Oh, Montenegro. You wowed me with your stunning coastline and impressive peaks. You were a country I hardly knew existed (you can hardly blame me - Montenegro only gained its independence in 2006) but I'm so glad I found out about.
I'm a pretty terrible planner and tend to make rash decisions and heading to Montenegro for a few months was one of those random ideas that turned into one of my best. We were lucky enough to see the country transition between seasons - from spring to summer to fall - and with that experience, have a pretty good idea of when is the best time to visit Montenegro based on what you want to do, see, and and experience while here.
You can expect 4 true seasons in Montenegro with a Mediterranean climate.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook.
I know just how easy it is to look towards the big hike, bucket list city, or beach of my dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress.
- Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket.
- Do your best to learn a few local phrases in their language. Just as a heads up - if you rely on Google Translate while traveling like I do, Montenegrin is the official language but isn't an option on translate or language learning apps. Their language is most similar to Serbian but then you'll need to read Cyrillic so I recommend using Bosnian or Croatian instead. I’m not expecting you to be able to have a fluid conversation with locals at the bus stop if you’re just visiting their country for a week but knowing your numbers (for prices), how to order something (“I would like…”), and basic greetings really will take you a long way. Mondly is a great app for phrases and vocabulary.
- Book any popular tours you want to do in advance. I’m really not a great planner and I’ve made this mistake more times than I can count. I plan a trip to a destination knowing that I want to do a sailboat trip or food tour and wait until the day before to book only to realize it’s not available the day I’m in town. Don’t make that mistake - if there is something you know you want to do - book your tour in advance.
- Same thing goes for rental cars. If you want to rent a car to cover more ground in a country, do it in advance. Prices will be more affordable and that way you’re guaranteed to have your wheels waiting for you.
- Last tip certainly isn’t mandatory but it is helpful. Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
Spring in Montenegro (March-May)
Looking for some quiet time? Spring in Montenegro might just be perfect for you. While the start of the season can be chilly, from March to May, the country experiences gradually warming temperatures. The average temperatures range from 10°C (50°F) in March to 20°C (68°F) in May.
One of the main attractions of spring is the lush greenery and blooming wildflowers that carpet the landscapes, including the beautiful Bay of Kotor and Durmitor National Park. It's an ideal time for hiking and exploring the pristine nature reserves. Additionally, the Adriatic coastline begins to warm up, making it possible to enjoy the picturesque beaches without the summer crowds. The water temperatures still might be a little too cold for swimming unless you're really brave.
Keep in mind that if you plan on doing a big hike (more on that in the fall section), you might still see some snow in the higher mountains. That means you'll need to stick to lower elevations if you want to hit the trails.
It's also important to note that if you plan on visiting any of the small towns along the Adriatic Sea or on the Bay of Kotor, many places like shops, restaurants, and bars could be closed for the season.
If you're looking for a quiet getaway with much more affordable prices than in summer, you'll love visiting Montenegro in the spring.
Best Places to Visit in Spring
Heading to Montenegro in the spring? You might love visiting these places:
- Herceg Novi: This coastal town right on the border with Croatia is charming in the autumn months. Explore its historic center, enjoy the pleasant weather, and take in the Mimosa Festival in early spring.
- Durmitor National Park: Spring is an excellent time for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring the pristine landscapes of Durmitor. You can also visit the stunning Black Lake, which starts to thaw in April. Just keep an eye on the local forecast because if the snow in the mountains hasn't melted yet, you'll need to pick your trails carefully.
- Skadar Lake: The largest lake in the Balkans, Skadar Lake, is a birdwatcher's paradise in spring. Thousands of migratory birds arrive here during this season, making it an ideal time for birdwatching and boat trips. Lake Skadar is on the border with Albania and there is called Lake Shkoder/Shkodra.
Summer in Montenegro (June-August)
Summer in Montenegro is synonymous with long, sunny days and warm weather. We were lucky enough to spend all of the summer months as digital nomads on the Bay of Kotor. That's really what solidified my love for this country and its landscape.
While you might be tempted to head directly to Kotor, Tivat, or Herceg Novi, there are plenty of stunning towns littering the entire bay and Adriatic Coast. Prcanj is a personal favorite of mine. The views from this teeny spot are absolutely stunning.
With average temperatures ranging from 25°C (77°F) to 35°C (95°F), it's the prime season for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts. The Adriatic Sea becomes invitingly warm, and coastal towns like Budva and Kotor come alive with festivals, outdoor concerts, and vibrant nightlife.
Aside from the coast, Montenegro's mountainous regions, including Biogradska Gora National Park and Tara Canyon, offer excellent hiking and rafting opportunities. However, be prepared for larger crowds, especially in popular tourist destinations. This is peak season so not only will places be more crowded but they'll also be more expensive.
Summer is the best time to visit Montenegro if you want to spend your days splashing in the Adriatic Sea and have all of your options of bars, restaurants, and shops opened for the season.
Best Places to Visit in Summer
While I'd personally vote for the Bay of Kotor, in an effort to give you some options in the places you visit in Montenegro, some other recommendations for the summer months are:
- Budva: This coastal town is a summer hotspot with its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. It's perfect for sunbathing, water sports, and exploring the historic Old Town.
- Sveti Stefan: This exclusive island resort near Budva is a popular summer destination. It's known for its pink-sand beaches and luxury accommodations. This is one of the few sandy beaches you'll find on the Montenegro coast.
- Ada Bojana: Located at the mouth of the Bojana River, this island is a haven for kite surfers and nature enthusiasts. The summer months offer ideal wind conditions for water sports.
Fall in Montenegro (September-November)
Autumn in Montenegro brings a refreshing change of scenery. As the temperatures gradually cool down from 25°C (77°F) in September to 15°C (59°F) in November, the landscapes transform with vibrant fall colors. This season is perfect for nature lovers and photographers.
The national parks, such as Lovćen and Prokletije, are at their most picturesque, and it's an excellent time for hiking and outdoor activities without the summer heat. Additionally, the Adriatic waters remain warm enough for swimming well into September, allowing you to enjoy the beaches without the crowds. We did some hiking in Prokletije National Park in early September and one of the trails became one of the best hikes in Balkans for me.
Early fall in particular is a fantastic time to visit Montenegro. The weather is still pleasantly warm and the water temperatures are still nice for a dip. Come October and November though rainy season settles in. These 2 months are the wettest months so you'll most likely experience heavy rainfall.
If you're OK with some rainy days and want the weather warm enough to still enjoy a mountain or beach vacation, you might find that fall is the best time to visit Montenegro.
Best Places to Visit in Fall
You'll see by my recommendations that I think the fall is the perfect time to spend outdoors:
- Biogradska Gora National Park: In the fall, the park's beech and pine forests transform into a stunning palette of autumn colors. Hiking around Biogradsko Lake is a must.
- Lovćen National Park: The cooler temperatures and changing leaves make autumn a great time to hike to Lovćen's summit, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Montenegro.
- Kotor: This picturesque coastal town starts is worth a visit in spring and summer yet fall is no exception. There's plenty of things to do like stroll through its medieval streets, visit the old town's historic sites, and enjoy the scenic views of Kotor Bay on a clear day. The smaller medieval towns along the bay might start to close up as winter creeps up but you should expect more going on in Kotor itself.
Winter in Montenegro (December-February)
Winter in Montenegro is a hidden gem for winter sports enthusiasts. With temperatures averaging around 5°C (41°F) in coastal areas and dropping significantly in the mountainous regions, the country transforms into a winter wonderland. Durmitor and Bjelasica mountains offer excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, especially for beginners. Zlatibor, Serbia is a good alternative for a winter destination but if you have your eyes on Montenegro, you won't be disappointed. The ski resorts are small here but still nice.
Kotor and other coastal towns are quieter during this time, making it an ideal season for those seeking a peaceful retreat. The Christmas and New Year festivities in Montenegro are also worth experiencing, with charming decorations and local traditions.
If you're interested in learning how to ski or snowboard and not spend nearly as much as you would at ski resorts in other places in Europe, winter might just be the best time to visit Montenegro.
Best Place to Visit in Winter
This is the one season that I don't think the Montenegro coast is the best to visit but instead you should head to the capital Podgorica or the mountains. Although, if you want a super quiet retreat, ignore these recommendations and head to the sea instead:
- Kolašin: This mountain town becomes a winter wonderland, offering excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the Bjelasica and Sinjajevina mountain ranges.
- Zabljak: Known as the highest town in the Balkans, Zabljak is a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Durmitor National Park offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
- Podgorica: If you prefer a milder winter climate, the capital city of Podgorica has a Mediterranean influence, offering a pleasant escape from the winter cold.
When Will You Visit Montenegro?
Montenegro's diverse seasons offer something for every traveler, whether you're seeking hot summer beaches, colorful autumn landscapes, or thrilling winter adventures. The best time to visit depends on your preferences, but each season has its unique charm and attractions.
This country blew me away and if you give it a chance, it might just do the same for you.