Riding The Great Montenegro with 360 Monte
I was never much of an ace in driving, and when I realized the roads of Montenegro pose a serious threat to my life and limb, I vowed never to traverse them unless someone else is at the wheel. Long, winding, and sometimes confusing (how could I know those cliff-side roads were actually two-way?), these roads made me think I should have a local who knows what he’s doing drive me around. There are areas under construction, too.
Of course, that was one of the motivations for me to join a tour when I had the chance. It worked better cause I was going to be with the girls I met in my hostel, Old Town Kotor. It wasn’t just any kind of tour — it’s one by 360 Monte, whose North Montenegro tour I had talked about in another post.
And I didn’t just get a local driving me around and showing me the great stuff Montenegro has to offer. Though indeed, I learned to enjoy more of the winding roads’ scenery this way! More than that, I had compiled a list of 10 reasons why Great Montenegro might be right up your alley, should you ever find yourself in this fine country.
- You get the best tour guides. When I joined the tour, I had just come from a night of partying. We were rounded up at 8:30 the morning after, and I thought that I would just doze off on the bus to catch my sleep. But no! I can’t afford to do that, fearing I will miss something. In front of the bus stands Jelena, our tour guide, with all sorts of fun info about the sites and their history. She was lovely, and she almost didn’t stop talking or answering questions! Tour drives often tend to be the lull of the day, but not with Jelena around.
- Great driving scenery. Anothering great thing with our drive is the scenery! Our first sight of the Bay of Kotor was mesmerizing. All you hear will be breathless wows and clicking cameras.
- Perfect photos. You know tour guides really know their stuff when they point you to the best photo spots in each site you visit. Then you get to take awesome photos just like this:
- The Njegos Mausoleum. The Mausoleum is one of the more interesting places around the Mount Lovcen area. Opened in 1974, the long-delayed mausoleum was the answer to the dying wish of one of the country’s greatest philosophers and writers, Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. Aside from the historical significance, the area has some pretty awesome views from the top!
- Local eats. At around 9AM on our tour, we were taken to a local, family-owned restaurant that really showcased the best of Montenegrin cuisine. We also got a free shot of rakija, plus we got to see the special place where they keep the prosciutto! The restaurant is interesting because it really is a strictly family business. No non-family workers, and it has ever belonged only to one family. It is now the fifth generation running the place, and for all that time the resto hasn’t closed a single day! Our meal consisted of a sandwich and prosciutto, with our choice of drinks (coffee, wine, and beer all cost 3.50 EUR).
At around 3PM, we were taken to another local restaurant, which has a river side. We had trout, salad, and soup, which were all so fresh and good! Most of us ended up asking for more of the soup and salad. All that for 7 EUR!
- Cetinje. This is a historic city, and considered the country’s secondary capital. It contains Mt. Lovcen itself, as well as a beautiful panorama of the surrounding region. The center is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are lots of museums to see!
- Skadar Lake. This is the largest lake in the Balkans, and it is straddled by Montenegro and the neighboring country of Albania. The Montenegrin site is declared a national park, and the views are pristine. This stop is particularly for those who love to enjoy nature at its finest. We also got to do a boat ride on the lake, where we saw pretty lotus flowers floating on the surface!
- Budva. This is a free walking tour helmed by Jelena herself, wherein she gives an overview of the town. The coastal region (often called the “Budva Riviera”) is the most frequented by tourists. There is a medieval city juxtaposed with sandy beaches, which is amazing! The place is just 30-40 minutes from Kotor, so it is easily accessible. When we were there, they were celebrating a parade so we got to see some real good sights.
- Amazing people all around. Aside from Jelena, I got to meet several amazing people in the form of the locals and our fellow tourists. There is a mix of characters, which only made the day more fun! And of course, when you have all these great people around…
- Party! Jelena promised us we would be so tired by the end of the tour we wouldn’t be able to party. But we did, anyway! And man, was it so fun!
The Great Montenegro tour was, all in all, an excellent full-day tour. Sure, there was a lot of driving around (we covered 450 km of roads!), but it was a lot of fun and very informative. We were even dancing on the mini van! It’s not the cramped space many are used to — it was a lux, carpeted mini van with La-Z Boy seats! I guess that experience would be up to number 11 on the list. Classic Montenegrin style — all for just 39 EUR!
Really, what’s stopping you from going here?