Best Things to do in Montenegro by van

Categories Balkans, Europe, Montenegro
Itinéraire pour un magnifique road trip au Monténégro en van.

A Road Trip Itinerary in Montenegro

You want to discover Montenegro by van? Personally, it was one of the most beautiful stages of our road trip in the Balkans. Natural parks, turquoise blue river, breathtaking landscapes, nice beaches and old cities like Dubrovnik…

Find here all stages of our road trip in Montenegro by van

1/ Our travel’s stages in Montenegro by van

Find our stages (hike starts, restaurants, places to sleep, beaches…) on the map above.

1.1/ Day 1 – Arrival in Montenegro, a big WOW

Arrived from Bosnia, the road is not very good. But more and more, the landscapes tell us “Welcome”. We drive along the Tara River, the road is gradually improving and at every turn, the viewpoints amaze us.

Great landscapes in Montenegro by van when driving along the Tara River.

Then we climb a zigzag road – just before the town of Pluzine – to enter the famous Durmitor Park in the north of the country. We don’t believe our eyes, the road is just wonderful.

Wonderful road and panoramic view during our travel in Montenegro by van.

1st Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

A small parking at the bottom of the mountain. It’s a hiking start but it’s very quiet and again, the scenery is superb. We had a bit of  change with us as you read that there is a Park fee to pay (2 € per person) but any ranger came to claim it.

Durmitor Park road landscape in the north of Montenegro by van.

1.2/ Day 2 – Hike: « Veliko & Malo Skrcko » lakes

As we are already parked at the start of the hike, we begin our discovery of Montenegro by a small walk to “Veliko Skrcko and Malo Skrcko Jezero” lakes (jezero means lake in Serbian).

Count 3h for a 6.6 km return trip (3.3 km to the refuge between the 2 lakes with about 500 meters of elevation). Including the hike, a small picnic on site and some photo breaks, we spend about 5 hours there.

Best hikes in Montenegro in the Durmitor park, Veliko and Malo lakes.

We go then to Zabljak, the Hub town of the Durmitor Park.
From here: hikes, canyoning, skiing in winter… everything for the Nature Addicts.

2cd Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

We found a small place to park for free just 2 mins from the center. Not very sexy but very convenient as we want to go walking early the next day.

1.3/ Day 3 – Black Lake Discovery

From Zabljak, much to do for fans of sports and nature. Having already done canoeing on the Soca River (here our road trip itinerary in Slovenia) we decide not to do canyoning on the Tara River (yes, we have keep our budget in minds).

The walk in the forest that goes to the Black Lake from Zabljak in Montenegro.

On the other hand we decide to walk to and around the Black Lake (Crno Jezero in Montenegrin and / or Serbian). From the city center, it takes about 2.5km to get to the lake. Start the path to the left of the restaurant Oro to avoid roads and walk in the forest. The whole tour of the lake: a little less than 4km, 1h max. and little elevation in general.

View on the famous Black Lake in the Durmitor Park in Montenegro by van.

Drone view on the Black Lake in the Durmitor Park, north of Montenegro.

3rd Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

11 km South of Zabljak, nice little spot in the nature, close to a lake. Very cool, and there is water there.

1.4/ Day 4 – Niksic, beer and local party

Our trip in Montenegro by van continues and we go to Niksic. The city from which comes the most famous beer of Montenegro: Niksicko. So to honor it, we have some refreshing breaks during our visit.

In fact, the city is not the most incredible we visited, there was also a lot of work, but we spend a pleasant day. We take the opportunity to test local cuisine, the famous Montenegrin “Kacamak“. It is a kind of puree with cream and cheese. Just to say, it’s very tasty but… heavy!

The Homer Pub in Niksic in the center of Montenegro during our trip by van.

Niksic marks our road trip in Montenegro (not just thanks to Kacamak) because we had a great time with locals here. We arrive at the Homer Pub in the late afternoon looking for a place to work and charge our computers but with our dog with us. Because for your info, Montenegro and the Balkan countries in general are not very Pet Friendly. So it’s not always easy to find a bar that accepts animals.

We went back to the van far too late… We get on well with the owner, his girlfriend and another friend of him. Talking about Montenegro, our island, sharing local Raki (grape alcohol) and home made “rhums arrangés”… (yes, we have everything in our Volkswagen mobile kitchen).

Meeting locals ans sharing cultures during our travel in Montenegro by van.

4th Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

Fortunately, we will sleep in front of the Pub. Driving would have been totally crazy. A small car park very quiet in the evening, normally it’s charged, but free as we spent the evening at the Pub.

1.5/ Days 5 & 6 – Risan, beach and vegging out

On the road to the coast, wonderful landscapes.

Great points of view from the road between Niksic and Risan in Montenegro.

Risan, our 1st overview of the Montenegrin coast. A small and very nice town, with its pretty seafront. In the center, a few restaurants, bakery, grocery stores and a sandy beach with showers. Going a little further, we find a more quiet spot, it’s not sandy beaches, but we can swim here with our doggie.

Go to the beach in the nice and calm Risan on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro.

5th Sleeping Spot – Montenegro en van :

A small free beach parking. Very used during the day (with no shadow), it’s very quiet at night. Superb night facing the sea with the few  city lights. Perfect!

1.6/ Day 7 – The coast to Kotor

From Risan to Kotor, it’s a 20 mins drive along the coast. Many beautiful landscapes and small towns, like Perast. It’s difficult to park there, but the village is nice. Some palaces, on its waterfront, the church of St. Nicholas, and especially the beautiful view of the 2 nearby islands, the Island of the Dead and the Notre-Dame-du-Rocher island (artificial). It’s possible to go there by boat.

The Island of the Dead and the Notre dame du rocher Island, in front of Perast on the Montenegrin coast.

In Kotor, you have to pay for the vast majority of car parks. There is come free places a little further south of the city center, near a petrol station (see map). The city is very pretty so of course very touristic, but it is worth the detour. Its old fortifications are in very good condition and its Venetian past is visible.

Must do in Kotor: its beautiful stone buildings, the Saint-Tryphon Cathedral in the center, the wall gates, the main Puerta del Mar and its Venetian lion, the outside market leading at the South door and many pretty shops… Cats lovers, this city is made for you, it’s even its symbol and there is a place dedicated to them, the “Cats Feeding Place”.

Turc shop in the old center town of Kotor during our road trip in Montenegro by van.

What we may have preferred is maybe the hike on the city wall at the end of the day to enjoy the sunset on the heights of Kotor from Fort St. John. Be careful, the price has gone from 3 to 8 € in a few years, but it’s free after 7pm, perfect.

Kotor old murals walk to enjoy the sunset from the St John Fort, Montenegrin coast.

6th Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

Nice spot to sleep in nature in the hills, about ½ hour from Kotor. A breath of freshness  really pleasant in summer. Be careful, driving by night is not super easy.

Not far, the Mount Lovcen: about 100 km from Kotor, Mount Lovcen is one of Montenegro’s top touristic attractions. At the end, you have to take a narrow zigzag road for about 25 km. The entrance to the Natural Park costs 4 €. Personally, we chose not to do it because we had no enough time and we didn’t want to damage our car there.

1.7/ Day 8 – Budva and around

Destination beach

We leave Kotor and decide to spend a day at the beach. But since dogs are not welcome here, we must use twice as much imagination to find a nice and uncrowded spot. We go to the Ploce beach, because we had read that it was a beautiful beach with few people. Let’s just say that this guidebook suddenly age when we saw lots of bars, restaurants, swimming pools and especially lots of people…

We stay positive and we see on the map a small path that continues to the west. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so we take the picnic and go there. After a 15 mins walk, we are alone, near a lighthouse, on what will be our beach of the day. You can swim in small natural pools, or in the sea. But beware, the entrance and exit in the sea may be a little dangerous.

Our secret beach close to Ploce in the Budva surroundings, travelling in Montenegro by van.

Budva, the small Dubrovnik

After this wonderful day at the beach, we head towards the old center of Budva for the end of the afternoon. We found nothing better than a paid parking 2km from the center. The old city is often compared to Dubrovnik and indeed, the old town is really pretty. Small stone streets that host restaurants, bars, shops… with pretty colors. And of course, its beautiful churches and citadel. Discover our road trip in Croatia by van.

Enjoy Budva atmosphere, the Montenegro small Dubrovnik during a road trip in Montenegro.

We spend the end of the day and evening there. Enjoying the city atmosphere around a good beer overlooking the sea at The Prince, we decide to go to the restaurant outside the center to avoid the tourist prices. We are pleasantly surprised by the Restoran Teraca.

7th Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

As we don’t find a nice and free spot in Budva, we decide to leave. We park on a monastery parking 14 km more East, just before Petrovac (you can refill water just under this beautiful ceramic). On the way you can admire the view of the Stevi Stefan peninsula.

Petrovac monastery ceramics, during our road trip in Montenegro by van.

1.8/ Day 9 – Skadar Natural Park

Let’s go to Skadar Natural Park and its lake. Skadar Lake is the largest lake in the Balkans. 2/3 are in Montenegro and the remaining third in Albania. It is known for its exceptional flora and fauna… birds, water lilies… You can also go to the point of view of Pavlova Strana to take a nice picture (here below @Earthtrekkers). We knew it too late!

View on the Skadar lake, from the Pavlova Strana viewpoint in south Montenegro.

From Virpazar you can take a boat for a cruise on the lake. Many boats offer 2h excursions, bathing included, for about 30 euros. On our side, we didn’t do it. After we read some mixed reviews, we already had some doubts, but the bad weather definitely made us say NO.

8th Sleeping Spot – Montenegro by van:

Really nice spot in the nature, in the Skadar Park. Different types of places to park… under the trees before the descent to the lake, on a small unshaded hill, or at the bottom, under the trees, near the lake. We chose the hill for its view of the surroundings. Very calm, we had a great moment.

Great place with a campervan in the Skadar natural park in Montenegro.

1.9/ Day 10 – Capital, Podgorica!

That’s it, our road trip in Montenegro by van is coming to an end. We go to the capital, Podgorica. The city is nice, although not unforgettable. We visit the town quite quickly and take the opportunity to swim in the river near the Millennium Bridge. A must-see, the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, or “Saborni hram Hristovog Vaskresenja”. It’s recent, but it’s beautiful from the outside and even more impressive from the inside.

The Millenium Bridge in Podgorica, Montenegro capital.

We test 2 local food restaurants, the Pod Volat and Restauran Krystal… the value for money is good and no problem for the big eaters, the portions are large. Many bars are concentrated on 2 streets, including the Njegoseva.

9th Sleeping Spot – Montengro by van:

Very close to the center, a pay parking (but very reasonable price) behind the city stadium. Nevertheless it was very quiet when we were there. We found places with shadow.

2/ Travel Montenegro by van

Here are all info you need ot know to prepare a raod trip in Montenegro by van.

2.1/ Montenegro roads

Roads’ condition: in global, roads’ condition is pretty good. However, we had some bad surprises, like the northern road from Bosnia to the Durmitor Park, the hairpin roads close to the coast (the one that goes down to Risan, the one that goes up towards Trojica…). So you should be careful anyway.

Roads conditions in Montenegro for a road trip by van.

There is no motorway in Montenegro, so except the tunnel between the coast and Podgorica (we didn’t take it), no toll.

2.2/ Shower and drinkable water in Montenegro

Regarding water, we had no particular difficulty to find some. Of course, as always, the Maps application helped us in our search.

2.3/ Find places to park a van in Montenegro

We had no problem to fing sleeping spots during our road trip in Montenegro by van. We found them quite easily and generally there were really nice places. And we had no comments from local people, even when we were visible in town.

Vanlife in Montenegro, easy to find good spot for campervan in Montenegro.

2.4/ Budget in Montenegro

Convenient, they also use Euro in Montenegro, but the prices are really affordable. In restaurant, a dish is generally between 5 and 7 € per person.

On the other hand, except Slovenia and Croatia, the other Balkan countries do not generally fit into the french mobile phone packages. Check yours, because it can go up to 6 € / MB.

Ok, that’s it ! We really hope that this article about organizing a road trip in Montenegro by van will be useful. Do not hesitate to leave us a message if yes! And above all… happy holidays!

Bonus: you want to feel the Montenegrin atmosphere?

Here are some good local sounds for your trip in Montenegro: a 100% local playlist that Romain prepared for you (and for us…). Listen to it on our Youtube channel!

Road trip with a van in the Balkan countries – Here, all our itineraries in Balkan countries..

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