I couldn’t believe that Montenegro’s neighbour, Croatia, was so busy and popular in comparison. So many British travellers overlook Montenegro as a holiday destination and Croatia is becoming busier and busier every year.
Don’t get me wrong, Croatia is gorgeous! I love Croatia, but in recent years Croatia has become such a popular tourist hotspot that it has lost some of the charm that attracted people years ago.
So if you’re thinking about a trip to Croatia, why not rethink your plans and head to Montenegro instead? If you can’t find direct flights to Montenegro you can fly to Croatia and take a bus across the border or hire a car at the airport and drive.
Here are 10 reasons why I think you should visit Montenegro over Croatia.
The number one reason to visit Montenegro over Croatia is the price. Montenegro is an extremely affordable country to visit! If you’re travelling on a budget then you can rent an Airbnb for very little and if you eat at local restaurants you won’t spend a lot on food.
If you’re travelling on a bigger budget then you can have a luxury holiday for a fraction of the cost. During my recent trip to Montenegro I stayed in Herceg Novi at Lazure Marina and Hotel and it was dreamy! This is one of the country’s best hotels and you can book a gorgeous room with breakfast for less than 100 Euros for two people (at the time of writing).
When I visited Dubrovnik in Croatia for the first time I couldn’t get over how busy it was! It was 2013 and I thought Croatia was still an ‘up and coming’ country but I was so wrong. Croatia was well and truly infiltrated with tourists and Dubrovnik was their first port of call. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dubrovnik and I still do, but I would never visit in the peak summer months again because it was just too busy.
Parts of Montenegro are very busy, particularly Kotor when a cruise ship comes in, but it’s very easy to escape the tour groups and cruise passengers and if you visit in the shoulder season then you won’t be battling the crowds!
While we’re on the topic of Croatia and Montenegro’s most popular places to visit, let’s talk about Kotor (in Montenegro) and Dubrovnik (in Croatia). They’re both beautiful places but I was blown away by the charm of Kotor and I instantly fell in love with this town.
The medieval town is like something from a fairytale with the maze of tiny streets and the majestic mountains towering all around. Kotor may be much smaller than Dubrovnik but it gets my vote!
There’s something nice about visiting somewhere new or somewhere your friends and family haven’t been before you. You can’t rely on restaurant recommendations from your neighbour or sight-seeing tips from your Uncle Bob. You’ve got to do your research and delve into travel guides to find the county’s hot spots. I love this research stage of a holiday and it’s even more fun with lesser known destinations.
Montenegro isn’t exactly a hidden gem but it’s lesser known than its neighbour Croatia, so it does have more of an ‘off the beaten path’ vibe about it.
Just because Montenegro isn’t as popular as Croatia don’t go thinking it doesn’t have as many sights and attractions worth visiting. Oh no, Montenegro is still choker packed with pretty little towns, gorgeous beaches, a stunning coastline, great restaurants and rugged mountains.
Durmitor National Park is the place to be if you love hiking. If you’re visiting Montenegro for romance then make sure you visit Perast. If culture’s is your thing then you won’t want to miss Ostrog Monastery and if you love to be on the water then make sure you take a boat trip to the Blue Caves from Herceg Novi!
One of my favourite things about charming little countries like Montenegro is that you can see (almost) everything the country has to offer in a relatively short space of time. Visit Montenegro for a week and hire a car and you’d easily see the highlights of the country.
Of course, you could stay much longer and still have places on your bucket list but with a well-planned itinerary you’d see all the top spots!.
Montenegro is regularly referred to as a paradise for hikers. If this is your first trip to Montenegro then I highly recommend making time to hike in the mountains of Zabljak. You’ll pass lakes, alpine forests, ice caves, craggy mountains and stunning views.
There are lots of hikes to choose from depending on your ability and you can hire a local guide or join a tour if you’d rather be part of a group.
It’s perfect if you like tranquility while you hike. While I was in Montenegro, I met a couple who had been hiking for three days and we were the first people they’d come across in all that time!
My favourite place to visit in Montenegro was Perast. This tiny town on the Bay of Kotor is simply one of the most magical places I’ve ever been.
The beautiful waterfront is lined with historic buildings that look out to the dramatic mountains and the incredible bay. From Perast you can take a boat trip to two little islands, one of which is Our Lady of the Rocks where there’s a pretty church with an interesting history.
Montenegro hasn’t quite been hit by mass tourism on the same level as Croatia, so it retains a lovely level of authenticity. You can easily veer off a popular street and stumble upon something that’s just for the locals.
And speaking of locals, they’re all so lovely and welcoming and touristy areas didn’t feel as pushy as some places in Croatia where everyone is trying to sell you something!
If you go to Montenegro now you can be that person in 20 years time who says, : “I went to Montenegro before it was really touristy.” No one likes a travel bragger but it’s is nice to say this!
Many British people who visit Montenegro now do so during a cruise so they might see one or two popular (and busy!) places and you’ll notice most people have only visited the Bay of Kotor. I’m predicting that in five years time Montenegro will be a much more popular place for British travellers to visit.
I’m the founder of The Travel Hack, one of the UK’s leading travel blogs focusing on travel tips and hacks to make your travels as easy and affordable as possible. I began blogging in 2009 during a two year backpacking trip through Asia and Australia when I lived and travelled in an old VW campervan. I studied journalism when I returned home, but quickly realised traditional media wasn’t for me. I now live in Wales and have two little boys, so I also blog about family travel and my weekend adventures around Wales.