Planning on visiting Podgorica, Montenegro? Here’s what to expect.
Podgorica is Montenegro’s capitol city, which might make you assume that you’ll be visiting a bustling metropolis–but we found it to be a very quiet, laid-back place. There aren’t many sights to see. Though it’s a modern city, with restaurants, bars, big supermarkets, and clean, up-to-date hotel options, Podgorica doesn’t have many of the markings of a European capitol–not much traffic, limited public transit, and, most shockingly of all these days: no McDonald’s, KFC, or other chain restaurants!
There is an airport and a train station in Podgorica, but it’s most likely tourists would arrive in a car or bus. Check schedules on Busticket4.me, a website that centralizes information for the region’s many bus companies. While visiting Montenegro, we took several buses, and never had a problem with a bus we wanted to take being sold out, so we chose to buy tickets at the station a few minutes before each departure. Podgorica’s bus station is right next to Podgorica’s train station, a bit of a walk outside the city center. Taxis charge just a few euros for a ride downtown.
For information about trains to and from Podgorica, I recommend using the Deutsche Bahn’s online timetable, though you won’t be able to buy tickets there, or anywhere else online. I wrote about our experience taking the train from Podgorica to Belgrade, Serbia here. While we were able to get our hotel to book tickets for us in advance, once on board we saw the train was far from full–it would have been fine to buy tickets the morning of. The Man in Seat 61 also has helpful info on train travel in Montenegro.
Podgorica isn’t nearly as flashy as other European capitols, but it’s pleasant enough to spend time walking around. There aren’t many tourists, so it offers an interesting view into modern Montenegrin life.
Podgorica’s Old Town isn’t very recognizable as an “Old Town” except in its narrow, winding streets. We walked by the Starodoganjska Mosque, which was pretty, but it didn’t seem like it was open to visitors.
Just at the northwestern corner of the Old Town are some of the city’s historic fortifications along the Morača River and an old stone bridge over the smaller Ribnica river that flows into it. The water is wonderfully clear. A few people were swimming in the river on the day we visited.
My favorite thing we saw while visiting Podgorica was the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus–the only Catholic church in Podgorica and a striking example of Brutalist architecture. We weren’t able to go inside (the church was locked), but we were able to walk the periphery. It’s located just a short walk from the train station and the Hotel Aurel, which I recommend.
I wouldn’t make a special trip to Podgorica unless you have business to do, people to visit, or if you enjoy collecting capitol cities on your “Where I’ve Been” list. Personally, I was glad I booked just a single night for us there–it was a peaceful respite before the long journey to the more cosmopolitan Belgrade. For more visuals on what to expect when visiting Podgorica, check out the Instapodgorica Instagram feed. I also wish I’d seen this Guardian feature on the city when we first arrived–it is full of interesting recommendations from a local journalist.
One last tip: We had a lovely couple of hours in a pub called Cheers on Njegoseva street in downtown Podgorica–pints of beer were three euros each, and they had spray-cooling fans on the covered patio.