Bicycle Touring Montenegro
Montenegro is a gorgeous country in the Balkans located along the Adriatic Sea. This relatively small nation is packed with scenic mountains, sparkling coastline, and many charming towns. Our experience bicycle touring Montenegro was somewhat affected by the season – being winter we stuck closer to the coast rather than venturing too high into the cold and snowy mountains.
The weather at sea level was actually quite nice for cycling unless the wind kicked up too much. The highs were in the mid-50 degrees F (12ish degrees C) and the lows were usually in the mid-30s or 40s F (2-7 C). The tougher aspect of winter on the Adriatic coast is that it’s the rainy season, and there are periods of rain that last days on end.
Download the GPX track of our bicycle tour across Montenegro.
Last Days in Croatia
On a sunny afternoon in late December, we left Dubrovnik feeling refreshed after a month-long break from biking. We accomplished a lot during our hiatus – Andrew finished his graduate school semester, we finally caught up with video and photo editing, and we had plenty of time left over for long walks around Dubrovnik.
We faced a large hill immediately after getting on the bikes, and we were quickly feeling out of shape. Our AirBnB host tipped us off to a nice pedestrian path along the coast, which we took for a short while before joining up with the busy highway. We always look for side roads instead of highways, but especially along the narrow coast, there sometimes aren’t many options.
We camped at an elevation of about 1,200 feet before crossing the border into Montenegro the next day. The campsite was nice and quiet, but we had one of our coldest nights yet – both our water bladder hoses froze but luckily didn’t crack.
Montenegro and the Bay of Kotor
The border crossing the next morning was relaxed, as most land borders have been on our trip so far. We have only been asked to show our vaccination cards a couple times, and in both cases they didn’t examine them very closely.
We rode into the Bay of Kotor shortly after crossing the Montenegrin border. The Bay has tall mountains rising on all sides, and many of them were capped with snow. We found some wonderful pedestrian paths to ride near the shores of the bay, which are probably packed during the summer but were mostly empty on a blustery December afternoon.
Crossing the Mountains Towards the Coast
After the Bay of Kotor, we left the EuroVelo 8 and instead took an OSMand route toward the coast. The EV8 climbed high into the mountains (topping out around 3,000 feet) and we were worried that it would be too cold at this time of year. We still crossed some mountains to get to the coast, but they were much lower elevation.
We had a great campsite on our first night bicycle touring Montenegro – we were above the Bay of Kotor and had wonderful views of the mountains on all sides. There were three different packs of jackals calling to each other as dusk fell, and we watched the full moon rise above the mountains.
The Good and the Bad of the Coastal Route
We rode through a bunch of nice villages in the hilly rural area before descending to the coast. The challenging thing about the coast (and probably the reason why the EV8 doesn’t route this way) is that the coastal highway is very busy, has no shoulder, and there aren’t a whole lot of options for smaller side roads.
We dusted off our neon yellow safety vests, took a deep breath, and pedaled hard to get through the highway sections as quickly as possible. The drivers were really courteous, but they can only give you so much room with limited lane space.
There were some enjoyable paths along the ocean through the coastal towns, and we found another wonderful campsite right above the sea. We pushed our bikes down a sketchy hiking path with lots of rocks and a big drop off on one side, but the view was definitely worth it. Weirdly, there were some fishermen out in the bay at night that were shining their lights up into the trees all along the shore, and we couldn’t figure out what they were doing (there seemed to be no fish involved). They most likely saw our tent, but they didn’t yell at us or anything.
On to Albania
We were only in Montenegro for about three days, and we definitely want to visit again during warmer weather to explore the more mountainous areas.
We crossed into Albania on December 23rd at the most eventful border station of the whole trip. The holiday traffic was at its peak, and a long line of cars was at a standstill when we pulled up. Vendors were selling fruit and snacks along the roadside, and a kid selling figs told us that we could skip the line of cars. We rode past the traffic, but were unsure of where exactly to go until a random person in a car waved to us and gestured that there was a walk-up window at the border station.
This was our first experience with Albanian friendliness – helping out the blundering Americans rather than being annoyed that we were cutting the line. We got across the border and were treated to a beautiful sunset before finding a campsite in a grassy area between farmers’ fields.