Montenegro: Traveling on a Budget

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Montenegro: Traveling on a Budget

It was the trip of my life – my friend and I, two weeks, 200 euros and only one goal – to get to the sea in Montenegro. It was budget travel and a challenge for us. We crossed half of Europe by buses and trains, and met a couple of Italians in Belgrade, Serbia, who also wanted to get to the sea in Montenegro. We did not know each other, but it felt like we were old friends. We had a lot of fun because of our different cultures and habits – but let’s get to that later in the story. To start from the beginning, we took a night bus from Belgrade to Herceg Novi, the North of Montenegro.

We arrived in Herceg Novi – we were really tired from the bus, sleepy and hungry. We had to find accommodations, take a shower and sleep a little bit. However, the Italians had another plan – drink coffee.

I was shocked, but our new friends just told us, “Italians have to drink coffee first to start thinking,” and they just went to a nearby café. My friend and I followed them. It was my first sense of culture shock – later I found out that Italians drink a lot of coffee!

Finding accommodations is not difficult in Montenegro. You will see billboards everywhere that say RENT, FLAT and so on. There are also a lot of people in the street asking if you need a flat. We found our first place at a tourist info desk where we had to register ourselves and pay a tourist tax – about 1-2 euros per day. The lady at the desk asked if we had found a flat and offered us one. She later met us to show us the apartment – it was a two-room flat with a bathroom, kitchen and personal terrace just five minutes from the beach and Old Town. We paid only 12 euros per person for one night! The lady also offered us a welcome shot of Rakija – a kind of local vodka – and then gave us the entire bottle because she liked us.

Herceg Novi, Montenegro - The water is so clean you can see the ground - 6m deep. PIC: JS

Herceg Novi, Montenegro – The water is so clean you can see the ground – 6m deep. PIC: JS

Herceg Novi is a very cute, cozy city on the sea coast. It has an Old Town and a long sea promenade with many cafes, bars and beaches. For me, this city is one of the best places to visit in Montenegro. It is cheap for budget tourists, clean and cozy. There are no hordes of tourists and the city is quiet, but at the same time it has night life – a lot of night clubs, bars and open air dance floors.

Herceg Novi, Montenegro - View from the Castle in Herceg Novi. PIC: JS

Herceg Novi, Montenegro – View from the castle. PIC: JS

Interesting fact – there is also a hill just 10-15 minutes from Herceg Novi where you can find a castle untouched by tourists. When we went, we just met two local girls painting. You can climb up the tower and see an awesome landscape. We speculated that the castle was empty because most tourists come here just to visit the beaches and do not bother to walk around the hill.

Herceg Novi, Montenegro - Castle PIC: JS

Herceg Novi, Montenegro – The castle. PIC: JS

We spent three days in Herceg Novi and then we traveled to Kotor by bus. I should say that it is cheap to travel inside Montenegro. The buses come often and cost only about 2-3 euro, but be ready for extra baggage fees. It is a kind of cheat – the driver does not allow you to bring even a backpack onto the bus and requires you to keep all baggage in the baggage zone. For this, you must pay an additional 1 euro.

Another interesting fact – local people do not speak English. I was lucky as I speak Russian and could understand some words and phrases they spoke.

Kotor, Montenegro - Just 1 Minute from Our House. PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – Just 1 minute from our house. PIC: JS

When we arrived in Kotor, we walked around the city asking random people where we could find accommodation. We spent 20 minutes doing this and found a flat just 1 minute from the beach. The one problem was that the flat was for three people – one double bed and one single – and we had a company of four. My friend had a sleeping bag and he told us he would sleep on the floor. This was usual for my friend because he had some troubles with his back and sleeping on the floor was preferable for him. The Italians were shocked, they told us we were Nordic and crazy. He answered that it was okay – nothing special for him.

Kotor, Montenegro - Old Town PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – Old Town PIC: JS

Kotor has an Old Town built in a very similar style to Italian towns. Sometimes it seemed we were in a Sicilian village. Cozy narrow streets, cozy buildings. Also, Kotor has a castle on the hill, but again it seemed it was a cheat – there were stairs leading up to the castle, but at the top was just a chair with a man asking for money. He did not have special papers and was dressed in normal clothes. However, all the tourists gave money to him. As we were poor students, we looked for another way to get to the castle and found a small path outside Old Town that lead there.

Kotor, Montenegro - Path to the Castle. PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – Path to the castle. PIC: JS

At the end of this path, we faced the castle wall with a window. The path hugged the left side of the castle and on the right side was a 6m break. My friend and I walked along the last leg of the path with the Italian guy recording us. He called us crazy Nords.

I told him, “just follow us if you want to save money.”

When we entered the castle through the window, we appeared on the normal tourist route and people were surprised to see us. Can you imagine? You see the wall, the window and suddenly some people just appear.

Kotor, Montenegro - The Window We Entered the Castle Through. PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – The window we entered the castle through. PIC: JS

We climbed up to the top and found a really great view. I cannot describe it – you have to see it with your own eyes.

Kotor, Montenegro - View from the Castle. PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – View from the castle. PIC: JS

After Kotor we moved to Budva – the biggest tourist city in Montenegro. Honestly, we did not like this city – it is full of tourists and very expensive. In other towns, we paid about 12-14 euros per person for one night and lived just a few minutes from the beach; however, for the same price in Budva you could only find a flat really far from the beach. We did not feel comfortable in Budva and we decided to move to another town.

From Budva, we traveled to Sveti Stefan, but again failed – it was a super expensive city and the cheapest flat was about 100 euros for one night. So we decided to move to another city – Petrovac.

Kotor, Montenegro - The Same View at Night. PIC: JS

Kotor, Montenegro – The same view at night. PIC: JS

We traveled to Petrovac by taxi, which was a mistake. When we asked a taxi driver how expensive it would be, he told us only 15 euros or the amount shown on the counter, which would probably be less. We agreed to go by taxi, but the taxi driver cheated. We went about 3-4 km and the counter showed about 15 euros, but we had to go more than 10 km. We asked him to stop, but he did not listen. Somehow we stopped him and ended up in the middle of nowhere. We were on a highway in the mountains and it was too dangerous to just take our bags and walk. We waited for a bus and, while we were waiting, another taxi stopped. The driver told us that he could bring us to Petrovac for 15 euros, which was cheaper than the bus. We told him to stop lying, we knew the price of a bus ticket, and he then told us to just pay 5 euros and he would bring us to the city. We agreed and everything was okay.

Petrovac, Montenegro - Abandoned Hotel. PIC: JS

Petrovac, Montenegro – A beach and abandoned hotel. PIC: JS

Petrovac is a small city and very cute. We visited  the area’s beautiful nature and clean beaches.

Petrovac, Montenegro - View from the Abandoned Hotel. PIC: JS

Petrovac, Montenegro – View from the abandoned hotel. PIC: JS

After Petrovac we moved to Sutomore, where we had to take a train back to Belgrade. Sutomore is bigger than Herceg Novi and Kotor, and more industrial. It has a harbor, railway station and some factories; however, it also has a good beach, bars, cafes and a lot of tourists.

Petrovac, Montenegro - Seacoast PIC: JS

Petrovac, Montenegro – The coast. PIC: JS

At this point we said goodbye for our Italians friends – they moved to Albania and we moved to Serbia. While we were waiting for a train, we met a couple of Ukrainians – nice guys – who were also traveling to Belgrade, and we decided to stay together. We shared all our food and drink – it was a great time. In Belgrade we had to take different routes – they were going to Ukraine and we moved back to Estonia.

Sutomore, Montenegro - Waiting for A Train. PIC: JS

Sutomore, Montenegro – Waiting for the train. PIC: JS

In the end, I would say we had a good time in Montenegro. We met a lot of nice people, made a lot of memories, and had a great experience.

Montenegro - View from the Train. PIC: JS

Montenegro – View from the train. PIC: JS

I want to say – do not be afraid – just travel as much as possible, even if it is just to nearby countries. Investing in travel is the best deal of your life. The outcomes are memories, feelings and new friends.

To plan your trip to Montenegro, check out Blue Sky Vacations.

Juri Solovjov

Juri Solovjov

My name is Juri and I am from Tallinn, Estonia. I was born on March 8, 1993. I am forever young, forever a student. I have been studying at Tallinn University of Technology for 6 years already and this is not the end – I am going for an exchange study in Brno, Czech Republic. My lifestyle is simple – enjoy your life, travel as much as possible, discover new countries and cultures, make new friends everywhere. I believe the investment in travel is a good deal – the outcomes are emotions, feelings and memories you receive.