Montenegro is small. Real small. In fact, it’s half the size of Wales. Yet it’s packed with so much beauty and diversity. It’s got rugged mountains, Venetian-style red-roofed towns, beautiful beaches, mystical islands, tiny remote villages and so much more. That being said – there are few places in the country that are more spectacular than the city of Kotor.
What’s so great about Kotor?
Located on the Bay of Kotor, it has a beautiful stretch of water on one side and a rugged mountain backdrop dotted with fortifications on the other. The town itself has quiet cobbled traffic-less streets, piazzas, charming architecture and an incredible atmosphere. And what’s more… It doesn’t feel engulfed and distorted by tourism in the way that Budva does. It’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days.
Kotor is over 2,000 years old. Yet it belongs to a country that only claimed its independence in 2006. And while tourism numbers have been steadily increasing since, you can still wander through the old town streets without it feeling crowded. Try saying that about Dubrovnik, a city which is just up the road, relatively speaking. It’s a city I love, sure. But Kotor is better. And cheaper.
How do you get to Kotor?
Kotor is reasonably easy to get to – well if you’re in this neck of the woods to begin with. You can get to it quickly from Budva in 30 minutes or Podgorica in 90, while Dubrovnik in Croatia is only 2 hours away. There’s public transport from all these locations, but if you can, rent a car and drive – read this blog as to why this is the best option. When you arrive, there’s loads of places to stay. I can only recommend the Montenegro Hostel if you’re looking for somewhere affordable, with a great location. A double room with a brilliant view was about £5 each a night – you can’t say fairer than that.
What’s there to do?
There’s only one thing to do in Kotor. That’s right – one thing. Walk. Just walk. And it’s absolutely free. Don’t believe me? Think you need to spend cash to experience the city in all its glory? Allow me to prove otherwise.
Walk through the cobbled streets of the old town.
Walk along the beautiful harbour.
Walk up the 1,500 steps to get to the top of St. John’s Fortress.
Got any tips?
I’ll give you one. Just one. Then you’ve got to get out and explore yourself. When you climb up to the top of St. John’s Fortress, go mad with the photos. It’s an incredible view. Walk through the ruins of the fortress, sit down, enjoy a beer if you want to (which you can, should you be so inclined, buy from one of the enterprising people that carry them up the hill everyday). Then, as you begin your walk back down the hill, it’s time to look for the secret hole in the wall. No, literally. It’s a hole in the wall.
Can you see the hole up there? Go through it!
Go through the hole, not many people do. You’ll emerge into a beautiful pasture, with a small track running alongside the sheer face of the fortification. Following the track down and you’ll find a beautiful abandoned church, some stone cottages and yes, you’ll eventually even come across a farmhouse selling fresh cheese (and homemade rakia, of course).
If you follow this path down, you’ll experience what it was like to walk between the villages of Kotor and Cetinje hundreds of years ago. When I go back, I’ll ascend this way and keep ascending past the fortress – eventually ending up at Lovcen. Perfect.
What more could you ask for? Kotor is bound to continue to get busier and busier every year – so go and visit now. You won’t regret it. I’m itching to get back.