In the heart of the Adriatic, nestled between the Orjen mountains to the west and the Lovćen mountains to the east, you’ll find Montenegro’s masterpiece – Kotor Bay, AKA Boka Bay. Whether you’re an adventure-seeker keen on discovering remote corners, a culture-buff who loves roaming historic towns or a sun-searcher seeking out flour-soft beaches, there’s something for everyone here.
Within easy reach of Dubrovnik Airport and with direct Jet2.com flights starting from 2023, Kotor Bay is quickly becoming a must-visit on everyone’s holiday bucket list. Don’t want to miss out? Then read on to discover this Balkan beauty.
Herceg Novi, a pure green oasis, is often referred to as the City of the Sun and boasts bragging rights to 200 days of sunshine a year. So it’s no surprise at all that it’s a favourite resort for sun-seekers. It’s also home to some of the best beaches in the bay, from secluded hideaways where you can sit back and marvel at the Adriatic’s impossibly turquoise waters to more popular spots that host exhilarating water sports and bustling bars. Žalo Beach is a firm-favourite with its pebble-and-shingle shore and pretty views to the ancient fort along the coast.
If you’re in need of a little activity after all that lounging, the nearby mountains provide a colour-drenched oasis ripe for exploring. You can roam the verdant valleys with ease thanks to hundreds of interconnected hiking paths. A hike up to the Kanli Kula fortress is one of the most popular trails and you’ll be well rewarded for your steps with a hefty dose of history and undisturbed views.
A stroll through the Old Town is a must-do for explorers looking to discover a piece of authentic Montenegro. Gleaming public squares and elegant churches are dotted between casual café-bars and pavement restaurants. Many locals still live within the Old Town, in cosy courtyards that retain much of their original charm and charisma.
Set in an amphitheatre of steep limestone cliffs, the walled city of Kotor basks in a print-it-off and pop-it-in-a frame kind of beauty. Culture vultures will be right at home uncovering the layers of history within the marbled maze of the UNESCO-stamped Old Town. Around every corner, you’ll find traces of the town’s many rulers, from Venetian palaces to baroque monuments. Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral is sure to awe with its 14th-century frescoes, make sure to step outside onto the upper balcony for a sweeping view over the town’s red-clay rooftops.
If you can peel yourself away from the fascinating sights, we recommend trekking up to the towering Kotor Fortress which stands sentry over the town. The 1,300 steps are sure to get your thighs burning but trust us, it’s well worth it for the jaw-dropping views at the summit. For more of a challenge, try The Ladder of Kotor, a spectacular hiking trail that zig-zags up into the Dinaric Alps following the legendary route which once connected Kotor with the old royal capital of Cetinje.
From Kotor, you’re also ideally based to visit nearby Perast, a postcard-perfect town unchanged by the passage of time and famous for its picturesque islet Our Lady of the Rocks. Framed by mountain peaks and cobalt waters, this man-made islet is steeped in myths and legends. Take a boat tour and discover the magnificent church which is filled with priceless Venetian art.
The sleek resort of Tivat has bucket loads of style and is an ideal base for exploring all of Kotor Bay. The town is pretty in its own right but its unspoilt surroundings are what really steal the show. Sailing and swimming, hiking and biking – it’s all possible here! On the sunlit slopes of Mount Vrmac, hiking trails lead you to ancient stone villages like Gornja Lastva. It’s a fascinating place to visit, crammed full of historic stone houses and boasting beautiful bay views. Along the coast you can discover the Lustica Peninsula with its lush olive groves, wild beaches and secluded coves. After a nature-filled day there’s a range of waterfront dining spots at Lustica Bay to relax in, and the jam-packed cultural calendar means there’s always something going on. You’re just an hour’s drive from Lovćen National Park too, which is teeming with adventure activities from climbing to zip-lining. And the scenery? Just wow.
In the summer months, you can while away your days strolling and people-watching at the Porto Montenegro marina. This is the perfect spot for a sundowner, so grab a seat and watch as the sky is transformed into an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours. Away from the glitz and glamour of this nautical playground, you can mingle with locals in the town square where life hums by at a more relaxed pace.
Food glorious food!
Montenegro’s Balkan heritage means its cuisine is a delicious mix of Mediterranean and Oriental flavours. It’s all about boat-fresh seafood from the coast and organic, homegrown produce from the mountains. Njegusi prosciutto is a Montenegrin trademark, and traditional dishes are often cooked the sac way – roasting in an iron pot over an open fire. If you have a sweet tooth don’t miss the Krempita, dictionary-thick puff pastry with a creamy custard filling, we’ll take two to go, please!
Montenegro’s national drink is rakija, a powerful brandy that is served neat and is not for the faint-hearted. Montenegrin beer is among the best in the Balkans and the hoppy Nikšičko is a crowd favourite. Montenegro knows a thing or two about wine too. Vranac, a full-bodied red and Krstac, a dry white, are staples on most menus.
Sights, scenery and country-hopping
So, you’ve experienced the beautiful resorts, tasted the delicious food… what’s next? Beyond the beaches and towns, you can discover the mountains, canyons, lakes and rivers of Montenegro’s five spectacular National Parks. Or why not visit the old royal capital Cetinje? This treasure trove of Montenegrin culture is perfect for a history-filled day trip. Fancy ticking off three countries in one holiday? That’s easy, as Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are just a short drive away. When it comes to that airport transfer it couldn’t be more convenient, from runway to sun lounger in less than an hour. Need we say more…
Posted: 3rd May 2022.