This year’s summer holiday for a week took me somewhere I’d never been before: Montenegro. At the start of my holiday planning, I must admit that I wasn’t sure if Montenegro was a sovereign country or where it is but I’d found a great offer for a hotel in the Kotor region and that was reason enough to look into it all a bit more.
General infos and tips for Montenegro
For those of you who are like me and maybe don’t know too much about Montenegro off the bat, here are a few pieces of general information.
Montenegro is a small country in the Balkan area of southeast Europe bordering Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Albania. The people there speak Serbian but a lot of them also speak enough English so that you can get around. The coastal area is stunning! That doesn’t mean the inland isn’t great but I only saw that area from the inside of a bus so can only really make a qualified judgment about the coast. The currency used in Montenegro is Euros despite the fact that Montenegro is not actually part of the European Union. Flying into Montenegro, especially during COVID-19 times wasn’t particularly practical because there are not many airports and even less flights in from a lot of airports. That’s why we decided to fly into Dubrovnik in Croatia (which you can read about here) and then take a bus over to Kotor.
During our trip, my boyfriend and I stayed at the Blue Kotor Bay Resort in (surprise, surprise ;)) the Kotor Bay which is a stunning place to be. The water is extremely clear and the mountains surrounding the bay really do appear to be black – living up to the country’s name (Monte – mountain and negro – black). One of the best things we did during our stay was a boat tour that explored a bit of the bay, took us through the blue cave and out far enough to be able to see the open see and the Croatian border. The trip was about 4 hours long on a speed boat with about ten other people and wasn’t particularly expensive.
Our first stop along the way was a small island off the coast of Perast called “Our lady of the rocks”. It is an artificial island and has a beautiful little church on it. The legend of how the island came to be is actually quite sweet. It is said that whenever a seaman came back from a successful voyage, he would lay a rock in that area of the bay. Eventually, the island came to be. The view from on the island is beautiful and the outside of the church itself is also worth looking at. The church has a small balcony area which is the perfect photo spot. If you’re staying in Perast, you can also rent a kayak and row to the island – that is, if you feel like a bit of exercise with a view.
Next, we rode out to the Blue Cave where we swam near the cliffs and were able to enjoy the amazing surroundings and wonderfully warm water. The cave itself was honestly a little bit underwhelming but it’s still worth the trip because of the area in itself. The water is that clear that you can see the bottom no matter how deep it is and when the sun shines on it, it almost seems to glow. Swimming near these stunning cliffs and looking out onto the open water was a fantastic experience and the surroundings seemed to be getting better and better every minute.
Last but not least, before we headed back to the hotel, we visited another little beach site near an old fortress at the opening of the bay. This was another great swimming opportunity but what I found much more fascinating was the fact that this beautiful piece of history has been bought up and is now being turned into a hotel and casino. A little bit of a reality check in paradise to remind you that you’re living in the 21st century. With this humbling thought in mind, we got on the boat and went back to the bay and the hotel. It was a wonderful experience and the surroundings and feeling all in all were just amazing. A boat tour like this is something I would certainly recommend doing if you’re ever in that area of the world.
Kotor Old Town
On a more cultural note, Kotor has a historic old town area. Kotor’s old town is a beautiful place. It mainly consists of small alleyways with quaint shops and cafés and beautiful squares that give you a great view of a church or similar stunning buildings. The shop keepers tend to be very friendly and most things are reasonably priced so it’s a great place for souvenir shopping. I was fascinated by a lot of the glass work that was being done and one of the shop owners even brought us up into his workspace and storage area full of beautiful painted glass and ceramics. The hand-crafted lamps or the sculptured and painted ceramics are fantastic gifts and simply wonderful to look at. We also found this great little shop that sold scarves and carpets which were just stunning to look at.
In general, the old town is also full of various Russian orthodox churches which are certainly interesting to look at. You can also walk along certain parts of the city walls which can give you a great view of the city or the bay but also give you a nice little feeling of how it must have felt when the city was an active type of fortress.
Some of the days we did some sight-seeing and exploring but others we were able to just enjoy this beautiful place we were in. The incredibly clear water was so comfortably warm and it was lovely to swim in or just look at from the beach. The Blue Kotor Bay’s beach area was perfect just to relax on and the ideal place to simply take in the beauty of your surroundings and take a moment to breath. There are a lot of hotel beaches in the bay that usually are free with your room charge or you’ll have to pay a small fee for the use of the lounge chairs. The beach bar prices all are pretty reasonable especially in comparison to a lot of other popular holiday destinations. I would certainly recommend staying at a hotel with a decent beachy area to save yourself the effort of finding and paying for a spot at the beach each day. Also, you can then easily charge things to your room rather than having to take money with you or worry about that on your relaxing beach day.
The food in Kotor Bay was amazing. Especially the different types of sea food as so much of it is very, very fresh. A lot of restaurants also serve some traditional Balkan food which is mainly various forms of meat with chips but I personally would definitely recommend trying all the various mussels and pasta dishes with sea food. The fish that so many places serve is huge and looks absolutely delicious – I (as most restaurants will note in their menu) would recommend you share that with someone though. We ate lunch at this lovely little place just along the street from our hotel quite often where the view was just amazing, the service was great and the food was just fantastic. The restaurant in the hotel was also just wonderful! It’s called the Lighthouse Restaurant and everything we ate and drank there just blew us away. Of course, the fact that it’s extremely convenient due to it being attached to the hotel is a fantastic added bonus.
Kotor Bay is a beautiful place and an amazing holiday location. It’s not the most famous holiday area and nowhere near as well-known as many other places like Greece or Croatia but it maybe should be. The prices are reasonable to cheap for what you’re getting, the surroundings are absolutely beautiful and the general holiday feeling there is amazing. It’s touristy enough that there’s great service in most places and people are very hospitable but not over-run and over-crowded or over-priced everywhere you go. If you get the chance, Montenegro – especially the Kotor Bay is definitely a place you should try and go to for a holiday.
If you’re interested in more destinations, packing tips or general travel advice, check out some of the other articles and stay tuned for more! In case your questions aren’t answered here, or you have any comments or personal experiences you’d like to share, don’t be afraid to get in touch, comment and let me know.
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