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With unspoilt interiors and dramatic mountain scapes slipping into the azure waters of the Adriatic, it’s no surprise that an increasing number of superyachts and charter guests are making the journey to cruise beautiful Montenegro.
Yachting Pages spoke to local yacht agents about the sights and sounds that Montenegro has to offer, and the must-knows for captains and crews manning the cruise - from guest activities through to berthing, clearances and climate.
Separated from the hinterland by steep mountain ranges, Montenegro’s coastal belt enjoys a welcoming Mediterranean climate, with long dry summers and short mild winters.
With this in mind, Montenegro is perfect for cruising anytime between May and October when there’s plenty of sunshine and average water temperatures reach over 20˚C – the ideal months for spending a lazy week on board or taking up more active experiences down the coast. July and August are the warmest, yet driest and busiest times to visit.
Jovana Zivkovic from Porto Montenegro explained, “With a maximum sea temperature of 27.4˚C and a 180-day bathing season, Montenegro is a perfect destination for a long cruise aboard a superyacht anytime between April and October.”
Coastal Montenegro benefits from an average of over 2,500 annual hours of sunshine, with around ten hours of sunlight a day in the summertime – perfect for enjoying life out on the deck.
Jovana explained, “Average July temperatures in Montenegro are 28˚C with a high approaching 30˚C, while the winter average temperature is 9˚C and rarely drops below freezing, but northern winds can be very cold. Spring is characterised by sunny weather with moderate temperatures and autumn with frequent rainfalls. November is generally the wettest month.”
Montenegro is well-known for its natural beauty, historic charm and cultural treasures, which include the UNESCO World Heritage towns of Perast and Kotor, and the folkloric islands of “Our Lady of the Rocks” and St George. Its 14,000sqkm of coastline is only the start of its natural wonders, as visitors can enjoy a whole host of beautiful landscapes and thrilling activities on their cruise.
Jovana explained, “While over 70% of the country is covered in mountains greater than 800m tall, exploration of the interiors beyond reveals a much more diverse image of serene and wild beauty. High alpine pastures are strewn with hidden lakes and glaciers, there are fairy tale waterfalls, rocky grottoes and ice caves, primeval forests and lush berry fields, all linked by over 3,000km of ancient paths and hiking trails.
“White-water rafting down the Tara River offers exploration of the glacial landscapes and deep canyons of the UNESCO-listed Durmitor National Park, which is home to Europe’s last virgin black pine forest. Lazy summer days spent lounging on the vast sandy beaches of Ulcinjska Riviera can be easily replaced by winter skiing in Kolasin; paragliding can be enjoyed in the Bjelasica Mountains and windsurfing on the largest freshwater lake in Europe, Skadar Lake.”
Darko Jankovic, an adviser at Yacht Agent Montenegro said, “Exploring by helicopter gives guests the opportunity to feel Montenegro from the top, to see the whole of the country in a short time. Tours range from 15 to 120 minutes long, so you can see as much or as little as you like. Other must-do activities include a visit to the Lovcen National Park to see the Njegos Mausoleum, to tour Lipa Cave and zip line through the air 980m above sea level.”
Boka Bay is one of the world’s most idyllic nautical playgrounds: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s often referred to as the southernmost fjord in Europe, but the Boka Bay is in fact a drowned river canyon and the largest natural harbour in the eastern Mediterranean. The Bay’s 100km of coastline twists inland from the open waters of the Adriatic on the southern edge of the Dalmatian coast. Rugged mountains rise from the shoreline, shielding the sandy beaches and medieval towns that cling to the water’s edge.
Kotor is a beautifully preserved town renowned for its many cathedrals and captivating mix of Baroque, Venetian and Austrian architecture; another UNESCO World Heritage site, this time full of cobblestone streets, polished marble piazzas and noble palazzos.
Unlike many historic towns, Kotor is a living, vibrant place with year-round activity: You’re as likely to find a cool little bar or shop stocked with the latest Apple gadgets behind an antique façade while exploring its narrow laneways and chapels. Equally lovely day or night, the imposing stone walls of this medieval fortress town stretch high into the mountain itself and, in the evening, are lit to brilliant effect.
Don’t miss the chance to climb the city walls to San Giovanni fortress for a breath-taking view of the Bay and make sure to check out some of the intimate city restaurants for a great taste of local and international cuisine.
With Mount Orjen rising behind it (offering some of Montenegro’s best hiking trails and great sea views), Herceg Novi is built along a steep incline, meaning exploring can be something of a step class! Older neighbourhoods rich in towers, squares and churches are as attractive and interesting as any on the coast and rarely suffer from the overcrowding of the more popular tourist destinations, yet the town’s waterfront still turns into one long promenade lined with cafés and restaurants during balmy summer evenings.
While there, relax in the healing sea-mud and mineral water springs in the neighbouring Igalo, take the hike up Mount Orjen, spend a day visiting the many fortresses nearby, visit the near-by island of Mamula 3.4nm away, or ‘go green’ in the botanical park.
With infinite antique façades and almost zero development, the UNESCO protected hamlet of Perast is the impeccably preserved jewel of the Bay; an exquisite town that’s now largely pedestrianised. With funding from the Italian Ministry for the Environment it’s ‘gone green’ with bicycles and Segways for hire. Tourist numbers swell at the peak of summer, but it otherwise remains relatively free from large groups or cruises, for now.
While there, don’t miss visiting the church and museum located on Our Lady of the Rocks, the only man-made island in the bay that will tell you an unforgettable story.
As Montenegro’s busiest tourist destination, Budva has been highly developed and is today essentially divided into two parts: The original old town is a Venetian maze of cobblestone streets anchored by the 15th century Budva Citadel, while the modern town is comprised mainly of low-rise condos. A seasonal tourist Mecca, Budva comes alive in the summer months as seemingly every spare corner is converted into an outdoor bar or shop.
The Budva Riviera is 25km long, with coves, sandy beaches, capes, islets and picturesque settlements. Here, Mount Lovcen offers protection from cold north winds, allowing for a mild Mediterranean climate.
With a well-deserved reputation for nightlife, Budva is now established as one of the Adriatic’s leading party destinations: The Stones, Madonna and Lenny Kravitz have all played on Jaz Beach in the past. Aside from Casper, a local institution known for its jazzy sounds, the nightlife here is generally very mainstream and caters to a young audience in large, open-air venues like Top Hill.
Darko said, “Top Hill is one of the most attractive clubs in the Mediterranean area thanks to its large capacity and distinctive interiors, which include a variety of themed bars, a large dancefloor and VIP area.
During the summer months, traffic on the road into town can be very slow and a lack of town centre parking is commonplace, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, so consider taking a taxi rather than driving yourself.”
Sveti Stefan is a world-famous luxury resort town that’s most commonly associated with the iconic Aman Sveti Stefan island resort. Now connected to the mainland by a narrow corridor, the resort is centred around Villa Milocer. Parts of the resort are open to the public, but access is restricted to the island in order to protect the privacy of resort guests.
Jovana explained, “The residential area around the resort has recently received a boost in desirability that looks set to continue on its upward trajectory, as it’s just far enough away from Budva not to be disturbed by its summertime buzz, yet just close enough to feel connected to the pulse of the city too. All those superyachts anchored in the Bay know a good thing when they see one!”
Ada Bojana is essentially a nature reserve with a great beach that is partly given over to ‘naturists’, including a hotel where clothing is optional, until 7pm, so unless you’re keen on that particular scene, it’s best to stick to the swimsuit-friendly zone! Revealingly, back in 2010 this stretch of coastline drew attention from the New York Times, which ranked the southern coast of Montenegro among its “Top 30 Places to Go in the World” that year.
Official Montenegrin ports of entry are Tivat, Bar, Zelenika, Kotor and Budva, which works as seasonal entry port only. Jovana explained that development of the Lustica Bay project and Portonovi also will soon bring more berths for superyachts in the area.
Porto Montenegro is perhaps one of the most well-known superyacht marinas in the eastern Mediterranean, and one of the most decorated winning TYHA's Marina of Distinction in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The facility recently introduced a 250m superyacht berth to its offerings, which gives it a total of 450 berths ranging from 12m to 250m long.
On site there is duty-free fuel, 24-hour yacht assistance, customs and immigration, a chandlery and more. Jovana explained, “Porto Montenegro integrates full yacht and superyacht servicing capabilities with a vibrant waterfront village in the heart of one of Europe’s most picturesque nautical regions. Berth depths range from 4.5m to 16m and are afforded excellent protection by the Bay’s mountainous surroundings and the inclusion of bespoke breakwaters.”
Set against the backdrop of the historic old town, D-Marin’s Dukley Marina provides 300 berths for yachts up to 70m LOA.
Nikola Stojanovic at Allegra Montenegro shared with us details of other Montenegro ports and marinas capable of welcoming superyachts:
The Port of Bar has two quays totalling 490m in length, with the possibility to accept vessels over 300m LOA. On site, the marina offers pilotage, mooring and internal security services as well as garbage disposal and fresh water. In the northeast of the port, Marina Bar offers a further 900 sea berths for yachts up to 35m LOA.
The Port of Zelenika is predominantly a commercial port, offering two quays for mooring large vessels. Large yachts and ships can alternatively anchor in the area between Zelenika and Kumbor in Herceg Novi bay.
One of the many benefits of cruising in Montenegro – tax-free fuel! Supply is governed by regulations, so upon completion of duty-free bunkering, yachts must ensure to leave the territorial waters of Montenegro.
Porto Montenegro marina offers daily tax and duty-free fuel bunkering from 8am to 8pm when the fuel dock is booked in advance. Fuel is also available all day every day at the Port of Bar fuel dock, depending on dock occupancy. For Sunday deliveries Jovana advised to contact the supplier 48-hours in advance.
To clear into Montenegro, you will need the following clearance documents:
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