When Chris and I were researching what to do during our trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia in December, we realized it would be pretty easy to do a quick day trip to a neighboring country, since the area was so small. We decided to book a day trip to Montenegro though Viator (a TripAdvisor company). Now, Chris isn’t normally the kind of guy to do pre-arranged group tours, and prefers to do the planning himself, so when he agreed to take a full day group tour, I was pretty excited.
The Saturday morning of our day trip, we got picked up right outside our hotel in Dubrovnik by the Mercedes tour van. The tour guide introduced herself as Maria and the driver as Dario, then informed us that there were only two other people on our tour that day (which was a nice surprise, because apparently in the summer, the tours can be pretty full!!). We just had to make a quick stop to pick them up at their hotels before getting on our way.
Once we had picked up the two other travelers, we headed out of the city, along the coast towards the border. We had to have our passports checked and stamped at the Croatian border, and then a mile later, at the Montenegrin border. As we drove, Maria gave us a little history lesson about Croatia and Montenegro, including information about the Serbian attack on Dubrovnik back in the early 1990s. She also told us about some similarities and differences between the Croatian and Montenegrin languages and how Croatia was now in the European Union, but didn’t use the Euro for currency (they use Croatian kuna), but that Montenegro (not yet in the European Union) does use the Euro! She was a fountain of information!
Eventually we arrived at the Bay of Kotor (or “Boka Kotorska”). We drove all the way around the bay and were amazed at the views of the mountains towering over the water. There was a small island in the middle of the bay with a pretty church called Our Lady of the Rocks. We stopped to take a few photos of the views before hopping back on the road to drive along the water to the city of Kotor.
As we got out of the van in Kotor, Maria informed us that there was an Old Town part of the city, just as there was in Dubrovnik, and that we’d have a little bit of time to walk around. She suggested we walk through the Old Town, then up the rocky path to a church on the hill, which would provide some great views of the city and the bay… so that’s what we did! Kotor Old Town felt a bit like a ghost town when we first walked through the shadowy, narrow streets. There were hardly any people. We watched stray cats dart around corners and pigeons fly up in storms.
We made our way up the hill, along the stony, zig-zagging path. At every turn, we saw beautiful views of the city and bay, just as Maria had said we would. I took some pictures, but Chris reminded me that we didn’t have too much time, and that the views would only get better the higher we got. When we eventually reached the church, the views had certainly become even more spectacular. The sun lit up the red terracotta rooftops, which was a beautiful contrast to the deep blue of the bay and sky behind them.
We headed back down the path and into the Old Town to explore for a few more minutes before making our way back to the van. When we walked back out through the walls of the Old Town and back out onto the major street, there were loads of people out enjoying the warm sunshine on this beautiful Saturday. It didn’t feel so much like a ghost town anymore… We wondered what it would be like to be here in July (probably way too hot and crowded for us!!).
Our last look at Kotor before we walked back to the van was pretty magical. We saw mist rising off of the water outside the walls of the Old Town, with the backdrop of the rocky hills and the wall reflecting off the water.
Our group met back at the van and we set off for our next destination: Budva. Apparently, Budva is one of the oldest cities on the Adriatic Coast, about 2,500 years old. Maria told us we’d have a little more time here, since there was more to see and do. When we arrived, Maria and Dario gave us some lunch recommendations and we agreed on a meeting point and time. Chris and I set off to explore the city.
We walked along the water to the entrance of the Old Town and weaved in and out of the small alleyways, trying to get our bearings. As it was the off-season, a lot of shops and cafes were closed, but to be honest, we wouldn’t be in them anyway, so it was nice to have the city to ourselves. Eventually, we made our way toward the water and stumbled upon what looked like it would be a cool lookout spot. Apparently it was called the Citadela. We paid a small entrance fee to climb the stairs up to the wall. The view was definitely worth it! The water down below was a beautiful bright blue and seemed to stretch on forever. The sun made the water glitter and warmed us up to the point where we could even shed a layer. It felt amazing! (I’m a pretty pale gal, so I’ll take all the sun I can get!!)
When our bellies started rumbling, we stopped for a pretty cheap and tasty meal at the restaurant Maria and Dario had recommended, outside the walls of the Old Town and situated on the footpath next to the beach. I had seafood scampi and some Croatian red wine. Chris had some kind of meat dish and a Croatian beer. After we finished, we took one more look out at the water, boats, and hills before heading to the meeting spot.
When the group was together again, we walked back to the van and hopped in to start our drive back to Dubrovnik. We crossed the Bay of Kotor on a ferry to save time (rather than driving all the way around it again), which was pretty cool!
We went through the two border stops to have our passports checked again, then chased the sun along the cliffs of the Adriatic Coast as we headed toward Dubrovnik. The view was absolutely spectacular and a great treat at the end of our day trip to Montenegro!
(Click here to read about our weekend in Dubrovnik!)