Kotor, Montenegro is one of most charming towns, and it’s only a day drive from Dubrovnik. With its market, stone-paved streets, and fortress overlooking the town, it needs to be on every Balkan itinerary.
Have you ever planned a trip, and your mind was so focused on the overall destination that you just never looked any further, then you got to your destination and realized there was so much more within your reach? Visiting Croatia, I was so determined to have a great trip in this country so new to me that I really didn’t look to see what other places would be accessible. I was tickled to learn that Montenegro and its stunning Bay of Kotor was so doable from Dubrovnik as a day trip.
Only a little over an hour and thirty minutes south of Dubrovnik, it was as easy as can be to cross the border over into Montenegro. It was immediately apparent that we were in a new country, though, as the roads and infrastructure were not at the same level. It’s a good idea to read about some tips before visiting Montenegro.
As we drove into the bay, we were completely unprepared for its beauty. The Bay of Kotor was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979 for both its natural and historical significance. Immediately we saw the natural side, gazing upon deep blue waters, tiny villages tucked into the base of the mountains, and the fact that as a harbor it would have been much sought after for its commercial use. As it was!
Risan – Roman Mosaics
Driving by the Bay of Kotor, our first stop was the Roman mosaics. Those ambitious Romans were the first to settle this land, and as they loved to do, really left their mark. The mosaic museum only held about ten mosaics in five rooms, and they weren’t the most intricate we’ve seen, but we still enjoyed them. It doesn’t take long to see the famous mosaics, but we did spend a little time talking to the caretaker. She told us where to eat lunch, very important. If you want to visit the Roman Mosaics, they are easy to find and well-signed if you are driving.
Rounding one of the many coastal bends, we happened upon a gorgeous village named Perast. It only took about an hour to lazily meander its alleyways and coastline and we were just charmed by its quiet, and some of the best beaches in Montenegro.
The town square was also quiet, but to our surprise there were a few tourists getting ready to board a boat to tour the bay.
As you can imagine, Perast is a fishing town and if you look closely at the top boat in the photo, you will notice a huge lamp that is used in catching squid.
Spring was the perfect time of year as we enjoyed the wisteria and other flowers, and there were a few people just enjoying the sunshine and warmth after the winter.
I just couldn’t help but giggle when we spotted this old Coca Cola car left baking in the sun.
Sleepy Perast seemed to have boats everywhere we looked. They get their use of the bay.
Here are some of the things you can do in Perast:
- Our Lady of the Rocks Church
- Smekja Palace
- St. Nikola Church
Then it was on to Kotor, the city. A medieval walled city with an imposing fortress overlooking it and a gorgeous cathedral, you could definitely discern the Venetian influence.
Everywhere you look there were stone carvings, little decorations, wells, that all contributed to the charm. Kotor, even though, related to the Croatian cities that were part of Venice, just wasn’t quite kept up as much, and being a little out of the way, it was a little run down.
We enjoyed finding alleyways, wandering down this one and discovering a new square or a neighborhood. We think Kotor is perfect kids, because we are just big kids and there were tons of ways to play and hike.
We visited the market, one of my favorite things to do because it’s where the people are. From fresh fish to olives, and vendors from the egg lady to the potato man, the people were friendly and willing to talk. We bought some oranges, wishing we could buy more.
Things to do in Kotor:
- Hike the Ladder to the San Giovanni Fortress
- Visit St. Tryphon Cathedral
- Take a boat cruise of the Bay of Kotor
- Eat fresh fish near market
- Visit the Maritime Museum
Can you detect the Venetian influence in these photos?
The Bay of Kotor, Perast, and the city of Kotor made for such a fantastic day outing. If you happen to be in Dubrovnik don’t pass up the opportunity to go. We drove our car, but there are day tours, buses, and you could also rent a car for the day. It was an extremely easy drive! The other day trip we took was to Mostar…also pretty easy and well worth it.
Have you been to the Bay of Kotor? Weren’t you just completely surprised with the stunning beauty?