By now, probably everyone has heard about Dubrovnik, the famous jewel of the Adriatic Sea. No one can argue against its beauty, breathtaking medieval architecture, history, adorable narrow streets and most romantic buza bars off the walls of the Old City. Less known is a Bay of Kotor, only 45 min away from Dubrovnik airport. It has less tourists, more attractive pricing and magical views driving along the coastline of the bay.
It’s a tiny little country but it has a lot to offer. I, a beach bum that I am, haven’t explored all of it but I can attest to the beauty, hospitality and tranquility of its main beach destination – Bay of Kotor. Since we’re just getting to know each other, I’ll try to convince you for a day visit if you’re staying in Dubrovnik. Otherwise, feel free to improvise and stay longer at each of these locations.
Old town of Herceg Novi greets you at the beginning of the bay. Its tiny little streets lead you to a boardwalk past the remnants of the old castle (at night it turns into open air movie theater). If you have a day to spend, take one of the many ferries to the Lustica Peninsula across the bay to the beaches of Mirista or Zanjic, swinging by the fairy-tale looking island of Mamula and for a swim in the Blue Grotto cave.
Continuing down the road, you’ll encounter small little towns and beautiful views of the bay eventually coming to Perast. Despite having only one main street winding along the water, the town is sprinkled with cute cafes, churches and palazzos reminding of the old Venetian times. At the beginning of town, stop by the Piratebar for a cup of cappuccino and the best views of two tiny picturesque islands Sveti Dorde & Gospa od Skrpjela. If you would like to explore them up close and personal, take a water taxi for a quick tour around these magnificent islands.
The town of Kotor is at the heart of the bay with its old city walls and the remnants of the castle way above in the mountains reminding us of the old glory of Montenegro. You can hike up the old steps, stopping by for a break at a tiny church midway, for the best views of the bay and the old town. Kotor’s multiple squares are filled with restaurants and cafes serving traditional food and drinks. Montenegro produces some of the best prosciutto in the world and inexpensive yet fantastic local wine. You can try some at any restaurant or walk over to the market outside the old town walls to buy some for later.
Continuing down the road after Kotor, you arrive at Gorniji Stoliv. If you are one of those athletic types and hiking up the wall of Kotor wasn’t enough, find hidden steps that lead you up the mountain to the Old Donji Stoliv, now a deserted town with one family and their cow still living there. You’ll encounter very few people on the way, get plenty of exercise and arrive at a place taken straight out of old days with the best views of the bay.
The last stop is the newly built Port of Tivat. The town is bustling with new construction and is a departure from the other medieval towns along the bay, but has its own, “new money” charm and will remind you of a French Riviera with its fancy private beach clubs, cafes and a galore of yachts sporting international flags parked at the port. To round out the day, go back to the ferry that’s 5 minutes from Tivat, get back on the other side and an hour later (depending on the border traffic), you’ll be back in Dubrovnik.
You’ll fly into Dubrovnik. You can rent a car at the Dubrovnik airport and follow signs to Hercog Novi.
If you’re staying on Dubrovnik, you can take a bus Herzog Novi, from there on, you can take public transportation or cab it from town to town.
Another option would be to hire a private driver. If you’re staying in one of the Dubrovnik hotels, they can arrange it for you. We had one arranged from Hilton, Dubrovnik.
There are hotels in Tivat, Hercog Novi and Kotor although we haven’t stayed in any of them. The less expensive option, and more charming is to rent an apartment or a room via Airbnb and there is plenty to select from.
Wine. Montenegrin local wine is FANTASTIC. At a price of 2-4€ a bottle, you can’t go wrong whether you like red or white. We couldn’t get enough of it.
Beer. The main local brand is Niksicko. It’s your regular pilsner type of beer, 1€ at a store, 2 – 2.5€ at the bar.
The food is a mix of Mediterranean cuisine with Balkans which translates into great seafood, pasta and my favorite dish cevapcici (minced meat shaped into small skinless sausages). A huge plate of calamari that can feed you and your boyfriend will set you back 8€, a plate of cevapcici – 6€.