So having come back from a 15 day trip stretching from Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Korčula, Hvar, Vis & Zadar, I feel as though I’ve found one of my favourite European travel destinations!
A bold statement I know, but what the place we discovered was overflowing with natural beauty, landscapes like I’d not seen and certain areas still fairly untouched by mass-tourism and that place is Montenegro. Unlike Croatia, it was lesser known to myself. It hadn’t cropped up online when searching for places to visit, nor was it creeping up as a ‘go-to’ amongst other travel bloggers.
Firstly, to give you some background – for a country so small, its sure had a long and eventful history. In more recent years it was part of Yugoslavia before splitting out to join Serbia. In 2006, Montenegro declared independence and has since also joined the Euro.
Here’s just a taster of what Montenegro has to offer:
Hidden Away: Dobrota
We stayed in a small, friendly hotel in the quieter town of Dobrota. A short walk away from it’s more bustling neighbour of Kotor. With Dobrota spanning across the coast; we were surrounded with 360 views of mountains, most popular the Mount Vrmac looking out from the bay. There was definite sense of tranquility, walking along the bay watching the sun reflect of the relaxed waters. In the distance we could see the odd cruise ship pulling into the Bay of Kotor as that’s where most tourists head.
Arriving here towards the close of season, but still greeted with sun and blue skies – it was definitely shaping up to be my type of holiday! What else is there to do but to sit on the dock of the bay and take in those amazing views? (cue Otis Reading).
Kotor Old Town
Although we preferred the laid-back nature of Dobrota, we couldn’t visit Montenegro without coming to Kotor. The pace of life here was still in full-swing, with local businesses still open to serve the last of peak-season tourists. You don’t really need more than a couple of days here, with the majority of visitors here for this historic sites such as City Walls and St. John’s Fortress. We chose to get up early and beat the crowds, the clear skies and warm temperatures were an indication that the walk up the city walls in particular could get very busy.
After seeing the stunning landscapes at sea-level, we knew the climb to the top of the fortress would be very rewarding. At around 1400 steps, it’s a fair way up but with the number of times you stop on route to snap pictures, it is manageable. The temperatures were perfect for us, but I can imagine in the height of summer, you’d want to set of as early as possible to avoid the midday sun.
Getting to the top, we saw some of the best vantage points of Kotor bay. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking…
As if these views weren’t enough, we were also spoiled with a couple of other special islands. One of the three days we stayed in Montenegro, we decided to cycle out to Perast. A little pre-planning with the help of Google Maps (where would we be without it?!), we realised it was a fairly straight forward route which took around 1-1.5 hours, depending on if you were to stop for breaks en-route. We did, well because 80% of the cycle was along the bay with views out to see, the odd restaurant and bar perfectly positioned. A cheeky sea-view coffee and fresh OJ later, we ended up in Perast. Typically, I can see Perast heaving with tourists in peak season, but we were lucky enough to walk around with spectacular blue skies, and a lesser-crowd. It was definitely the more polished town, which Kotor was lacking.
Sitting just off Perast were two islands; Our Lady of the Rocks which is a man-made islet with another islet, St George Monastery surrounded by evergreen trees all look very idyllic. For a small fare, we took a water taxi from Perast across to Our Lady of the Rocks and took in the views from the other side. It was definitely a great way to spend the day.
I could talk about Montenegro’s beauty all day, but these were our highlights. We didn’t even touch Budva and next time, I’d definitely give myself more time to take it all in.
Let me know if you’ve ever been, or if this has inspired you to go, then great!