Montenegro, the little gem of the Balkans, gains more and more popularity each year. And there is nothing surprising about that – the country offers a variety of attractions for each taste and the list of great places to visit in Montenegro is really long. But is Montenegro safe to visit?
Today I’m going to tell you all about Montenegro safety. I wanted to avoid writing this article based only on my experience so I also asked a few fellow travel bloggers to share their point of view on safety in Montenegro. You will find their stories below.
My experience with Montenegro safety
I can’t count how many times I was lucky to visit Montenegro but this is surely one of my favorite places to travel to in the Balkans. All of my trips there were independent.
Sometimes I went there with friends, sometimes solo, sometimes I moved around using public transport, sometimes I joined local tours or rented a car. But always I had a great time there and I can’t recommend this country enough.
I also always felt very safe when visiting Montenegro. Funnily enough, the only creepy moment of all my trips there was when I was stalked at the Podgorica airport by the Polish guy who recognized me from this blog.
It was a very awkward experience but happened during the day and I quickly jumped into the taxi and left so he couldn’t follow me any longer. But this story has nothing to do with how safe Montenegro is and it could have happened everywhere really.
I usually stay in Kotor and explore Montenegro from there. This little town is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen and it keeps impressing me every single time.
I also find Kotor a very safe place although it is a popular tourist destination so in the peak season you might be more alert to avoid typical travel scams and pickpockets (that can happen in all popular places all over the world).
But outside the season (which is always my favorite time to visit Kotor) this is a sleepy little town where everyone knows each other and life goes by slowly.
But even if I have nothing but good memories from Montenegro there were two other situations that raised my safety concerns a bit. Oddly enough, they both happened on the same day.
The first one was in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro. This is not the most exciting place to visit but since I had an early morning flight I’ve decided to stay there overnight.
Together with a friend, we arrived in Podgorica in the afternoon and after quick sightseeing (really quick, there is not much to see there) we stopped for early dinner in one of the restaurants in the center. While before the center of the town was really sleepy, when we left the restaurant the atmosphere has changed tremendously and was buzzing with testosterone.
As it turned out the place was full of young football fans of what seemed like opposite teams and well, they didn’t meet for a friendly chat. We quickly passed the gathering and fortunately, no one bothered us but I’m not gonna lie, this was a really uncomfortable experience and those few glances in our direction made me already a bit scared, especially that there was no one else around and I had no idea what might happen.
Fortunately, it was all fine after all but I still remember the anxiety this situation has given me. This might be also one of the reasons why I’m not a big fan of Podgorica.
Earlier on the same day, we’ve decided to visit Fort Lesendro located beautifully on the dike, in the middle of Skadar Lake. We’ve seen it from the bus passing through the lake and it looked like an easy place to go to. There was a train station nearby, in Vranjina and we figured we can walk from there.
Well, it was easier said than done – as it quickly turned out there is no path or even a roadside to walk on and we ended up going next to the railway tracks. I can’t say it was a very smart thing to do but this was actually the only way to get to Fort Lesendro and still felt safer than walking on a busy road.
At least we were lucky there were no trains going when we walked (although we’ve seen a few from the fort) but this is the main railway line leading to the seaside port in Bar so trains run there quite frequently. And Fort Lesendro, even if in ruins was just as interesting as I expected.
There are a few more safety matters to consider when visiting Montenegro but nothing too serious really. When visiting the country in the peak season that is always busy with tourists be alert about typical travel scams – overpriced taxis, restaurants, or boat tours to Lady of the Rock in Perast or on Skadar Lake.
Pickpocketing happens, like everywhere else, but it’s not a very big issue – just keep an eye on your belongings as you would do anywhere else.
The seaside town of Budva is the main party hub in Montenegro and often together with parties comes alcohol or drugs. So be careful when partying and also when going back to your accommodation. But again, there is nothing unusual about that so use the safety precautions you would use anywhere else.
Montenegro (and the nearby countries in the Balkans) is also in an area that is seismically active and recently there were a few earthquakes nearby (in Croatia and Albania) that were felt in Montenegro too, although there were no major damages in the country.
The most tragic earthquake took place in 1979 with an epicenter on the Montenegrin coast and a magnitude of 6,9. There were over a hundred casualties and major destructions in the country (in the Budva Old Town only 8 out of 400 buildings remained untouched).
This shouldn’t be a big safety issue when planning your trip but I think it’s worth mentioning since we talk about Montenegro safety here.
As you might remember from history, ex-Yugoslavia was a scene of the cruel civil war in the 1990s. Unlike neighboring countries, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, or Kosovo, Montenegro wasn’t much affected by these terrible events, and even when the country separated from Serbia in 2006, it was all done in a peaceful manner. You won’t really notice much of the tension after the 1990s Yugoslav war in Montenegro.
I really believe Montenegro is one of the safest countries to visit in the Balkans and if you have some doubts about going there – you shouldn’t have them. This place is just amazing, with incredible nature, beautiful towns, great relaxing opportunities at the seaside and, first and foremost, friendly and hospitable people who would be more than happy to show you their country.
Just use common sense and safety precautions like everywhere else, keep an eye on your belongings and avoid scams and you will be just fine. And I’m sure you will enjoy Montenegro as much as I did!
Other travellers’ opinion and experience in Montenegro
And since I don’t want to give you only my opinion as I might be biased in a way, here are a few of my fellow bloggers who were kind enough to share their experience of traveling to Montenegro.
After a week of driving from Podgorica to Herceg Novi as part of an overland trip through the Balkans, I left with the impression that Montenegro is one of the better countries in the region in terms of road safety.
The majority of the country’s roads are in very good condition, and traffic is light outside of the Bay of Kotor area. I found other drivers to be laid-back and non-aggressive – and I certainly felt safe on the roads going at my own (sometimes slow) pace.
My only misadventure was driving on the Kotor Serpentine, the steep road with 16 hairpin turns that runs up the mountain to Lovcen National Park. I discovered the hard way that there are no street lights and the area is pitch black at night.
Keep in mind that there are lots of short and longer tunnels in Montenegro, so you need to know how to work your headlights properly from the time you pick up your car. In fact, it’s the law to drive with dipped lights on at all times, even in the middle of the day.
Don’t be deterred by stories you find online about car theft in Montenegro – in my experience, you only need to exercise common sense (locking the doors, parking in secure areas, taking out insurance) and you’ll be fine.
– By Emily from Wander-Lush
A couple of years ago, my husband and I, and our 21 and 14 years old daughters traveled to Montenegro for 5 nights. We stayed in Kotor and had booked several day trips with a car and driver through a reputable local travel agency.
On our first outing, we did a 10-hour driving loop around Montenegro – from Kotor up to Durmitor National Park to Tara River Canyon and then back to Kotor. The drive was spectacular in the natural beauty that we saw. We basically drove all day along mountain roads overlooking deep canyons.
However, the roads were narrow and the driving was a little crazy. Several times, I had to close my eyes and hold my breath as we overtook someone with a sheer drop down a mountainside. We also witnessed a car crash.
The next day, our driver arrived but in a different car. We were going to go to Lake Skadar National Park, about a 90-minute drive away (depending on traffic). This time, one seat belt in the back seat was missing.
We refused to go and asked for a different car. He called the travel agent who hired him and I spoke to her. She said that I was being unreasonable about refusing to accept this car. It was summer and the car rental agency was sold out of stock. We couldn’t swap cars.
When I asked our driver if he would put his young daughter in this car without a seat belt, he said “Of course. No one really cares about that in Montenegro.” So, we fired him and the travel agent and went back to our hotel.
Within one hour, our hotel found an amazing guide with a big car and four fully functioning seat belts and we had an amazing day.
– By Nicole from Go Far Grow Close
My male hitchhiking friends who had traveled around Montenegro had only feared wild bears when free-camping. Though I appreciated this warning, the real notice I and other people that present or identify as women needed was the astonishing incidence rate for pervy men.
My experiences in Montenegro the two times I hitchhiked there (aged 22 and 24) were… a bit tiring. There were never women behind the wheel and cars with more than one person present were extremely rare.
This isn’t a problem in itself, but it is when nearly all rides soured at some point. That’s why I switched up rides frequently at the first signs of fuckery.
Though my experiences in Montenegro are lovely in other regards – scenery, hospitality, gastronomy – I couldn’t help but notice that they’re not sending their best people when it comes to autostopiranje.
Solo female hitchhiking there was the worst in the Balkans and – dare I say? – perhaps all of Europe. Still, I’d do it again.
– By Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
Hiking in Montenegro is safe and definitely one of the best things to do in this country. Montenegro is a Balkan country, with stunning places like Durmitor National Park, Lovcen National Park, or Biogradska Gora National Park.
Amongst several beautiful hikes, we walked around the Black Lake, a beautiful itinerary in Zabljak that we recommend. At the beginning of the trail, the general map with the hiking itinerary helps get an overview of the walk, the altitude, and directions.
En route, the path was good, and there were marks from time to time. However, we found a couple of spots where the indications for the route to follow were in Cyrillic, so my knowledge of the alphabet was vital not to get lost.
My suggestion is to learn the names of some key places also in Cyrillic, so you are ready for anything!
– By Elisa from France Bucket List
When traveling to popular cities like Kotor and Budva, make sure to always ask how much something costs and double-check how much change you got back (if paying with cash).
When we were staying in Kotor for a week, we needed to get groceries but all of the stores were closed (since it was a Sunday and that was their day off). We decided to buy a few snacks from the kiosk near the port — a bottle of water, some crackers, and iced coffee — and were charged 10 EUR when it should have been half of that!
Many kiosk sellers prey on incoming tourists who just got off their cruise ship and don’t know the actual prices of that bottle of water that they plan to buy. Avoid this by always asking in advance.
Likewise, check the amount of change you receive after paying for an item. We ‘accidentally’ got less than we were supposed to (twice!) in Budva’s Old Town.
– By Luda from Adventures with Luda
My girlfriend and I spent a few days in the Bay of Kotor, in Montenegro, on a road trip from Dubrovnik a few years ago.
We did all the usual things like wandering around the old town, climbing the fortress, visiting Perast and Lovcen National Park, and not once did we feel like we were unwelcome or unsafe.
I am a British Asian and my girlfriend is Slovakian and, as a couple, we thought the local people in Kotor were super friendly and couldn’t be more helpful.
Our Airbnb host was very welcoming and offered us beers and some local tips. We walked back down from the fortress after sunset and never felt like we were in danger and often walked back to our Airbnb late at night.
If the rest of Montenegro is like The Bay of Kotor, then I can’t wait to see the rest of the country!
– By Jeff from Life Of Y
In my personal experience, Montenegro is not only a very safe destination for travelers but also extremely hospitable, especially in the countryside. In the remote mountain regions of Montenegro, locals still follow a strict honor code, where hospitality towards travelers is one of the most important aspects.
Expect to get invited for homemade bread, cheese, and home-brewed rakija. The latter is a very strong liquor and the offer is very difficult to reject for male travelers, so extra caution while driving is imperative.
Due to century-old feuds, travelers should also avoid talking about the neighboring countries when staying in more traditional parts of the country.
But overall, travelers have little to worry about in the Montenegrin countryside and can instead focus on enjoying a type of hospitality that is rare to find in modern-day Europe.
– By Arabela from The Spicy Travel Girl
Having never been to Montenegro before, my girlfriend and I had a positive experience when we first arrived in Podgorica in 2018. We flew into the capital and were able to take a taxi from the airport without issue. The whole process ended up being very structured (unlike at other airports).
When we went to leave by bus a few days later, we pre-bought bus tickets at the machine at the local bus station without issue. The bus driver even made sure we got off at the right place (Herceg Novi).
The city itself was nice – but the thing that stood out the most was how friendly and helpful the locals were. When we walked around or tried out a restaurant, we were greeted by seemingly genuine individuals who were happy to have us there.
– By Eric from Recipes From Europe
We visited Montenegro in the peak summer season with our three children. We stayed outside the main tourist areas and felt safe and welcome at all times.
We were often the only foreign tourists on local beaches and in local restaurants and found people to be helpful and friendly.
One day we hailed a taxi whose driver honestly said it would cost us more to sit in traffic than it would to walk the short distance to our destination. Another day we approached a boat for a trip on Kotor Bay and were offered free places for our children despite them taking up a seat.
Our accommodation host was generous with her time and made two journeys in her small car to give us a lift to the bus stop with our luggage. Our family would not hesitate to return to Montenegro.
– By Sinead from Map Made Memories
One of the most gorgeous countries in Europe, Montenegro has remained a bit of a hidden gem for travelers. However, it’s slowly beginning to creep out of its shell.
Montenegro is a very safe country to visit despite its rocky past, however, before you travel, you should be aware of certain scams and crimes in the area.
Like most areas of the world, petty theft, beggars, and pickpockets are common in populous Montenegrin cities. Kotor, Budva, Sveti Stefan, and Herceg Novi are the places where this occurs most often and thieves will try to make you drop your valuables or swipe things from your hand.
Unless you have a lockable backpack, it is advisable to carry your bag in front of you whilst you’re walking in the streets. Carry minimal cash and limit the number of valuables on your person and, strange as it sounds, don’t show valuable objects (like phones or cameras) to children.
Nevertheless, crimes like this are no more common than many other travel destinations, so just use common sense, and you should be fine.
– By Alice from Adventures of Alice
Now, that you know all about Montenegro safety you might want to plan your trip to this amazing country. Here are a few articles I wrote that you might find useful or interesting:
- 22 Amazing Places to Visit in Montenegro
- 15 Wonderful Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro
- Montenegro Itinerary – Plan Your Perfect One Week in Montenegro
- Perast, Montenegro – the Gem on the Adriatic Coast
- Great Montenegro Tour – the best Kotor day trip
- Solo female travel in the Balkans
- and more!
For the end I left a few announcements that might interest you:
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- I’ve included a few handy links of services and products I personally like and use so you can plan your own trip to Montenegro too. They are often affiliate links. This means I will get a small commission if you book/purchase anything through my links, at no extra costs for you. Thank you!
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