Our Scenic Stay in the Mediterranean - Montenegro Part II
We saw so much around the Bay of Kotor during our 17 days in Montenegro. In Part II of our Montenegro blog we list some of the nearby towns that are worth a visit if you are staying along the bay of Kotor. If you haven’t checked out our Montenegro Part I blog, you can click here! It lists a few must see sites and day trips from Kotor.
Budva is a quick 30-minute drive from Kotor, and definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. We only spent one afternoon in Budva, but it was the perfect amount of time to get a feel for the town and see some popular sites.
Right away we noticed that Budva was busier than Kotor. It almost had a resort town vibe, as there are more 4 and 5 star hotels for people looking for an all-inclusive style holiday. Budva also has quite a few sandy beaches, and a big nightlife scene – two more factors that make it quite a popular destination. We aren’t really into beaches or nightlife, so for us Kotor was a better option for our stay, but there are a few things that are worth checking out in Budva.
Budva is considered one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic Sea, so it is no surprise that it has an Old Town surrounded by a beautiful stone wall. It really reminded us of Dubrovnik, and you notice it as soon as you get close to the Old Town. We were excited to walk along the large walls to get a better view of Budva, the sea, and the Old Town. We paid the fee of 2€ each, and headed up the wall. Surprisingly, there were not many people on the wall and we were able to enjoy the views, take a bunch of pictures, and spend time looking at all of Budva. It was a great view, especially when we could see the sea and all of the massive boats sailing by. It was a beautiful walk, and way less crowded than the wall in Dubrovnik (at least when we visited).
After our wall walk, we went through the Old Town so we could see it from ground level. It reminded us of other Old Towns along the Adriatic, and we just love the narrow streets, red roofs, and stone buildings. After leaving the old town we walked along a boardwalk for a few kilometers, enjoying the sun and people watching. It was a great afternoon!
We had one last stop to make before heading home to Kotor. We had read that one of the oldest olive trees in the world was in Budva, so we thought we would head up the hill to try and see it. There are only 6 olive trees in the world over 2000 years old (that are known at least), and this is one of them! There is another one in Bar, Montenegro, which is a bit more touristy, and a few in Greece as well. Since we were closer to Budva, it made more sense to see this one and not the one in Bar. Although when we were looking for details online, the Budva and Bar tree were often mixed up and it was confusing to find details.
It was a short drive up the hill, maybe 8 minutes from the main drive in Budva. We came to a small farm that was covered in olive, pomegranate, and lime trees. The farm had a gorgeous view down to the sea - it was stunning! No one was around when we got there, so we parked and started walking around. The signage was limited, but we found the old olive oil mill that was used up until the 1970’s to extract olive oil. It was cool to see the now museum, and get a feel for what it was like to make olive oil over the centuries. We continued around the building and found a pathway. There was no sign at first, but we saw one after a few meters and figured we were on the right path. At this point another car had parked, but there was basically no one here with us, and it was not touristy at all.
You could tell right away which olive trees where young and which ones were very old. It was also easy to tell which one was the oldest, as it was quite large with huge twisted branches. Covered with silver green leaves, twisted trunk and branches, and exposed roots, it was really beautiful. There are no fences so you could walk right up to it and touch the tree. It is probably one of the oldest things we have seen on our trip!
The old tree still produces fruit, although we couldn’t see any olives on it while we were there. When we were back near the car, there was a man standing near a small stand, selling what looked like liquor and oil. We got to taste the oil and it was delicious! We decided to buy a small bottle. It is made with the olives from the property, so it was a cool souvenir to take and enjoy over the next few weeks. It cost 5€ and came in a small glass water bottle (with the water bottle label still on). Ha!
Tivat is a 20-minute drive from Kotor, and sits along the Bay of Kotor. Due to its location, protected within the Bay of Kotor, it makes it a prime location for a marina. Super luxury yachts can be found all along the Porto Montenegro port, and it is worth a trip here just to see the huge yachts and sailboats! Being from the prairies in Canada, we aren’t around boats that often. So when we came to Tivat we were quite blown away by the size of some of the yachts and mega yachts.
We saw a handfull of yachts that were gigantic! They were worth well over $100 million USD, and looked almost as big as a cruise ship. One actually belonged to a Saudi Prince! It is quite fun to walk along the port, looking at the sea and watching boats enter and exit the marina.
There is a nice boardwalk along the water where you can walk along for a few kilometers, and there are little beaches where you can lay down a towel and go for a dip. We found Tivat quite interesting, as it is very expensive along the boardwalk and the port – full of designer stores, 5 star hotels, and fancy restaurants – but as soon as you go a block or two behind the boardwalk, the town looks quite poor and a bit run down. It was an interesting mix of super rich and almost slum-like conditions. It was a bit sad to see how some of the locals live compared to the tourists who visit and stay in Tivat.
If you time your visit to Tivat right, on the way back to Kotor you can visit Fort Gorazda for a beautiful view of the sunset. This old fort is in a ruin state, but is a prime spot to view the sunset over Tivat and the Bay of Kotor. You also get amazing views of Kotor and the mountains that surround the town. There are no lights in the building, so walking through the old fortress is a bit spooky, but definitely worth exploring to find a seat on the roof and enjoy the views.
Perast is a very small town about 20-minutes from Kotor. The drive there is beautiful as you are along the Bay of Kotor the whole way. It’s a beautiful town, and in some ways it reminded us of Hallstatt (a town in Austria). Perast is right on the water, and full of old buildings and churches. There are 16 churches and 17 old palaces in the tiny town, so it is full of beautiful architecture.
We started our visit with a climb up the bell tower. It’s the tallest building in the town, so you can’t miss it! After climbing quite a few stairs, we were treated to a great view of the town and the bay. We could also see Perast’s famous islands - Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George. The islands are home to a church, monastery, and museum. It is a very popular site for people visiting in the area.
Herceg Novi is about an hour from Kotor. Just like Perast, you drive along the bay the whole way, so the views are gorgeous. The town is located at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, and was a critical trade route town for hundreds of years due to its location between Kotor and Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful town that reminded us of Kotor since it is surrounded by mountains, right on the water, and has a beautiful pedestrian friendly old town with a fortress.
There is a clock tower in the center of Old Town that you can climb up for views of the fortress, the Old Town, and the sea. It is free to go up, and if you are lucky there is an attendant there who will give you a quick historical overview of the town.
A walk through Herceg Novi is quite fun, and just like other towns along the bay, it is great to explore its old town and narrow cobblestone streets. There is also a pedestrian boardwalk that stretches along the coast for over 6 km. It’s a great route to walk to enjoy the water, stop by one of the many beaches, or have a delicious lunch.
Just outside of town is a monastery called Manastir Savina. A visit to the monastery is definitely worth it to get gorgeous views of the bay, but also to see the beautiful cemetery and monastery. We visited quite early in the morning, but apparently the monastery offers wine tastings! There is also a great winery nearby called Savina Winery. We didn’t visit, but if you are heading there make sure to book a tasting in advance.
Our 17 days along the Bay of Kotor went by very fast. It’s surprising how many places there are to visit along the bay! Each town shares similarities, but they are also unique enough to justify a visit. For us, it was the perfect place to stay to recharge and relax. After being on the road for 4 months, it was the first time we felt like we were on vacation. We loved the hot sun, the views of the water, the beautiful towns, and the friendly people. We were happy we were able to visit, and we definitely understand why so many people love this part of the Adriatic!