Budget walking holidays in Montenegro

“Walking in Montenegro is all about the 'wow!' moments,” declares Angelika Temper-Jablan of our specialist Montenegro walking operator 3e Travel. But it’s not just the views, which are as spectacular as you would expect in one of the most picturesque corners of Europe. It’s also about the culture, the warm welcomes from each small hotel that you stay in along the way, the communities always ready with a friendly greeting for walkers. “Our guests often say how much they enjoy bumping into local people,” Angelika continues. “It’s not unusual to meet a shepherd as you’re crossing a high meadow, and be invited back to his hut for a cup of coffee.”

And something that wows many a walker here is the sense that, just a short way up from Montenegro’s often crowded coast, you’re almost completely alone. In a country that’s rapidly becoming a lusted-after destination for outdoor activity holidays, the fact that you can still walk in the mountains for hours without encountering anyone else, is pretty amazing.
Despite a surge in tourism over recent years Montenegro remains an inexpensive destination for walkers and, perhaps most importantly, is still relatively uncrowded in many rural areas. “On the coast in July or August, in urban areas, sure, you’re going to find lots of people,” agrees Angelika. “But all you need to do is go up a bit above sea level and you can often find yourself completely alone again, even in summer.”
What this Balkan beauty lacks in size it most definitely makes up for in pizzazz – almost-alpine peaks, meadows strewn with wildflowers, dense forest and deep canyons, lakes where vast amounts of colourful birdlife masses, rugged coast. And through it all, old military trails zig-zagging up hillsides, paths created by monks and shepherds in centuries past, and classic, well-marked routes that will invigorate you with some of Montenegro’s most dramatic vistas. A tailor made holiday, with daily walks crafted by expert operators such as Angelika and 3e Travel, takes full advantage of the potential here and will ensure those ‘wow!’ moments come thick and fast.

Expert knowledge

“Are the trails well-marked? Well, we’ve not lost anybody so far,” jokes Angelika. “But yes, we only use proven routes, and we’ve got people everywhere – if you need support, it’s there for you straightaway.” A tailor made itinerary makes a lot of sense here, given how much scope an operator has to adjust the walks according to your fitness levels and interests. And, indeed, what the weather is doing that particular week.

Flexibility is key when it comes to adjusting walks to suit families, to build in a rest day, or to add in a handful of fun optional extras such as a boat trip on Lake Skadar. But, as Angelika says, another highlight of walking in Montenegro comes with spontaneity: an encounter with a friendly shepherd, a sumptuous midday meal outside a village inn with gorgeous mountain views.

A tailor made Montenegro walking holiday will normally begin with a suggested itinerary that can be tweaked as necessary. It will likely take you around a selection of destinations around the country, showcasing Montenegro’s natural beauty which can, at times, really stop you in your tracks – the 'wow!' moments. That might mean a walk in Lovcen National Park which encloses the forested mountain that gave the country its name; on paths overlooking the deep-blue Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic, which relics indicate has been inhabited since antiquity and once you see it you’ll understand why; in the Vrmac Mountains which separate the inner and outer bay; along the Budva Riviera with its historic towns and ravishing beaches, and views across to Sveti Stefan Island, and around Lake Skadar which provides pristine habitat for many species of indigenous and migratory birds.
You’ll pass ancient monasteries and fortresses, perhaps drop in briefly to cities such as Cetinje for a stroll around, then head back up into the mountains, and a sensation of complete and blissful isolation. Even well-known routes, which have become famous for their expansive views, can feel almost empty compared to those in other countries more established as walking destinations. And when you do encounter the locals, there’s always a smile, a tip of the hat, because tourism in these remote communities makes an enormous financial difference and your presence, even passing through, is really appreciated.
There are also small group walking tours of Montenegro available, which operate on fixed dates and itineraries. Suitable for adults only, they might take you to central Montenegro with its vast highlands, the remote Kucka Krajina region close to the Albanian border, or Rumija Mountain, overlooking Lake Skadar and a place of regular religious pilgrimage.

Rural tourism

Angelika Temper-Jablan is clear on the benefits of walking with responsible operators: “In Montenegro, wherever you go you’re providing economic benefits to people. With us you stay in small family-run places, you eat local food, you use public transport where necessary, and you bring employment.” A perfect example is the tips you get on little mountain inns to stop at for lunch along the way. Angelika recommends Kacamak, a type of maize porridge, real mountain comfort food; fresh carp from Lake Skadar marinated in oil; risotto stained black with cuttlefish ink; the uniquely Montenegrin dish of lamb stewed in milk over coals, and the classic walker’s snack of cheese and prosciutto, ideally sourced from the village of Njeguši, where both are a speciality. Expect to spend around €10-15 per head for a filling and delicious meal.

Rural tourism supports jobs in remote areas – whether you’re buying honey, artisan olive oil or homemade rakija (fruit brandy) and also encourages the preservation of these stunning landscapes, as local people recognise their appeal to walkers.

Our top Budget walking Holiday

Montenegro walking holidays, self guided

Montenegro walking holidays, self guided

Self-guided pleasure walking in the beautiful Bay of Kotor.

From €570 to €690 8 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Budget walking or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Practicalities

Budget walking holidays in Montenegro are typically a week or so in length. Small group trips, suited mostly to adults only, are guided, whereas a tailor made trip will be self guided and gives you great flexibility on everything from your routes to your accommodation and dates. Operators will be happy to arrange routes that are a good match for your abilities, perhaps shortening them if you’re walking with kids, or lengthening them if you want a little more challenge. Expect to cover 10-20km a day however, across a variety of terrain – none of it too demanding. And if you want to add a rest day here and there it’s easily done.
Accommodations are in locally owned bed and breakfasts or village inns. You get a hearty welcome, and a hearty breakfast too for that matter, and your stay ensures that money goes directly into the local community.
The best time to go weather-wise is April to October, but it can be fine all the way into November. The summer months get crowded on the coast but, as Anjelika points out, once you’re up in the mountains there’s a sense of wide open space in every direction.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Til Man] [Top box (Ropojana Valley): amir appel] [Expert knowledge (Lovcen): Sailko] [Practicalities (Durmitor NP): Fabien Rousselot]
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