Most people coming to Montenegro want to know about the beaches. There are many of them, they all different, and there is a lot of subtle variation. There are lots of reviews and feedback comments which vary greatly. How do you know what is best? How do you avoid being disappointed when you arrive? Do these questions sound familiar? If so, please see the guide below:
In Montenegro, beach management is regulated by law. The entire coastline is public property. Therefore, there are no ‘private beaches’ in Montenegro. So-called ‘developed’ or ‘laid-out’ beaches are leased to business people for a year or more. However even after leasing a beach in Montenegro, you have to follow the rules.
- Firstly, a yearly clean-up and leveling takes place. Beaches in Montenegro must be maintained, even in winter. In the summer, there is a mandatory daily clean-up.
- Secondly, only 50% of the space on beaches can have beds on them. The rest should be free for those who prefer sunbathing on their towels and mats. There are a few exceptions, where beds can cover 100% of territory.
- Thirdly, beach entrances (and sea access at any other place) are always free and non-restricted even decorative fences are prohibited. There are no exceptions.
It is the law. Of course, there are some ways around it. For example, some beaches near Sveti Stefan and Milocer villa have an admission fee of 25-70 euros per bed. In the Bay of Kotor, there are lots of walled private properties by the sea. Still, these are workarounds.
So, wherever you stay, wherever you go, you will always find a spot on any beach in Montenegro, for free. However, beds and umbrellas always carry a small charge.
When during the year are the beaches are less crowded?
People start swimming in late May and the season ends in late October. Central Montenegrin beaches, like Budva, Rafailovici, or Petrovac are crowded from late July to late September. During the whole of August, these three beaches are packed. It is nearly impossible to see the water through the crowds. Sunbeds are very scarce and the area of the beach without beds is packed with people. I will upload a photo this summer. So far, I have this picture of Budva in July. It is on the left. This gives an idea of what they consider to be a beach which is not too packed…
June and July are the best times for a beach holiday to Montenegro, including having space on the beach. For Budva, Rafailovici, and Petrovac, it is only June.
In August, beaches across the whole of Montenegro (or even the whole of the Adriatic sea) are packed. This is the peak season for tourism. For this reason you should consider visiting Montenegro during any other month if possible.
Sea water temperature
The beginning of the swimming season varies year by year. The temperatures in spring fluctuate. If it is hot, the sea is warm by the end of May or beginning of June. If it is cold, especially at night, the swimming season starts in mid-June. By the end of June, the water is always warm.
The sea begins to cool down in late September. The sun is still hot and it still feels summery – about 24 to 30 degrees Celsius. However, the nights are getting colder. For this reason the number of swimmers declines sharply at the end of September. Only the brave swim in the sea in October. However, sometimes the weather can be good and the swimming season can last until mid-October.
Essentially, May to mid-June and late September to October can be cold or warm. The weather is hard to predict. From mid-June to mid-September, the sea is almost always warm even where it is deep.
The sea in Montenegro has a certain characteristic to consider. Sometimes, due to underwater currents or open-sea winds, the water gets unexpectedly and extremely cold near the coast. This can happen twice or three times during a season at random times. In 2-4 days, the sea becomes warm again.
Beach admission fees
As I have said above, there is no beach admission fee in Montenegro. However, you pay for sunbeds and umbrellas. At average, the price is about €1.5-5 per sunbed or umbrella.
But there are different fees, for example, canopy bed have recently been introduced. The fee is €10-20. There are a few ‘exclusive’ beaches in Montenegro. One of them is the King’s Beach at the Milocer villa near Sveti Stefan. Two sunbeds and an umbrella will cost you about €70. At the adjacent beach to the right, near the island hotel the fee is €25. The smaller Queen’s Beach is entirely off limits, only residents of the Milocer villa can use it.
The fee is per sunbed/umbrella is not per hour or day. If you go for a lunch and leave no signs that they were taken, you will have to pay for them on your return again. Just let the person who collects the cash know, they are usually walking up and down the beach.
Types of beaches (pebbly, sandy, piers)
Montenegro is all about rocks by the sea. The coastline is jagged and uneven. Natural sandy beaches in Montenegro are only found in the south, beyond Ulcinj at the well-known Great Beach (Velika Plaza). The rest of the beaches are rocky or pebbled. The natural surface of the beaches are not that appealing. For this reason leaseholders bring sand and small pebbles to their beaches by the truckload every year. The sand is poured over the stones. By the end of the season, the sand is washed into the sea or mixed in with the stones. Waves break the large pebbles into smaller nuggets. Today, this ‘sand’ covers most popular beaches.
Do not believe any claims about the sand on the beaches from hotel managers, other tourists or articles on the subject. All beaches are mixed there is sand here and there combined with smaller or larger pebbles. Anyway, this surface is the most appealing as it keeps the sea clean without any murky sand, sand does not fly around during windy weather and there will not be sand everywhere when you come back from the beach.
Concrete beaches are also very popular in Montenegro. A part of the shore is covered in concrete near the sea shore. This platform (‘pónta’ in Serbian) has metal or concrete ladders. These beaches are less comfortable for children who cannot yet swim. For adults, though, it is one of the best options. Often, póntas are found in the Bay of Kotor where the shore is very steep and there are almost no regular beaches. The largest pónta beach is 12 km from Budva. It is aptly called Ploče (‘Slabs’) and is a very good and well-organised beach.
Beach and sea cleanliness
You can sometimes read negative feedback on the quality of Montenegro beaches that says they are dirty and littered. It is a shame to see such comments, but there is a grain of truth in it. As I said above, the beach leaseholders are liable for maintenance the beaches. In the summer, they should clean-up at least every day. I should say this is a rule they follow. After all, it directly affects their business. But during the peak season, when there are crowds of tourists, it is often not physically possible to walk around and collect litter. For this reason the clean-up happens in the morning or in the evening. By noon, the litter reappears. The wind blows it into the sea, where no one will collect it. And there is not much they can do about it. It is better not to easier litter rather than try to clean up afterwards. One reason why visiting in August is a bit more tricky is because of the the litter situation. But remember this applies to August only and on the most crowded beaches only.
Details on swimming and the beaches I recommend can be found in separate articles on the various regions in Montenegro.