Montenegro or Crna Gora (meaning Black Mountain ) was once part of Yugoslavia until it’s breakup in the early 90’s. In 2003, Montenegro became a state union named Serbia and Montenegro until 2006 when they gained independence. Now with a population of over 621,000 residents, Montenegro is becoming a more popular spot for vacations with places like Budva and Kotor being added to travellers lists.
While I was in Dubrovnik, I was fortunate enough to join Adriatic Explore on a day tour to this small but gorgeous country.
Adriatic Explore is located in the Old Town, to the right, next to the big fountain as soon as you enter from the Pile Gate.The agency has free hotel pick up service. As I was staying with family in Gruz, I got picked up at the nearest hotel to me. At 7am the company bus pulled up and our guide Anastasia introduced herself. Once all the guests were picked up from the hotels, we made our way to the Croatian/Montenegrin border.
On the bus Anastasia explained our itinerary; first stop would be a quick stop to get a panoramic view of Kotor bay, then make our way on the Ferry to Budva, and end the day in Kotor. She told us the history of Dubrovnik, Croatia and Montenegro; from the ancient times to the recent 90’s conflict.
Before our panoramic stop, we made a quick 10 minute stop at a gas station so the bus driver can fill up, we can go to the toilets and get a coffee. Be sure to bring Euros with you as it is just after you enter the boarder of Montenegro. Luckily the guy making the coffee was nice and had some change to give me back when I gave him Croatian Kunas.
Panoramic stop & ferry ride
We boarded the bus and drove to the harbour where the bus would get on the large transport boat to Budva. The ferry was less than 10 minute ride but we got the time to go out and take some photos.
The view of the bay was amazing from afar. The water sparkled in the sunlight and I could already feel this was going to be an amazing day. After a few selfies and taking in the view, we boarded the bus to make our way to Budva.
The coastal area around Budva, called the Budva Riviera, is the centre of Montenegrin tourism, and is well known for its medieval walled old town, sandy beaches and its night-life. Considered one of the most beautiful coasts in the world, the 21km with 17 beaches will not leave you disappointed. Most of these beaches have their own “beach club or section” I would call it. You can rent out sun chairs and umbrellas and even double sized bed with sheer curtains.
Apart from its natural beauty, Budva is rich in history. Budva is 2,500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. The Old Town lies on a small peninsula. Within in you can find many shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries. With a mixture of narrow streets and big open squares, the layout of the town is roughly orthogonal.
As we had free time in Budva, I decided to get some lunch first. After wasting 20 minutes walking up and down the main street looking for an ATM, I also managed to find a small supermarket where i got some pastry food for lunch and some snacks. Walking down the main street, you see plenty of stalls selling beach such as hats, bags, bikinis and souvenirs. One stall that caught my eye, was the one where they made crepes with Nutella. It totally satisfied my chocolate craving. I walked down to the beach to dip my feet in the Adriatic Sea, then made my way to the Old Town. With every twist and turn, this picturesque town looked like a mini Dubrovnik.
What better way to learn about a towns history than a Museum. I visited the Museum of the Town of Budva in the Old town which is several levels high filled with artefacts from Illyrian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine Slavic and other cultures
When we arrived to Kotor, Anastasia took us into the old town, where the local guide took over. She gave us a map of the old town, then took us through the gates. The guide took us around the towns major attractions, explaining the history behind it. One very amazing thing we saw was the shame pillar underneath a clock wall. Back in the day,this is where local criminals were tied as punishment.
The triangular shaped old town itself was very small and took us less than 40 minutes to finish. Kind of like Mostar in Bosnia. We then had free time to explore more of the town alone or climb the walls.
Sitting high above the town of Kotor, is a breath taking view of the bay and the old town. The city walls date back to medieval times, as early as the 9th century, and like other city walls were built to protect Kotor from outside invasions. The top of the mountain of St.John was already fortified during Illyrian times. Over the centuries, more was added until it reached all the way into the hills and looped around. The walls are well preserved despite its age, invasions and earthquakes.The 1979 earthquake damaged much of the buildings in Kotor including the fortifications, but alot of rehabilitation work has been done to repair the damage.
Keep in mind the walls aren’t as stable and easy to climb as the ones in Dubrovnik, so comfortable shoes ( I was raised in Australia so thongs/flip flops are comfy enough for me) and a bottle of water is always a good idea. If you forget your bottle or need a refill, don’t worry- they sell them as you walk up.
With only an hour left until we had to be on the bus, I only managed to climb to the half way point of the walls. This took half an hour up, and half hour down. But even from half way the views were incredible. Water was sparkling in the sunlight, the 35 degree heat didn’t bother me until the very last step when I realised I needed to sit for a short break.
This tour gave me an look into how beautiful this country is and I can not wait to return one day to spend a few days in each town, exploring it in more depth.
If you are in Dubrovnik, defiantly check out Adriatic Explore for great day trips around the old town & a Game of Thrones tour, island hoping and and to outside Dubrovnik tours like Montenegro and Mostar. For only 42 euro this tour explores some of the best of Montenegro. The full 12 hour day trip departs Dubrovnik at 7am and arrives back at 6pm. Please note you will need your passport with you, and some countries might need a visa. This tour operates everyday from April until October.
What’s Included: hotel pick up/drop off, transportation, transportation fees, guide, local guide in Kotor, City tour of Kotor.
Book online and save 10%!
**I experienced the Montenegro Tour as a guest of Adriatic Explore, however my opinion is my own as always!