It was a long journey for us to get to Kotor, Montenegro from Athens, Greece. A journey that required 4 bus rides and 3 nights at hotels. We had our fingers crossed that the city would live up to our expectations.
Getting to Kotor, Montenegro
We knew that getting to Kotor would be a little difficult and may require a transfer or two but had no clue just how challenging it would be. While Kotor is not far from Athens, there are not good transportation links through Albania, the country between the 2 cities. Because of this, we had to transit through another country.
Since we wanted to see Sofia, Bulgaria, we decided to take a bus there, then continue on to Montenegro through Nis, Serbia. While we could have spent fewer nights getting to where we needed to go, we decided that taking our time to get there was worth more than arriving quickly and being too exhausted to enjoy the city.
Once we crossed the border into Montenegro the landscape changed completely. We were up in the mountains with snow on the ground – something that we had not seen in a long time. The mountain pass reminded us of South America, with the road winding around the mountain instead of going through a tunnel or the valley below. The ride from Podgorica, Montenegro to Kotor, Montenegro was the most beautiful bus ride that we had in all of Europe – we got to see the mountains, valleys and the sea on the ride. Because of this, we were happy that we took the bus during the day instead of at night.
Lately we have been booking more apartments than hotels. We like having the freedom to cook our own food and have additional space. I was very happy when I found a great apartment in the middle of the old town through Airbnb.
Once our booking was confirmed I coordinated our arrival logistics with our Airbnb host who arrived right on time to let us into the apartment.
The apartment itself was quite large and had everything that we needed. In addition to a kitchen which had everything that we needed to cook some pretty good meals, we also had a washing machine. The last time that we had done laundry was in Florence, Italy so we were in need of a washer. We planned out all of our clothing and ended up rolling into town wearing our last pair of clean underwear. The first item on our agenda was to get some laundry started so we would have clean clothes the next day. While there was no dryer, we used the drying rack and coupled it with a space heater to speed dry our clothes.
The bed was comfortable and for the first time in a long time we had a single, large blanket on our bed! While this may not seem exciting, after staying in so many places with 2 twin blankets on a full size bed, we were ready to have a “normal” bed setup again.
We also had a small balcony off of the kitchen and living area. It gave us a view of the surrounding buildings and if you looked up and to the left far enough you could see the fortress on the hill. The balcony wasn’t really big enough to sit and relax on, but we did take some photos of us with some big beers we bought on St. Patrick’s Day. Other than that, we usually kept the balcony doors closed in order to keep the apartment warm and to keep out the bugs that came out at night.
The shower had great water pressure but didn’t have enough hot water for both of us to shower back to back. When we spaced out our showers, there was no issue with the water turning cold which I appreciated.
We absolutely loved the location of the apartment as we were right in the middle of the historic old town. It was never far to get where we needed to go and we liked the charm of staying in an older building. One of the walls of our apartment had exposed stones which showed the architecture of the building. The only issue with staying in an older building was the fact that it was a little cold inside the apartment. There were space heaters, but they were not large enough to warm the entire apartment, just the bedroom. Fortunately we were running around town during the day and the space heaters along with the blanket kept us warm at night.
When it was time to check out, we just needed to leave our keys in the mailbox on the way out. This worked out very well for us as we had a very early bus to Dubrovnik, Croatia the morning we left.
Exploring Kotor’s Old Town
When we first walked into Kotor’s walled old town I knew that I was going to like the city. Everything about it was charming and we loved the fact that no cars were allowed within the walled city.
While there wasn’t a lot to see within the walled city, we enjoyed walking around the narrow streets and taking in all of the historical buildings in the area. Plus, we were fortunate enough to have pretty beautiful weather the entire time we were there. Even though it was a little cool at times, the sky was always clear and the sun was shining.
Andy could not leave Montenegro without first eating some ice cream. After a lot of searching we were able to find the only ice cream place in town. He bought a cone and was given quite possibly the most pathetic scoop of ice cream that I have ever seen, but was happy to be able to check off another country he was able to eat ice cream in.
Hike to Kotor Fortress
Our biggest excursion that we did during our time in Kotor was a hike up to the fortress. We wanted to see both the city and the sea from above, so we hiked up all 1350 steps to the top. I read online that there was a 2E or $2.25 entry fee but there was nobody to take our money so it ended up being free.
Since it was off season on a weekday morning, there were not too many people around the fortress when we were there. This was perfect for us since we were able to set up our tripod and get quite a few pictures of us with the scenery, but no people in the background.
In addition to the fortress itself, there is also a very small church at the top as well. While it was picturesque from the outside, the church was in pretty rough condition on the inside. It made me wonder how much longer it will stay standing without some pretty extensive preservation work being done to it.
As we left, we noticed that there were a lot more people hiking up to the fortress. This made us happy that we woke up early to see things when others are still sleeping.
Kotor, Montenegro was a town unlike any other that I had seen before. It was quaint and charming with some pretty spectacular scenery. It’s hard to believe that so many years after the walled city was not truly needed, just how well preserved all of the buildings within the walls were.
We were pretty lucky to have visited during the low season as the town was not too crowded. Our Airbnb host told us that during the summer, especially when the cruise ships dock, the city is flooded with tons of tourists. Had there been too many people around, I know that the city would have looked and felt very different to us.
The journey to get there was long, but I am glad that we made it to Kotor. My only wish was that the trees had leaves when we visited. I can only imagine just how much more spectacular the views would have been if there was more greenery on the hillsides against the blue of the Adriatic sea.