Yet another delight to excite the senses and provide new places to explore. We’ve found ourselves in the the Bay of Kotor. There are mountains to climb and seas to swim, another beautiful spot booked on a whim. Conveniently placed on a map, we hope one day that we’ll be back.
Sorry, got a bit carried away with failing to be a poet there. Daniel and I had 3 nights, 2 days in the bay of Kotor, Montenegro. Unfortunately Kotor is our only destination in Montenegro. I wish now that we had had a few more days as Kotor makes a wonderful base to explore this wee country. This doesn’t mean that there is little to do in Kotor. We got up to all sorts to wonderful things and didn’t have time to do everything on our list.
Kotor is a wee city in a bay on the Adriatic sea, surrounded by steep and rocky mountains. Kotor is often a day trip for people staying in Dubrovnik (not by bus!) and is also visited by a few cruise ships. People come, they wander around in a hoard, following a guide, buy a triket or tow and then leave again. It was a pleasure to spends much more than a few hours here.
Getting to Kotor: a.k.a. a nightmare bus journey
I think that our trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor marks our least pleasant bus trip to date. On the bright side, we managed to get from Dubrovnik to Kotor in relative safety and got to chat to other travelers while waiting at various points of the journey. On the more murky side we have the following complaints:
- The bus arrived 30 minutes after we had planned to leave.
- There was only one driver (all of our other buses have had a co-driver to manage the passengers).
- It took over an hour to get all the bags and passengers onto the bus.
- There were more passengers than seats….
- There were two passport checks and at each check only one passenger was allowed off the bus at a time. With this bus turned off it meant no air-conditioning. This meant very hot bus.
All right. Enough complaining. I’m just sharing this information as it gives a good idea about some of the challenges that travelers may face. Were very lucky to have so much time so hold ups don’t really effect us and time on buses is great for checking out the landscape. One tip, never have an important connection to make!
Where we stayed
Oh it was lovely! We stayed in a beautiful little loft, called Piano Appartments, on the seafront. Our appartment was opposite the bay to the old town so was about a 30 minute walk to many of the ‘must sees’. It was also over €20 less than a shared room in a hostel. In our wee, very orange, appartment we had a wonderfully equipped kitchen and bathroom all to ourselves. Luxury!!
Highlights of Kotor
There are so many things to do here from hiking to booze cruises aimed at young travelers. We’ll let you know what we got up to and what we really regret not doing over the two days we had in Kotor.
Climbing the Ladder of Kotor
And here we have the result of a hiking trip organised by Daniel. He pointed vaguely to the top of Gorazda fort and said “we’re going up there”. Seems reasonable, it’s one of the activities suggested on most blogs about Kotor. I dressed in a nice skirt, did my make up and put on my gym shoes. I was expecting nicely posed posed photos overlooking the bay. What he should of said was “were going hiking”.
Instead of going to the fort, we started near the fort. We zigzagged up a mountain path, past the fort and kept climbing. We climbed to 1000 meters! It took us nearly 3 hours to get to the top, especially with me in my gym shoes.
It was a long, hot and step climb but was so worth it. We climbed all th way to the top. This was probably not necessary and were we to do it again we’d stop at a rocky outcrop about 40 minutes from the top. The final 40 minutes is a steep climb through pine tree and when you get to the top there is a bloody road and a fancy restaurant!! We were quite indignant that you could just drive when we had scrambled upwards for 3 hours!
There are another two little cafes/huts on the first 3rd of the climb. Here you can get a cold beer or a cup of tea. The produce is brought up the mountain path by donkey!
On our descent we were very excited to find a heard to goats. They were very tame and were obviously someone’s goats but there was no someone around. They were quite happy to have a close up portrait taken and it was very amusing to watch them climbing trees.
Explore the old town
Like many other places in Europe, Kotor is build around an old town. Over the centuries Kotor was occupied by many different powers. The Venetians occupied from 1420 to 1797 meaning it’s mainly Venetian architecture. The old town is full of lots of lovely narrow stone passages and stone arches. Kotor was briefly under Ottoman rule from 1538 to 1657 and there are also features of their architecture around the town too, including a few churches and the famous Gorazda fort.
As usual we enjoyed exploring the old churches dotted within the town walls. We saw some beautiful remainents of some old frescoes and some new paintings donated from Russia in one Orthodox church.
Try wandering the city walls where you can find small bunkers. look down into the squares and streets below. We weren’t sure whether we were allowed to walk along here as it was deserted and didn’t really go to a specific location. When we got to someone’s house we turned around!
Get a glass of wine or beer from a local bar.
We found a wee local bar following our descent from The Ladder of Kotor where everything was €1.50. A large bottle of local beer, €1.50. A large glass of wine, €1.50. A shot of anything, €1.50. We had a couple of drinks with an Aussie dude, Luke, sitting on a stone street and watching people wander by. There were plenty of other, much nicer cafés around where you could get craft beer and wine that wasn’t just ‘red’ or ‘white’ but we really enjoyed sitting with locals while winding down from the day.
Walk to Vrmac fort
Another big hike with another spectacular view. At the top of another steep hill is Vrmac fort. We did this on a beautiful day and were lucky enough to be staying near to the entrance of the walk. You can also drive to the entrance by following the road to Budva and parking on th second big hairpin bend. Follow the markings!
The assent took about an hour and we had views over the bay for most of the climb. There is a well cut path that snakes up the hill side so it’s not too steep. On the walk we saw lots of lovely wild flowers and butterflies. We also saw quite a few lizards and the odd snake. Once one snake had give you a fright, you’ll jump out of your skin with every lizard that rushes off into the bushes!
Eventually you climb up to a pine forest with lots of ferns growing high all over the forest floor. We followed the path until we came to a fort in the road with a sign directing you to Vrmac. About 10 minutes further and you find an abandoned military base.
We were expecting something ancient, having not researched properly but the fort is actually modern. Through subsequent research we have found out that the fort was build by the Austro-Hungararians in the the late 1800s and was used during WWI. There are a few old houses and other domestic looking buildings with military boots littering the floor. Most of them looked, and smelled as though goats were now housed there.
The main attraction is the fort itself. It’s a massive stone building which is build in a massive hole in the ground. This may have been the creepiest place I have every visited and during our whole visit every scary movies that I haven’t seen was playing over and over in my head. We climbed in through one of the only windows that was not bared and began to explore. I actually carried a stick the whole time, just incase!
Inside the building was a number of rooms and corridors. Some were pitch dark and others were lit through barred windows. The whole place was creepy as! When having a look into a room with stone latrines along one wall, Daniel startled a bat. He nearly jumped out of his skin as it grazed his head and flew off down a dark passage way.
We wound our way further into the building until I lost my nerve as the dark seemed to get darker and thicker. Apparently there are lots of bats in the really dark areas of the building. Other that the wee dude that ‘attacked’ Daniel we only saw one other bat hanging from the ceiling. I highly recommend this fort for a visit, though it will scare you! I’d love to go back with a bigger group, and stand in the middle for the whole exploration.
Things we wished we’d done but didn’t have time to do
There were a few more things on the list for Kotor that I’d read about in various other blogs but didn’t have time to do. These are from most bloggers ‘highly recommended’ things to do in Kotor. We found NOMADasaurus really helpful.
The Kotor Fortress
This is where I thought we were going when we walked up The Ladder of Kotor. The fort was built on the mountainside during Ottoman occupation. Why anyone would build a fort there is astonishing. The mountain is so steep that building must have been dangerous, hard work! Everyone who walked up here really enjoyed themselves. We had planned to go into the fort on our way back down The Ladder of Kotor but were just too tired to be able to enjoy it. I enjoyed On The Luce’s account of their visit.
A day trip to Perast
We drove through Perast on our way to Kotor and thought it looked wonderful. One of the main reasons to visit is to go to Our Lady on the Rocks church. This beautiful church is on a small rocky island just off shore. You can pay a local to take you over on a boat and pick you up once you have finished exploring. I really enjoyed reading about the Jet Setting Fools experience and was going to follow their instructions before we ran out of time.
Kotor was a beautiful stop on our route and was a wonderful introduction to Montenegro. Like everywhere we’ve been, more time would be lovely. I really enjoyed how we got out and did lots of hiking a got to explore away from the main attractions suggested on other blogs.
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Till next time,
Chloe and Daniel