Day Trip to Montenegro
We absolutely loved our stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik as part of our long honeymoon. The Sheraton was a perfect base for exploring all of southern Croatia aka Dalmatia, Montenegro, and even Bosnia and Herzegovina. We didn’t have enough time to go into Bosnia, but we did head to Montenegro on a day trip and really enjoyed it!
From Dubrovnik it was a short 1.5 hour drive to get to Kotor, Montenegro. The drive itself was worth it. Starting off from Dubrovnik you head south past the airport and then to the Montenegro border. There is a passport and green card (car insurance) check. Make sure when renting your car in Croatia to get the green card if you plan on visiting any of the bordering countries as it is required.
After the border crossing we drove through the industrial town of Herceg Novi which was not the prettiest area but once past that the beautiful Kotor Bay opens up. The drive is amazing hugging the water with the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. The whole bay is enclosed by the mountains so it is very unique.
Perast, Montenegro – A Beautiful Stop!
Actually our favorite part of our short trip to Montenegro wasn’t Kotor but the small little town of Perast. It was an extremely cute town with the classic Venetian style bell tower and crystal clear water. We took some time to wander around, walking down the alley, and just taking in the peacefulness. Near the water’s edge we noticed a group of painters trying to capture the beauty of the town. I really wish I had some artistic ability!
Off in the middle of the bay there are two islands both with churches with some interesting stories. When walking into the town we were offered by a local to take a boat ride to one of the islands. We declined as we wanted to spend enough time in Kotor to see everything. But if you do have time i’d suggest heading to the very special island (the right one in the picture). One of the islands is actually man-made and has a church built on it. Long ago local fishermen saw a light on the bottom of the bay and thought it was a sign from God to build a church. So over time they sunk ships, dropped debris, and eventually had enough for an island and to build a church!
Kotor, Montenegro – Hiking the Walls!
On to the magically Kotor! For parking there are three main lots within the old town area. All are within easier walking distance and are relatively cheap. We parked on the main street at the simply because it was most convenient. The entire town is surrounded by a huge wall very similar to Dubrovnik but not quite as dramatic. One difference however is the Kotor city wall goes up into the mountains away from town with of course amazing views!
The main attraction is to hike this part of the city wall. The views from the top are remarkable and you can even see over the bay to the Adriatic sea. Hiking up, you also pass a small chapel that provides a perfect background for pictures of Kotor. By far the best spot so spend plenty of time here!
A word of caution. Please, please, please wear actual shoes if you hike up the walls. Not kidding, over 70% of people going up were wearing flip flops. The stones are very slick especially when wet… These stairs are hundreds of years old and worn to a perfect polish.
After taking a couple hours on the wall we wandered the town. The town itself is significantly smaller than old town Dubrovnik with just a couple of main drags but there are still sights to see. We stopped in a new Orthodox church to get a different feel from all the Catholic churches we went to in Italy.
For lunch we ate outside in front of the old catholic church which has two different bell towers. Apparently when building it they ran out of money so they just built the second tower in a cheaper fashion. To try something different I had an anchovy pasta which was surprisingly really good.
To round out our time in Kotor, we went shopping for some cheap paintings. The tourist infrastructure here in Montenegro is still very much developing so finding exactly what we wanted was a little more difficult but we eventually found what we wanted! Having had our fill of Kotor we headed out of the town.
Back to Dubrovnik
Instead of driving through the bay back to Dubrovnik we decided to take the ferry back at Lepetane. To get there from Kotor you drive towards the Adriatic Sea through a mountain tunnel. On the other side you pop out near some small resorts towns. We did a quick stop before getting to the ferry just to get a view. Not much of a beach but it was still a pretty view.
We contained towards Lepetane for the ferry. It was really cheap, I believe it was about 4 Euros as the crossing is very short. No need to book in advance as there are two boats that shuttle back and worth. The ferry took maybe 10 minutes once boarded up. Driving wise the ferry route and the bay route are about the same amount in time. The only difference being that the ferry is a little more relaxing as you can get out of your car and take in the view of the Bay of Kotor entrance.
Once back on land we drove back through Hercerg Novi and then to the border crossing back into Croatia. Going back into Croatia seemed to take a little longer. There was not much of a line but they asked more questions. We also saw a bus stopped at the crossing with a poor girl rummaging through her suitcase with border patrol. Not sure what that was about but it is an official land entrance into the EU so security is a little tighter.
We loved our day trip to Kotor, Montenegro from Dubrovnik and would suggest adding that to any itinerary in southern Croatia. The drive is easy enough to do on your own but there are plenty of tour options if that is your cup of tea. Hiking the walls up the mountain is definitely a highlight but do not miss the small town of Perast before getting to Kotor. We think it was even more beautiful and had that small town charm.