Is Montenegro safe to travel to? Is Montenegro a safe country to live in as a foreigner?
Well, bordering Bosnia, Croatia, Albania and Serbia, Montenegro is often considered a jewel of the Balkans. Being full of natural beauties, landscapes, Adriatic seashore and fjords, it also has comfortable and cozy little towns.
But how safe is it?
That’s a good question to ask since safety got somewhat compromised in the post covid economic rehabilitation. And considering the fact that Montenegro used to have hyperinflation in the relatively recent past.
So in today’s post, I would love to concentrate on safety in Montenegro, a country that I visited on multiple occasions, where I lived and spent a wonderful time. The country that still holds some secrets and needs to be discovered.
So, if you would love to plan a trip to Montenegro or want to go make a base there for some time, but not sure if it is safe for tourists, this post is for you.
Based on my own experience, cultural features of the Montenegrin nation, and a bit of statistics, it is easy to draw a conclusion about safety in Montenegro. And what is it like for American tourists vs Europeans, either Montenegro is safe for solo female travelers, or for anyone else who travels alone?
Below I honestly provide an outlook on Montenegro’s welfare, attitude in the country towards foreigners, and what to remember in order to stay safe. I also briefly talk about safety in Montenegro for nomads or those who want to live there for a few months or years.
Is Montenegro a Safe Country – Quick Overview
Before I get down to the nitty-gritty, let me just say it straight – Montenegro is a very safe country. It is safe for American tourists as well as for others coming from Asia, Europe, or Africa. Of course, there is no heaven on earth, there are disadvantages and shortcomings everywhere, but on a global scale Montenegro is pretty safe and peaceful.
Since it heavily relies on tourism, the government is interested in keeping things calm and safe for the visitors. So either you are traveling with a group of friends, your family or even by yourself, generally you shouldn’t worry much about anything.
Montenegro is much safer than nearby Albania, my beloved Turkey or many Asian countries popular for tourism. The probability of becoming a victim of pickpockets is lower there than for example in Italy, Czech Republic or Spain. The police strictly suppress any attempts to deceive foreign tourists, and the level of crime among locals is one of the lowest in Europe.
There are also no dangerous infections or natural disasters (even covid infections are among the lowest in Europe too). And the most common ailments among vacationers are caused by sunburn and ingestion of seawater.
Therefore, the main thing to worry about when it comes to safety is medical insurance (healthcare in Montenegro is quite expensive) and following elementary caution of not stepping on a sea urchin while swimming on a wild beach.
Main Things to Know About Safety in Montenegro For Tourists
Tourists’ Safety in Montenegro
The level of crime in Montenegro among locals is very low. The police do everything to ensure that tourists feel comfortable and have no worries. Things are very relaxed. Most Montenegrins feel very safe carrying their wallets in their pockets or purses or leaving valuables on the beach while stepping away. Here are some facts to confirm just that:
1) In many cities, people don’t lock their cars. More than that, it can often happen that the driver leaves his keys in the car if he/she needs to park it while blocking other vehicles. In that case, another person can move that car to be able to get out.
I witnessed a few times people leaving keys in the ignition lock or under the visor for that exact reason. We personally never tried moving someone’s vehicle but it was really impressive to see such a high level of trust.
2) People often leave their phones and wallets on the beach when going for a swim. Because they know no one will take them. (Yet, I don’t recommend you do the same).
One time (on a windy day) when I was in the sea with my parents noticing the wind scatter our clothes and belongings on the beach, we saw other people trying to pick our things and put them back in our bag. They all wanted to help. That was so sweet.
3) In the supermarket, it is common to leave bags and purses in the locker without actually locking the door. Again, the level of trust here is also very high.
4) It is very safe for a young woman to be on her own at night, even on the outskirts of the town. You still want to be careful, particularly in the high tourist areas in the midst of the tourist season because you don’t know what type of tourists vacation there. But when it comes to locals, nothing to worry about.
The only area where I’d suggest paying more attention and avoiding walking late at night by yourself is Ulcinj.
5) Montenegro is a very safe destination for families with kids and young people. It is family-oriented and Montenegrins adore children. This country also doesn’t have any history of drugs trade or kidnapping. People are opposed to drugs and drug substances, although smoking is widespread and considered as part of macho culture.
6) Pickpocketing happens but rarely. In most European capitals, the likelihood of becoming a victim of pickpockets is subjectively higher.
7) Criminal activity is very low, however it happens as anywhere else in the world. The murder rate is considered to be very low too and when it happens, it takes place mainly among the local groups. Tourists don’t suffer from homicide in Montenegro.
The biggest problem in Montenegro is domestic violence which has been a problem in the Balkans and is being greatly fought against lately.
8) Sexual assault statistics are also on the lower side. There is a percentage of women who come to Montenegro mainly for a resort romance and local men know that very well. So why would they bring themselves under a criminal offense, if they can get everything they want by mutual consent?
So if you are a woman reading this who plans to travel to Montenegro solo, remember – if you are not consciously looking for trouble, you’ll be just fine.
9) Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is hardly a tourist attraction. Even if some sort of protest suddenly erupts, this doesn’t affect tourists in any way.
Environmental Hazards – Anything to Worry About?
The location and climate of Montenegro imply two things when it comes to safety that all tourists should know when planning their trip. First of all, fires.
Montenegro is a southern country with hot dry summers. Forest fires are common and happen in the summer, mainly in late July and August. Usually, they occur in remote areas in the mountains but one time a few years ago fires were so strong that they blocked the road from Bar to Ulcinj near the sea.
I am not saying you’ll experience the same on your trip to Montenegro in August but remember this hazard is possible. Fire departments usually keep fires away from the populated areas but they still affect air quality and may block some roads (something to remember if you plan to go on road trips in Montenegro in the second half of summer).
Second thing to remember about environmental hazards is earthquakes. Montenegro is located in a seismically dangerous region. There is a small chance that a strong earthquake will occur. The danger is not too great since the last major earthquake in the country happened in 1979. But something to know about.
As for other things, be careful on hiking or walking trails because you may encounter a poisonous snake.
It is extremely unlikely that a scorpion, venomous snake, or other poisonous reptiles will crawl into your apartment or villa. In this regard, it is several times safer in Montenegro than in Asia, Turkey, or Egypt.
There is a small risk of stepping on the sea urchin if you swim in non-touristy areas. But for those times it is advisable to have water shoes to stay safe in the sea.
Also, don’t forget about the heat. Getting a heat stroke or sunburn is very real during the summer in Montenegro. July and August are extremely sunny and hot. So don’t forget to bring a sunscreen and cute hat.
Road safety in Montenegro is something to pay attention to.
Unfortunately, the number of fatal road accidents in this part of the Balkans is considered to be on the higher side, compared to most European countries. Statistics show a number of about 10.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison to the US, driving in Montenegro is a little bit safer but overall driving culture is much lower than in Western Europe.
Yet, don’t get discouraged. Going on a road trip in Montenegro is one of the best things. Driving is not difficult. If you prefer to explore the country with maximum comfort and freedom, read my full guide about renting a car and driving in Montenegro. Everyone who has a license and driving experience should learn about the driving style and enjoy the ride.
Rental cars are very popular in Montenegro.
Tips to Remember to Stay Safe in Montenegro
As I said earlier, Montenegro is a very safe country. But you shouldn’t completely lose your vigilance. As in any destination, there is always a small chance to encounter a scam or have some of your belongings stolen. And such activity not necessarily will come from a local.
The thing is that sometimes in the summer some less honest people come to Montenegro from neighboring (still developing) countries. They usually come to engage in fraud and petty theft. No robberies in broad daylight and no murders, but scams and petty theft may happen.
I recommend that you follow the minimum precautions:
- Lock your apartment when you go to sleep or leave for a long time. Especially if you are on the 1st floor and it is easy to get inside from the street.
- Do not leave your phones on the tables of a cafe near the crowded streets, even if you are sitting at the table. It makes it easy for a thief (even children) to grab it and run away.
- Do not leave your wallet on the beach clearly visible to the public. Locals won’t take it for sure, but no one can vouch for other tourists or strangers in the area.
- Never buy questionable tour vouchers, particularly from “companies” that don’t have any website or actual office, business card, or any source where you can get more information about their business. Often they attract with a beautiful piece of paper but then disappear. It is much better to purchase tours through trusted companies such as GetYourGuide, Viator, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, etc.
- Do not leave valuable items in the car and be sure to lock your rented vehicle.
- Whenever needing to get a ride from the airport, discuss the cost of a taxi ride right in the beginning. Better yet, book a transfer in advance. In 90% of cases, arranging a transfer will be much cheaper than a taxi at the airport.
- Make sure to get good insurance. The prices for treatment for tourists are several times higher than for locals. Every year somebody receives a bill of 5,000-7,000 euros.
Conclusion – How Safe is Montenegro?
I don’t think there is anything major to worry about when traveling to Montenegro. The country is very safe for travelers and foreigners who think to live there.
Montenegro is not prone to any natural disasters, crime rates are very low and when crime occurs, it doesn’t involve tourists. The only issues to be on the lookout for are scams (about tours), higher prices from locals (on tourist markets some vendors tend to intentionally increase the original price), and sea urchins on some beaches.
If you rely on data from Numbeo, you can also see their statistics and find out that Montenegro has the highest rating, showing the maximum value of the safety index and ahead of Italy, Turkey, or France for example. However, it’s a bit behind Croatia.
To this day locals still don’t lock doors in their houses, leave keys in ignitions, and let their children play in the streets without supervision. Young women freely walk on the streets at night not being worried about anything.
The level of crime among the indigenous population is very very small. Montenegro government and law enforcement agencies are doing everything to ensure comfort and tranquility for tourists.
The philosophy of the Montenegrins lies in the “polako”. It means a leisurely lifestyle that includes an appreciation of the moment. No one is in a hurry. Montenegro’s population enjoys living slowly and peacefully.
More Resources For Montenegro Travel
For more tips and travel resources for Montenegro, check some of my other posts:
- 20+ Best Things to Do in Kotor – what to do, where to go, and what to know before the trip
- Durmitor National Park Hiking – best hiking trails in the most famous National Park
- Autumn in Montenegro – why it is the best season to go
- Visiting Montenegro in Winter – how to have the best time
- Guide to Beaches in Budva – which one is best for you and where to stay
- 11 Must-Take Day Trips From Kotor – how to get the most of your time
- Where to Stay in Montenegro – guide to all resort cities & accommodation
- Visiting Lovcen National Park – hiking and tips for a great adventure
- Hidden Places in Montenegro – go off the beaten path!
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