Rent a Car In Podgorica – The Ultimate Car Rental Guide for Center Airport

Nestled at the heart of Montenegro, Podgorica beckons travelers with its vibrant mix of history, culture, and scenic landscapes. But here’s the real question: Have you ever considered the sheer freedom of exploring this gem by car? 

Dive into our comprehensive guide to renting a car in Podgorica. From sifting through the maze of rental companies to uncovering little-known tips for those traveling with kids, we’ve got you covered. Buckle up and embark on this journey with us; Podgorica’s secrets are waiting to be unveiled.

Renting a Car in Podgorica, Montenegro – Should You?

The question of whether you should rent a car in Podgorica, Montenegro, largely depends on what you aim to do during your stay. For the city dweller, public transportation and taxi services offer a convenient means to get around the capital city. 

However, to truly experience the breadth and beauty of Montenegro, renting a car is a superb choice. 

For instance, this would allow you to easily visit the stunning Adriatic coastline, the mountainous landscapes, and the numerous historical sites.

According to a survey conducted in 2023, a significant 67% of tourists in Montenegro preferred renting a car for the freedom it provides. 

Driving allows for the flexibility to stop and enjoy the view, change your itinerary on a whim, and experience the charming countryside at your own pace.

Which Areas of Podgorica Should I Explore With a Rental Car?

With your rental car, you can explore beyond Podgorica’s city centre to experience the cultural wealth that Montenegro has to offer. In particular, Podgorica’s surrounding region is a hotbed for wine production, with the famed Plantaze Winery only a short drive away.

Further afield, consider the historical towns of Budva and Kotor, which offer beautiful coastal scenery combined with a rich history. For the more adventurous, Durmitor National Park is an unmissable natural treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

According to the Montenegro Tourism Organization, these aforementioned destinations are among the most visited places in the country, with a combined visitor count of over 1 million in 2022.


How to Rent a Car in Podgorica

Renting a car in Podgorica is straightforward. Firstly, compare prices online from various car rental companies to secure the best deal. 

Note that prices can fluctuate depending on the season. 

Secondly, make a reservation to ensure your desired car model is available when you arrive. You can often do this online, by phone, or via email. 

Finally, upon your arrival, visit the car rental office to complete the paperwork, pay the rental fees, and pick up your vehicle.

In 2022, about 35% of all tourists in Montenegro rented a car, and the process took, on average, less than 20 minutes.

Main Car Rental Companies That Operate in Podgorica

Several car rental companies operate in Podgorica. This includes global chains like Hertz, Avis, Budget, and Europcar, as well as local firms such as Ideal, Respecta Car, Tara-Car, and MTL Rent a Car.

Each company offers a range of vehicles, from compact cars for solo travelers or couples to larger vehicles for families or groups. 

Pricing and service quality can vary, so it’s recommended to read customer reviews and understand the terms and conditions before choosing a provider.

Car Rental Insurance

Car rental insurance is an important aspect to consider. Generally, there are four types: Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), Theft Protection (TP), Third Party Liability (TPL), and Personal Accident Insurance (PAI).

While rental companies usually include CDW and TP in their rates, TPL and PAI might not be included and should be confirmed before making your booking. 

Keep in mind that some credit cards offer rental car insurance as a perk, so check with your card issuer.

Choose Automatic Transmission Whenever Possible

Given that most rental cars in Europe come with a manual transmission, if you’re not comfortable driving one, make sure to select a car with an automatic transmission when making your reservation. 

Although they tend to be more expensive, the additional cost can be well worth the convenience and peace of mind.

Be Strategic With Pick Up and Drop Off Locations

Strategically choosing your pick-up and drop-off locations can save both time and money. For instance, picking up and returning your car at the airport may involve additional fees. 

Instead, consider picking up your car from a location within the city. 

However, if your travel itinerary involves departing from a different city, many companies offer the option of returning the car to a different location.

Documents Needed For Renting a Car and Driving Legally in Podgorica

To rent a car and drive legally in Podgorica, you’ll need your passport, a valid driver’s license, and a credit card. If your driver’s license is not in the Latin alphabet (like English), you’ll also need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

The age requirement for renting a car in Montenegro is usually between 21 and 70 years, though some companies may rent to drivers as young as 18 or older than 70 with additional fees.

Do a Walk Around

Before leaving the rental office, do a walk around the vehicle and inspect it for any existing damages. 

Check for dents, scratches, and any signs of wear and tear. Be sure to report these to the rental company before you drive off. 

This way, you won’t be held responsible for these damages upon return.

Return Your Rental Car With A Full Tank

Most rental companies in Podgorica operate with a full-to-full fuel policy. 

This means the car is handed over to you with a full gas tank and should be returned in the same state. 

Failure to do so often results in hefty fees. Thus, plan your trip so that you can fill up the tank at a nearby gas station before returning the car.

Returning Your Rental Car

When returning your rental car, ensure that it is clean, filled with gas, and has no new damages. 

Also, ensure you return it on time as many companies charge for an extra day if the car is returned even an hour late.

How to Rent a Car at Podgorica Airport

Renting a car right from the airport can be an incredible time-saver and offer the freedom to start your Montenegro journey right from the moment you land. Let’s dive into how to make this process seamless.

Before You Fly

Do Your Research: Prior to boarding your flight to Podgorica, it’s wise to browse online for car rental options available at Podgorica Airport. Websites often offer special deals, and by booking in advance, you ensure the car size and type you prefer is available upon your arrival.

Compare Rates: Different companies might offer varied rates even for the same car type. Take some time to compare these to get the best bang for your buck.

Upon Arrival at Podgorica Airport

Locate the Car Rental Desks: Once you’ve collected your luggage and are out in the arrival hall, keep an eye out for car rental desks. Most major rental companies have their counters here, making it easy for travelers.

Present Necessary Documents: Typically, you’d be asked for a valid driver’s license, passport, and credit card. Remember, if your license is not in the Latin alphabet, an International Driving Permit (IDP) is required.

Pick Up Tips

Inspect the Car: Before driving off, conduct a quick inspection of the vehicle. Look for any existing damages and ensure they are recorded in the rental agreement. This way, you won’t be blamed for pre-existing issues.

Get Familiar with the Controls: Different cars have different control setups. Take a few moments to get acquainted with the vehicle’s controls. Adjust the mirrors, and seats, and ensure you know where the car’s essential functions are located, such as lights, wipers, and emergency signals.

Ask About Toll and Parking Info: While Podgorica doesn’t have toll roads as of now, knowing about parking facilities and costs in the city can be incredibly handy. Your rental representative can offer insights.

Returning Your Car

Plan Ahead: Aim to arrive at the airport with plenty of time before your flight. This will give you enough time to return the car, process any paperwork, and make your way to your departure gate.

Fill the Tank: Unless you’ve opted for a package that includes returning the car with any fuel level, it’s customary to return the vehicle with a full tank.

Renting a Car and Driving in Podgorica with Children

If you’re travelling with children, it’s essential to understand the laws regarding child safety. Montenegro law requires that all children under the age of 12 must travel in an appropriate child restraint.

Renting a Car With Children – Car Seats

The law in Montenegro states that children up to 135cm tall or under 12 years old must use an appropriate child restraint. 

Most rental companies offer a range of child seats for rent, but availability can be limited, especially during peak season, so it’s advisable to reserve one in advance.

Car Seats in Podgorica – General Requirements

The general requirements for car seats in Podgorica follow the EU regulations. Infants must be in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 15 months old. 

Children who are between 15 months and 4 years old or who weigh 9-18kg should use a child car seat, and those between 4 and 12 years old or who weigh 15-36kg should use a booster seat.

Car Seats in Podgorica – Rent or Bring Your Own?

Whether to rent a car seat or bring your own depends on various factors such as the length of your trip, the costs, and the convenience. 

Renting can be more convenient, especially for short trips. However, bringing your car seat might be more cost-effective for longer stays.

In Podgorica, all child car seats must comply with the UNECE R44/04 or UN R129 (i-Size) standard. Make sure the car seat you use has a label indicating that it meets these standards.

Car Seats in Podgorica – LATCH / ISOFIX Compatibility

Most vehicles in Montenegro use the ISOFIX system, which is the European equivalent of the LATCH system used in the USA. This system makes installing a car seat quicker and easier, ensuring it is securely fastened.

Car Seats in Podgorica – Anti-Abandonment Devices

As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, Montenegro does not have a legal requirement for anti-abandonment devices in cars. However, using such devices can be a good safety measure, especially during hot summer months.

Renting a Car With Children – Size of Vehicle

When renting a car with children, you’ll need to consider the size of the vehicle. You’ll need sufficient space for your luggage, strollers, and car seats. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs or minivans, are often a good choice for families.

Renting a Car With Children – Minivans

Minivans are an excellent choice for large families or groups traveling with children. They offer ample space for luggage, strollers, and car seats. Plus, they often come with convenient features like sliding doors, which make getting in and out easier, especially in tight parking spaces.

How To Navigate Roads in Podgorica and Area

Navigating the roads in and around Podgorica can be a challenge, especially for first-time visitors. The roads can be narrow, winding, and poorly lit. Therefore, using a GPS or navigation app is highly recommended. Furthermore, familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and signs.

What It’s Like Driving in Podgorica

Driving in Podgorica is generally safe, but it requires attentiveness due to the city’s heavy traffic, especially during peak hours. Pedestrian crossings are common, and drivers must yield to pedestrians. Also, keep an eye out for cyclists and motorbikes, which are common in the city.

Paying Tolls in Podgorica

As of 2022, there is only one toll road in Montenegro, making it easy to explore the country without worrying about extra charges. It is a highway A1 from Podgorica to Kolasin. However, be prepared for possible road fees if you plan to travel to neighbouring countries.

Getting Gas/Petrol in Podgorica

Gas stations in Podgorica are plentiful and usually operate on a self-service basis. Note that fuel is sold by the litre, not by the gallon, and you can pay with either cash or a credit card.

Parking in Podgorica

Parking in Podgorica can be challenging due to limited space. The city uses a color-coded parking system, with red, yellow, and green zones indicating different prices and time limits. Pay attention to signage to avoid fines.

Car Trouble and Accidents

In the event of car trouble or accidents, call your rental company immediately. They will guide you on the next steps and assist you.

Car Breakdowns

Should your rental car break down, it’s vital to move the vehicle off the road if possible to ensure safety. Turn on your hazard lights and set up the warning triangle. Then, contact your rental company or emergency services if necessary.

Car Accidents

If you’re involved in a car accident in Podgorica, ensure everyone’s safety. Then, call the police and your rental company. It’s also important to gather all necessary information such as the other party’s contact details and insurance information.

The False Flat Tire

Be aware of the “false flat tire” scam, where someone indicates that you have a flat tire in an attempt to distract you and steal your belongings. Always check your vehicle yourself and be cautious of your surroundings.

The Gas Station Distraction

Another common scam is the “gas station distraction”. This occurs when someone distracts you at a gas station while another person steals from your vehicle. Stay vigilant and keep your car locked when you’re not inside.

Trunk/Boot Theft

To prevent theft from your trunk/boot, never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially not in plain sight. Also, ensure your vehicle is always locked when unattended.

What to See on a Road Trip in Podgorica

A road trip from Podgorica can take you to stunning destinations like the Skadar Lake National Park, Lovćen National Park, and the spectacular Bay of Kotor. Additionally, the coastal towns of Budva, Tivat, and Herceg Novi are worth exploring for their beautiful beaches and historical sites.

  1. Stara Varoš: Podgorica’s ancient quarter is a peek into a time gone by. Meandering streets give way to the Clock Tower and iconic mosques such as Osmanagic and Starodoganjska. Each corner whispers tales from the Ottoman era. 
  2. Millennium Bridge: A marvel of modern architecture, this bridge spanning the Moraca River stands as a symbol of Podgorica’s growth. Its nighttime illumination is a sight to behold, reflecting beautifully on the waters below.
  3. Cijevna River and Niagara Falls: Not the famous Niagara, but Montenegro’s own! A short drive from the city, the Cijevna River’s waterfalls are a serene spot for relaxation. The cascading waters during the rainy season make it especially mesmerizing.
  4. Lake Skadar: Venturing further from the city, you’ll find the expansive Lake Skadar. Lush wetlands, a rich array of birdlife, and quaint fishing villages dotting its perimeter make it a must-visit. Taking a boat tour is highly recommended.
  5. Plantaze Vineyard: Podgorica’s fertile lands bless it with vineyards producing exquisite wines. Plantaze is the largest and most famous. Tour the vineyards, learn about Montenegrin viticulture, and end with a tasting session. The local Vranac red wine is a treat for the palate.
  6. Ostrog Monastery: Carved into a nearly vertical cliff, this awe-inspiring monastery is a significant pilgrimage site and offers panoramic views of the Bjelopavlići plain below.
  7. Dajbabe Monastery: This unique structure is a blend of natural caves and man-made architecture, holding secrets of Podgorica’s spiritual heritage.

A road trip through Podgorica and its neighboring attractions is a journey of discovery. From historical alleys to nature’s masterpieces, every mile holds a story. So, rev up your engines and embark on a Montenegrin adventure you won’t forget! Safe travels!

Renting a Car in Podgorica FAQs

What documents do I need to rent a car in Podgorica?

To rent a car in Podgorica, you’ll need a valid passport, driver’s license, and credit card. If your driver’s license isn’t in the Latin alphabet (like English), you’ll also need an International Driving Permit (IDP).

What’s the minimum age for renting a car in Podgorica?

The minimum age to rent a car in Podgorica is typically between 21 and 70 years, although some rental companies may rent to younger or older drivers for an additional fee.

Should I choose a rental car with automatic or manual transmission?

While most rental cars in Europe are manual, automatic cars are available. If you’re more comfortable driving an automatic car, it’s recommended to select this option when making your booking, even though it may be a bit more expensive.

What should I do if my rental car breaks down or I get into an accident?

In case of a breakdown or accident, your first step should be to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Move your car off the road if possible, turn on your hazard lights, and set up the warning triangle. Contact your rental company or local emergency services as necessary.

Can I take my rental car outside of Montenegro?

This depends on the rental company’s policies. Some companies allow cross-border rentals, while others do not. Always confirm this with the rental company when making your reservation to avoid any complications.