Why you should go to Kotor, Montenegro

BY ONEIKA RAYMOND

Reasons to add Kotor, Montenegro to your travel list.

Montenegro would be an easy sell to prospective tourists  — if they knew it existed.  The reality is that this nation on the Adriatic Sea is still a relative stranger to most travellers outside of Europe.  Part of the former Yugoslav Republic before its brutal and bloody dissolution in the 90s, Montenegro has only been fully independent since 2006, making the country less than a decade old.

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We had a taste of what Montenegro has to offer on our recent jaunt in the Balkans, spending four days in the cities of Kotor and Budva.  In particular, Kotor made an impression on us — not least because the city had a Cuban music festival(!) on while we were there.  I’ve found myself extolling the virtues of the city to people in real life on a few occasions now — it’s probably time that I share them here.  Here’s why you should go:

BEAUTIFUL VIEWS

On first look, the gleaming bay of Kotor reminded me of the fjords I saw last year when I went to Norway.  The turquoise waters are placid and bookended by craggy cliffs sparsely covered in shrubbery. Gorgeous views are possible from many parts of town — a sweaty hike along the city walls, lazy coffee on a rooftop bar, or a simple stroll to the ferry docks will yield something similar to the pictures below. If nothing else, the city is extremely photogenic.

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CUTE OLD TOWN WITH A BURGEONING MUSIC SCENE

With its tidy, narrow pathways and buildings made of white stone, Kotor’s old town is one of the prettier ones I’ve seen. Liebling and I spent our evenings meandering within its walls, sometimes sitting at one of the many cafes to grab an ice coffee.  I would have been perfectly content with just that, but once darkness fell, a nice surprise awaited us: a number of the restaurants had live music! Jazz pianists, classical guitarists, and other instrumentalists zealously pumped melodies into the night air.  Even more unexpected: the Cuban music festival taking place while we were in town. Salsa in Montenegro?  Incongruent, yes,  but still very much appreciated!

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ONLY AN HOUR AWAY FROM DUBROVNIK, CROATIA (AND WAY LESS CROWDED)

Croatia’s growing popularity as a tourist destination means that more and more travellers are vacationing in Dubrovnik, one of its premier cities.  Should you find yourself there at some point, I highly suggest a hop across the border to Montenegro: Kotor is only an hour’s drive away. While the culture, food, views, and language in Dubrovnik and Kotor are similar, a stay in Kotor is decidedly a more pleasant experience.  Liebling and I found Dubrovnik too busy, crowded, and expensive for our liking.  However, Kotor, in contrast, had a more relaxed vibe and fewer tourists (Dubrovnik seemed overrun).  As for getting between the two cities, to-ing and fro-ing is relatively easy. We flew into Dubrovnik and paid $105 USD for a transfer via private car to Kotor, but if you’re on a budget you can also take a bus.

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IT’S CHEAP FOR EUROPE

I consider Kotor to be a high value destination.  Food and accommodation are cheap by European standards. We rented a large two bedroom apartment right in the old town for only $100 USD a night, a near-impossible feat when travelling in Europe in the middle of summer.  Our meals? We ate ridiculously well for not very much money — a set lunch including a starter, main, and drink could be had for as little as $13 USD.  Cheap and tasty seafood was also abundant so we made sure to stock up during our stay. We found a favourite restaurant, Bastion, and ate there all three nights we were in town!

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Have I sold you on Kotor yet? If so, it’s best to get over there sooner than later: Montenegro is an official candidate for membership into the European Union, and as soon as it enters prices will surely skyrocket.

Have you ever been to Kotor or Montenegro? Are they on your radar? 

 

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67 Comments

  • Oneika,

    I love your photos of Kotor and I can imagine how amazing your time was there. We originally planned to go to Kotor but were directed by a Montenegrin couple we met working in Serbia at a hostel to go to Herceg Novi instead. From your description, Herceg Novi was even cheaper but less catered to international tourists (more for regional tourists) and was truly an amazing stay. We stayed in guesthouse for 20 euros per night (all together!) and had amazing food. I think you could spend a full week exploring different parts of the Montenegrin coast, there is so much to do and to see. I’m definitely going back before prices take off!

    Reply
  • Montenegro has never been on my radar. As you said, many outside of Europe, myself included, don’t realize that it’s a viable tourist destination. But the beauty of the place and its affordability are great reasons to add it to my list!

    Reply
  • These pics are gorgeous. I have thought about checking out Montenegro in the past- I blame F Scott Fitzgerald for that one 🙂 However, I never knew anyone that had been. Now, it’s back on my radar!

    Reply
  • Montenegro has been on my “must-see” list for a long time now, and this just confirms it! I will definitely have to travel there…perhaps in the spring, when it starts to warm up again. Great post, Oneika! x

    Reply
  • Stunning pictures. I’ve been wanting to venture outside of western europe when I look at short breaks and this looks like it would be an amazing trip.

    Reply
  • We just came back from Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia. I loved Serbia. It’s one of my favorite countries. I have no idea why, I was just instantly attracted to it. Maybe we’ll plan a trip to Montenegro and some more countries in the Balkans.

    Reply
  • Montenegro looks beautiful. I can see why they filmed a Bond movie there. Most certainly on my hit list when I get back to Europe.

    Reply
  • Črna gora me je fascinirala. Lepa narava, (Durmitor, Skadarsko jezero, črnogorsko primorje) čudoviti ljudje…..Prepričana sem, da se bom še vrnila v to majhno balkansko državico!

    Reply
  • Lovely place to visit and stay. Hire a car and travel into the mountains near Kotor. There is a small village and restaurant in the valley that serves very good food especially fish dishes at a cheap price.

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  • We were in Kotor for just under a week last September and couldn’t have been more impressed. Such a beautiful town with lots to see and do nearby, great prices, and you can avoid (for the most part) lots of the big crowds of nearby hotspots like Dubrovnik and Split. Love your photos and the blog! Safe travels.

    Reply
  • Phenomenal. And why is the EU ruining everything (pricewise)?! Though I’m sure it helps some of the citizens of those countries, so I can’t be so upset. I guess the upside is if there’s a big crisis that comes to fruition in Europe, everywhere will be cheap again! Haha.

    Reply
  • Montenegro must be an amazing place to visit, unfortunately I haven’t had the occasion to visit this country so far. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pics with us. regards, Andrea

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  • We took our first Mediterranean cruise in October and Kotor was one of the stops, maybe because it’s a UNESCO site. You’re right, it’s quite inexpensive and very pretty. It’s also got quite a mild climate. But the biggest surprise to us was how good the local wine is. Who knew? 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Oneika and thanks for really nice article.

    Montenegro is indeed beautiful country, with many places to see, including Lustica Peninsula. It is located at the entrance of the Kotor Bay. We’re also getting yacht marina and a golf course, so be sure to check us on your next visit to Montenegro. Cheers!

    Reply
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