Roadtrippin’ in the Balkans with NOVA Rent a CarKollecting Koordinates - car rental in Montenegro 1

We celebrated our honeymoon on a few Greek islands and with a road trip through Croatia. Finding a reliable car rental company in the Balkans was not an easy feat. We have no problems with big names in North America but we came across many, many negative reviews of the same companies in Europe. After scouring the net, we decided to go with a well-established local company for our Croatia road trip: NOVA Rent a Car. Fast-forward two years- we’re back with the same car rental in Montenegro!

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Our best travel companion in the Balkans – NOVA Rent a Car

car rental in Montenegro and Croatia

Read more: The magical Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Car rental in Croatia

We booked online 6 months before our trip and immediately received an email confirming the details including the total price. Wary about our first time driving in Europe, I emailed back with a few questions. Rino, the manager, quickly responded and eased our concerns.

The amount quoted in the email was exactly what we paid in cash upon picking up our vehicle at Zagreb Airport (ZAG). The NOVA staff showed us to our automatic Opel Corsa, which was very clean and in mint condition, and we were soon on our way.

From ZAG, we made our way to Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zadar, and Split over the next 5 days. We crossed the border to Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina before ending our journey in Dubrovnik. On our last day, we said goodbye to our car at Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) before hopping on our flight to Crete. No questions asked, no additional fees charged, and no time wasted!

Read more: Don’t forget – Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Car rental in Montenegro

Pleased with our initial experience, we were excited to be on the road with NOVA again. We arrived at the same office in DBV, went through the same painless procedures, and embarked on our Montenegro journey with our best travel companion. Just like the good old times.

This time around we were given a brand spanking new BMW 116d. My chauffeur husband was very happy with its power, steering, and traction. The comfy bucket seats gave him serious Initial D feels as he drove along many winding roads and tight hairpins. We were surprised at how fuel efficient this little diesel-run beast is compared to our bimmer back home- we saved so much on gas!

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Crossing the Croatia/Montenegro border was just as simple as the Croatia/Bosnia border with the Green Card NOVA left in the glove compartment. Our red friend took us north to Zabljak and Durmitor National Park, as far east as Biogradska Gora National Park, south to Skadar Lake, west to Lovćen and Kotor, and finally back across the border to DBV.

Note: There are NO border crossing fees! Stay away from rental companies who tell you otherwise. All you need is the green cross-border document and your passports.

Other Tips and Info

  • THERE ARE NO HIDDEN FEES! The cost breakdown is clearly displayed on their booking portal and you’ll never be surprised by random charges
  • You pay when you collect the vehicle
  • The price includes basic insurance needed should there be an accident (Legal Liability, Third Party, and Public Liability), as well as Theft Protection and Damage Waiver (ranges from €500-€1300 depending on the vehicle class)
  • There are no cancellation fees!
  • For more information and rates about NOVA Rent a Car, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Read more: 9 Must-Do’s in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Kollecting Koordinates - car rental in Montenegro 1Kollecting Koordinates - car rental in Montenegro 1Disclaimer: NOVA Rent a Car provided us with a vehicle for our Montenegro road trip. However, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own. We wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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The best home base to explore Northern Montenegro: Hotel SOA

Ever since we visited Croatia we’ve been itching for more Balkan countries. Jaw-dropping national parks, canyons, and lakes were waiting to be checked off our Montenegro list. We were wondering where to stay in Montenegro on our road trip- where to make our home base to explore the northern region of perhaps the most picturesque country we’ve ever been. The answer was simple- Hotel SOA in Zabljak! We’re big fans of boutique hotels and family-run properties for their intimacy, and this one was no exception.

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Read more: 9 Must-Do’s in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Where to stay in Montenegro – Hotel SOA in Zabljak

Location, Space, and Staff

In the heart of Durmitor National Park lies Zabljak, a small town that turns into a ski resort in the winter. Hotel SOA is conveniently situated in the center of Zabljak, only steps away from the famous Black Lake, restaurants, and local markets. It’s minutes to the entrance to Durmitor National Park, 30 minutes away from the Tara Bridge, 1.5hr from the Piva Canyon, and 1.5hr from Biogradska Gora National Park.

Note: If you’re ending (or starting) your Montenegro journey in Kotor like we did, it’s just under 3 hours on a very scenic drive.

The property was originally planned as a family home but the owners turned it into an 18-unit hotel, inviting guests from all over the world to explore their beautiful country. Some are double suites, others are apartments large enough to accommodate groups of up to 5 guests. A contemporary approach is used in the hotel design along with elements of Mount Durmitor’s traditional architecture.

Because it is a small boutique hotel, you’ll come to know everyone who works there. Matija, the owner, works day shifts at the reception and always has a huge smile on his face. We did have an unpleasant encounter with the other front desk staff but that was quickly resolved by Matija. Count on the dining room manager, Novica, to ensure your culinary experience is nothing short of the best. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet the family’s big friendly dog!

We were pleased with our clean and spacious Junior Suite, which came with a separate sitting area along with a modern bathroom. If you did a quick search for hotels in Montenegro you’ll find that these traits aren’t easy to come by!

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Amenities, Facilities, and Dining

Guests can enjoy the wellness center (all to themselves!) for up to 1hr every day. The wellness center includes a Turkish bath and sauna, available for private use by reservation.

Tip: Reserve your time slot as soon as you check in! The hotel was so busy that we didn’t get a chance to use the wellness center.

All units have a mini bar, satellite TV, and complimentary WiFi. There’s a restaurant (undoubtedly the best you’ll find in the area) on the first floor, where guests can enjoy meals with a view of the majestic Durmitor massif.

Our favourite part of the stay is the complimentary breakfast buffet! The breakfast spread at Hotel SOA is no joke- its vast selection left us stuffed every morning. All the ingredients are fresh, featuring local dairy products and cured meats.

Tip: Don’t miss the homemade yogurt and pear pie!

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Other tips and info

  • Rates range from 75CAD+ for single rooms, to 140CAD+ for junior suites, to 220CAD+ for luxury apartments.
  • Tap water is safe to drink.
  • Parking is plentiful and free.
  • The hotel restaurant is the only non-smoking restaurant in the area.
  • For more information and current promotions, check out their official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

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Disclaimer: AS and I were invited guests at Hotel SOA. However, all opinions and experiences are honest and our own, and we wouldn’t recommend something if we didn’t love it ourselves! 

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