Although a small country, Montenegro has a lot to offer to photographers. The historical treasures, such as UNESCO world heritage site Kotor, are well worth exploring and photographing. However my love for Montenegro is for its natural beauty. Rugged coastline, the stunning geography of the Bay of Kotor, mountains, rivers, lakes, abundant wildlife – it seems Montenegro has it all. It is hard to imagine such diversity in a such small area, but it’s all there – in Montenegro! It seems Montenegro has two faces; the bustling coast with its thriving tourism industry where you’ll find luxury hotels, excellent restaurants, nightclubs, amazing beaches and crystal clear sea. And then a much quieter side, away from the coast where it can seem that time has stopped. Nearby Lake Skadar is even more relaxed and has a different feel again. Travelling along some of the scenic roads here you often have the feeling there is no one around but you. Montenegrins are incredibly friendly and welcoming people – the further north you go the more welcome you will feel! And the food is great. From the seafood on the coast to local cheese and ham from the mountain pastures – it’s all fresh and super tasty. This guide focuses mainly on the coast, from the Bay of Kotor to Stari Bar in the Southeast. Two national parks are included; scenic and pristine Lovćen and welcoming, laid back Lake Skadar.
You should allow at least 4-5 nights to cover the main sights of Montenegro. In this time you can cover the Bay of Kotor and some of the other coastal locations, plus make a trip to Lovćen and Lake Skadar national parks. My recommendation is to book in for at least a week and, if planning to visit the mountains, add a further 3-5 nights – you won’t regret it! First things first – visit The UNESCO site of Kotor and climb the walls. Do at least a one-night photography shoot in the town. Next, make a trip to Perast and its two islets – an incredible experience and great photos are guaranteed. The other coastal places worth visiting are Sveti Štefan, Petrovac na Moru and Stari Bar ruins. A day well spent is to start by taking the old scenic mountain road from Kotor to Njeguši plateau, continue on to Lovćen national park for some great views and finish with a sunset shoot either from the top of the mountains or at Sveti Štefan island. Totally different, but equally rewarding, is a scenic drive along Rijeka Crnojevića and Lake Skadar. Away from the coast a different pace of life is lived here – things are more traditional and laid back. You will leave wishing you’d had more time here.
The roads on the coast are in good condition and most of the time reasonably wide. In high season (July, August) they can be incredibly busy with traffic jams a regular occurrence. However as soon as you turn inland and up into the mountains it’s a different story. Narrow roads, lots of hairpin turns, potholes and the occasional road block in the form of herds of cows or a flock of sheep! In Montenegro you never ask for the distance between two places – but for the time it will take you to travel there. Although Montenegro is not an European Community member, the EURO currency is used here. This makes life simpler for travellers. On the coast banks and ATM are available everywhere and most places accept credit cards. However when you travel inland, make sure you have enough cash with you. Montenegro uses standard European two-pin plugs at 220V. Wifi is common and reliable at most places on the coast. Mobile network coverage is also good on the coast however in the mountains you will often be without a signal. Roaming costs are very high. It’s a good idea to buy a local SIM card if you need to make phone calls.
In July there is an interesting festival in Perast town called Fasinada. Locals decorate their boats and organise a regatta to commemorate their sea-faring tradition. On the same day they will also bring rocks and throw them into the sea around the island of Our Lady of the Rocks. The International Summer Carnival is held in Kotor around the first week in August. Groups from around the country parade the streets in colourful festive dress and later join the all night masked ball.