Visiting Montenegro in Winter – 16+ Fabulous Thing to Do & My Top Travel Tips
Last updated on May 7th, 2023
Last year, when we were planning to live in Montenegro in winter, we didn’t know what to expect. “What the weather was going to be like? Was it going to snow? Or was it going to rain? How cold does Montenegro winter usually get? Is it safe to travel to Montenegro in the wintertime?” Those were the questions we asked.
And then we went and figured it all out.
For many locals, the winter season (or low season) in Montenegro starts when tourists leave and it ends right before they come. The timeframe for that is October through April.
Despite the fact that many travelers see Montenegro as a summer destination, this is not how it really is. Montenegro is a wonderful destination for any time of the year. Everything just depends on what you want to get out of your vacation in this country.
I would like to share a bit about our experience in Montenegro during the offseason and hope my post will answer your questions and help you understand better how to plan a trip. I also invite you to check more of my Montenegro posts as there are tons of tips and recommendations.
Before I go into details, let’s talk about the main bullet points of what to expect from winter in Montenegro and what the weather for each month is usually like. I quickly talk about the weather from October to April since again, winter in Montenegro is defined not by the calendar but by the tourist season.
What to Know About Winter Travel to Montenegro – Quick Overview
1. Do not assume that if you can’t go to the beach, Montenegro in winter is not a place to visit! Quite the opposite – from November to March, winter weather in Montenegro is similar to autumn or spring in most countries of Europe.
Even in January, you’ll find green meadows and flowers blooming by the sea. And in the mountains, you’ll have a real snowy wonderland.
2. But remember that in winter it will be very boring without a car because you can’t spend time on the beach, boats don’t go much, and there are no bus excursions. Therefore, go ahead and hire a car, especially considering the fact that in winter it is 2-3 times cheaper!
The best company to book a car is LocalRent. Mark and I use it all the time since they have the best deals, offer cars in absolutely every city and their platform is easy to navigate. For more information about the actual rental process and driving in Montenegro, check my tips on car hire in Montenegro post.
3. Choose your accommodation wisely! Do not book a hotel room or flat with the AC type of heat, you’ll be cold! Stay only in that type of accommodation that offers proper heating like a radiator or heating stove. I talk more about it below, so you’ll see more coverage on this topic.
4. Keep in mind that winter travel in Montenegro is all about road trips, excursions, walks by the sea, skiing, and snowy activities. Hiking will be limited either due to snow or rain.
A lot of companies close for the season and stop offering organized group tours, thus you’ll have a choice to go on self-guided day trips or private tours. Walking tours in cities with locals are available throughout the year.
5. Montenegro in winter is very quiet and authentic. There will be no crowds, long lines, and people in your photos.
6. Everything will be much cheaper. Winter in Montenegro is also that time when prices are at their lowest. This applies to the full range of services, from apartments and car rental to the cost of food in stores. Montenegro is only one of a few countries in the world where grocery prices also depend on the tourist season.
Renting an apartment for the long term costs two and sometimes three times cheaper than during the summer. Prices for car rent drop from €30-€40 per day to €10-€15. Winter is also a good time for individual tours and renting a private boat. In high season they usually cost a fortune while in winter they are very affordable.
Therefore, if you are traveling on a budget, come to Montenegro in the winter and enjoy a wonderful vacation not spending much.
Weather In Montenegro In Winter – (Low Season), Month by Month
I can anticipate your question and answer that the coastal part of Montenegro in winter doesn’t get any snow. Mountainous regions do but the coast does not. However, do not expect it to be always sunny and bright near the sea since in winter it rains and rains a lot. In fact, it can rain continuously for a week or even a few.
Do not let it discourage you from traveling though. There are still many advantages to winter travel in Montenegro.
Weather in Montenegro in October
The coast of Montenegro in October sees Indian summer. Days are very warm but the evenings are getting cooler with each day.
Last year, for instance, we were swimming and it totally felt like summer until October 10th. On the night of October 11th, there was a storm that cooled the sea overnight. Literally. The water got so freezing cold even though the sun was shining upon us again. Still, we felt that the fall was near.
Locals told us that each year October is that month when the temperature of the sea changes pretty quickly. Each year this change just happens on a different date. Perhaps in your case, the sea may be still warm all October long while the next year it will be cool by the second week. So it all depends.
Overall, even if the sea is already cold, Montenegro weather in October is really nice. In the afternoon, even at the end of the month, it can be +24C degrees or more. You can wear sandals and shorts. But have warmer clothes for the night since the temperature drops significantly.
Tree leaves in the mountains not far from the coast start changing colors. Durmitor and Prokletije National Parks start seeing the first snow. If you go hiking in Lovcen National Park in October, you’ll witness an unbelievable foliage season. Check my post to see the enchanting forest.
Montenegro in November
At the beginning and middle of the month, the weather in Montenegro in November is still warm during the day but in the evening it gets pretty cold. This is the month for jeans, pants and long sleeves. When the sun goes down, you need a jacket.
If in October you still have a chance to swim and definitely sunbathe, in November there are more days when even sunbathing doesn’t feel that comfortable. With cold gusts of wind that sting the skin, not many people want to be near the water for too long.
November is a wonderful time for excursions and road trips in the coastal part of Montenegro. And of course, there is also foliage which you can see anywhere along the shore.
Zabljak and Kolasin may start a ski season but it depends on the year and how much snow they get.
By the end of the month, the sky is overcast and stormy. Winter is near, and you feel it in the air.
Montenegro in December
The first month of winter in Montenegro has fewer and fewer sunny days. In early December, it is still possible to feel comfortable in a T-shirt and light clothes but I wouldn’t really count on that.
The skies are heavy, it rains often near the sea, and snows in the mountainous regions. Because of this, it can be cold in a rented apartment. Usually, buildings in Montenegro do not have any heating (except for the North), so you may want to ask hosts if they are going to provide a heater.
At the end of the month, it just gets really cold and that cold is often caused by cold gusts of wind. Montenegrins wear winter jackets and boots. You may want to wear warm tights or underpants because the weather gets that frigid and uncomfortable.
Mountains of Montenegro in December remind of real winter. The coldest temperature is in Zabljak – during the daytime it stays around zero or a bit lower, at night it dips below zero to -10-15C degrees. In Kolasin, the weather is a little warmer. In the afternoon the air may warm up to +2+3C degrees but at night frosts with a temperature of -10C degrees are usual.
Also, in the mountains, it snows a lot. On average there are up to 20 snowy days in December. Sometimes snow can fall for days without stopping and snowfalls can lead to road closures (like Sedlo Pass in Durmitor which closes as early as November, sometimes the last week of October).
Montenegro Weather in January
January is one of the most gloomy months along the Montenegro coast. The temperature during the day doesn’t drop below +10C degrees but rains and strong winds are frequent.
The northern part of the country often sees sunny days which are so pleasant not only for skiing or snowboarding but also for snowshoeing. If you plan to snowshoe in Montenegro and venture off easy trails, do it only with a professional guide.
Zabljak and Kolasin are not the only places where to go in January in Montenegro. This month is great for visiting the country’s outstanding sights, such as the Ostrog and Cetinje monasteries, Mount Lovcen, and the snowy canyon of the Tara River.
Visiting the coastal cities is a great idea too. They are practically deserted and look completely different than in summer.
Montenegro in February
February in Montenegro is very different, depending on where in the country you plan to be. The weather along the coast is rainy, rainy, and rainy some more.
The days are getting longer but you can’t tell what time of the day it is. Because of the sky, which on a daily basis gets covered with heavy clouds, it is difficult to have a sense of time. In the morning, the afternoon, or evening is equally grey. Those moments when the sun shows up are perceived as a heavenly gift.
Mountainous regions still have cold sunny weather with occasional snowfalls which is perfect for skiing.
If you are not into snow and cold and look only to explore coastal cities, go on a few hikes and see the fjords, February is not the best time to travel, seriously. I am not saying that you won’t be able to have a good trip at this time of the year, no. But you definitely have to be ready to stay indoors due to lingering rain.
Montenegro Weather in March
March in Montenegro is still rainy, but there are more sunny days and it gets already noticeably warmer than in February.
On the coast, it feels comfortable during the day when wearing a light jacket. Evenings still stay chilly. With each new week, the weather becomes sunnier and warmer. Mountains still have a lot of snow.
March is a beautiful season since the natural world is waking up, first flowers are blooming and birds are singing. The sea gets calmer and starts appearing more and more like a turquoise blue.
If you want to visit during this time of the year, be ready for sandstorms. It turns out that at the beginning of spring, southern winds bring sand from Africa to Montenegro. This is why on a sandstorm day, it is best not to go outside.
Strong gusts of winds are still very common for Montenegro in March, but they do not interfere with going on excursions or road trips.
Weather in Montenegro in April
April in Montenegro is one of the most beautiful months, despite the fact that at the beginning of the month it may still rain. Everything around is blooming (not just flowers) and it’s getting warmer with every new day. During the day in Budva or Kotor, the temperature is already +18+20C degrees. The evenings are cool but pleasant.
In Budva, Kotor, Tivat, Petrovac, and Bar summer cafes start their season. Towns don’t look deserted anymore, however, they stay quiet. Crowds of tourists are yet to come.
In the afternoon you can walk wearing only a T-shirt and not be cold while in the evening you probably need a warmer top or sweatshirt.
April is that time of the year when the hiking season in Montenegro starts and tour operators resume their work. If you happen to visit, definitely go to Perast. This beautiful colorful town, which gets flooded with tourists in the summer months, stays absolutely quiet in April while cafes are open and you can rent a boat to visit Lady of the Rocks and Saint George islands and be the only person there.
Kotor Bay is also changing – the slopes of the fjords, which in winter seemed lifeless, suddenly become greener, and the water in the bay sparkles with new colors in the sun. In April, Montenegro is extremely beautiful and it is undeniably one of the best months to visit this country!
Where to Stay in Montenegro in Winter – Important Things to Know!
If you are flying to Montenegro in winter, then choose your accommodation wisely. DO NOT choose Kotor, Prcanj, Perast, Stoliv for most of your stay. Staying for a night is okay but not for long. Due to a different microclimate, there is very little sun in these towns. Because of the mountains on both sides, it is very damp and colder there than let’s say in Budva.
Also, do not choose villages in the Bar region such as Shushani and Sutomore or on the Lustica peninsula. In general, do not book accommodation in old houses and in sparsely inhabited villages or towns located more than 1 km from the center. It will be absolutely nothing to do there and can be difficult to reach your accommodation, especially if you don’t have a car. And another thing, in old houses, it is usually very cold.
Heating should be in the room not in the form of AC! Ask about radiators or about a wood-burning stove or fireplace if booking a private house. The ideal option is to book accommodation with parquet flooring instead of tiles (in winter tile feels incredibly cold) and underfloor heating, at least in the bathroom. Many apartments in Montenegro’s newer buildings have underfloor heating available.
Let me remind you that there is no central heating in Montenegro! More than that, old 4 and 5-story houses are heated with wood and due to constant rains in the winter, mold is common. In the north of the country, in a mountainous climate, people put autonomous systems or heat their houses with firewood.
So, when checking Airbnb listings or Booking, make sure the flat has heating. Not AC but actual heating. For more details about which city to choose as your base, take a look at my post on where to stay in Montenegro.
Where is the Warmest Place in Winter in Montenegro
Budva and Bar are warmer and sunnier in winter than the towns in the Bay of Kotor. Each of these cities has an old town, lots of restaurants and supermarkets, a bus station, a shopping center with a cinema, and a large selection of housing! My advice is to look for new flats in modern apartment complexes, even if not in the center.
The sunniest cities in the Kotor Bay area are Tivat and Herceg Novi.
Among all the places we stayed in and visited, I would like to share a few of our favorite picks which are great especially for winter travel in Montenegro:
ETNO CHALET IN KOLASIN – one of our favorite places to stay in Kolasin. A cozy, wooden house in ethno style on the banks of the river with a beautiful territory, old-style stove, and forest nearby.
VARDAR HOTEL – a very beautiful hotel with a mix of modern and old in the heart of Kotor on the main square with dry warm rooms.
RESIDENCE PORTOFINO IN MUO – If you’ll be driving a car in Montenegro, I highly recommend choosing to stay not in Kotor but in a small cute village Muo in Kotor Bay on the opposite side. Being on the very bank of the bay, this residence offers sweeping views of the fjord, Kotor, and Dobrota.
Rooms are always clean and dry. In summer, the requirement is to book for a min of two nights and the price is more than €100 per night. While in winter, the stay costs less or around €50 per night. Although in the era of covid, they may be closed for the winter due to fewer visitors, check that.
MAJESTIC HOTEL BUDVA – Five-star boutique hotel with chic rooms, great bar, and restaurant. It is perfectly located down being a few meters from Old Town Budva, beach and marina.
HOTEL AZIMUT – this romantic hotel is located a bit on a hill in Sveti Stefan, offering beautiful views. It has a well-maintained area, gym, jacuzzi, swimming pool, restaurants, and panoramic terraces.
6 Particularly Cool Things To Do in Montenegro in Winter
Go Skiing in One of Montenegro’s Ski Resorts
Montenegro’s climate creates excellent conditions for everyone who loves to ski. The main ski centers of the country, as I mentioned earlier, are in Kolasin and in Zabljak.
Both towns are located on the territory of national reserves (such as Biogradska Gora and Durmitor), which guarantees high and long tracks where you can ski or snowboard. By the way, these two places make the list of the cheapest ski resorts in Europe.
However, skiing is not the only reason to visit one of these places. They look so magical with all the snow and frost. You can just book a stay in a chalet or apartment and enjoy winter walks and fresh mountain air while staying for a few days. The developed infrastructure will allow you to eat daily in the national Montenegrin restaurants, use the ski lifts, hire an English-speaking instructor, book a ride on snowmobiles and take a steam bath in a real classic bathhouse.
Go Sightseeing in That Part Where It’s Warm
If you are not interested to go to the Montenegro mountains, then visit the coast. It offers so much for sightseeing. A nice bonus will be no lines and free admission to many places wherein summer you are supposed to pay. Like Kotor Wall or Lovcen National Park, for example.
Be sure to visit the Old Town of Budva and Kotor, Porto Montenegro in Tivat with its gorgeous hotel (where you can stop by for lunch or a drink), ancient fortresses in Herceg Novi or ancient monasteries located in the mountains like Ostrog and Podmaine in Budva.
For a better experience, I advise you to rent a car and explore Montenegro by vehicle. Or go see neighboring countries like Bosnia, Serbia, Albania or Croatia. Getting in and out will be easy and quick since there will be no lines at the border.
Spend a Night or a Few in a SPA Hotel
Winter is a fantastic time to travel to Montenegro for a leisurely vacation which includes a stay in one of the beautiful 4 or 5 star hotels with SPA. At least such hotels are perfect accommodation options where to warm up on a rainy day!
Even if you are not staying in a SPA hotel, you can visit it on a day pass and use the pools, jacuzzi and saunas paying €15-€25. Each hotel has promotional hours and to inquire about them, you can simply check the website or contact property on Instagram.
Some of my favorite hotels with spa are the Avala resort in Budva, the Splendid hotel in Becici, Maestral hotel in Przno, Palace hotel in Petrovac, Kalamper hotel in Dobrye Vody, and Lazur hotel in Herceg Novi.
If spa is not your thing, you can still treat yourself to a beautiful stay in a boutique hotel. In winter, prices for all hotels and apartments drop significantly. So if you want to experience luxury on a budget, it’s a great time to do that.
When we lived in Budva, we stayed a few times in unique hotels paying a fraction of what the price usually is in summer. Like in this beautiful luxurious hotel in Kotor where the price was less than €80 per night. In summer it usually costs two times more.
Indulge in Fine Montenegrin Cuisine
Contrary to popular belief, life in Montenegro in winter does not stop. Yes, some cafes and restaurants on the promenade and Old Towns close for the winter season but a lot still stay open. You can fully enjoy decent service, low prices and the lack of lines in those places where they are inevitable in the summer.
Many people know that Montenegro is a gourmet paradise but only in winter you usually understand the full meaning of this expression.
It’s so nice to go to some local restaurant, order delicious food, fresh vegetables, fortified wine, have a bite of Negush cheese and drink a cup of coffee. Large cafes and restaurants are usually open all year round, and they are all equipped with heat lamps on the streets and fireplaces (indoors). These are incredibly cozy and comfortable establishments, and the cost of dishes will be about 1/3 lower than in the high summer season.
NOTE: If you are a tea drinker, stock up at home with good leaf tea for your holidays in Montenegro. Why? Because people there do not really drink tea much. Supermarkets sell tea bags and only in Budva, there is an Elite Tea tea shop but nothing else.
Go Wine Tasting
If you love wine, winter is the time to go for wine tastings in Montenegro. This tiny Balkan country is considered the birthplace of the Vranac grape, from which a delicious red wine of the same name is made.
There are a few places around the country where you can taste wine. Some of the most popular are the wineries of Podgorica: Vucinic-Zenta and Buk. They regularly offer excursions where tourists can learn about the history of winemaking in Montenegro, taste wines and traditional dishes.
Also very popular is the huge winery 13 Jul-Plantaze Vineyard, Europe’s biggest vineyard. It includes a train ride through the vineyards with information about the production of wines.
From my personal experience, I can also recommend the following two places: one right near Skadar Lake and another one a bit farther in Donji Brceli.
If you don’t get a chance to go to the winery, then buy local wine in the store and try dry red Vranac wine. Take a couple more tangerines and honey, and in the evenings you will be warmed by mulled wine by the fireplace, even if the weather is bad outside the window!
Go Fishing in Montenegro
If you are a fishing enthusiast, Montenegro is the right place to go to. It has excellent conditions for fishing and a huge variety of fishing spots.
More than forty species of fish and other inhabitants (small shark, tuna, sea eel, mackerel, moray eel, etc.) live in the Adriatic sea, lakes in the northern and central parts of the country and in fast and clean mountain rivers. Even at the piers, next to the beaches, you can easily catch some fish.
Winter though suits better for lake fishing. The best lakes to fish in Montenegro are Skadar, Biograd and Pivsky lakes. They are popular not only among tourists but also among local professional fishermen. In these lakes you can catch herring, salmon, and carp. For fishing on the lake, you don’t necessarily need to rent a boat, you can fish directly from the bridge.
In winter, ice fishing on the lakes of the Durmitor National Park and other nature reserves is very popular too.
My Top Places Where to Go in Montenegro in Winter
If the main goal of travel to Montenegro in winter is not skiing, then the main places where to go are by the sea and in the center of the country:
1) Budva, Becici, Sveti Stefan – you can explore each of those cities the entire day
2) Herceg Novi and surroundings, an oyster farm in Kamenari and restaurant Verige 65
3) Tivat, pine forest and Vrmac fortress, Bevanda restaurant
4) The old capital of Cetinje – monastery, museums, pedestrian street center
5) Castle of St. Giovanni in Kotor and Kotor’s old town
6) Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks island by boat, if the weather is good
7) Skadar lake with Old Bar and the panoramic road between them
8) The circular route from Kotor to Mount Lovcen to Budva. The mausoleum does not work in winter, there is often a blockage of snow, but if the weather is decent, don’t miss parts of the panoramic road with vista points from where you can see the Bay of Kotor.
You can start from Budva to Kotor or Tivat. Have lunch in Cetinje or pop in a small cafe in Njegusi where to try homemade prosciutto and cheese.
9) For nature lovers and hikers – one of the best places where to go is the canyon of the Mrtvica River. It is accessible in winter.
10) Lustica Peninsula – old settlement Forte Rose, submarine, Kabala Fort, Miriste and Zanjic beaches, Arza fortress, and finish your day with dinner in the new elite settlement Lustica Bay
A Few More Things to Know About Montenegro Travel in Winter
It Is Definitely Going To Be Quiet But Not Too Quiet
While small beach towns look and feel pretty empty, bigger ones are full of life. Budva, Kotor, Bar, Tivat, Herceg-Novi, and Uljcin have some events (especially around the holidays), competitions and festivals.
A lot of cafes and restaurants actually operate year-round, hotel and apartment owners are happy to rent out their homes at off-season prices, and numerous cultural events keep everyone busy during the day.
For example, some of the following festivals take place in winter in Montenegro:
– Festival of Wine and Bleak in Virpazar (in January);
– Mimosa Festival in Herceg Novi (in February);
– Camellia Festival in Stoliv (February);
– Winter Kotor Carnival (February);
– Bokeljska Night in Tivat (February)
Besides festivals, there are numerous winter activities in Zabljak and Kolasin, sports competitions, souvenir and food fairs, private film screenings, concerts of Balkan performers, etc.
What to Pack for Winter Montenegro
First, decide – will you go to the mountains or mainly stay by the sea coast?
If the latter, then take a demi-season coat or a medium-down jacket like for spring, autumn boots and sneakers, light sweaters, or a fleece jacket. If the weather forecast shows rain for the entire length of your trip, then take rubber boots, a raincoat, and an umbrella.
For the spa, don’t forget a swimsuit and flip-flops.
If you are going to Mount Lovcen, to ski in Kolasin or Zabljak, or maybe just ride along the canyons of the rivers to the Durmitor National Park, I would recommend a winter wardrobe – gloves, a hat, a warmer jacket, and warmer pants. That area has a temperature below zero.
More Winter Travel Resources
Are you looking for more winter content? Take a look at the following posts and get inspired to travel to other destinations that you probably didn’t know are awesome in winter too!
- Visiting Spain in Winter: All Questions Answered
- Madrid in Winter: What to See, Where to Go & What to Expect?
- Winter in Valencia – Weather, Christmas, Things to Do & Travel Tips
- Cyprus in Winter – 8 Things to Do + Travel Tips
- Visiting Turkey in Winter – 8 Things to Know
- 10 Delightful Things to Do in Kyiv in Winter
- 12 Cheapest Places to Travel in Europe in Winter
- Skiing in Europe: 17 Best Ski Resorts From Budget to Luxury