Montenegro Travel: The Friendliest Country in Europe
Meet Montenegro: A country situated in the Mediterranean known for its temperate climate and rich culture. While it has so much to offer, it remains unknown for a wide group of travelers.
Though not technically part of the European Union (yet, more on that below), Montenegro put its hat in the ring for a spot in the EU in December 2008 and has been negotiating its terms since.
Here's the thing: the country is European. The official Montenegro currency is the euro, and as far as travel goes, it's super easy to get to from anywhere in the EU.
How Friendly Are Montenegrins?
Good people are what make a place wonderful. While traveling all through Montenegro over the summer, one critical detail stood out about the country: every single person was friendly.
The cab drivers. The lifeguards at the beach. The waiters. The locals on the street.
This might turn into Dr. Seussian prose if I keep going.
You know how people tend to be nicer in small, remote towns? Well, the Montenegro population was just over 619,000 in 2021, so you might consider the country as a small town in Europe.
Then again, my experience might be different from others. We can't get too far with an opinion.
One thing is true: the general consensus is that Montenegro people tend to be warm and welcoming and know how to have a hell of a good time. The beauty of the country likely won't be eclipsed by a few unscrupulous folks.
1. One Country, Multiple Climates
Don't you just love a country with variety? A place where you can drive from a sunny, sandy coast to a rugged, mountainous exterior in under an hour? Yep, that's Montenegro.
You've got two climates symbiotically working next to each other: a Mediterranean seaside with a sub-Alpine interior. Expect greenery and flowers for a whole twelve months!
Montenegro weather is temperate though they do have their highs and lows with respect to the summers and winters. The summer high can be up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) and the winters as low as 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit). If you're from the Northeast like I am, these numbers aren't exactly off-putting.
2. The Roads Are a Drivers' Dream
Okay, where Montenegro lacks in public transportation, it makes up for in scenic drives.
Imagine a serpentine road that zig-zags up the side of a mountain, with vertiginous views and hairpin turns. Then that road coasts down, flattens, and overlooks water an aquamarine blue. That's Montenegro. The roads are so beautiful, that the car rental is well worth the expense.
3. Montenegro is More Famous Than You Think
If you're wondering where to place Montenegro on a map, you might be surprised to find that you've probably already seen this country before.
Or at least you've seen it on a movie screen, at least. It was the location for Brad Pitt's first movie role: The Dark Side of the Sun. In 2010 Pitt and Angelina Jolie returned to relive pleasant memories in the Balkans.
Pierce Brosnan spent some time here on the set of The November Man, which came out in 2014. Numerous other films and TV shows from all over Europe have the Montenegrin backdrop as well.
You might come after me for not including Casino Royale, but this Bond film actually wasn't filmed in Montenegro despite its title and description!
4. Montenegro Has the Oldest Olive Tree
If you ask a local what to try in Montenegro, they'll usually tell you something like, "Cheese! No, beer! No, cheese. Actually, olives."
Definitely try all three, but the olives in Montenegro are no joke. Located in the southern town of Bar, the olive tree is estimated to be well over 2,000 years old. While the oldest, Stara Maslina is just one tree within a massive grove in Bar.
It's hard to believe tree has lived to see the Roman Empire up to modern times!
Even if you don't have the opportunity to check out Stara Maslina, plenty of restaurants all over the country offer a sumptuous mix of homemade cheese and olives.
5. Montenegro Plans to Join the European Union Soon
For non-European Union (EU) residents - myself included - there are strict parameters for how long you can stay within the conjoined countries. Because Montenegro isn't part of this area (yet), it makes this country a great stop-over place to fill in that gap of time without technically leaving Europe. It's ideal for visitors who plan to travel Europe but don't have a visa to stay long-term.
However, that all may change in the next few years because Montenegro is in negotiations to join the EU. This particular conversation has been going on for more than a decade, though it's starting to turn in their favor. It's estimated that by 2025, Montenegro will have a seat at the EU table.
Should I Consider Montenegro Travel?
The question isn't so much about should, as it's about when. This gem of the Balkans offers great people, Mediterranean beaches, medieval castles, and sprawling mountain vistas.
It's an hour's flight from Rome with a number of budget airlines (think Ryan Air or Wiz) to get you there.