The great thing about cruising is that you get to stop and see so many interesting places. You can virtually see ten different countries in the short space of two weeks. But the downside is that you only get limited time at each place, either half or full day, so you only get a small snippet (depending on the proximity of the cruise port to the attractions). Fortunately for us we sailed right into the heart of the Montenegrin town of Kotor so we got a full day to see this magical place. Here’s what to do in a day in Kotor, Montenegro.
Firstly let me tell you a little about Kotor:
Often referred to as a short version of China’s Great Wall, Kotor has an ancient wall, which was built for protection high up into the hills above the old town. These walls stretch some 4.5 km directly above and east of the old town, on almost vertical cliff. If you’re up to it you can clamber up the 1350 steps and be rewarded by spectacular views of Kotor and the bay. Halfway up there is the Church of Our Lady of Health and the St John’s fortress at the apex of the hill, where the views are even more panoramic.
We ambled into the walled old town of Kotor with its cobbled streets and squares, churches and a maritime museum bearing proud testimony to the region’s seafaring prowess.
The old town of Kotor has a great number of examples of medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, palaces and museums. You can easily lose yourself in here for a few hours.
We had pre-booked a shore excursion departing from Kotor port to the seaside resort town of Budva which was around 22 kms from Kotor on the Budva Riviera. The bus ride was extremely scenic with mountains, steep cliff faces and then eventually glimpses of seaside and the blueness of the Adriatic Sea.
The Budva Riviera is 21 km long with 17 beaches, that have been compared to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Who would have thought! It is a thriving holiday hotspot in the summer and attracts many visitors from Eastern Europe and other countries with casinos, discotheques, resorts and top restaurants all in full swing.
After a drive through the streets of Budva we stopped to check out the old town with medieval walls, impressive arches and a pedigree dating back to the ancient Greeks.
The location of Budva old town lies on a small peninsula with pretty views out over the sea and to a small island off the coastline. During the summer months it turns into a city theatre with numerous local performances and international shows.
Further around the bay we came to the very exclusive holiday resort island of Sveti Stefan, and instantly were blown away by the aloofness of the place. The island resort comprises of a fortified village dating back to the 15th century, with a uniquely atmospheric setting of cobbled lanes, handsome courtyards and serene sea views. We discovered that a stay at this little patch of exclusivity comes with a very hefty price tag!
After our stroll through Budva Old Town and some refreshments, we jumped back onboard the bus and headed to the mountains to a farm, to experience mountain village life. As we wound our way up into the mountains with numerous switchbacks, feeling a little dizzy, we finally arrived at a small rural village with mostly stone houses and barns.
We wandered down a cobbled laneway to meet our welcoming party of the farmer and his family all waiting on a circular paved area in the centre of the small community. On one side stood a small chapel and on the other, the farmhouse and outbuildings consisting of barns, chicken coops, pigsties and vegetable gardens.
Our welcome included sampling some home brewed grappa and cherry wine. The grappa was extremely strong and burnt my throat on the way down, but the cherry wine was delicious!
After a wander around the farm and into the little chapel we were served lunch in a building resembling a large barn. The fare was all locally grown and produced, with excellent soft cheeses, cured hams, plump fruity olives, a variety of pickled vegetables and sour dough bread. It was extremely tasty.
The views back over the mountains were breathtaking and the few hours spent here were very insightful into how Montenegrins lived a harsh life in the Black Mountains prior to farming becoming more modernized.
On our bus trip back down the mountains, that overshadow the town of Kotor and the bay, we stopped to admire the views and take some photos. This is simply the best way to get a bird’s eye view of Kotor and the beautiful bay.
The town of Kotor also includes the towns of Risan and Perast, as well as many small hamlets around the Bay of Kotor. If you have time it is easy to check out these quaint little towns within a short drive or water taxi ride from Kotor.
Kotor would hands down take out first prize for the most scenic and breathtaking bay that we sailed into during our Mediterranean Cruise. Although Kotor itself is not the greatest town that we visited on our cruise, we still found it enchanting. My advice is to spend half your day in Kotor and then spend the rest exploring other places that are within a short driving distance.
Are you surprised that Montenegro has such a beautiful seaside tourist resort town?
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Kathy Shade is a 50 something year old who is married with 2 children who has spent most of her life being a housewife, mother and working as an Accounts Administrator in the public school system. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Her friends would describe her as being a 'have a chat' with an outgoing personality and zest for life. Kathy also has a great love of shopping and is known for her bargain hunting prowess!