While most of our trip was spent in Croatia, we spent several days exploring the cities of Montenegro. Entering Montenegro via the Croatian border south of Dubrovnik proved to be a time-consuming lesson of patience.
Important tip #1: when you get to choose your border crossing car lane, always pick the one with the most caravans! Longer vehicles, fewer people in them are usually the makings for a winner lane.
Our 3 nights in Montenegro were spent at a lovely accommodation directly on the Bay of Kotor, 10 minutes outside of Tivat. It was an ideal location that allowed us easy access to Tivat, Kotor and Budva, the three main cities we wanted to explore.
Tivat was first up, where we parked and walked the coastline. The southern section of the port is where your average traveller (us), was able to enjoy a delicious meal for an affordable price and enjoy the sun setting over the water.
A 300-metre walk north will land you in ritzy town! Superyachts in the hundreds of millions docked, restaurants and shops that will leave you picking your jaw up off the ground and the excitement of scanning the crowds to see if you can spot a famous face amongst the glitz. We continued our walk past the Port Montenegro Yacht Club for our final kilometre. We found ourselves amongst the local Montenegrins, where the division of wealth we had just passed by was in stark contrast, but the simple joys of life were in abundance. There were a daughter and her elderly father having a meaningful discussion on a little bench, a mother singing to her baby while dipping his feet into the water, and a grandmother watching over a group of small children, shrieking and giggling as they chased a toy glider plane.
As much as I enjoyed the meal, the music and the view, I have no doubt it will be the walk to the northern section of the coastline that will stay as a favourite memory for the years to come.
Day 2 was spent in the city of Kotor, and was an enjoyable, albeit very touristy, experience. We entered Old Town and in the first few steps were greeted with a vision of inviting outdoor cafes, gelato stands and boutique shops. We walked its many narrow cobblestone streets, with unlimited food options and souvenir mementos on offer at every turn. The buildings were breathtaking, the people friendly, and the weather flawless.
We started our ascent of the Kotor city walls at the back of Old Town, working our way up to the final destination of San Giovanni (St. John) Castle. It was a warm 28C walk up the 1350 steps to the top.
Halfway up was a local man selling beer, coke and water for the eye-watering price of 4 euro each. My husband, having underestimated his fluid requirements and choosing to not heed the advice of his ever-correct wife, hung his head in shame and forked over the money for a drink. One cannot help but feel a little embarrassed at miscalculating the amount of water required to complete a short walk, however, there is nothing like purchasing your drink for an exorbitant price, only to round the next corner, and 5 metres down the track is someone selling the same drink selection at half price. Salt. In. The. Wound. So lesson learned- if you don’t bring enough to drink, don’t be foolish enough to buy from the first vendor you come upon!
We continued our journey up and at almost every switchback, were rewarded with an outstanding view of Old Town, the city and the Bay of Kotor. We finally reached the top and stayed for a while, exploring the fortress, and all of the nooks and different vantage points it had to offer. It was the perfect place to take in the sunset and we were able to make it back down to the bottom in much better time and with enough light to guide the way.
Our last full day in Montenegro was spent exploring Budva and Sveti Stefan. We loved exploring the Old Town and were shocked at how quiet it was in comparison to any of the older districts we had previously been to. It was a bit of eerie feeling at times, being alone in this quiet walkways without a soul around. It took a bit of getting used to, but it was actually quite nice to have a bit of elbow room and to really take in each shop and space at your leisure.
After a bite to eat, we headed to Sveti Stefan, which is almost like a mini Old Town island attached to the mainland by a jetty, found about 6km south of Budva. We were looking from above just to get some photos, when we had a kind local Montenegrin man tell us through hand signals, google maps and one killer game of charades, that there was a better vantage point several kilometres away.
We decided to trust in what we believed to be his recommended location and took off on a mission up some very windy roads to a church in the mountains. We had the place to ourselves and made for a great way to take in our last full day in Montenegro!