A day in Montenegro: the Bay of Kotor, Kotor Old Town and Budva

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Admiring the Bay!

I have been curious to visit Montenegro for a while now, so during my week in Croatia (read about that here), I took the opportunity to spend a day there!

To reach the country via Croatia, it’s about a 40 minute drive from Cavtat, to the border. First and foremost, if you plan on crossing the Croatia/Montenegro border, please keep your passport safe once you’re in Montenegro. Border controls are very strict and officials were checking coaches full of people.

Our first stop, for a quick coffee, was Herceg Novi. The surrounding landscape was stunning but it didn’t seem like the sort of place to spend a holiday; the town is quite built up and even a bit shabby in parts.

I was excited when we set off for our next stop; the Bay of Kotor. It really is the most spectacular place, with looming mountains and sapphire waters. Photos can’t convey its epic, rugged beauty. We arrived when only a handful of other visitors were present but a few minutes later, a coach of American tourists stopped off and things became quite crowded; I was grateful to have taken some time to enjoy the scenery in relative peace!

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A glimpse of the Bay of Kotor, from a ferry crossing.

Kotor is a Unesco World Heritage site, reached via steep and narrow mountain roads (tip; don’t look out of the window, if you’re nervous of heights!). Outside the Old Town, the area is fairly modern, with a cruise ship port, madly busy roads and a few shopping centres.

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One of Kotor’s beautiful churches

Once we stepped inside the walls of the Old Town, it’s an entirely different place. Labyrinthine stone streets lead you deeper into the town, past beautiful churches and bustling outdoor cafes. The shops are very tourist-focused but there are lots of bars and cafes to pass the time in. The walls which snake around the Old Town lead up towards the mountains and, I believe, give fantastic views (it was far too hot for me to fancy trying this during our 2 hour visit!). I found Kotor a beautifully preserved location however, you must expect crowded streets and a plethora of souvenir shops.

Kotor
Kotor

Our last stop was Budva. My first impression if the town was not great; it’s a sea of endless holiday apartments, tacky looking bars and a lot of traffic. The Old Town can be reached by walking along the promenade and is very attractive, in a similar style to Kotor but much smaller.

The view out to sea from Budva's Old Town
The view out to sea from Budva’s Old Town

As you leave the Old Town, the harbour is packed with visiting boats, which completely block the view out to sea. Budva, I learned, is geared towards Russian and English holidaymakers; perhaps I had been spoiled in the pristine surroundings of Croatia, but I really didn’t understand or enjoy the stop in Budva.

After a 3 hour drive back in heavy traffic, we found ourselves back in Cavtat and in need of an icy cold beer, which was promptly consumed whilst watching the sun drift away behind the mountains.

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