A desirable country to visit, Montenegro is arguably one of the most beautiful countries in the Balkans. Its beauty ranges from jagged mountain peaks in the north, to a glittering coast to the west, and beautiful scenic drives all along the way. If you plan to visit Montenegro, I highly encourage renting a car for an epic Montenegro road trip.
When I visited Montenegro I spent 12-days slowly traveling around. I discovered old towns, learned about Montenegro’s history and stayed everywhere from wine country to small villages on the coast. I picked my favorite things in the country and packed my 12-days into an easily doable 4 day Montenegro itinerary.
The Best 4 Day Montenegro Road Trip
HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR MONTENEGRO VACATION
- What you need to know about renting a car in Montenegro
- Visiting Cetinje – the former royal capital of Montenegro
- Slowing down in Rijeka Crnojevića
- Driving through Lovćen
- The Montenegro coast
- Staying in Kotor
Renting a Car in Montenegro
This was my fourth time renting a car in Europe (read about my other European road trips here!), and I have to say – my experience in Montenegro was by far the easiest! I chose to rent through Green Motion, picking my car up in Podgorica and returning it in Kotor.
Driving throughout Montenegro was pretty easy as the roads are well maintained and the drivers are generally good, following the rules of the road. If you’re accessing smaller villages or driving through the mountains, the roads can be narrow and there are many hairpin turns. I recommend going slowly, taking your time, and remember, if you can’t see around the corner make sure to honk to let people know you’re coming!
The other thing to keep in mind is that if you’re visiting Montenegro in the prime summer months (June, July, August), traffic along the coast is pretty insane and it can be difficult to find parking. I ended up getting my car towed once because I parked on the street in a non-designated parking spot. Make sure to ask the locals if your car is okay and if you can, try to find a parking garage. Most of the small coastal towns won’t allow cars so make sure to find places to stay that allow parking and plan to arrive at destinations early in the morning while there are still parking spots available. (Pst, I recommend avoiding Montenegro in the summer and instead would recommend visiting during shoulder season – May or September).
DRIVING IN MONTENEGRO
- There’s a law stating that lights must be kept on at all times (even during the day)
- You can purchase car insurance through Green Motion, or check with your credit card company to see if they provide car insurance (Chase Sapphire Reserve does as long as you rent the car using your credit card)
- You do not need an international drivers license as long as your driver’s license is written in the Roman alphabet
Getting to Montenegro
Of course, you can cross Montenegro by land from Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, or Kosovo; but if you’re coming by air, the two airports in Montenegro are in Podgorica and Tivat. If you rent a car from Green Motion, you can pick it up at either of these airports.
Day 1 – Cetinje + Overnight in Rijeka Crnojevića
WHERE TO STAY IN RIJEKA CRNOJEVIćA: Pansion5
Assuming you’re picking up your car in Podgorica, the first order of business is to drive 30-minutes west to Cetinje – the former royal capital of Montenegro. You can stroll through Cetinje in just a couple of hours, visiting historic museums, churches, and learning about Montenegro’s history. I recommend walking down Njegoseva Street (the main street in town) and visiting the Museum of History and Cetinje Monastery.
Before leaving Cetinje and heading to Rijeka Crnojevića, stop for a traditional lunch at Restaurant Belveder. Then continue 30-minutes southeast to spend the night in Rijeka Crnojevića.
Rijeka Crnojevića is a small town on the Rijeka Crnojevića river near Skadar Lake. It’s a great place to just slow down and enjoy your first night in Montenegro. While you’re in town I recommend hiring a boat to take you on a tour of the lake and show you some hidden gems in the area. I used Luka and he was great! Get in touch with him on WhatsApp – +382 68 549 950.
I would also highly recommend making time to go to Pavlova Strana for a beautiful sunset overlooking the river. It’s one of the most famous viewpoints in all of Montenegro!
Day 2 – Petrovac + Sveti Stefan + Lovćen National Park + Overnight in Lepetani
WHERE TO STAY IN LEPETANI: Villa Z (Airbnb)
On your second day in Montenegro, make it a point to start seeing the hidden gems along the coast. Upon leaving the quiet and charming town of Rijeka Crnojevića, drive an hour south to Petrovac. Petrovac is a charming beach town in Budva County between Budva and Bar and sees many tourists during the summer. I highly recommend stopping here for lunch at Konoba Tramntana and a stroll along the promenade.
After lunch drive 15-minutes north up the coast to Sveti Stefan. Sveti Stefan is unique for its famous island that boasts an incredibly fancy and exclusive five-star hotel. Hike up to the Sveti Stefan viewpoint to see the island from above, or make time to head to the beach for a swim. I recommend Queen’s Beach of Milocer Beach.
After leaving Sveti Stefan, head an hour and a half northwest to Lovćen National Park. Head straight to the Mausoleum of Petar Il Petrovic-Njegos for incredible views over Montenegro. To enter the park you have to pay 2 Euro and to enter the mausoleum (where the views are) you have to pay an additional 5 Euro.
When you’re done at Lovćen head down the mountain to Kotor (there are tons of scenic viewpoints along the way where you can stop and get out for pictures), stopping in Lepetani in Tivat County. The drive from Lovćen to Lepetani is about an hour and a half.
Lepetani is a small and very quiet village between the busier towns of Tivat and Kotor. The Airbnb that was recommended above is located right next to the water, next to the ferry, and has a free parking spot. If you plan to stay overnight here know that you’ll need to stop for dinner, which I recommend doing at One or Panorama in Porto before getting to Lepetani.
Please note: There isn’t much to do in Lepetani besides lay low and go to the beach. I enjoyed relaxing here before heading to the much busier town of Kotor. In Lepetani you can also take the ferry over to Herceg-Novi, which I didn’t have time to do but deeply regret. If you do visit Herceg-Novi you might consider staying two nights in Lepetani instead of one.
Day 3 & 4 – Perast + Overnight in Kotor
WHERE TO STAY IN KOTOR: Romantic & Stylish Hideaway in Medieval Old Town Stone House (Airbnb; Please note, this property doesn’t offer a place to park but can direct you somewhere that does for a small fee)
On your third day in Montenegro, head north to the crown jewel of the country – Kotor. Kotor has earned double UNESCO World Heritage status for both its Venetian influence on the old town and its marvelous fortress that leads up the mountains giving incredible views of the Bay of Kotor. Spend time getting to know the city – walking the lower walls at sunset and eating incredible seafood inside the fortified walls.
For a complete guide to visiting Kotor, read A Guide to Visiting Kotor, Montenegro
On your last day in Montenegro wake up early to hike the Kotor Fortress Trail to the Castle of San Giovanni (find complete information about this hike in the guide above). After finishing the hike get in the car and head north to visit the town of Perast. Before getting to Perast stop for a small lunch at an amazing seafood restaurant located on the beach. The name of this restaurant is in Russian, but if you put “Oyster Farm” on your maps, you’ll pass it and continue north, driving about 30-seconds further to the next pull-out to get to this restaurant. It isn’t visible from the road so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the pull-out on the left-hand side of the road signaling that you’re at the right place. This seafood restaurant only serves fresh oysters, mussels, bread, and drinks.
After a light lunch continue north to the town of Perast. Perast is the perfect place for water activities as there are great beach areas, the water is pristine, and it’s close to the famed Our Lady of the Rocks island. In Perast I highly recommend renting paddleboards or kayaks (the price should be 10 Euro/hour) and getting out on the water. If you’re looking to lounge at the beach visit the Pirate Bar where you can get a lounge chair for 15 Euro for the day or sit on the free beach to the right of the bar.
After finishing up in Perast, head back to Kotor for dinner and a night out.
If you choose to rent your car with Green Motion they are pretty flexible in where you want to drop the car off. Drive back to the airport before departing Montenegro or request that they pick it up from you in Kotor. This Montenegro road trip itinerary highlighted the best of Montenegro in a few short days. If you have additional time I highly recommend slowing down along the coast or even crossing into one of the surrounding Balkan countries that border Montenegro. I hope that you fall in love with this country as much as I did!
For more ideas on things to see and do in Montenegro make sure to follow my IG page/highlight reel by searching “#ppinmontenegro” or the highlight “Montenegro”