How to Get from Podgorica Airport to the City Centre by Public Transport: Yes, It IS Possible (Kind of!)

Google the question in the title, like any budget-minded traveller heading to Montenegro would, and prepare to be met with a resounding response boiling down to just one word: “impossible”. Advice forums are full of people saying that there are no buses or trains, and that the only way out of the airport is by taxi. These same helpful folks often continue by recommending their “favourite” taxi company, which is not suspicious at all, nuh-uh. However, while planning my own trip, I came across a lone, rebellious comment stating that there might be other options. Being the cheapskate that I am, I obviously had to investigate it further. So, here are the results of my empirical research. In brief: yes, it is sort of possible, and I have the pictures to prove it.

Option 1: Podgorica Airport to Podgorica by Train

Try this first! There is a train station about one kilometre from the airport, and it’s a fairly quick and easy walk that takes about 10-15 minutes. When you first step out of the airport, shake the numerous taxi drivers peddling their services and yelling about how there is no bus, and exit the parking lot to the only street leading out towards the main road. Note that there are no sidewalks and the cars drive by fast, but for most of the way you can walk on a gravel path that follows the road on the right.

IMG_20180615_194905This is how the gravel path looks, the road is on the left behind the bushes

IMG_20180615_195257This is right before the bridge over the railroad starts – do not enter the bridge; instead, cross the road to the left side

IMG_20180615_195330Keep walking down on the left side of the bridge

IMG_20180615_195534When the tarmac turns into gravel again, you’re almost there

IMG_20180615_195639Aaaand there it is! Cross the tracks to get to the station

IMG_20180615_195730 Looking in the Podgorica direction

The empty shack of a station may seem abandoned, but don’t let it fool you: the train does stop there. I’ve seen locals hop on the train on my way from Podgorica to Virpazar and back. However, the main problem is that there are only ten daily connections, so if your flight schedule doesn’t match the train schedule, you’ll have to opt for the bus. You can check the train timetable here: http://www.zcg-prevoz.me/search, from station “Aerodrom” to station “Podgorica”.

Option 2: Podgorica Airport to Podgorica by Bus

Okay, so the train schedule doesn’t match yours? No worries, you’re already halfway to the bus stop. Keep following the path on the left side of the bridge to reach the main road.

IMG_20180615_200003Walk past the basketball court and keep going

IMG_20180615_200113The bridge across the tracks ends here, keep walking on this narrow path. At some point you can switch back to the right side of the road again

IMG_20180615_200514The road from the airport meets the main road at this traffic circle. Take the exit to the right in the Podgorica direction

IMG_20180615_200701A wild pavement appears! And disappears. And appears again.

IMG_20180615_200752Almost there! Just have to cross this blue bridge and walk a tiny bit further

IMG_20180615_201134Voilà! The bus stop is next to the Pizza Restaurant Ester

IMG_20180615_202639A single journey ticket costs 0.90€ (June 2018)

A bus sped up past me a minute before I reached the stop, but on a Friday night I only had to wait about 15 minutes before the next one arrived. I tried to look for the bus timetables online, but had no luck there. I assume they run fairly regularly. If you see any locals waiting at the same stop, you’re golden. I’ve also come across a few random comments on a mysterious “L20” bus line that supposedly runs all the way to the airport seven times a day, but unfortunately I could not confirm its existence. Further research is needed there.

But Is It Worth It?

Alright, before you embark on this epic journey to the bus stop, you must first decide how much you value your time, effort and safety. The taxi to the city costs around 15€ (or less if you manage to negotiate it down or book in advance), a single bus ticket costs 0.90€, and a train ticket costs 1€. It is a 2.5 km walk to the bus stop, which took me about half an hour + 15 minutes of waiting time. How much would you have to save to make it worth the hike, the time, and the risk of being run over by the reckless drivers?

I feel like the train/bus option is great for cheap solo backpackers like myself, but when you have two or more people in your group, the cost per person is significantly reduced if you just take the easy way out and hop on a taxi. I would also think twice before attempting this with a heavy trolley bag.

For me, a major perk of this public transport option was the mere fact I got to avoid taxis! I haven’t been scammed often when travelling, but the few times I’ve been left feeling ripped off or just generally bamboozled, a taxi driver has almost always been somehow involved. So, personally, I’m willing to go the literal extra mile to avoid them. Your mileage may vary.

Let me know in the comments if any of this was helpful! :)

Read more on my budget holiday in Montenegro by clicking here: Montenegro18EN

May Day Camping in Nuuksio National Park

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This year I skipped the traditional May Day celebrations in the city and headed out into the woods, instead. We, our group of four ladies, decided to go camping in Nuuksio National Park. The timing was perhaps not ideal: it was the last rainy weekend before a month-long heatwave. I had also managed to fumble with my phone, messing up the camera settings, which I of course only noticed back home when uploading the pictures on my laptop. So, please enjoy these grainy, 90s style photos! At least the company was exactly what it was supposed to be.

This wasn’t our first camping trip together: we’ve already been to the exquisite Repovesi National Park in the past. In fact, I would love to see all of Finland’s national parks, but often my plans don’t come into fruition because many of the parks seem too hard to reach without your own car. That is one of the main reasons we picked Nuuksio as our destination: it is very easy to reach by public transport. Affordable bus connections run regularly back and forth. This could be a great day trip for anyone visiting Helsinki, as well! For more information, visit http://www.nationalparks.fi/nuuksionp

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For the first night, we put up tents by the Holma-Saarijärvi campfire site, where we got to enjoy our solitude until the dog walkers arrived the following morning. We had originally planned to spend the night by Lake Mustajärvi, but it was buzzing with people there – probably due to its proximity to the parking lot and bus stop. Sure, it was heart-warming to watch a bunch of excited tourists queue up in front of an exotic log shelter for their brief chance to wave an axe around while posing for the camera, but enough was enough. I’m glad we decided to walk a couple kilometres further into the woods. After our camp was all set by dusk, we still had to walk to Siikaniemi and back to pick up Emmi, our last arrival.

Never mind the rain, there aren’t many things better than an evening by the campfire.

The next morning was foggy, but soon enough the skies cleared up and we were treated to a fantastic teaser of the sunny month ahead of us. Our plan for the day consisted of a decent workout, i.e. walking around the park while lugging all our stuff in our backpacks. Even though Nuuksio is quite compact for a national park, it’s still very much possible to rack up thousands of steps there, at least if Redds’s smart watch can be trusted. If my memory serves me right, we easily hit the 40 km milestone within a couple of days. It’s also impressive how many different kinds of flora and fauna, landscapes and frog concerts can be found within such a limited area.

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We hiked to the other side of the park, Kattila, where it took us a while to find the giant’s kettle (or pothole, or “holy hole” as Redds likes to call them) that gave the area its name. According to my faint memories, I’ve only ever seen a pothole once before in my life, back on an elementary school field trip. But that was ages and ages ago. I don’t know what it is about these things that still fascinates me, decades later.

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Our next camping spot was off the marked trails in Iso-Holma, which seemed like a popular spot despite the lack of signposts. We were lucky to arrive early – we got an amazing camping spot with our own, sunny, private beach, when the late arrivals had to walk past us and further into the woods. All day of sweating inspired Redds and I to take a dip in the chilly pond. That was a new record for me, as I’ve never even considered wild swimming in Finland in April before!

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Photo: Emmi-Riika S.Photo: Emmi-Riika S.

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I would have loved to finish this blog post with the sunset picture above, but it would have painted too rosy a picture of the weekend as a whole. The final morning was, again, rainy and cold. If this camping trip had had its own theme song, it would have been just the sound of raindrops trying their best to pierce the tent fabric, maybe spiced with a massive bass drop.

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5/5, would recommend!

Vapputelttailua Nuuksion kansallispuistossa

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Tänä vuonna juhlistin vappua hieman perinteisestä poikkeavissa tunnelmissa, kun lähdimme nelihenkisen Hallituksen voimin telttaretkelle Nuuksion kansallispuistoon. Kyseessä oli kaikin puolin nappisuoritus: retki ajoittui viimeiseen sateiseen viikonloppuun ennen toukokuun helleaaltoa, ja olin myös huomaamattani onnistunut räpeltämään väärät asetukset päälle kännykkäkameraani. Huomasin virheen vasta purkaessani kuvia läppärille, joten nyt päästäänkin nauttimaan rakeisesta ysärilaadusta! Onneksi seura sentään oli juuri sitä mitä pitikin.

Olemme aikaisemmin käyneet samalla porukalla retkeilemässä jo Repoveden kansallispuistossa. Tutustuisin mielelläni vaikka kaikkiin muihinkin Suomen kansallispuistoihin, mutta moni reissu on jäänyt tekemättä oman auton puuttuessa. Nuuksio valikoituikin retkikohteeksemme mm. siksi, koska sinne pääsee helposti myös bussilla. Lisätietoa: http://www.luontoon.fi/nuuksio

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Ensimmäiseksi yöksi pystytimme leirin Holma-Saarijärven nuotiopaikan kupeeseen, jossa saimme olla kaikessa rauhassa seuraavan aamun koiranulkoiluttajien saapumiseen asti. Alun perin olimme suunnitelleet yöpyvämme Mustalammen teltta-alueella, mutta siellä ihmisiä kuhisi kuin muurahaisia pesässä – varmaankin parkkipaikkojen ja bussipysäkin läheisyydestä johtuen. Oli toki jokseenkin liikuttavaa, kuinka innoissaan turistijoukot jonottivat Pohjolan eksotiikkaa huokuvan halkoliiterin edessä omaa vuoroaan poseerata kirves olalla kameralle, mutta ei sitä tohinaa olisi koko iltaa jaksanut seurata. Kannatti kävellä hieman pidemmälle luonnon helmaan. Leirin pystytyksen jälkeen kävelimme iltahämärissä vielä Siikaniemeen ja takaisin hakemaan Emminkin mukaan kokoustamaan.

Emmin blogista löytyy kattavampi raportti samasta retkestä, ja mikä hienointa: ajoissa julkaistuna! Tällä laiskiaisblogissa julkaisut tapahtuvat yleensä tällaisella puolentoista kuukauden viiveellä, vaikka kovasti pyrinkin skarppaamaan. :)

Sateesta viis, iltanuotiolla on aina hyvä olla.

Vappuaaton aamuna sumu väistyi auringon tieltä ja saimme pientä esimakua tulevasta toukokuusta. Päivän ohjelmassa oli urheilua, eli kävelyä ristiin rastiin puistoa rinkat selässä. Vaikka Nuuksio on kansallispuistoksi varsin kompakti, kyllä sielläkin halutessaan pääsee ihan mukaviin askelmittarilukemiin, ainakin jos Reddsin älykelloon on luottamista. Parin päivän aikana taisi mennä 40 kilometriä rikki, ellen aivan väärin muista. On myös vaikuttavaa, miten monenlaista maastoa ja sammakkokonserttia niin pienelle alueelle voi mahtua.

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Kuljimme Kattilaan asti, jossa pienimuotoisen eksyksissä harhailun jälkeen pääsimme ihailemaan hiidenkirnua (tai Reddsin sanoin “pyhää reikää”), jonka mukaan alue on nimetty. Hämärien muistikuvieni mukaan olisin tätä ennen nähnyt hiidenkirnun vain kerran elämässäni joskus alakoulun luokkaretkellä, mutta siitä nyt on jo ikuisuus tai parikin. Kummasti sellainen pieni, pyöreä kolo kalliossa edelleen jaksaa säväyttää.

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Varsinaisen vappuleirin pystytimme merkittyjen reittien ulkopuolella sijaitsevalle Iso-Holmalle, joka opasteiden puutteesta huolimatta vaikutti varsin suositulta leiripaikalta. Kannatti saapua ajoissa – saimme mahtavan telttapaikan omalta, aurinkoiselta rannalta aivan nuotiopaikan vierestä, kun mattimyöhäiset joutuivat jatkamaan pidemmälle puiden siimekseen. Päivän hikoilun jälkeen uskaltauduimme Reddsin kanssa jopa heittämään talviturkit hyiseen lampeen, josta tulikin uusi ennätys! En ole koskaan aiemmin edes harkinnut luonnonvesissä uimista huhtikuussa.

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Photo: Emmi-Riika S.Kuva: Emmi-Riika S.

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Olisin mielelläni päättänyt tämän postauksen tuohon ylläolevaan auringonlaskukuvaan, mutta inhorealismin ystävänä en halunnut antaa liian ruusuista kuvaa retkestämme kokonaisuutena. Viimeinen aamu nimittäin vietettiin taas virkistävässä kevätsateessa hytisten. Jos tällä retkellä olisi ollut oma teemabiisi, se olisi vain pisaroiden ropinaa telttakankaaseen tymäkän basson höystämänä.

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Näihin kuviin, näihin tunnelmiin. Suosittelen sullekin!