Continuing TCN’s series on how to get around Croatia in the tourist hotspots on January 11, 2017, one of the most oft-sought questions – how to get from Dubrovnik and Dubrovnik to and from Montenegro.
I recently wrote about the ins and outs and the do’s and don’ts of visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina when in Dubrovnik, which you can read here. And running with that theme, why stop at Bosnia and Herzegovina? Let’s talk about Dubrovnik’s southern neighbour, Montenegro.
Dubrovnik is Croatia’s southernmost city and therefore very conveniently situated when it comes to ease of access to neighbouring countries. The city is just one hour from the Montenegrin border, around two hours by car from the coastal towns of Tivat, Perast and Kotor, just over two hours from the popular coastal resort of Budva and the inland city of Niksic, and three hours from the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica. (Please note that times vary from season to season and are entirely dependent on traffic and delays at the border).
There are two border crossings from Croatia into Montenegro, Kobila and Debeli Brijeg, with Debeli Brijeg being the most used. Be warned that long waiting times at the border are not unusual during the summer months. If you have rented a car from a Dubrovnik based company with no border issue such as SixT or Fleet and are free to drive in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the closest border crossing to Dubrovnik (but between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro) is at Sitnica.
Let’s have a closer look at how Dubrovnik makes it easy to get to (and from!) Montenegro…
Independent Dubrovnik based tour companies
Just like with Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are quite a few different agencies in Dubrovnik who provide excursions to Montenegro, most of the tours are guided and last all day, including the journey and pick up/drop off at your accommodation, big local names like Gulliver Travel, Atlas Tours, Viator and Laus Travel are just some of the companies who do regular day trips to Montenegro for very reasonable prices (usually between 300-400 hrk per person). As I mentioned regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, the packages and itinerary can vary depending on the provider and must be checked personally beforehand. Commonly visited destinations in Montenegro include Perast, Kotor and Budva.
As stated, Montenegro has two border crossings with Croatia – Kobila and Debeli Brijeg.
Most people use Debeli Brijeg but Kobila is becoming increasingly popular with those hoping to make the transition from Croatia a bit faster. I mentioned earlier that if the company you have hired your car from has given you the green light to take their car across borders, try the crossing with Bosnia and Herzegovina at Sitnica instead, but be warned that they have been reported to not be selling the necessary green card for Montenegro, so this may need to be arranged in advance. You can ask the person you speak to when you go to hire a car about anything you might need to be above board when entering Montenegro with a car registered in Croatia.
Public transport: Bus company
All public bus services with lines to Montenegro from Dubrovnik operate out of Dubrovnik’s main bus station in Gruz (NOT from Dubrovnik Airport!). The driving distance by bus from Dubrovnik into Montenegro isn’t long, but again, this is dependent completely upon traffic and border delays. There are several daily departures from Dubrovnik to the popular Montenegrin destination of Kotor (a roughly three hour journey) and like with buses to Bosnia and Herzegovina, this differs from season to season and should be regularly checked up on to be safe. You can also travel from Dubrovnik to Budva, Bar and Ulcinj by public bus. There are, of course, busses travelling back in the opposite direction (to Dubrovnik) just as often. Should you be interested in finding out more, click here.
Driving: Rental car
The journey is far from difficult, but driving gives you much more control and is perhaps the easiest way to get from point A to point B (and back, of course). The task of driving yourself from Dubrovnik to Montenegro can be achieved in an hour or so, but long lines of cars may be there to greet you at both border crossings (Debeli Brijeg and Kobila) during summer and waiting for a while is just part and parcel of the experience. There is little anyone can do. When renting a vehicle in Dubrovnik, make sure to ask if the company is okay with the car being taken into Montenegro, most will be fine with it but it pays to be sure. There are a some very reputable rent-a-car companies in Dubrovnik, including Fleet and SixT who will be more than happy to help you with anything you need.
Private transfers from Dubrovnik Airport (Cilipi) to Montenegro can be arranged. Trusted companies like Viator offer private transfer services at competitive rates. Click here to find out how to go about it so you can travel with peace of mind.
Things to consider:
Montenegro is not in the European Union or the European Economic Area, however the country has been in accession negotiations with the European Union since 2012 and uses the Euro as its currency. Montenegrin retailers will not accept the Croatian kuna as a form of payment, so make sure you obtain the correct currency either before you leave Croatia or immediately after entering Montenegro.
If you are driving, remember to keep your drivers license with you at all times, it is not uncommon to be stopped and asked for ID in Montenegro, and not just at border crossings.
If you are driving, make sure to adhere to the speed limit, this may sound blindingly obvious but Montenegrin police are infamous for stopping people going even slightly over the limit. Don’t throw caution to the wind or you may end up with a fine.
Like in Bosnia and Herzegovina, border crossings in Montenegro are relatively uncomplicated and you will most likely simply be waved through upon quick inspection of your passport.
European (EU/EEA/EFTA), American, Australian, Canadian and Russian citizens do not require a visa to be granted entry into or passage through Montenegro, but a valid passport must be presented and carried at all times. You can find out if you require any type of visa before entering Montenegro with a quick Google search. (Please keep in mind: While Russian citizens do not require a visa to enter or pass through Montenegro, they DO require one to enter Croatia and this is likely to be checked at the border crossings between the two countries. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will remain a full member of the EU for the foreseeable future and travel regulations for British citizens are highly unlikely to change at all either during or after that period. The presentation of a valid British passport is enough to be granted entry).
The relationship between some citizens of Dubrovnik and Montenegro is strained for reasons I have explained here, so please do not be shocked or put off if you hear negative things said by either party. Tensions have eased over the years and although there is water under the bridge, for the most part, times have moved on. Dubrovnik proves itself once again as an open-armed connector of towns, cities and countries. With a wide array of options within options to choose from, why not allow Dubrovnik to take you a little further afield?