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Croatia or Montenegro: Which Balkan Beauty Should You Explore?

Many travellers flock to the Adriatic to enjoy stunning beaches and divine coastal weather. But deciding which destination to visit on a fabulous vacation is always a challenge. 

Croatia, with its captivating blend of ancient ruins and pristine beaches, offers a world of exploration. On the other hand, Montenegro boasts its own allure with scorching summers and inviting mountainous landscapes.

In this article, we explore the benefits of visiting beautiful Croatia and marvellous Montenegro and compare the experiences offered in each, to ensure you make the best possible choice.

How Far is Croatia from Montenegro?

Croatia and Montenegro are both nestled on the coast of the Adriatic and you can easily travel between them for day trips or extended stays. Dubrovnik is just an hour’s drive away from the border, but accessing the major Montenegrin cities will take much longer. 

The most efficient way to travel between Croatia and Montenegro is by plane. There are many flights that connect the countries but the easiest way is to fly from Zagreb to Podgorica. It will take just over an hour, giving you plenty of time to explore Montenegro if you choose to explore both.

For a more leisurely journey that will see you experience the very best of Croatia and Montenegro, consider travelling in style on one of our Croatia and Montenegro cruise tours

Kotor, Montenegro

The Best Times to Visit: Croatia vs Montenegro

Both Croatia and Montenegro experience gorgeous Mediterranean climates along their coastlines, which makes them great places to visit on a stylish summer escape. While the weather in these countries does differ slightly, they are both excellent choices for anyone seeking warm days and mild nights. Outside of the peak season, Croatia and Montenegro enjoy pleasant temperatures which are ideal for outdoor exploration and connecting with nature. 


Summer is by far the best time to visit Croatia, the country truly comes alive from June to August and makes for a sensational escape. With temperatures ranging from 25°C to a stunning 35°C, there’s no better time to lounge on the golden sands and soak up the refreshing rays.  

In the shoulder seasons, March to May and September to November, the weather is still very pleasant with temperatures across the country settling around the low 20’s°C. These periods are excellent times to visit Croatia if you are looking to avoid crowded tourist attractions and still enjoy comfortable weather. 


Montenegro shares a similar climate to Croatia, so the best times to visit are much the same. The summers can be scorching hot, with the mercury rising to a lovely 35°C as well. The beaches around this time will be packed with fellow tourists, so for a quieter trip consider heading into the mountains to areas like Lake Skadar. 


September is a stunning time to visit Montenegro if you want to steer clear of the summer rush. Temperatures in the month can reach highs of 28°C on the coast, so you can still hit the beaches and lounge in the early autumn sun.  

Zlatni Rat Beach
Kotor, Montenegro

Gorgeous Shores: Croatia vs Montenegro

As Croatia and Montenegro are settled along the Adriatic coast, they both have stunning beaches with clear azure waters that are exceptionally inviting. Croatia boasts some beautiful shores, complete with quiet coves and hidden gems. Montenegro features dramatic coastlines with golden sands that are perfect for relaxation and wild water sports.


Croatia is famous for its diverse coastline, featuring pebble and sandy beaches, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters. With a wealth of fabulous beaches, every beachgoer who visits Croatia will find a coastal spot that suits them. Notable beach destinations include Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, and the islands of Hvar and Korčula.


Zlatni Rat is one of Croatia’s most iconic and photographed beaches. It’s known for its unique V-shaped, pebble shoreline that extends into the Adriatic Sea. The crystal-clear waters and brisk winds make it a popular spot for windsurfing and kiteboarding.


Located in the city of Split, Bačvice is a sandy urban beach famous for its shallow waters and vibrant atmosphere. It’s a favourite among locals and tourists alike and is ideal for playing Picigin, a traditional Croatian ball game.


Montenegro offers picturesque beaches, particularly along the Bay of Kotor and the Adriatic coast. Budva and Ulcinj have popular sandy beaches, while the Bay of Kotor boasts stunning fjord-like landscapes brimming with natural beauty.


Jaz Beach is the longest beach in Montenegro near the coastal town of Budva. It is a hotspot for sunbathers and watersports fanatics, giving the beach a vibrant energy. It is also common to see events and concerts hosted on the beach in the summer, making it a must-visit spot on a Montenegro trip. 


Located near Ulcinj, Velika Plaza is one of the longest beaches in the Adriatic, stretching for over 12 kilometres. It’s known for its fine sand and shallow waters, making it ideal for paddling in the cool surf. You will also find that kitesurfing and windsurfing are popular activities here, which will excite thrill seekers looking for water-based adventures.

Diocletian’s Palace, Split

Captivating Culture: Croatia vs Montenegro

For travellers interested in immersing themselves in local culture and exploring exceptional historical sites, Croatia and Montenegro are prime destinations. They each enjoy an old-world charm that will make you feel as though you have stepped into the past. Below, we recommend the best places to visit on a Croatia and Montenegro itinerary that will inspire you with their cultural richness. 


Croatia is filled with enchanting sites and museums which make it a desired destination for travellers eager to explore the country’s complex history. From lavish Roman Palaces to contemporary art galleries, there is so much on offer for anyone who visits this Adriatic paradise. 


Diocletian’s Palace in Split is an ancient Roman palace complex that now forms the heart of the city. It is a marvel of urban planning and ancient architecture, so much so that it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spread over an area of 7 acres, you can wander through its narrow streets, visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius and explore the cool underground cellars.


Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, is home to a varied cultural scene that is exemplified by its wide array of museums and art galleries. A true highlight of Zagreb is the Museum of Broken Relationships which explores the emotional aftermath of heartbreak. The exhibits are made up of donated personal items and stories from individuals around the world, creating a profoundly moving atmosphere. 


Although Montenegro is much smaller than Croatia, it is still brimming with cultural highlights that are a real delight for visitors. The country has been influenced by various archaic civilizations, like the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans and Slavs, culminating in a cultural offering that is truly diverse and unique. 


One of the best places to soak up Montenegrin culture is the well-preserved mediaeval Old Town of Kotor. Also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this part of the city reflects Montenegro’s Venetian and Byzantine past with its elaborate architecture. As you explore the labyrinthine streets, be sure to stop at St Tryphon Cathedral, a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece and hike up to the fortress for unrivalled panoramic views of the city.

One of the most breathtaking cultural sites in Montenegro is Ostrog Monastery to the north of Podgorica and Kotor. This iconic Serbian Orthodox monastery is carved into a cliffside and stands out from the rock face with its gleaming white walls. It’s not only a religious site but also an architectural marvel with stunning frescoes and a serene atmosphere within.


Sumptuous Cuisine: Croatia vs Montenegro

The cuisine in Croatia and Montenegro is influenced by their coastal location and extensive history, but there are also distinct differences between the gastronomic offerings of the two countries. We have showcased the regional dishes and delicacies that will delight your taste buds below.


Croatian cuisine is influenced by Mediterranean and Central European flavours. You can savour fresh seafood, olive oil and locally sourced ingredients. 


Some of the best Croatian dishes to try are Peka, Brudet and Soparnik. You will find that different regions have their own specialities, making a trip through Croatia a journey of unparalleled flavour. 


Croatia also produces excellent cheese and prosciutto, which is a common local snack. ‘Pag Cheese’ from the island of Pag is famous throughout Croatia, and you’ll often see cheese and prosciutto platters as appetisers in many restaurants.


We’d be remiss not to mention the delectable wine that can be sampled in Croatia. The country has a long history of winemaking, so keep an eye out for regional varieties like Plavac Mali, Teran, and Malvasia, which pair wonderfully with Croatian dishes.


Montenegrin cuisine is heartier and quite meat-centric compared to Croatian cuisine. Grilled meats, especially lamb and pork, are staples throughout the country. Njeguški Steak, a pork or beef steak stuffed with Njeguški cheese and smoked ham, is an absolute must-try.

Montenegro offers a variety of bread and pastries like Kacamak, a potato-based dish, and Krstac, a type of polenta. We also highly recommend that you try Burek, a pastry filled with cheese, meat or potatoes.

Travellers with a sweet tooth will be pleased to know that Montenegro is a haven for delicious desserts. Be sure to try sweet staples like Priganice and Krofne, which are popular puddings offered at many traditional restaurants.

Hvar Night

Dazzling Nightlife & Entertainment: Croatia vs Montenegro

The nightlife in Croatia and Montenegro offers a diverse range of experiences, from vibrant coastal clubs to relaxed seaside bars. You will find that Croatia has a thriving club scene which appeals to party-goers, whereas Montenegro offers a more laid-back evening experience. 


Croatia’s Adriatic coastline boasts numerous beach clubs and bars, with a more extensive offering than Montenegro. Cities like Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik offer beachfront venues with DJs, live music and classic cocktails. Hula Hula Beach Bar in Hvar is a renowned spot for sunset parties.


A showstopping experience that can be had in Croatia is exploring the various clubs and bars that are tucked away in historic buildings and hidden down alleyways. Enjoying drinks and dancing in these venues adds a unique charm to a night out in Croatia. 


For a more traditional experience, you can explore local taverns known as konobas. These offer local wines, beers and traditional Croatian music, which is more suitable for travellers who prefer a rustic experience.


While Croatia boasts some impeccable nightlife, Montenegro is quieter by comparison. You will still find plenty of beach and boat parties, but they are much less crowded than the ones hosted in Croatia. The major cities of Budva and Kotor have a good selection of bars and clubs which are excellent places to enjoy drinks and music. 


However, the atmosphere is much calmer compared to the raucous parties found in Croatia. This makes Montenegro perfect for travellers who are looking to spend their evenings in more intimate settings and enjoy each other’s company in Balkan bliss. 


Luxury travellers may want to opt for Montenegro over Croatia if they want to experience more lavish nightlife. The exclusive island of Sveti Stefan hosts high-end venues with stunning sea views. It’s a hotspot for celebrities and upscale bars, which is better suited to those who want an opulent night out.

Dalmatian Coast


Both countries offer unparalleled experiences to travellers, whether it’s Croatia’s diverse coastline, rich cultural heritage and mouthwatering cuisine or Montenegro’s serene beauty, mediaeval towns and hearty dishes.

Whichever path you choose, a memorable journey along the Adriatic awaits, promising breathtaking landscapes, cultural discoveries and flavours that will tantalise your senses.

Does exploring the best of both Croatia and Montenegro seem like your dream getaway? Cruise Croatia offers a lavish selection of charters to Croatia and Montenegro for you to choose from, suitable for a wide range of vacation itineraries. Contact us now to book your Adriatic escape!

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