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I was so looking forward to exploring Kotor after arriving in the country exhausted the night before, that I woke up from the bed at 6:30 in the morning, before everyone else. I went to the balcony right after waking up, and enjoyed the serene morning view of the mountains and the sea.
Shortly after, the friendly Montenegrin host lady came to the balcony. At first I tried conversing a little in basic English, but she didn’t understand any, so I thought of trying with basic Polish and she actually understood me better! Such was our conversation that we managed to talk about Montenegro, the mountains, Kotor old town, the sea, the cheese that comes from the mountain goats, Croatia, Russian language and her airbnb business: I in basic Polish and she in basic Montenegrin. I love understanding and speaking some Polish as it allows me to somewhat understand other Slavic words around Europe. She was a fantastic, super friendly woman and so was her son.
Just walking around
After everybody was up, we were ready to walk to Kotor old town, which was about 20 minutes from our rented apartment. It was already starting to get hot at that time in the morning, but the stroll towards the old town was pleasant. We passed some city beaches on our way. The water started turning bluer and bluer as the morning progressed.
The roads were really compact so it felt a bit crowded for all the vehicles and people that were coming in from the cruise ships, however my mind was completely relaxed after we entered the old town. My favorite thing about Kotor or Montenegro in general were the mountains surrounding the sea and the towns and villages(the whole country?) all around it. No matter where you turned, you couldn’t miss the spectacular mountains. At Kotor, it was so dramatic that it looked almost like a vertical drop from the mountains to the sea. Mountains all around, yet warm sea and palm trees where we stood. Such a lovely contrast if you ask me.
Kotor Old Town
This charming old town, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the top attractions in Kotor, is walled from all sides. When we entered, we had to decide which of its tiny alleyways to take. Besides the historical buildings that date back to 1500s, the old town is full of little souvenir shops and restaurants.
Although we never take guided tours as I am generally more interested in the scenery and architecture than history of an area, it might be a good option for some. The old town felt like a maze but I found it very interesting: it was paved with cobblestone streets, historical buildings and churches, cats and of course shops selling souvenirs and other handmade items.
Climbing up the town walls
It was one of the activities that I really looked forward to in Kotor. As we were riding into the town the night before, I could see lights that went half way up the mountains vertically, from far away and wondered what it was. It was the fort walls of Kotor old town which we were ready to climb. I had read about the fantastic views it offers, and couldn’t wait to ascend. We paid a small entrance ticket of 3 euros and started the climb. I and Stanislaw decided to climb just up to the first church on the trail, Church of our Lady of Health which is about 15-25 minutes up the unpaved trail.
Justyna and Mateusz decided to walk all the way up , until Fortress of St. John. We were lucky that the trail was in shadow as it was morning. The climb to the fort on the top takes about 1.5 hours up and down which Mateusz and Justyna did. We settled for the hike to the first church which took us about 40 minutes in total. We were treated with wonderful views and stopped at several places for photos. I will let the photo do the talking.
- Bring good hiking shoes as the trail is narrow, unpaved and unstable at parts.
- Bring a good camera as the views of Kotor and surrounding mountains are just stunning.
- Bring water, as the hike is quite uphill.
- Keep in mind the weather and time of the day, as it can get very hot during summer days.
We were sweaty by the time we returned from the hike in the old town walls. We walked to the apartment, changed into the swimming costumes, bought some beers, and were ready to swim on the Adriatic Sea! I found it very relaxing as we had been traveling in a quite hectic manner and were constantly tired (albeit excited all the time). It is possible to swim almost everywhere along the promenade in Kotor. We chose a paved concrete slab where there were metal stairs leading to the deep water. I prefer swimming in deep water as opposed to the shallow water at the pebbly beach which was nearby. The water was blue and clear.
Ride to Lovcen National Park
Located directly behind Kotor at a height of 1749 m is Lovcen Mountain which offers out-of-world views stretching as far as that of neighboring Albania. Despite knowing all this, I backed out from going, because I just felt so tired from all the intensive bike ride we’d done in the last couple of days and wanted to spend the afternoon swimming in Kotor. Justyna and Mateusz however went ahead and later told us that it was the best part of the trip. I can imagine and their photos and videos certainly say so. But due to time constraint, I had to make a choice between riding 1.5 hours up there again, or spending a more relaxed time down in Kotor. I definitely would have went ahead if we had more than 1 day in Montenegro. Going to the park is an excellent choice for people who love nature, adventure and photography.
Many tourists arrive in Kotor as a part of cruise ship tour and spend just a day exploring the city. We unfortunately also didn’t have more than one day there but should you have time, there are plenty of activities that can keep you busy in Kotor. Hiking opportunities are aplenty. Rafting, paragliding, swimming and sunbathing all remain attractive options, and for history and culture lovers, the fortresses, churches, old town, eating options and the Montenegrin hospitality -you’re definitely in for a treat.
Since it’s such a small country, you can also easily hop over to the cities and towns nearby for day trips. Montenegro is a jewel in South Eastern Europe that is affordable, extremely beautiful and fascinating and isn’t overrun by tourists yet as neighboring Croatia. Looking back at the whole motorcycle trip, Montenegro remains my favorite destination out of all the places and I will definitely return to explore more of the little country as I had far too less time to see it.