Montenegro. The Black Mountain.


Its name looms ominously, like a warning, and yet, despite the daunting description, the country shouldn’t be shunned. It is a stunning place, untamed and raw.  


In its remote hinterlands craggy summits grow above green pastures, before journeying towards the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Ever westward they travel, past virgin woods and shaded glens, by raging streams and hidden dens, chasing the movement of the fading light, before abruptly tumbling down into the murmurous depths of the sea.  


Where the rock kisses the shore, this rugged land reveals its outmost beauty.


This is Montenegro. A dramatic creation shaped by the elements.



Built in 1969, the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus is not only Podgorica's sole Catholic church, but a house of worship constructed in the Communist brutalist style, a rare occurrence given the areligious sentiment of the ideology.


Besides its architectural singularity, this unassuming, concrete temple is definitely worth a visit for the atmosphere alone, should you find yourself in the Montenegrin capital.


Once the biggest saline of Yugoslavia, the Salina of Ulcinj now lies derelict.


However, due to its location and protected status, the salt pans have become one of the most important breeding and resting sites for birds in the Adriatic.


The urban remains of this once thriving industry can also be found on the premiss.


Unbeknownst to many, Montenegro is home to the largest virgin rainforest in Europe.


Tugged away between the rugged mountain peaks of the country's northeast, Biogradska Gora National Park is a unique biosphere brimming with life.


More than 2000 plant species and countless animals, including bears and red deer, can be found in these dim woods.


VISA | Montenegro grants visa-free entry to all European countries for up to 90 days (30 days for Kosovo, Belarus, and Russia). If you are a resident of a non-European country check Passport Index for a quick overview.

MONEY | Currency: Euro. Besides not being part of the EU, Montenegro surprisingly uses the Euro (same as Kosovo btw!). In the 1990s, Montenegro adopted the German Mark due to the rapid decline of the Yugoslavian Dinar, hence, when Germany transitioned to Euro in 2002, Montenegro followed suit.


Banks and ATMs are widely available in the main towns. Supermarkets and bigger restaurants will accept bank cards, however, smaller shops might not, so always carry some cash with you.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT | Podgorica is the main hub regarding bus travel in Montenegro. Due to its central location (and capital status) you will find buses to every corner of the country. Buses (from Podgorica) normally go a few times a day, however, it is best to check the day before your departure. Prices are reasonable (calculate roughly 3€ for an hour).


Train travel is also possible. Two lines are currently open for passengers. The Belgrade-Bar railway, linking Serbia with the Montenegrin coast (a simply stunning route, especially in the northeast of Montenegro), and the Nikšić-Podgorica railway, connecting the country’s two biggest cities.


Public transport in Podgorica is rudimentary at best, however, due to its manageable size walking or biking is the best option anyway.



Rent a car

Although buses between main towns run relatively frequently, it might prove to be a bit more challenging to visit the more remote sites of Montenegro (e.g., Biogradska Gora, Ostrog Monastery, etc.). Therefore, I highly recommend renting a car, while inside the country!  


Not only will you be more independent timewise but the small size of Montenegro allows you to reach pretty much any point in the country in around three hours from Podgorica, even allowing you to hit multiple sites in a day if you wish to do so.


In off season prices are relatively moderate (20-25€/day) but can increase quite a bit during the summer months.



Get a Balkan SIM card

Most Balkan nations are relatively small and since travelling across the region is usually paired with multiple border crossings in a short amount of time, getting a separate SIM card for every country might not seem like the most budget-friendly option.


However, since July 2021 five ex-Yugoslavian countries (Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia), that are currently not part of the EU and their free roaming policy, + Albania have dropped all roaming charges within their borders.


I was told the price was around 20€ for a month. Definitely a good option if you are travelling around the Western Balkans.



3rd century BCE
A seafaring people

Since the Iron Age, present-day Montenegro has been settled by Illyrian tribes. A seafaring people, they raid the Adriatic Sea and are feared pirates far beyond their shores.

2nd century BCE
Rome expands

The naval endeavours of the Illyrians bring them in conflict with the Roman Republic, and after two successful campaigns, the Romans control most of the Montenegrin coast. Settlements such as Bar and Ulcinj become vital harbours, however, it takes the emerging superpower another century to conquer the mountainous hinterlands and incorporate them into the province of Illyricum.

395 CE
Rome breaks in half

After the partition of the Roman Empire Illyricum falls to West Rome.

6th century
Slavic invaders

Slavic tribes sweep across the Balkans and settle in the areas of modern-day Montenegro.

Middle ages

6-11th century
Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire gains control over the territory, however, although officially part of the realm the rulers in Constantinople struggle to exert dominion.

11th century
Dukedom of Doclea (Duklja)/Zeta

In the aftermath of the Battle of Manzikert (1071), several Slavic tribes sense the weakness of the waning empire and backed by the Holy See declare their independence. On the lands of present-day Montenegro, the Dukedom of Doclea is established.

Serbian supremacy

Serbia subjugates the independent dukedom and Orthodoxy starts to spread.

15th century
The birth of Montenegro

Even though Zeta regains her freedom, the situation remains precarious as both Bosnian and Serbian rulers prey on their unstable neighbour, while Venice annexes the coastline. In these dire times, the Crnojevic family takes control and names the country Crna Gora (Montenegro).

Modern era

16th century
Between lion and crescent

At the beginning of the 16th century, the Montenegrin clans and tribes find themselves divided. While Venice strengthens her grip on the coastline, the Ottomans take control over the hinterlands. Towns like Kotor and Ulcinj flourish through trade and become outposts of Western ideas, whereas Islam slowly seeps into the inland areas.

Full autonomy

Although officially part of the Ottoman Empire, firm governance in the rugged mountain regions proves virtually impossible, thus the recognition of Montenegrin autonomy by the sultan leads to the establishment of a unique democratic system: the Popular Assembly. At its head stands the metropolitan (vladika), elected by the clans, representing the splintered tribes.

A new dynasty

Danilo Petrovic Njegos founds a new dynasty and abolishes the Popular Assembly. Around this time Russia becomes Montenegro's principal ally.


In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkic War, Montenegrin independence is officially recognised at the Berlin Congress of 1878, following countless measures to modernise the state, reduce Russian influence, orientate the country towards the West, and establish a legal framework for an independent and centralised country.

Balkan Wars

Together with its allies Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece Montenegro ousts the ottomans from most of their European possessions, cementing its place among the free states of Europe.

World War I

Montenegro joins the war on the side of the Entente but ultimately falls under Austrian occupation, once again heralding the preliminary end of Montenegrin sovereignty.

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Montenegro becomes part of a new Slavic state: the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Kingdom of Yugoslavia). However, the central government in Belgrade fails to overcome old divisions and economical deficits caused by the previous war, resulting in growing resentment.

World War II

The Kingdom of Yugoslavia is defeated in 1941. The occupation by Italian, then German forces, is met with fierce resistance.

Contemporary history

Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia

Montenegro emerges from the woes of World War II as part of the newly formed Republic of Yugoslavia. In the following decades, the state witnesses accelerated industrial development, as well as critical advances in education, health care, and social security. Additionally, transport infrastructure is rebuilt, international maritime trade reinstated, and tourism thrives.

Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia

After the death of its founder Josip Tito, Yugoslavia enters a period of economic decline and internal instability, further fuelled by rising nationalism amongst its member states.

A flawed union

Montenegro survives the Yugoslavian War unscathed, however, persecution of minorities, deportations, and an unprovoked attack on Dubrovnik tarnish its international reputation. The country decides to remain in a union with Serbia, but economic sanctions weigh heavy on the small country and calls for a second referendum grow louder.

A second referendum

On 21. May, the Montenegrins vote to secede from Serbia. One week later the country becomes the 192nd member state of the UN.

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