Kotor’s Old Town, surrounded by centuries old city walls and nestled in the Bay of Kotor, is an incredibly picturesque place to spend a few days.
The town is full of winding, cobbled streets – which I only got myself lost in a handful of times – old palaces, historical churches and hundreds of tourists waddling in off of cruise ships during the day.
There are a number of things to do in the old town – known in the Montenegran language as Stari Grad. If you want to start out big, you can climb the fortress which sits on a hill atop the city; you could also eat at one of the many restaurants throughout the Old Town; alternatively you could spend a few hours getting lost in along the streets; or meander along the bay and dip a toe in the cool water. It’s enough to easily fill a two or three days.
Since we were there for five days we had to add a few more activities to the list.
One of the great things about Kotor is that it is perfectly situated for taking day trips. Another plus is that public transport in Montenegro is reliable and wont leave a gaping hole in our wallet.
DAY TRIP 1: PERAST
Cost: €4 return bus trip. Cheaper ticket on the way back.
Time: 30 min travel each way
Perast is a tiny bay side town located 11km from Kotor.
On our second full day in Montenegro we caught a local bus to Perast (our first day was a write off after a pub crawl and a few two many glasses of free punch, courtesy of the Hostel we were staying in, the night before.. whoops).
Buses generally allowed into the town so we were dropped off just outside and took a a pleasant ten minute walk to the centre. The town is full of decades and even centuries old buildings done in typical venetian style, some of which were still covered in flowers and vines in full bloom oblivious to the fact that autumn was steadily rolling in; a fact given away only by the chilly breeze that picked up in the late afternoon.
Things to do:
- Catch a taxi boat to Perast’s man made island (we got our tickets for €4 each return) and visit Our Lady of the Rocks Church. Entrance is €1 and you can piggyback on a tour going through the building which explains the interesting history of how the island was created. The church was built on the spot where an icon of the Virgin Mary was found and the building was erected in her honour. When it was first opened, sea-men and their families would donate items do hope for good luck in their venture; to this day locals continue this tradition as well as the tradition of “growing” the island by adding rocks to the base annually.
- Eat at one of the towns cute restaurants or take a picnic and enjoy your lunch next to the bay one of the platforms next to the swim spots that you will pass on your way into town
DAY TRIP 2: BUDVA
Cost: €8 return on bus
Time: 45 min each way
Budva is Montenegro’s popular cosmopolitan seaside town. It has beaches, hotels, tons of restaurans and shops and an old town complete with fortressed walls. I like to think of it as Kotor’s older but less quaint (but still incredibly pretty) older sister.
Things to do:
- Explore the old town.
It’s much smaller than Kotor’s old town with narrower streets but it is beautifully romantic in its smaller scale. It would take about an hour to explore and there are quite a few activities such as climbing the citadel and visiting the Catholic Church of St John to keep you occupied for a few hours more.
- Go swimming at one of Budva’s beautiful beaches.
We took a walk to Mogren beach just outside of Budva’s old town. There are two parts tot the beach, the second which is reachable through a cool cave. Both are pebbly like the majority of the beaches along the Adriatic sea (a weird concept for two girls who are used to the the sandy beaches of South Africa) but the water and the views are spectacular.
Tip – buy water and snacks before you head to the beach as the kiosks at Mogren charge way more than the shops in town.
On the way back stop and snap a pic of The Dancing Girl sculpture with Budva’s beautiful old town in the background.
- Grab a palacinke
One of Montenegro’s (and the Balkan’s) most popular sweet snacks; its basically a huge filled crepe. I got mine with Nutella (always), coconut, biscuits and nuts. Delicious.
OTHER DAY TRIPS: MOSTAR AND DUBROVNIK
We never got to do these two as days trips because we travelled to and stayed a few nights at both but the two cities are definite options for day trips as they are within a few hours drive from Kotor and both accessible by public transport (busses go daily from the Kotor bus station) or private shuttle through a tour company – many of which are dotted hroughout the old town.
Mostar is great for sightseeing and for the history buffs among us with beautiful sights and a rich, if sad, history.
Dubrovnik is fantatstic for sightseeing, swimming and geeking out of Game of Thrones filming spots from the TV show #nerdalert.