It took us about three hours to drive from the fairytale city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, to yet another magical place, Kotor in the small country of Montenegro. As soon as our little car rounded the bend and into the bay, we were in awe of the postcard-perfect landscapes.

The bay, which is also known as the Boka, is dotted with little villages, and is backed by towering, rocky mountains. This area is compact and the best way to see it is to pick a base and do day trips from there. You could easily spend a couple of weeks at the Bay of Kotor, exploring all of its natural beauty and historical sites.

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Beautiful landscapes on our way to Kotor

We chose to base ourselves in the old town of Kotor and because we had a rental car, we could head out each day to visit the nearby towns. Unfortunately, our car mostly sat in the parking lot! Basically the entire time that we were in Montenegro, it rained…and I don’t mean that it drizzled, we experienced torrential downpours.

Because the bay is backed by such grand mountains, the clouds just seem to get “stuck” and rather than blowing through, they hang around in the bay.

travel to kotor montenegro
This is what it looked like when the clouds parted! Stunning.

During the rainy days, we hung out in the common area of our hostel with other backpackers, while drinking wine and waiting out the storm. Not that there’s anything unfortunate about drinking wine and meeting other travellers, but we would have preferred to be out exploring the area.

travel to montenegro stay in a hostel
We felt a bit old at this hostel – red wine & wine glasses for us, cheap beer & whiskey for the youngsters!

When the clouds would part, even if just for a couple of hours, we would run outside and see all that we could!

Kotor itself was absolutely incredible. The old town is fortified on all sides, and even though the backside of the town is protected by a massive rocky mountain, there is still a stone wall which runs along the hill, creating an extra layer of security I suppose.

How people were able to create such a vast wall on such steep terrain in the 9th century is beyond me.

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The harbour at Kotor, with ominous clouds looking above

These medieval walls were added to over the years by whomever was ruling the city – the Byzantines or the Venetians, until it was eventually completed in the 15th century, creating a full loop around the city of Kotor.

In my opinion, this is what makes the city so incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it before in all of our travels. Hiking up the medieval walls offers the best vantage point over the bay, and when the rain cleared for a couple of hours, that’s exactly what we did.

travel to montenegro bay of kotor hike
Beautiful stone steps leading up to the fort walls

The climb started right near our hostel in the old town, and since we were visiting in the offseason, we didn’t have to pay the entrance fee – one perk of dealing with the rainy weather I suppose!

We climbed up the mossy rock-cut steps until we reached the first lookout point. Ominous clouds hung over the bay, getting darker by the minute. We scrambled up the slippery steps until reaching the 15th century Church Of Our Lady Of Remedy, at around 100 meters high.

It’s true that 100 meters isn’t all that high, in fact, it’s basically at sea level…yet, we were huffing and puffing on the way up. Considering the fact that in the past we’ve trekked for 8 full days in Mongolia, over a 3,860 meter pass in Kyrgyzstan, and up to 5,416 meters in Nepal, this was a pathetic showing on our part.

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Beautiful views…before the rain came!

Having not done much exercise over the past couple of months, that 100 meters really got our hearts pumping and was exactly what we wanted (and needed) to be doing.

As luck would have it, the rain started and we became engulfed in low-hanging clouds. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it to the top, so the Fortress of St. John would have to be seen via drone!

We flew Drago the Drone up over the mountains the following day and were able to get a bird’s-eye view of what we missed out on – what a spectacular sight.

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The incredible stone walls climbing up the hills behind the old town of Kotor – thanks drone!

Apart from getting a tiny bit of exercise, we wandered the lanes of the old town of Kotor and marvelled at the beautiful churches. We stumbled upon the Carnival celebrations one night as well, which meant that there was free booze and food for everyone in the plaza! Unfortunately, due to the poor weather forecast, the rest of the weekend festivities were put off until the following Friday, after we had left.

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Nick in line for some more free food from the friendly local ladies

We did venture away from Kotor a couple of days to the city of Budva and the town of Perast. In Budva, we were underwhelmed by the architecture. The old town there is smaller than Kotor and seems more touristy, while the surrounding city is filled with high rises and modern buildings.

However, there is a lovely promenade which runs along the water here, and many restaurants and bars to choose from, including our favourite one, Taste Of Asia. We found this gem after looking on Trip Advisor, and having been unimpressed with most of the food so far, we weren’t expecting much.

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Beautiful harbour and mountains as a backdrop in Budva

We were greeted by a man from Serbia (not a good start to Asian cuisine), who handed us a menu filled with food from Thailand, Indonesia and China. It looked good, but you never know…

When the steaming plate of Pad Thai, and Massaman Curry came out, we were impressed by how it looked, and how it smelled. Upon tasting, we were blown away. Seriously! The flavours were spot on when it came to how these dishes would have tasted in Thailand – fish sauce, peanuts, chilli, coconut milk, chives, tamarind, etc etc. It was perfect.

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This pad thai dish was incredible!

This was the best meal we’d had in ages!

It turns out that the owner is from Hong Kong, and the manager who served us, and the chef in the back, were trained by the owner for three years. The restaurant has now been sold to the manager, and the standards have stayed I would say.

We drove 30 minutes to this restaurant three times during our stay in the old town of Kotor.

Perast may not have had the Asian restaurant, but it was just a quick 15 minute drive from Kotor, and has two churches on islands just offshore. This unusual setting for churches was pretty amazing. However, it was raining for all but 10 minutes when we visited, so we didn’t want to take the boat ride, but the islands looked pretty cool from the shoreline.

The town itself is small, but lovely, and can be easily visited on a day trip.

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Views of Kotor and the surrounding wall lit up at night

After a seven night stay, it was time to pack up. As usual, the sun was shining as bright as can be on our day of departure! But, in this case, we were glad as we were going on a road trip back to Split, Croatia. But this time, we didn’t take the coastal route, which would have been the same way we came to Kotor, we went via Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to see some more of the rural areas there.

We drove for seven hours that day through some of the most incredible scenery! The landscapes were epic. Starting in Montenegro we made our way up through the jagged cliffside and onto a nice highway surrounded by mountains. The highway soon ended and we found ourselves in the beautiful countryside on very narrow roads with a few potholes here and there.

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A little village on our drive from Montenegro to Croatia

This driving was easy compared to our road trip in Albania!

After driving for a couple of hours, we arrived at Orah Lake, with a small church and a shepherd with his sheep. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was silent except for the “mehhh’ing” of the flock. We enjoyed a picnic here and carried on towards the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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This was the most peaceful spot for a picnic – on our way to the Bosnia border crossing

The drive through that country was amazing as well. We passed marshlands, orchards, small towns and many shepherds with their sheep. The day was perfect. As soon as we arrived in Croatia, we found ourselves on a brand new toll highway, with a speed of 130kms / hour!

We made it back to Split in no time.

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A beautiful ending to our seven nights in Montenegro!

Our experience in Montenegro was very positive. And I think that the fact we loved travelling there so much, despite all of the bad weather, really speaks to just how incredible the country is. We definitely want to go back in the summer months and visit all of the sites that we missed out on.

Check out our video of Magical Montenegro!


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Magical Montenegro - Experiencing the Bay of Kotor

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

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25 thoughts on “Magical Montenegro – Experiencing the Bay of Kotor

  1. I love the picture of all the boats out on the harbor. Looks like a beautiful place to travel.

  2. I’m heading there in May and staying in the town of Perast! Your post has been a fantastic help for what to see and do! Fingers crossed the clouds will part!


  3. Kotor seems exceptionally beautiful…and those clouds exceptionally ominous! But, I have to say it…go phat thai!! I was eating phat thai Ari two days ago, probably around the time you were eating yours.

    phat thai: connecting the world one secluded outpost at a time!

  4. Wow, that landscape is amazing! Great post guys, another place to put on our list!

  5. So yummy!! Funny if we were eating them at the same time 🙂 This was honestly so authentic, we were very impressed – really made us miss Thai food!

  6. your adventures in Montenegro couldn’t have happened at a better time for me to enjoy. I am going to be travelling there in May. The scenery looks exquisite despite the rain. I’ve watched your video many times and will refer to it again before I leave to go there. Thanks for the report.

  7. Pad Thai in Kotor looks amazing!
    But on another note, I’m so glad I read this, because I had seen pictures like this before but couldn’t remember where it was, or what it was called. Looks stunning.

    Everything I’ve heard about Montenegro and particularly Kotor, so far, has been good – must go there myself 🙂

  8. So glad to hear it Len! Thanks for commenting – enjoy your trip, we really loved Montenegro 🙂

  9. if you are in Kotor for only (9am to 4) what are your suggestions? Do you recommend a guide or bus tours. The boat tours seem expensive. Thanks Susan

  10. You can just wander around the Old Town of Kotor yourself and you can take buses to the nearby places – Perast and Budhva. Having a car is the best way to see it all though.

  11. Thanks for the great post. I am going to visit Montenegro soon. What was the name of the hostel you stayed in and would you recommend it?

  12. Yes! Sorry I didn’t name the hostel in the post. It’s Hostel Old Town and we loved it! Very cool place Check it out here:

  13. Recently the govt of montonegro opned up visas on arrival for UAE residents. Its great finding out the new possibilities we can explore over there.

  14. Your lovely photo journal revived our memories of our own time in Kotor. Just unlike you we had better weather, except when heading towards Bar where we also experienced heavy rainfalls and thunder.
    Especially, Orah Lake looks like a tranquil and unexplored place to lift your energies!
    Thanks for this truly inspiring story of your adventures in and around Kotor! It helped us a lot gathering information for our own post about Kotor.

    Greetings from Tina and Hemmo 🙂

  15. Great post and very nice pictures! Only the south with Bar and Ulcinj is missing 😉

  16. Montenegro seems so picturesque and there is plenty to see and do while being there. Plus, I’ve heard that Kotor and Budva are truly remarkable and charming. Would you recommend Montenegro as a good road trip destination?

  17. Kotor is a beautiful but better place to rest on the Bay of Kotor is Herceg Novi 🙂

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