Last Updated on January 24th, 2020
Are you looking to rent a car in Montenegro? Allow me to share a few valuable tips with you, guys.
During our digital nomad months in Montenegro, Mark and I have rented five different cars and drove all over the country in different directions. We plan to go back this year so we will be definitely renting a car again.
All the tips and recommendations I share below are based solely on our own experience. If you still have any questions left after reading this post, let us know in the comments. We will be happy to answer them.
So, let’s go step by step through all the important things on how to hire a car in Montenegro.
Why do you need a car in Montenegro at all?
Montenegro is not a big country so it’s easy to get places. Yes, you can always take a taxi, bus, bike, hitchhike or even walk to be able to get from one city or town to another. But if you want to explore hidden corners, see distant places, go to the deep depth of the mountains and visit secret beaches then you do need a car.
I know that some people take buses to move around. We used them a few times too, but only to go from Budva to Tivat, Bar, Podgorica, and back. One time waiting time for a bus to go to Svyatyi Stefan was more than an hour, so we gave up and took a cab.
In the summertime when the scorching sun can make you faint, waiting on a bus may become a challenge. If visiting Montenegro in winter, keep in mind that some buses on touristy routes run less frequently.
From our experience (and from what locals say) the bus system is average here and mostly operates along the coast. Yes, you can also take a bus to travel from Kotor to Budva, Sveti Stefan or Bar, or to Herzeg Novi but you won’t be able to see everything that lays in-between those cities. And I have to tell you there are quite a few pretty places not to miss!
Road tripping in Montenegro is fun and so enjoyable. Especially, if you go up the north to the mountains like Durmitor National Park or Biogradska Gora. Roads are in excellent condition, the country is actively building more roads and reconstructing highways, so driving here is an absolute pleasure.
General facts on renting a car in Montenegro
Parking is quite easy. Everywhere we go we don’t have any challenge with finding a parking spot. Most of the parking is free and available on the street. You can park pretty much anywhere unless there is a restriction sign. A lot of roads don’t have designated parking areas but there are quite wide shoulders where you see people park their cars. You can do too.
The biggest challenge with parking is probably in Kotor. There are not enough parking spaces and locals, who come to work in a 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.
Traffic. If you are visiting the coastal part of Montenegro in July or August, get ready to hit the traffic around Kotor, Budva, Bar, Ulcinj and Herceg Novy, but even then this jam is not massive. Overall, traffic is not a problem here.
Anything to the north from Podgorica is completely quiet and peaceful. When we were up in Durmitor and Biogradska Gora we barely saw any cars on the roads at all. It was easy and stress-free to drive on twisty mountain roads.
Gas prices. Gas is expensive ($5.8 per gallon or €1.38 per liter, as of October 2018) but one full tank of gas will let you cover almost the entire country. I guess 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.
Roads. Roads in Montenegro are in great condition. But there are some older roads between smaller towns that are very narrow and driving on them is not for faint-hearted. 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 incoming car comes your way, the only option is to back up. If the road is twisty you can imagine how you’ll be doing that maneuver. Therefore, only a confident driver should be taking those roads.
Driving in general. At the beginning of your driving experience in Montenegro, you’ll feel like most drivers are aggressive. But after you drive around you’ll understand it’s not really true.
Yes, Montenegrins are used to driving fast (especially on the hilly roads,) they often don’t stop for a pedestrian and are not restricted from parking on the pavement. They absolutely don’t know how to park and often take up to two spaces with just one car. Or simply park askew. Also, we noticed how impatient they sometimes get if another car goes slowly. So yes, for someone who is used to driving only in suburbs, driving in Montenegro may be very stressful and often annoying.
But if you have been driving in any of large American cities, in Asia or Eastern Europe, driving in Montenegro will not surprise you. We personally had way more stress driving in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
There are still quite a few drivers here who yield, help you make a difficult turn and even blink their high beams to warn about the cops up ahead (which is very common for Eastern Europe too, by the way.)
If they see you going slowly they will get impatient and just pass you.
So it really depends on what kind of driver you are and what type of experience you have.
RELATED POST: BEST HIKES IN MONTENEGRO THAT WILL LEAVE YOU SPEECHLESS
Where to rent a car in Montenegro?
There are two options on how to rent a car in Montenegro. You can do it either at the airport in Tivat, Podgorica airport or local offices across the country. International companies are based at airports. Smaller shops, owned by locals are right in the cities. In Kotor, Budva or Tivat, for instance, rental shops and signs for them are around each corner.
When it’s easy to hire a car during the winter or off-season, during the summertime it may get a bit tricky. Make sure to book a vehicle in advance, otherwise, you may end up staying without a one. Also, just keep in mind that in summertime some people don’t return a car on time. There is a chance (a small one but it still exists) that a rental shop won’t have any spare cars in case your rental is not back on time. From time to time it happens during the busy season.
Side note: To be able to reserve a cheap car, especially in summer, it is better to book it 2-3 months in advance.
Renting a car with Monticar in Budva – our experience
In local shops, you usually get a specific car, not a class. For example, when we booked our first car in Montenegro, the cheapest one we found was Fiat Panda 2007 through Monticar. We were reserving it in September while living in Budva and while prices were still on the rise. Not feeling like going to Tivat airport where cars were more expensive at that time anyway, we went with Monticar and it helped us save some money and time.
The price of the Fiat Panda was 24 euros per day. Since it was a small car with a 1.1 size engine, the agent asked us to drive only along the coast and not into the mountains.
The next available car cost 35 euros. A discount for multiple days was given too.
When you come on vacation, perhaps 11 euros difference is not a big deal, especially if you are taking a car for only one day. But when you are living on a certain budget in a country where you rent a car then even a few euros count. We went with the cheapest car available and were happy with what we got.
Pros and cons of renting a car with Monticar or any other local shop: Pros – a low deposit (around $200,) you get a car you choose, free additional driver, sometimes free child’s car seat, in some cases free delivery, and permission to cross the border. Also, what some people may find helpful, a local shop is the right place to rent a car without a credit card. Cons – low budget cars are usually old. During the off-season more expensive compared to the airport.
Renting a car with Goldcar at Tivat airport
Car hire at the airport usually means that you do business with international, well-known companies such as Avis, Sixt, Enterprise, Europcar, etc.
During the off-season, prices may be significantly lower. For instance, one of our cars at the beginning of October was $8 per day and then another booking 2 weeks later was $6 per day.
However, you have to choose whether to get full coverage or not. With local shops, for example, you don’t buy additional insurance. In case of damage or theft, you lose a deposit there. With renting from an international company and having a choice of purchasing the coverage you are not liable for anything. Without coverage, you are risking to lose a deposit which is very high compared to local shops.
After some time in a country, we decided to rent a car from a company at the airport and went with Goldcar. Their rental agreement said that a representative was supposed to meet us at the arrivals with a sign. Since we were already in a country we went to the office not knowing if anyone was waiting on us inside the terminal or not.
The entire experience of booking with this company was alright. We booked Skoda Fabia for $55 for the entire week. However, at the time of a pickup, there was an extra charge of $26. The agent was barely speaking English and couldn’t explain what the charge was for. According to a rental agreement, we made a conclusion that this extra charge came for pre-purchased fuel. So based on a contract we could bring a car with an empty tank. Even though we brought it with a full tank there was no refund.
Pros and cons of renting a car at the airport: Pros – convenience on arrival, companies we all know well, new vehicles, good prices during the off-season, ability to purchase full coverage. Cons – possible hidden fees, high deposit (around $1000,) border crossing restrictions.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Montenegro?
Renting a car in Montenegro during the summer is not cheap. Prices start from 30 euros per day for an old small manual car and 45 for an automatic one. But this is usually a basic old car. The longer the rental period, the lower the cost per day.
A good newer vehicle with lower mileage and more horsepower on average costs between 50 and 70 euros per day.
During the offseason, if booked in advance, a car rental can go for as little as $5 per day. Offseason usually begins in October and ends in May. And again, mainly companies at the airport offer these prices.
What documents do you need to hire a car in Montenegro?
The procedure for renting a car in Montenegro is pretty straightforward. You need to have a valid driver’s license from your home country, passport, and money for a deposit. The minimum age of a driver should be 22, experience from 2 years. You can pay a deposit with cash or by card.
Side note: There is no need to have an international driver’s license on you, no one is ever asking for it anyway. By the way, this is what we noticed in other European countries too. When we rented an automobile in Spain, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden none of the agents ever questioned us about the international permit.
What to know if planning to rent a car in Montenegro to travel to nearby countries?
If you plan to visit neighboring countries, make sure that there is a “green card” that comes together with registration and contract.
In Montenegro, when renting a car, the owner usually provides a green card as part of the service for no extra charge. Also, it is very important to check the validity of this document. We have friends who rented a car to go to Sarajevo but were not allowed through the border because their “green card” has expired.
One more important note. You should check for your contract to have a phrase in Serbian “moze vozi van” or a similar phrase (which means “a car can go abroad”) and signature.
How much alcohol can you drink to be allowed to drive?
In Montenegro, a driver is allowed to 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 the 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.
More Montenegro Travel Resources
If this will be your first time in Montenegro, I have some resources to help you get the best of your trip. First of all, start with my guide to where to stay in Montenegro. Then check out my very detailed posts with Montenegro travel tips and winter travel in Montenegro. They will give you an idea of what to expect from the country.
Since I lived in Montenegro and plan to return there in the spring, I have a lot to share. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter to know what Mark and I are up to and when the next post on Montenegro travel is up. And happy travels!
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