Destination: Kotor & Budva, Montenegro

While in Dubrovnik in May, I also did a day trip to the country of Montenegro. A small Balkan country just south-east of Croatia, it boasts a surprising amount of lovely gems to see, including the famous old town of Kotor.

Prior to going, I’d booked an organized tour to be picked up and dropped off in Dubrovnik– while it would’ve been possible to take a public bus, I found it better to pay a bit extra for the convenience and comfort of a guide, so that I didn’t have to stress too much of how and where to go.

That said, the tour coach picked us up and we soon headed off to our first stop of the day: the Croatian-Montenegrin border. Interestingly, Croatia is considered *sort of* part of the EU (although it uses its own currency, the kuna) and Montenegro isn’t, although funny enough uses the euro– that said, it was necessary to stop and to be inspected with our passports in hand. Thankfully, the border crossing over took under an hour, and we soon continued into Montenegro.

We made a brief stop at St. George’s Island, an islet in the Bay of Kotor, before reaching Kotor around 11 am. From there, our tour guide gave us two hours to visit on our own, and I immediately set off for the hike up to St. John’s Fortress, which offers excellent views of the Old Town and the bay from above. It was a fairly-steep hike, with plenty of slippery gravel and uneven, dilapidated steps along the hill’s edge– not to forget that it was absolutely boiling by midday! It took about 45-50 minutes to reach the very top and, after snapping my photos, I made my way down and back to town, where I had some time to wander around and see the charming squares and cobblestone streets– I even got 1€ gelato as a treat after the intense hike!

Views halfway up to the top.
Hike up.
St. John’s Fortress.
Panorama of Kotor’s Old Town.

The weather had been hot and relatively clear, but sadly it turned for the worse after we left Kotor– it was getting quite stormy when we passed the Bay of Kotor, and by the time we reached Budva, our next stop, it was pouring rain. Nevertheless, our guide gave us 90 minutes to explore town, and I braved the rain into Old Town, where I visited the Citadella (upon which I got some rooftop views of town) and the narrow, cobblestone streets. I passed by the port and eventually settled at a bar-restaurant with some fries and Vermouth to stay out of the rain.

Bay of Kotor.
View of Budva from the Citadella.
Budva’s port.

We left Budva around 15:00, taking a “shortcut” on our way back to Dubrovnik. In other words, we took a 10-minute ferry ride from one side of the bay to the other, before continuing our drive to the border once more. While it’d taken us no more than an hour to cross in the morning, it took us almost 2-1/2 hours on our way back, which apparently was unusual– turned out that a tour bus in front of us was being inspected, with border control taking passengers one-by-one to be searched and thereby backing up traffic. Eventually, we made it through, and returned to Dubrovnik around 20:00.

My visit to Montenegro had been brief, but a pleasant one. Kotor was definitely the highlight, and I’m glad to have gotten a glimpse of this small country. It made my Balkan trip just a bit more comprehensive, and I was eager to discover more of the region during the rest of my trip.

Will be recapping more of my travels soon!

— The Finicky Cynic

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