I was teased by too short of a stay in Montenegro and now I’m dying to return to this incredible country. I didn’t expect much before visiting. I figured it would make for an easy trip from Dubrovnik and I was looking forward to learning more about the rich history enhanced with some beautiful views here and there. What I found caught me off guard.
Bay of Kotor
It started at the Bay of Kotor, a pitstop so stunning that I almost forgot to take pictures. This bay is often inaccurately described as the Mediterranean’s only fjord, but it is technically a ria, which is a submerged river canyon that stays open to the sea. Geological terms aside, the Bay of Kotor is a mesmerizing site to see.
As we continued onwards, we had to take a ferry across the bay to get to the small town of Budva. A short ride that graced all passengers with perfect viewpoints on all sides.
A few storm clouds rolling in? No need to fret, they don’t do much to diminish the natural beauty of Montenegro!
While Budva is known for being a popular destination for tourists due to its many beaches and party scene, I was more intrigued with the other features of the town. First of all, I found Budva to be pleasantly not crowded, although I did come straight from the packed Old Town of Dubrovnik. Second, this small town is situated right along the Adriatic Sea, and I can never get enough of the vivid coastal views in the Balkans!
As one of the oldest cities on the Adriatic cost, the medieval walled section of Budva’s Old Town was too good to miss. The Budva town fortress of Kastel, now known as Citadela, is where the walls of the city begin and end. There is record of the fortress being mentioned as far back as 1425, making it even more incredible to walk on the same grounds today.
Once inside, you’ll notice the spectacular panoramic views looking out over Budva right away. I think the following shot perfectly captures Budva in all its conflicted glory, with the contrast of the old charm fighting the surge of modern development.
As you continue exploring, you will also find a library that holds one of the most valuable collections of books and maps dedicated to the Balkans. Upon stepping inside I felt a strong urge to sit in one of those red couches and get lost in a book for hours!
Budva definitely intrigued me and while I got to dip my toes into the history and culture, spending a bit more time here to enjoy some outdoor adventures (water sports, mountains… need I say more?) would have been the icing on the cake! I have a deep love for the mountains – seriously, they are EVERYWHERE – but when the mountains are contrasted by clear, blue waters meeting them at the base, it puts me in utter amazement.
Next up was Kotor, and let’s just say my time there was like giving a six-year-old a huge bowl of ice cream and taking it away after they only had one bite. It was the highlight of my visit to Montenegro. The Old Town is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the narrow stone streets inside and larger squares are dotted with all kinds of cafes, shops, and restaurants. Try not to get sidetracked by the beauty- the streets inside can actually be quite confusing even with a map as they were purposely built like a maze for protective purposes. Even the locals occasionally get lost!
Right in the center of Old Kotor, you will notice the impressive Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. Although much of it had to be restored after significant damage from earthquakes, it now serves as a symbol of the city. It was built in honor of Saint Tryphon, the patron and protector of the city.
The part of Old Kotor that intrigued me the most was the Upper Town Walls. Anything that involves climbing always peaks my interest! These walls stretch 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) along cliffs above the city. The climb up the 1350 steps is not an easy one, but you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Kotor and the bay once you reach St. John’s fortress at the top. Sadly, I did not have time during my visit to make the climb, so I’ll have to save that for my next trip!
The cakes are very popular in Montenegro, so before leaving I stopped at a cafe and indulged in some chocolatey goodness while watching the people pass by the square. I asked the waiter for the best cake they had, and he certainly knew how to pick them!
I would love to return to the enchanting country of Montenegro and get lost in Kotor. The striking landscapes, unique history, and diverse variety of activities like rafting, hiking, and jet skiing are just a few of the perks drawing me back in.
So if you’re deciding whether you want to spend more of your time in Dubrovnik or in the nearby Montenegro, hands down, I would post up in Kotor or another one of Montenegro’s gorgeous cities. Go see for yourself the splendor of this lesser visited destination – just make sure to stay longer than a day!