Pro's and Con's of Montenegro

Lets get the bad out of the way:

  • July and August are very busy with many holiday makers from throughout the Balkans and Russian states. Not many Western European holidaymakers, but their number is steadily growing. The tourists origin is immaterial but it does make for very crowded resorts. Montenegro has limited coastline and the beaches are both short and not very wide, consequently beaches, especially town based such as Budva, Becici & Petrovac can resemble the interior of a sardine can.
  • There are plenty of sunbeds and umbrella's available, at a price, varying by beach but expect €2 for each item.
  • Local driving leaves a lot to be desired for the uninitiated. Expect the unexpected, ignore any use of indicators, they will have been knocked on accidentally. However, those with big city driving experience; London, New York etc. will seem quite at home. As long as you pay attention you will fit right in.
  • Local architecture is not, in the main of an imaginative or attractive style. New build especially is going up at a fast rate with not, it appears, a great deal of sympathy for the existing structures or the surrounding area. There is a legacy of somewhat practical developments from the more austere previous eras.
  • Loud music appears in many places to be an essential part of the enjoyment experience, be it bland 'euro beat' rock or local variations on the above. It can be annoying but as many seem to enjoy it as not.
  • Outside of Budva Stari Grad, the area would be described as tacky. Lots of little stalls selling 'branded' goods of dubious origin, very loud open bars/clubs and fairground. If you are young or are taking teenagers this could be heaven, if not, as The Eagles put it; 'this could be hell'. Do not let this put you off, just be prepared for the experience along with very large numbers of people.

Now the Good (and there is plenty of it)

  • Regardless of time of year, this is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline there can be, with in-numerable opportunities to be in a setting usually only seen in the holiday brochures. Ice blue seas, sandy coves set into the mountains, providing a contrast of geography that must be very unusual.
  • The locals are wonderful. Despite any language barriers they will put themselves out to help and the overall service standards are above the norm.
  • Away from the coast there are any number of gems to be un-earthed, wether relating to Montenegro's military history (it is a fascinating tale of the little guy beating off bigger and stronger armies over many centuries), religious past (surely a world record for the most monasteries in in-accessible places) or natural wonders such as Skadar Lake. Anyone going for just a 'beach holiday' will surely be missing out.
  • Despite the rapid development you can still find gems such as Przno, where you can sit and sample  wonderful seafood at a table overlooking a beautiful little harbour.
  • Like all holiday resorts, if you make an effort to move away from the main centres it soon becomes possible to enjoy the beach, if not in isolation, then in relative peace without the issues of overcrowding. All the beaches have at least one Greek style Taverna, where you sit in the shade, sip a cooling drink and curse the inevitability of having to return to work!
  • If you like seafood you have come to the right place. You may not know what you are eating (the Montengrins do not seem to have agreed on single species names and the same fish could have a different name in two restaurants adjoining each other), but you will be presented with a fantastic choice of fresh fish, able to choose the one you would like cooked. They charge by weight and categorise as to rarity, so you could spend quite a lot in theory. In practice you can eat like a king, enjoy the excellent locak Vranac (red) or Krstac (white) wines for an average of less than €10 per head.
  • Service levels are almost without fail better than average and the waiters will be keen to advise you on the days fresh or special dishes, without fear of you being ripped off.
  • Prices are relatively very cheap (although is sure to change soon). It is mostly a cash society, relatively few retaurants, shops, even petrol stations take Visa or other cards. There are howevr, plenty of cash machines in the main centres such as Budva, and these are ever increasing, as no doubt will the use of cards as more western europeans start to visit.
  • Finally, this a beautiful country with wonderful people but there is fear for its future as they chase the tourist dollar. It is arrogant to deny the local people the opportunity to cash in on their heritage, but hopefully that the heritage is not lost in a desperate trample to grasp a golden future.