason; I guess because there is space to back up a truck).

People also just chuck their rubbish out their car windows and forget about it. Anywhere you could park a car to enjoy a view will have garbage all over the ground.

So will more accessible hiking trails. If you’re trying to find a badly marked trail to a lookout or fort and you’re not sure you’re on the right track… just look for the empty beer cans and you know you’re almost there.

As a foreigner, you have two options: start cleaning it up yourself with no expectation of reward (every summer videos of foreigners clearing up garbage on the beaches circulate online to much applause but no local behaviour change), or develop a kind of eyesight filter that allows you to edit out the garbage in that beautiful view.

Stray Animals

The skinny street dogs having litter after litter of puppies, the dumped kittens, the sick cats everywhere… it’s really, really tough. I’ve already written a full article on stray animals in Montenegro, so go read that if you want to know more about it and how to help.

So, You Really Want To Move To Montenegro?

So I still haven’t put you off? Great! Despite its many complicated problems, I love this beautiful country and I really enjoy the lifestyle and comparative level of freedom here. I’ve written several more articles to help you with the details of actually moving to Montenegro..

Where To Live in Montenegro

How To Get Residency in Montenegro

Montenegro for Digital Nomads

How To Learn Montenegrin

Stray Animals in Montenegro

On my first trip to Kotor I was enchanted by the cats everywhere. How amazing I thought! I love cats and they are just wandering about everywhere!

As time went by I realised that the cat (and dog) situation was not as charming as it appears. The local attitude to animals is NOT remotely the same as in Western countries, nor are the laws and regulations on the treatment of animals. It’s really confronting and one of the most difficult things to deal with as a foreigner living in the country.

It’s a complex and difficult situation, but I’ll do my best to explain why cats and dogs are treated as they are, and why there are so many uncared-for animals in Montenegro.

Dogs in Montenegro

Dogs with owners here come in two categories: the city and country version.

The city version is a pampered child substitute that lives in an apartment, has zero training, and barks incessantly. The country version is considered a living alarm system and spends their entire life chained up next to their kennel. You’ll encounter these in every rural village and often at farmstay or country Airbnbs (usually to the horror of visiting tourists).

Then there are the street dogs. I’d never seen a street dog when I lived in Australia, where any stray animal will get picked up by the local council and taken to a shelter.

In Montenegro, most of the cities have street dogs that appear to live full lives, have friends, territories, and favourite sunny spots. I’ll often see a street dog heading purposefully in some direction at a fast pace, and I always wonder where they are going, do they have a meeting?

They are generally pretty friendly, and don’t form dangerous packs like in other countries I’ve been to (Thailand, I’m looking at you). And while technically Montenegro is considered to be a country with rabies, in practice there hasn’t been a case here in many, many years.

That said, for all the happy-looking street dogs, the female street dogs have tough lives. Without spaying or desexing, they are constantly having new litters of puppies and will wear themselves thin trying to feed them. I was recently on a trip to the coast and on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere was a desperately skinny dog clearly wasting away trying to feed her puppies.

Dogs and puppies will also get dumped if they grow too big, someone moves house, or just aren’t wanted any more. It’s rough.

Cats in Montenegro

Cats are generally considered vermin, or something on a similar level to pigeons or squirrels in Western countries. If you’re a local, you might feed them if you feel like it but you would never let them inside your house or feel responsible for their babies or ongoing welfare.

A lot of people aren’t really familiar with the concept of cats as indoor pets. I had to explain to a local friend that domesticated, tame cats that grow up with people make lovely indoor companions because he’d only ever seen twitchy, skinny street cats! I’ve known a few foreigners who adopted street cats and made them indoor cats, and their neighbours are usually horrified and disgusted that THEY LET THEM INSIDE.

That said, many restaurants have well-fed resident cats (you will always know which ones because they will appear by your side as soon as your first course arrives). Many locals also do feed the cats and you will often see cat bowls or even little shelters outside shops or apartment buildings.

Kotor Old Town is also very famous for its cats – it’s even a symbol of the city. When I first arrived more than five years ago, the situation used to be pretty dire with litters of sick kittens everywhere, particularly in the square by the northern gate.

But thanks to an organisation called Kotor Kitties, and their efforts over the past few years to desex as many of the old town cats as possible. the situation is vastly improved. (You can tell which cats around town are desexed because the tip of one of their ears has been cropped.)

This leads me onto one of the local attitudes I have the most trouble with, even after years of living here…

Desexing Animals in Montenegro

The reason there are so many street animals is because desexing (aka spaying or neutering) animals is rarely done in Montenegro, as it is considered inhumane.

Admittedly, if you are living on 500 euros a month and are trying to feed your family and keep a roof over your head, it is expensive and probably very low down your priority list.

But even educated people I’ve talked to had the same attitude. They considered that their pet should have the opportunity to breed and that it was inhumane to prevent it.

The outcome of this attitude means that there are hungry stray animals and abandoned kittens and puppies EVERYWHERE, CONSTANTLY. People’s pets or the strays they feed aren’t fixed, they get pregnant, they produce more unwanted kittens and puppies that people don’t want around their building or farm, and then they get dumped somewhere to be someone else’s problem.

I’ve seen puppies dumped by the side of the road, week-old kittens left in bags in dumpsters (!!!), and litters of kittens left in the yard of foreigners who is known to like cats. (A kind foreigner who was looking after a cat colony in a coastal city had to completely shut down their operation because she was over-whelmed with sick kittens constantly being anonymously dropped off and infecting the healthy cats.)

Why allowing some poor animal to have litter after litter of puppies or kittens that mostly die of disease or accidents is not considered inhumane… I have no rational explanation. It’s one of those things I have to chalk up to cultural differences that I will never understand.

Literally half the content of the foreigner and expat groups on Facebook is posts of animals that need adoption and it is heart-breaking. People always ask me why I don’t have a cat if I like them so much and the answer is that if I got one cat it would be a short step to having sixteen cats.

Every foreigner I know who is here long term has rescued all the animals they can manage (and usually a couple more beyond that) and there are still so, so many more.

How to Help Animals in Montenegro

Feeding the strays you see does feel good, but unfortunately doesn’t do anything to solve this terrible problem long term.

If you can, catching and taking the females to the vet to be spayed is THE most impactful thing you can do for the individual animal – and for the plight of animals in Montenegro.

If you’re not in a position to trap and release yourself, then donate to one of these organisations I’ve listed below. They are usually run by volunteers and people who work incredibly hard to improve the lives of animals in Montenegro.

Kotor Kitties – Kotor Kitties do amazing work catching and desexing street cats around the Kotor area. They are an international organisation, however, and can’t usually help with individual cases of sick or injured cats.

Stray Aid Montenegro – Stray Aid Montenegro works around the city of Bar trapping and desexing cats and dogs. They can also help with adopting and first aid if you find an animal in need.

Friends of Dogs – Friends of Dogs is a small group of volunteers along the coast who do everything they can to help dogs, both individually and through population control. They really love dogs and need all the financial support they can get – it all goes back to helping the local dogs.

Thank you for doing what you can to help the animals in Montenegro!

Handmade Products from Montenegro

Montenegro’s best handmade articles tend to be the edible kind (sadly Njeguški sir and pršut don’t ship too well) but there are a few rather nice souvenirs and handicrafts made locally.


Znuggle creates handcrafted soft toys in northern Montenegro. These toys are amazing as every part is made locally and by hand, from beginning to end. The ladies from Znuggle collect and spin the wool from their own sheep, dye the wool with local plants and colours, and then crochet the wool into these charming toys and dolls.

Buy handmade organic toys at Znuggle.me.


Olcinium sells delicious olive oil from their own trees, and olive wood handicrafts from their cellar door in Valdanos, near Ulcinj. They have grown olives for centuries and make tables, platters, cheese boards, and other decorations.

See Olcinium’s olive wood products on their Instagram.

Cvijet Lovćena

Cvijet Lovćena (Flowers of Lovćen) creates necklace charms in the shape of flowers native to the coastal mountain and natural area of Lovćen.

See the flower necklaces from Cvijet Lovćena on their Instagram.


If you’re in Porto Montenegro in Tivat, check out Stories. It’s a homewares and accessories store selling products that are handcrafted or designed in Montenegro.

Find Stories in person at Porto Montenegro or follow their Instagram.

Enjoy! The art and craft industry in Montenegro is still developing and I hope to add more to this list in future.

« Older posts