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Christmas in Montenegro

Montenegrin Christmas Spirit

Montenegro, often hailed as a picturesque summer destination, unfolds its own unique charm during the winter season. While its summertime allure is well-known, the holiday season in Montenegro offers a distinct blend of ancient traditions, heartwarming family gatherings, and lively street celebrations that will capture your heart.

Predominantly an Orthodox Christian country, Montenegro observes its primary Christmas celebration on the 7th of January. However, if you find yourself in Montenegro in December, you can still revel in the joy of the festive season, as the Catholic community celebrates the holiday at the end of the month. In essence, Montenegro provides an exceptional opportunity to celebrate Christmas twice!

In this guide, we will explore the enchanting Christmas traditions and exciting activities that Montenegro has to offer during the holiday season.

Discovering a Different Christmas

Montenegro is renowned for its sun-kissed beaches, but it transforms into a winter wonderland during Christmas, offering a unique and captivating experience. The predominant Orthodox Christian population in Montenegro places Christmas on January 7th, imbuing the holiday with a rich tapestry of age-old traditions. These customs include a 40-day fast leading up to Christmas, the symbolic use of the “Badnjak” or Yule Log, and solemn church gatherings on Christmas Eve. Passed down through generations, these traditions infuse Christmas in Montenegro with a warmth and inclusiveness that extends a hearty welcome to visitors.

Things to Do in Montenegro at Christmas

1- Immerse Yourself in the Kotor Christmas Market

The Kotor Christmas Market stands out as a beacon of festive cheer. Nestled in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site, Kotor‘s market is a place where the holiday spirit truly comes to life. Take leisurely strolls through the cobblestone streets, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations. Sample a variety of traditional Montenegrin delights, including smoked ham, cheese, and the renowned brandy. Don’t miss the opportunity to peruse the local handicrafts and Christmas ornaments, making this market an ideal place to find unique gifts for your loved ones.

2- Enjoy the Christmas Piazzetta in Budva

Budva puts a unique twist on Christmas markets, transforming them into a full-fledged festival known as the Christmas Piazzetta. This festive celebration encompasses everything cherished about the holiday season: lively music, delectable food and beverages, and an array of Christmas-themed handicrafts. The evenings are filled with programs suitable for all ages, offering entertainment for children and cocktail masterclasses for the adults.

3- Take Your Place at the Podgorica Ice Skating Rink

If you seek an active Christmas experience, look no further than the Podgorica Ice Skating Rink. Situated in Njegoš’s Park, this 600-square-meter rink caters to both beginners and experienced skaters. Friendly instructors are on hand at the entrance to provide guidance for first-time skaters. Whether you bring your own skates or rent equipment on-site, this rink, conveniently located near popular shopping destinations like Delta City and City Mall, promises a delightful outing.

Ice Skating in Podgorica
Ice Skating in Podgorica

4- Experience the Thrill of Balkan Music on New Year’s Eve

The Balkans usher in the new year with a grand celebration. Many of Montenegro’s larger cities host public concerts featuring famous Balkan musicians and singers. For an unforgettable experience, head to Budva!

5- Embark on a Ski Trip in Montenegro’s Mountains

While Montenegro may not be the first destination that comes to mind for winter sports, it boasts some remarkable options for skiing enthusiasts. Make your choice: Žabljak or Kolašin Mountains? Kolašin offers a more extensive range of slopes and a modern ski center, making it an excellent choice for a winter adventure. On the other hand, Žabljak, nestled in the Durmitor National Park and near the Tara River canyon, offers higher altitudes and a stunning natural setting that’s perfect for mixed groups.

Montenegrin Christmas Traditions

As a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, Montenegro has preserved a wealth of unique Christmas traditions:

  • The Christmas Eve meal, a central tradition, brings families together for a feast featuring delicious, meat-free and dairy-free dishes such as fish and beans.
  • On Christmas Eve, male family members venture into the woods to cut the “Badnjak” or Yule Log, which is then brought home and burned throughout the night.
  • Some churches organize gatherings where anyone can spend Christmas Eve in a communal setting.
  • During the Christmas Eve meal, a special bread called “česnica” is prepared by the mother or grandmother and contains a hidden coin. Finding the coin in one’s slice is believed to bring luck and prosperity in the coming year.
  • A charming yet less common tradition involves young men offering apples to the girls they fancy. If the apple is accepted, it is seen as a sign that the couple will find each other in the following year.

Christmas in Montenegro is a unique and heartwarming experience, characterized by vibrant traditions, stunning landscapes, and a welcoming atmosphere. Whether you choose to explore the enchanting Kotor Christmas Market, immerse yourself in the festivities of the Christmas Piazzetta in Budva, take to the ice in Podgorica, groove to the Balkan beats on New Year’s Eve, or hit the slopes in Montenegro’s mountains, groove to the Balkan beats on New Year’s Eve, Montenegro offers a holiday season like no other. Embrace Montenegrin Christmas spirit and create cherished memories in this captivating destination.


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