Last updated on August 19th, 2023
If you are thinking to go driving in Montenegro, I’ll tell you that’s the best choice! With a mix of great asphalt roads and narrow mountainous gravel roads, you can have both an easy relaxing drive and an adventurous road trip to lesser-visited corners. So if you are planning a trip to Montenegro, don’t miss a chance to cruise around in a car!
I drove all over Montenegro many times during the time I lived there and on many returning trips. This is why I’d love to share my experience and answer questions about what driving in Montenegro as a tourist is like.
Is driving in Montenegro easy? Or is it wild and hard compared to the rest of Europe? I talk about it below as well as about Montenegro roads, parking situation, and traffic rules.
Overall, it is easy to drive in Montenegro and anybody with a license can do it. But there are a few things to know before going on a drive. Find them out below and let me know if you still have other questions!
What is the Best Company to Rent a Car in Montenegro
The answer depends on the time of the year when you need a car and the length of your trip. Shortly – the best way to find a car at a reasonable price with a low deposit would be from one of two companies.
The first one rents cars from local suppliers only and works better for rentals anywhere in Montenegro and if you need different pick-up and drop-off locations. Second company works better for renting a car directly in Podgorica or Tivat airport. More on what each of them offers and how to choose one for your needs is below.
But for more details on how to find a cheap car hire and companies to avoid in my guide to renting a car in Montenegro.
Driving in Montenegro – FAQs & Concerns
Is It Safe to Drive in Montenegro?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to drive anywhere in Montenegro. Even if you have little experience driving you’ll be totally fine in cities and between them.
Driving in the mountains on narrow (one-lane) roads or unpaved roads can be somewhat of a challenge for some people. But overall Montenegro driving is easy and safe. Far back in the past most of the roads had cracks and holes but they were rebuilt and today they are in great condition.
One thing to remember is that Montenegro has many mountain roads and mountain passes that are not straight but twisty. So please take your time and be careful when going on such roads. Also, be sure to have your low-beam lights at all times.
Although let’s be honest, if you have ever driven in the mountains in Europe (particularly in the Alps or on the roads in Norway), you will have no problem driving in Montenegro.
The crime rate in the country is low and overall Montenegro is a very safe country. Thus there is no need for theft insurance. Thefts are very rare, although theft from cars still happens. In order not to seduce the robbers, do not leave valuables in sight.
Is it Easy to Drive in Montenegro?
When I help my tourists plan their Montenegro itinerary, the first thing they often ask me is if it’s easy to drive in Montenegro and what is driving in Montenegro like.
Driving in Montenegro is easy and anybody with a license can do it, but it takes a little time to get used to the local traffic rhythm. People who drive regularly would have no problems and feel pretty comfortable on the road. And those people who don’t own a car but rather rent one occasionally should pay extra attention for a day or two until they feel confident enough.
The most unusual thing to get used to is the width of the road. Many roads are so narrow that it is difficult for a large SUV to turn around everywhere or park. And in some places, when a large bus or truck passes nearby, everything you want to do is just to squeeze into the side of the road.
Another thing to remember is that some Montenegrins are always in a hurry and they like to drive fast. The only time they follow the signs is when they are warned that there is a traffic police patrol on the road. So watch out when you are at traffic lights (because someone can run a red light when it is green for you). And don’t stress out when someone tailgates you. Just let them pass.
Oh, and the last thing to remember – local drivers in Montenegro in old cars that fall apart often do not follow the rules. For example, they can leave the gateway without even checking if someone has a right to go or they don’t bother to use a turning signal. They just don’t care because there is nothing to lose with their car. Just keep an eye on them!
Driving in Montenegro With a Foreign Driver’s License – What to Know
Going on a drive in Montenegro with a foreign driver’s license is generally permitted for tourists and visitors. Montenegro recognizes valid driver’s licenses issued by other countries as long as they are in Roman letters.
Most companies however ask for the foreign driver’s license to have an issue date at least 2 years prior to the commencement of the rental.
Do I Need an International Driver’s Permit to Drive in Montenegro?
No, you do not need an IDP if you plan to drive in Montenegro with a UK license or license from any country in the EU.
But you need to have an international driver’s permit if you have American DL and especially so if you plan on driving in Montenegro with an Indian license or driver’s permit from the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
However, practically speaking (based on my own experience after 20+ times of renting a car in Montenegro), those who have drivers license from the US never get asked for IDP when hiring a car or even by police when stopped on the road.
What Are the Roads Like in Montenegro?
Roads in Montenegro are in great condition and they are all free besides a tunnel road which I mention below. Their quality is monitored and roads regularly go through repairs if required. But there are some older roads between smaller towns (or in the mountains) that are very narrow and driving on them is not for the faint-hearted.
On a quick visit, you probably won’t drive much on old roads since most likely you’ll be driving along more famous routes. But when having more time in the country or wishing to check out a few hidden corners of Montenegro, be ready to hit some challenging and twisty roadways.
A few examples of those roads just to give you an idea are a road from Bar to the monastery Rybnjak, this twisty narrow road over the Crnojevica river, or parts of the road from Podgorica to Sokolova Korita scenic viewpoint.
Sometimes the road is so narrow that only one car can go through. Often, there is no shoulder or extra space for you to pull over, so if an oncoming car comes your way, the only option is to back up. Therefore, only a confident driver should be driving on those roads.
Parking in Montenegro
Parking is quite easy in Montenegro in cities and along the coast when traveling outside July and August as most street parking is free and unrestricted. Even in areas without designated parking, you can usually find a spot on the wide shoulders of the road. So go ahead and relax, knowing that you won’t have to spend hours circling the block looking for a place to park.
However, the parking situation changes at the end of June and until about the third week of September when finding a parking spot anywhere along the Bay of Kotor and in coastal cities becomes a very difficult task.
During the high tourist season (particularly in July and August), you may want to come early to reserve the spot or be ready to park outside the main roads and then walk to your final destination. During this time of the year, consider renting a small car which will give you more flexibility if you plan to drive along the Montenegro coast.
In the Bay of Kotor, the biggest challenge with parking is always in Kotor. There are not enough parking spaces and locals, who come to work in the city center, usually, take up spots for the entire day. But if you don’t mind walking, park a bit outside of Kotor and walk to Old Town. Here is the link to the street where we prefer to park.
In all other places away from the coast and the Bay of Kotor, parking is not a problem.
Main Things to Know About Montenegro Driving
What Side of the Road Do You Drive On in Montenegro?
In Montenegro, like in most countries within the EU, people drive on the right side of the road, with the exception of driving in Cyprus, Malta, and Ireland.
Speed Limits in Montenegro
Speed limits in Montenegro are similar to all other European countries and unless stated otherwise go by default like this:
- The speed limit within residential areas is set at 50km/h (~30 mph).
- The maximum speed limit on roads outside the built-up areas is 80km/h (~50 mph)
- The speed limit on motorways in Montenegro is 100 km/h (~68 mph).
The fines for speeding in Montenegro range from €30 to €2000 so violating speed limits can quickly get expensive for you. There are no speed cameras in Montenegro but police radar checks are very common. I strongly suggest sticking to the limits for your safety.
There are many tunnels in Montenegro with many of them being short and unlit. Almost all of them are free except for one, the largest Sozina tunnel, a two-lane tunnel that connects the southern coastal part of the country (Bar and Ulcinj) with its capital. The fee is €3.5 per car.
On the stretch of the road between Podgorica and Kolasin, there are some types of complex tunnels. A bigger number of them were manually hewn. Due to this, they have irregular shapes and are not perfectly aligned. There are over twenty of them in this area along the road with heavy traffic including buses and trucks, and only one lane.
So when traveling through these intricate tunnels, it is important to carefully observe all the road signs along the way to determine the right-of-way. Otherwise, if you get inside the tunnel and need to yield, you may end up scratching the sides of the car when reversing.
Regardless of your chosen mode of transportation within the country (no matter if you rent a car, scooter, or motorhome), you will undoubtedly encounter several tunnels along the way. Many of them consist of a single lane and are characterized by winding paths and sharp curves. And the most hazardous tunnels usually have a sign with black dots prior to their entrance.
So just watch out! But don’t stress out and just follow the same approach as you would anywhere else in Europe – have the car lights on, watch out for incoming cars, and look out for falling rocks when driving near the cliffside.
Montenegro Toll Roads
There are two toll roads in Montenegro that you need to know about.
One is a toll booth at The Sozina Tunnel which you will find at the Podgorica exit. The cost for a pass for a car is €2.5 and €1.5 for a scooter. Interestingly, this is the longest tunnel in Montenegro over 4 km long.
Another toll road is a section of the road from Podgorica to Kolasin. This is where it starts and here is where it ends. This paid road is 42 km long with bridges and tunnels and taking it saves so much time as it is new and fast. The toll fee here is €3.5 for the entire stretch.
This jam can become massive after 11 am when tourists start hitting the road to go places. After 4 pm until about 8 pm, traffic is also intense when locals return home from work.
Anything to the north of Podgorica is for the most part quiet and peaceful unless you drive to Kolasin in the winter season on Friday when everyone is on their way to ski.
Every time we are up in Prokletje National Park, Biogradska Gora, around Kolasin or Piva Canyon in a warm season, we barely see any cars on the roads at all. It becomes easy and stress-free to drive in this part of Montenegro.
Ferry Crossings With a Car
There are a few ferry routes in Montenegro but the most used one is in the narrowest part of Kotor Bay between Kamenari on the Herceg Novi side and Lepetane on the Tivat side. This ride only takes about 5 minutes.
If there is not much traffic, then the waiting time to get on a ferry should not be more than 15 minutes.
The wait time in busy summer months can become longer than one hour which would make more sense to go around the Bay of Kotor in a car and enjoy a scenic drive. That is about 50 minutes of driving but you can stretch it for a full day as there are many things to do along the Kotor Bay with a car.
If you are going by ferry, all you need to do is park in the queue and buy your ticket from the booth. It costs €4.5.
If you plan to hire a car in Montenegro, remember that most rental companies do not allow you to take their vehicles on ferries.
Driving in Montenegrin Cities vs Countryside
Montenegro is a very small country with very small cities. Even the largest city in Montenegro – Podgorica only has a population of around 170,000 people. So it is definitely easier to drive even in Podgorica than in any large city in Europe.
Overall driving in Montenegro in the cities is easy thanks to the excellent road conditions and clear signage. The city streets can get very busy with high traffic volume but navigating in slow traffic is not difficult on its own.
Driving in the countryside is a breeze, however, road conditions may get worse in remote villages. Also, watch out for unmarked crossroads where you are supposed to yield to whoever is on your right.
Always watch out for animals crossing the road and pay extra attention to big tractors.
Check Prices for Car Hire in Podgorica
Gas is expensive ($6.15 per gallon or €1.59 per liter) but one full tank of gas will let you cover almost the entire country.
Plus, for someone who is coming from Western Europe, the UK or Scandinavia, gas is actually cheaper in Montenegro than in their own country. But for anyone else who is traveling from the States, Eastern Europe or Asia, gas prices are going to surprise.
How Long Does It Take to Drive Across Montenegro?
You can easily cross Montenegro in one day going in any direction. The longest route is going to take you about 6 to 7 hours.
If you plan to cross Montenegro going by coast from Dubrovnik to Shkodër or vice versa, then you are looking at 3 to 4 hours unless you hit heavy traffic on the way.
However, if you plan to make stops while crossing Montenegro (which you should!), then I would strongly suggest staying overnight for at least two nights. Montenegro has so much to see and do that one day of driving is never enough.
You can go through my list of the best places where to stay in Montenegro to have a better understanding of how to build your self-driving route.
How Much Alcohol Can You Drink to Be Allowed to Drive?
In Montenegro, as a driver you can drink 330 milliliters (11.15 ounces) of beer or a glass of wine. The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol is 0.3 ppm.
If a test shows that the amount of alcohol in the blood is higher than 0.3 ppm but lower than 0.5 the fine is 50 euros. Paying it within the following 8 days guarantees a discount in the amount of 34 euros.
If the amount of alcohol is higher than 0.5 ppm driving license is taken away until a court day (which usually takes place the following day) and in some cases, a driver gets arrested.
Here is a post about traffic fines in Montenegro, if you are curious to learn more.
Driving in Montenegro in Winter – What to Know
Winter driving in Montenegro differs depending on the region where you drive. The northern regions of Montenegro are mountainous cold regions that see a lot of snow. Therefore, driving there requires winter tires and chains.
For an easy drive, rent a 4WD car in Podgorica (there is a big selection of these cars in this city) so that you don’t get stuck anywhere.
My experience driving to Zabljak in December was the next – sides of the roads were full of snow, but the roads themselves were regularly cleaned. They were also sprinkled with sand or salt to improve grip. Driving in the snow on all main connecting roads was not (and is not) a problem.
However, repeatedly, the municipality does not take time to clean secondary roads that snow blocks, so they often become impassable. Do not rely on signs and online information that say a particular road is open to traffic. It is better to check with locals in the nearby town what’s the situation.
If you decide to drive to Zabljak too or to a ski resort in Kolasin, keep in mind that sometimes avalanches come down in the mountains and traffic stops until the road is cleared. Many small roads turn into almost tunnels of snow, where two cars cannot pass.
During the day, the snow can melt (depending on the temperature), and you can get stuck if the car is not a four-wheel drive. Pulling the vehicle out of the snow costs between €15-€20, but the entire experience adds up to some stress.
Thus get ready to rent the right type of car and/or have chains and winter tires.
On the coast of Montenegro in winter driving is easy if it doesn’t rain. As a matter of fact, coastal roads don’t have any traffic, and road conditions are usually good. The only challenge can be heavy rain which is common in the second part of winter.
Where Can You Go Driving in Montenegro?
There are a lot of places you can visit in Montenegro with a car and here are just a few of them:
Head inland to Lovcen National Park located in the rocky mountains near Cetinje. This park offers impressive views, hiking and walking trails, and the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a prominent Montenegrin ruler and poet.
For something even more magnificent, drive north to Durmitor National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its mountains, the deepest in Europe canyon, and a few glacial lakes. There, you’ll have opportunities for outdoor activities such as Durmitor hiking (including the highest peak Bobotov Kuk), rafting, and skiing in winter.
While in Durmitor, don’t miss a drive to Piva Lake and then Tara River Canyon, the deepest canyon in Europe. Take a scenic drive along the canyon, admire the breathtaking views, and consider trying white-water rafting on the river itself.
Another fantastic place to see in Montenegro by car is Lake Skadar (particularly a round trip around it), the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. This lake is a paradise for nature lovers as it also offers some nice hiking trails, boat trips, a few spots for birdwatching, and the chance to explore charming lakeside villages.
For another place drive east to visit Ostrog Monastery, a unique Serbian Orthodox monastery built into a vertical cliff. This architectural marvel attracts pilgrims from all over the world and offers a glimpse into the surrounding countryside.
One of my favorite and not so popular spots where to drive in Montenegro is the Komovi mountains with many vista points and plateau mountains in a backdrop. You can drive there in an economy car.
For more information on what to do in Montenegro with a car, read my following posts:
- Montenegro Itinerary With a Car – ideas for how to spend one day to one week in Montenegro
- Best Day Trips From Kotor – where to go & what to skip
- Secret Places in Montenegro – best to explore if you have a car
- Driving Sedlo Pass – the most scenic road in Durmitor Park
- Best Places to Visit in Tivat – not just in the city but outside it where you also need a car
Tips for Safe Driving in Montenegro
When going to drive in Montenegro, there are a few more things to know:
- Do not try to overtake locals on turns in the mountains. And in general, pay extra attention and be extra careful on mountainous roads.
- Do not leave the booking of a car for future times. Good options are taken quite quickly, especially during the season from June to September. As soon as you buy tickets, look for and book a car because if you put it off “for later”, then the right option at a good price may no longer be available.
- If you rent a convertible, then consider that most convertibles have front doors longer than regular cars. Be careful in parking lots, and open doors carefully.
- When driving outside towns, pay attention to wildlife as you would back home. Sometimes foxes, hedgehogs run across the road, turtles, and snakes crawl.
- Do not pay attention to accessive honking. Montenegrins have a habit to honk each other for various reasons, be it a ‘hello’ to a friend or as a simple act of impatience.
- Do not get involved in any “road rage” like tailgating, excessive speeding, or cutting off another vehicle even if you think they did something wrong. Just let it go.
Bonus 1: Driving From Croatia to Montenegro
If you want to drive from Croatia to Montenegro, it is very easy to do so but you have to purchase a green card from a supplier and let them know in advance about crossing the border. Green card is basically an insurance for your vehicle outside Croatia.
If you were to book this card through Localrent, then all you have to do is to add a cross-border fee at the checkout. Depending on the supplier, the price varies and goes from €60 to €90 as extra to the car rental. This is it!
The entire process is quick and quite convenient as you can drive one car through two countries and even drop a vehicle in Montenegro if you wish.
Bonus 2: Driving From Albania to Montenegro
The legal process of arranging the paperwork to drive from Albania to Montenegro is the same as with Croatia but it costs much more.
Prices for a green card in Albania start from €140 and go up making it quite expensive.
I suggest you check the deals available at the moment, perhaps you’ll find cheaper options. And if you do, I’ll appreciate you letting me know, so I could update this post.
Montenegro is a magnificent country to explore by car and there isn’t really anything to worry about when it comes to driving. Just pay a little extra attention to your surroundings when driving on narrow and windy roads.
And driving along the coast of Montenegro or in towns will not be much different from any other similar place in Europe.