Your guide to visiting Montenegro in winter

Snowshoeing_Kolasin_Montenegro

Beyond the bustling summer crowds, the winter months reveal a different side of Montenegro—one adorned with serene snowscapes, charming villages, and a tranquility that sets the stage for a truly magical experience. In this blog post, we invite you to join us on a journey through Montenegro in winter, where snow-capped mountains, cozy mountain retreats, and the warmth of local hospitality combine to create an unforgettable winter escape. Discover the allure of Montenegro when temperatures drop, and explore the hidden treasures that make this Balkan gem a big potential to become a captivating destination year-round.

What to expect if you visit Montenegro out of season

Winters in Žabljak
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/503066220861488828/

Mild winter conditions

Montenegro experiences a diverse climate, and during the winter season, which typically spans from December to February, the weather varies across different regions of the country. Coastal regions, including cities like Budva, Kotor, and Herceg Novi, enjoy a milder Mediterranean climate during winter, with common mild, occasional rain showers. Daytime temperatures range from 8 to 15 degrees Celsius (46 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit). Cities like Podgorica, the capital, and Cetinje, located in the central part of the country, experience cooler temperatures compared to the coast (5 to 10 degrees Celsius/ 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Mountainous areas provide a more traditional winter climate with cold temperatures and snow-covered landscapes.

Tranquility and friendly prices

One of the most significant advantages of visiting Montenegro during the off-season is the reduced number of tourists. Popular attractions, historic sites, and natural landmarks are likely to be less crowded, allowing a more intimate and peaceful experience.

With fewer tourists around, you’ll have more opportunities to interact with the locals and experience Montenegrin culture on a more personal level. Local businesses and restaurants may have more time to engage with visitors, providing a more authentic experience.

The off-season, particularly in the fall or early spring, can be a fantastic time for photographers. The landscapes are often bathed in softer light, and the changing seasons bring a different perspective to Montenegro’s natural beauty.

Accommodation, transportation, and various services often come with lower prices during the off-season. This can make your trip more budget-friendly, allowing you to explore the country without breaking the bank.

Many interesting cultural events and festivals

Kotor carneval
Kotor winter carnival
Source: https://www.portomontenegro.com/see-and-do/winter-festivals

Depending on the time of year, you might catch some local events or festivals that showcase Montenegrin traditions, arts, and cuisine. These events are often more authentic and less commercialized during the off-season.

Montenegro, predominantly Orthodox Christian, celebrates Christmas in January. The Christmas season is marked by religious services, traditional customs, and festive decorations. Local communities often organize events, including Christmas markets and concerts in various towns.

Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site, hosts an annual Winter Carnival in the middle of February. The event typically features colorful parades, masked performers, and a festive atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy the lively energy of the carnival, with locals and tourists alike participating in the celebrations.

The country’s diverse cultural and geographical offerings ensure that visitors can find something of interest during the winter season, whether they’re seeking festive celebrations, outdoor activities, or cultural experiences.

Some other interesting manifestations: Montenegro Winter Cup in Žabljak (January), Montenegro Ski Fest in Kolašin and Mimosa festival in Herceg Novi (February), Camellia days in Kotor (March) and many more.

Limited services

It’s important to note that in less touristy areas, some services, accommodations, or restaurants may have reduced hours or be temporarily closed. It’s advisable to plan accordingly and check in advance for any specific services you may need.

While visiting Montenegro out of season comes with several advantages, it’s essential to be aware of potential limitations, such as weather variability and reduced availability of certain services. Some outdoor adventure activities, such as zip-lining, hiking trails in higher altitudes, rafting and mountain biking, may be limited or closed during winter months. Boat tours in Boka bay as well as on Skadar Lake are not available. The Mausoleum in Lovćen National Park is only available for visitors if the weather is suitable, while Lipa cave is completely closed during winter months.

Some facilities within Durmitor National Park, such as mountain huts and outdoor adventure centers, may have reduced hours or be closed during the winter. Ski resorts, on the other hand, become more active.

Driving in Montenegro during winter

Driving in Montenegro has numerous advantages over public transport, especially when it comes to comfort and the ability to visit remote locations. Renting a car in Montenegro is simpler and cheaper than in many European countries, which makes it convenient for travelers. In cities, the speed limit is up to 50 km/h, and on open roads up to 80 km/h. You will not have problems with gas stations in Montenegro, because you can find them in every town and village next to the main roads.

Driving through most of Montenegro will not be a challenge as the roads are kept clean and the traffic jams are not so often like in season time. Be aware that many southern cities are known for narrow and steep roads. Before your journey, check the current road conditions, especially in mountainous areas or regions prone to snowfall and make sure to be equipped with winter tires which are a must.

Ski resorts in Montenegro

Montenegro offers a variety of winter activities during the off-season, catering to both nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Good news! The prices are much lower than in other modern European ski resorts, which makes your vacation more affordable.

The biggest ski resorts are  Kolašin 1600 and Kolašin 1450 with 45 km track length as well as Savin kuk with 4.6 km.

Kolašin 1600 ski center
Source: https://sharemontenegro.me/

Žabljak is the favorite place for families but also represents the best starting point to visit the Durmitor National Park and enjoy the slopes of the Savin kuk mountain peak, with groomed ski trails in a total length of 4.6 kilometers (with blue trails, red trails, black trails and baby trails). Also, here you can try night skiing!

“Savin kuk” ski resort in Žabljak is located 124 km from Podgorica capital and has 2 two-seater lifts, 3 ski lifts, one of which is equipped with reflectors for night skiing, as well as a children’s ski lift. A 4.6 km ski track is available to visitors, and the capacity is 3,000 skiers. The height difference is 700m. The two-seat cable car “Savin kuk I” is 1,550 m long, leads in the direction of the top of Savin kuk and rises to an altitude of 1,907 meters above sea level. In total, it includes 3.8 km of ski slopes (three blue, one red and one children’s slope). The upper two-seat cable car “Savin kuk II” is 700 m long and rises to an altitude of 2,213 m/nm. It is intended for advanced skiers, as it includes a black track 800 m long. This cable car is a winter and summer tourist attraction.

The ski season typically runs from December to April. You can check the pricelist for winter 2023/2024 in the picture bellow. You will find affordable accommodation in Žabljak but make sure to book in advance.

Zabljak ski resort price list 2024
Source: https://tcdurmitor.me/?page_id=571

Kolašin 1600 and Kolašin 1450 ski centers are among the most modern European winter centers, and also the most visited in Montenegro. Together, they offer 45 kilometers of ski trails, arranged according to the highest European standards.

You can reach Kolašin by train, Bar – Belgrade railway, car or bus. Daily bus transportation is organized from the center of Kolašin to the modern ski centers and back. You can choose between different activities that are organized outdoors, such as hiking, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, quad biking and many others.

Kolašin 1600 ski center is more than a ski resort, because it offers a special entertainment program for young people. Restaurant Troglava, with its 5*, is a well-known entertainment center that gathers all those who want to have a good time. Here you will surely have a good party with famous DJs. In addition, the restaurant serves the best specialties of the national cuisine, prepared in an authentic Bjelasic way.

There is a six-seater cable car that takes you to the very top of Troglava and well-maintained trails. At an altitude of 2,035 meters above sea level, you will experience a guaranteed unique experience of the Bjelasica panorama!

More information can be found on their official website: https://skijalista.me/en/ski-centers/kolasin-1600/.

Most popular winter activities in Montenegro

Montenegro offers a variety of winter activities, especially in its mountainous regions. Here are some of the best winter activities you can enjoy in Montenegro.

Skiing season in Kolašin
Source: https://bucketlisttc.com/montenegro-ski-resorts/

Hit the slopes

Montenegro is a hidden gem for winter sports enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a first-timer, the well-maintained slopes cater to all skill levels.

When visiting Kolašin 1600 and Kolašin 1450 ski resorts, you can rent ski equipment while you are still in town, but also in the ski centers themselves, on the slopes. Transportation from the town to the ski resorts is organized daily. The exit point of the cable car is at an altitude of 2,035 meters. From there, visitors to the center can choose from eight downhill trails: two blue trails, four red trails, and two black trails with a total length of 10.5 kilometers. For guests of the ski center Kolašin 1600, a parking lot for passenger vehicles with a capacity of 200 spaces is provided.

While ski resorts in Kolašin attract the younger population who want to party, Durmitor is the favorite place for adventurers and lovers of untouched nature. The good news is that this ski resort is being further developed and expanded. It has the steepest slopes and is intended mainly for the most experienced skiers. It is ideal for real ski connoisseurs!

Apart from these, there are many other locations with skiing offer such as Lokve, Vučje and Hajla ski resorts that are smaller and more attractive for families.

Snowshoeing tours

Snowshoeing is an exciting combination of recreation, sport and nature.

Snowshoes, of a standard size, are put on the regular winter footwear, including snowboard boots. In addition to snowshoes, for easier walking on the snow, poles are used as well, which should be adjusted in height so that your elbow is at a right angle.

For those who love walking, snowshoeing is recommended. Snowshoes can be rented at Durmitor National Park Visitor Center and at Savin Kuk Ski Center at a price of 4,00 euros. In the same place, for a price of 3,00 euros, you can also rent walking sticks.

For walking on snowshoes, there are many marked trail, for example one of the easy trails leads from the Black Lake to the Ski Center “Savin kuk”. Its length is 6.7 kilometers, the estimated time of passage is about two hours and during the walk the participants overcome 268 meters of ascent. The use of all the trails is done on your own responsibility so it is strongly recommended to hire a local guide.

A guided tour in Kolašin, lasting 3-4 hours can be booked for 90,00 euros per person. Find more details on this link.

Snowshoe rental is available at the Visitor‘s Centre of the National Parks Durmitor and Prokletije, also at the Ski Centres Savin Kuk, Kolašin 1450 and Vučje as well as the Tourism Organisations of Andrijevica, Berane, Mojkovac and Rožaje.

Snowshoeing
Source: https://www.ceetiz.com/kolasin/guided-snowshoe-tour-bjelasica-transfers-included-montenegro?c=1×0

Snowmobile tours

Montenegro has an extremely high potential for organizing exciting snowmobile tours. With the mountains located at over 2000 meters above sea level, the winter season during which tours are organized, generally lasts from December to early May. Snowmobile tours can be organized in Sinjajevina, Bjelasica and Komovi, where there are over 1000 km of trails.

It is possible to organize tours with a combination of multiple other activities such as free ride skiing and snowboarding, Nordic skiing, snowshoe tours, quad tours in accessible parts or with visits to local households and farms.

Check our amazing snowmobile tour in Kolašin that can be booked through this link. The tour is fully guided and includes all needed equipment, it can even be prolonged and adjusted according to your desire.

Snowmobile tours on Bjelasica
Source: https://kolasin.me/voznja-motornih-sanki/

Winter Hiking Adventures

In winter Durmitor National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, transforms into a snowy spectacle. The frozen Black Lake which is a popular summer destination, surrounded by snow-covered peaks offers a picturesque setting for winter walks. Nestled in the heart of Biogradska Gora, the Biogradsko Lake is a tranquil spot in winter too. The surrounding forest, covered in snow, creates a serene atmosphere for contemplative walks! You can visit the educational trails around both lakes as they are easily accessible and passable during the whole winter season.

Lesser-known lakes like Hridsko and Kapetanovo in the north are more difficult to reach but provide a peaceful winter hiking experience for those who like remoted areas. Surrounded by snow, they offer a serene escape into nature and are reachable only by terrain vehicles.

Places like Niagara Falls near Podgorica create a mesmerizing spectacle that contrasts with the greenery of warmer months. The Niagara Falls in Podgorica is a man-made waterfall on the Cijevna River, very often visited for its scenic surroundings and recreational areas. The falls are part of the Niagara restaurant complex, situated in the suburbs of Podgorica.

Kotor
Source: https://www.fly4free.pl/tag/ferie-2019/page/2/

The southern cities along the coast of Montenegro are perfect for hiking escapes during winter time. Take advantage of the coastal areas, combining hikes with visits to historical sites and seaside towns for a well-rounded experience as many hiking routes pass through ancient ruins, monasteries, and charming villages along the way. While the southern region of Montenegro may not offer snow-covered landscapes, it presents a different charm with its mild winter climate and coastal vistas.

Lovćen National Park, near the coastal town of Kotor, is a fantastic destination for winter hikes. The trail leading to the Njegos Mausoleum provides panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding mountains. Other easy hiking trails in this region include the following peaks: Hum 1.415 m, Koložunske grede 1.427 m, Treštenički peak 1.489 m ( Treštenski ) and Babina glava 1.474 m starting from Ivanova Korita.

Mount Orjen and Vrmac hill are popular hiking destinations for locals as they are easily accessible and offer stunning views over Boka Bay. You can check multiple trails starting from both Tivat and Kotor here. If you aim for the best viewpoints then you should definitely not miss the summit of Vrmac hill – St. Ilija 765 m, St. Andrija fort above Perast and St. Ilija 1104m on mount Orjen.

Viewpoint St. Ilija 1104m
Source: Balkan Adventure

Other cool things to do

Cultural Exploration in Old Towns

Winter in Montenegro is an excellent time to explore the country’s historic old towns without the bustling summer crowds. Places like Kotor, Perast, Herceg Novi, Old town Bar or Cetinje exude charm against a snowy backdrop. Visit the various medieval churches, museums, quaint cafes offering local specialties or look for interesting workshops to engage with locals.

Explore the medieval architecture of St. Tryphon Cathedral and the Church of St. Nicholas in Kotor Old town or climb the city walls for panoramic views of the bay surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Discover historical sites like the Citadel and the Church of the Holy Trinity in Budva or take a walk along Herceg Novi’s promenade, known as the “Pet Danica,”. Discover the former royal capital’s history by visiting the Cetinje Monastery and the National Museum. Make sure to attend at least one winter festival or event that takes place in these old towns, featuring traditional music, dance, and local crafts.

Savor Montenegrin Cuisine

Winter is the perfect time to indulge in hearty Montenegrin cuisine. Warm up with local specialties like ‘kačamak’ (cornmeal and potato dish) or ‘pasulj’ (bean soup). Pair your meals with a glass of the country’s renowned wines or homemade brandy. Visit some of the amazing family-run wineries that offer great quality wines and dishes made by traditional recipes. At Balkan Adventure, we have carefully selected some of the best small wineries in Montenegro with long family traditions of wine production. By visiting there estates you will have the best opportunity to learn about wine production and local traditions and at the same time help boost small businesses and help improve life in the rural communities.

Olive_Queen_live_oil_and_wine_tasting
A glimpse from Olive Queen Estate wine tour in Bar
Source: Balkan Adventure

Conclusion

Visiting Montenegro in winter unveils a hidden gem that transcends its well-known summer allure. The winter landscapes, with snow-capped mountains, serene lakes, and charming old towns, offers a unique and enchanting experience for travelers seeking a quieter, more intimate escape.

From thrilling winter sports in the north to peaceful coastal hikes in the south, Montenegro’s diverse regions cater to a range of interests. Winter brings a sense of tranquility, allowing visitors to explore cultural treasures without the summer crowds. The country’s mild climate, festive winter celebrations, and hearty local cuisine further enhance the winter experience, providing a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion!

For more advise on visiting Montenegro during the whole year as well as other activities and services for single to group visitors, feel free to contact Balkan Adventure team on info@balkanadventure.me.

We strive to promote active tourism in all parts of Montenegro, especially the ones that are less developed in order to foster small businesses and help improve the life of locals who live in less touristic regions of Montenegro that are rich with natural and historical resources. Visit our website www.balkanadventure.me for a wide range of activities and tours in Montenegro.

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