Montenegro was recommended as an up and coming place to visit by an acquaintance who has enjoyed hiking treks around the world. It is currently an unspoilt and unexplored destination with hundreds of kilometres of spectacular trails surrounded by beautiful flora with the most amazing breath taking scenic views. At the higher mountainous levels, you can walk for hours without seeing anyone. It simply is a wonderful place to escape to.
We chose to fly from Gatwick direct to Tivat Airport. You can also fly to Dubrovnik just over the border in Croatia where flights are more plentiful but beware, the border crossing into Montenegro with two passport control checkpoints can be painfully slow and tedious. Our transfer from Tivat to the beautiful Unesco World Heritage Site, the Bay of Kotor took just fifteen minutes. Taxi’s outside the airport were in abundance so it is easy to arrange your flights, accommodation and transfers yourself.
Once again, we booked our flights and accommodation via www.booking.com and chose to stay at the Doncic Apartments. In an elevated and quiet position with a 10 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle of the old town, a perfect location for us. We can highly recommend these basic but spacious family run one bedroom apartments. The view from our living room and balcony across the bay and to the mountain beyond was like a picture on a postcard. Our host was very helpful and welcoming. We were able to purchase their home produced wine which we enjoyed.
Things to do
- Hike up to Fort Vrmac – Close to our location in Kotor we took the well sign posted hiking trail up to the abandoned First World War fort which was originally built in 1860. Initially you walk through what appears to be back gardens but once on the winding Austro-Hungarian trail you will ascend through cool pine forests with stunning views down to the bay below. Our leisurely hike to the top and the Fort took around 1 ½ hours. In more recent years the Fort was utilised by the Royal Yugoslav Army before being abandoned. From the Fort we enjoyed a hike along the ridge and back and enjoyed a picnic with panoramic views across to Tivat and the mountain peaks above Kotor.
- Walk around the Old Town of Kotor – A walk around the fortified old Medieval town of Kotor is a must. Wandering around the cobbled streets, exploring the quaint shops and stopping for a drink or meal in a bar or restaurant is very pleasurable. With a photo opportunity around every corner we felt it was similar to Dubrovnik but on a smaller and quieter scale.
- Climb up to the Castle of San Giovanni – From within the old town you will find the sign to the climb up to the Castle which nestles above Kotor. There is an entrance fee of around three Euros however if you hike before 8am or later in the day you do not have to pay and the trail is also quieter. It’s a steep walk which will take around an hour but once again your efforts will be rewarded with lovely views down to the town, harbour below and the other side of the bay.
- The Cat Museum – In the middle of the old town of Kotor we stumbled across the quaint cat museum. If you are a feline lover it’s well worth paying a few Euros to look around and see the beautiful old antique postcards and advertising memorabilia. The feral cats you will see everywhere are an important symbol of Kotor and a small portion of your entrance fee will go towards feeding them.
- Hike up the Ladder of Kotor – This is a must for more serious hikers. The trail up Mount Lovcen can be found on the outskirts of town, just beyond the moat. You will see the zig zag steep track on the side of the hill. The ascent to the top of the mountain is on a very good hair pin path and takes around 3 hours. On our trip we stumbled across grazing goats and cattle. There is an option to stop for refreshments at a little cottage enroute if you wish. At the top by the zip wire attraction there are various walking options. You can take the trail into the outskirts of the Lovcen National Park. We enjoyed a circular route descending back into Kotor on a slightly different trail. On another occasion, using View Ranger we stumbled across a glorious trail which veered off to the left and took us on an amazing old track out to an abandoned village. However, the well signed ancient trail back down into Kotor is very overgrown and scary descending down the mountain on steep overgrown, narrow, often scree covered trail with the odd snake or two crossing your path. Whilst it was exhilarating we found it quite scary and wouldn’t recommend this trail – so do your research before setting out in this direction!