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While we were visiting Dubrovnik, Croatia, Kate thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of Croatia’s close proximity to other countries, such as Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. She ended up booking us a day trip to the beautiful Balkan country of Montenegro, and I am so glad she did!
The country is home to some of the most stunning scenery that I have ever seen! I wish we had more than one day in Montenegro. Luckily, the country is small, and we were able to see some beautiful places during our visit.
If you’re planning a visit to Montenegro, or interested in visiting, keep reading. I can assure you even visiting Montenegro for just one day is absolutely worth it.
Planning a Trip to Montenegro
Getting there from Dubrovnik
This was pretty simple for us, and shouldn’t be too difficult for you either. If you’re visiting Montenegro from Dubrovnik, there are only two ways you can get there:
If you are driving to Montenegro, depending on where you are planning to go, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple hours. We visited three towns in Montenegro during our visit.
The first, Perast, is about 80km away from Dubrovnik and takes about an hour and a half by car. Kotor is 92km away from Dubrovnik and takes a little less than two hours. Lastly, Budva is 93km away and will take you about two and a half hours.
Because visiting Montenegro was a spontaneous trip for us, we didn’t want to deal with the hassle of renting a car. So, we opted for a bus tour. We were actually in a smaller sized tour bus that was very nice and comfortable. It was nice not having to worry about any of the driving or logistics. All we had to do was sit back and take in the stunning scenery.
If you are traveling to Montenegro with an American Passport, you are not required to get a visa if your stay is less than 90 days. Like most countries, if you’re bringing in more than 10,000 euros, you must declare it.
Currency, cash and ATMS in Montenegro
Montenegro uses the euro as its form of currency. At the time of writing, 1 euro = $1.18. There are numerous currency exchange locations both in commercial banks and exchange offices. Almost all towns in Montenegro have ATMs, so there is no need for you to bring a ton of cash with you. Also, the following credit cards can be used in the country: Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, Maestro, American Express, Diners.
Internet/Cell Phone Service
Almost all restaurants, bars, hotels, apartments, and Airbnb’s have free WiFi. Because of this, you don’t really need to purchase a cell phone plan. (Plus, having a phone is just distracting anyways.) If you are someone that needs a phone in hand, try Telenor, Telekom, and m:tel. They both offer inexpensive tourist plans.
Best Time to Visit Montenegro
The best time to visit Montenegro is between May-October. This is when the weather is the best. Keep in mind that Montenegro has a very long rainy season from September to April. Luckily, it didn’t rain on us during our trip in late April.
Though May-October is the best time to visit, it is also the most crowded time. Coastal Montenegro crowds peak in July. The beaches are absolutely beautiful, but the water is chilly! You can swim in the water July thru early September without a wetsuit and not get hypothermia.
Check out this site for the best times to travel to Montenegro depending on what activities you want to do, and where you want to visit!
The Best Places to Visit in Montenegro if You Only Have One Day
As I mentioned above, we opted to spend our one day in Montenegro via a tour bus. We usually aren’t tour bus kind of people, but we were exhausted after visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, and spending a day amongst peacocks and rabbits on the island of Lokrum in Dubrovnik. We figured a tour would allow us to see as much of the country as we could with as little planning as possible.
The morning of the tour, we woke up excited to add another European passport stamp to our passports. It was nice knowing that the tour provided hotel pickups, but like we typically do, we stayed at an Airbnb. We met at the closest hotel for pickup.
The drive to the first destination via bus can take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on how long the border wait times are. The drive was absolutely stunning. It is unreal how much the landscape changed as we left coastal Croatia and entered Montenegro. You wind though twists and turns with the beautiful Bay of Kotor by your side.
Once we pulled into Perast, we caught our first views of the towering black mountains for which Montenegro got its name. We were in awe and more than ready to get out and explore. We were excited for some free time in Perast, and our only plans were to explore every beautiful street and alley of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most people on our tour decided to go visit Our Lady on the Rocks. Our Lady on the Rocks is an island situated in the Bay of Kotor just outside of Perast. According to local legend, the island was made by sailors from the area coming by the location and casting large rocks off their ships. When the Venetians ruled the area in the 1600’s, they wanted to expand the island, so instead of piling rocks, they decided to sink ships filled with rocks.
Truth or not, the man-made island has a beautiful church on its grounds. If you opt to visit the island, you can tour the church which was constructed in 1630.
We didn’t choose to visit the island but some of the people on our trip said you only need about 45 minutes to an hour to fully explore it. If you want to visit the island and the church, it only costs about 5 euros.
Kate and I decided to just explore the seaside village and walk along the narrow streets and alleys. We’ve always enjoyed seeing as much as we can of a place in the time allotted, and we were able to see pretty much all of this little town.
One of my favorite parts was watching some of the local children play basketball on a court that was literally right on the Bay of Kotor. Good thing I didn’t try to go play with them. They would’ve schooled me!
Before we left the United States to go to Dubrovnik, we saw some images of Kotor, Montenegro and knew that was a place we had to visit, even if we could for one day!
The travel gurus over at Lonely Planet have been raving about Kotor for a while now, and it was even listed as one of their top places to visit in the world!
Kotor was the second stop on our tour and it was a short 12 km ride away from Perast. The drive was absolutely beautiful! Montenegro is a lot like Iceland. Everywhere you look is astonishingly gorgeous! On one side, you will see the blue waters of the Bay of Kotor, and on the other side stands stunning mountains.
The views continued as we arrived in Kotor to see a massive cruise ship docked just outside the city walls. Luckily, right when we hopped out of the bus, the cruise ship sailed away. Thankfully, there was less of a crowd for us to weave through as we wandered the beautifully preserved and increasingly popular medieval city.
Quick History of Kotor
Kotor has been around since ancient Roman times with mentions of it being around as early as 168 BC. That is over 2000 years old, wild! The town has also been under the rule of numerous different empires, from the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Austrians, French, and more. No wonder the city is heavily fortified. Due to all of the cultural history of Kotor, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Points of Interest in Kotor
The beauty and charm of Kotor is almost unmatched! Dubrovnik comes pretty close, but we can save that for another post. With Kotor being so rich in history and so wonderfully preserved, there are points of interest that you definitely need to visit.
1. Kotor Fortifications
Kotor is a heavily fortified city, and for a good reason. It seemed like they were constantly under threat. The fortifications you see around the Old Town were built when the town was under Venetian rule during the 15th-17th centuries. The ancient walls surrounding Kotor stretch for 3 miles directly above the city. If you have the time you should definitely walk the walls to the San Giovanni Fortress.
2. The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower is located in the main square of the Star Grad, aka the Old Town. The tower was built in the 17th century. The Old Town itself is pretty small so no matter where you end up in the small maze of streets, you can pretty easily find yourself back at the tower.
Kate was in absolute heaven when she saw how many cats there were wandering around the streets of Kotor. They are everywhere! I’m very much a dog person, but I’m not going to lie, something about cats lounging everywhere in this fairytale city just felt right.
If you are a cat person, then Kotor has the perfect museum for you. The Cat Museum!
4. St. Tryphon’s Cathedral
St. Tryphon’s Cathedral was completed in 1166 and was probably one of my favorite locations in the city. It is one of the only Roman Catholic Cathedrals in the entire country. It would be so incredible to have a timelapse of the Cathedral from its completion till now just to see all the changes in the city.
The Cathedral is one of the most popular locations inside the city walls and there almost always will be crowds of people outside its doorway. But for good reason, it is a must visit!
5. The Church of St. Nicholas
The second most popular and most beautiful church in Kotor is the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas. It’s very recognizable with two impressive domes and the Serbian flag hanging down the front of the structure. Entrance into the church is free.
While you are there, don’t miss St. Luke’s Church! This small church was built in 1195 and is located in the same plaza as the Church of St. Nicholas.
6. Maritime Museum
For a few euros, you can visit the Maritime Museum. The museum has been open to the public since 1900 and showcases the people of Kotor’s relationship with the water. It also displays 18th-19th century weapons used to defend the city. It’s a small museum and worth a quick visit.
7. The Pima Palace
The Pima Palace is one of the most recognizable sites in the city. The palace, with its green windows, is a great place to relax and unwind at the on-site bar. It was built in the 17th century and is a good place to take a picture!
8. Walk along the Bay
Lastly, before you leave, take a stroll along the bay. We strolled around the Park Slobode and soaked in our final views from this wonderful city.
Budva is a short 45 minute bus ride from Kotor, and like the other rides, incredibly scenic. The scenic seaside town is a very popular summer destination. Unfortunately when we went, it was too cold to take a dip in the clear but chilly water.
We opted to check out The Old Town which dates back to over 2,500 years ago. As we wandered its streets and ducked in and out of various shops. We even saw an adorable husky which was a nice change from all the cats in Kotor.
There is no visit to Budva without checking out the beach. We opted for the Old Town Beach which was the closest to where we were. If you are interested in visiting the best beaches in Budva, there are over 35 to pick from. Budva even has its own “Hawaii”!
After walking around the Old Town, we decided to go outside of the city’s walls and stroll along the Dukley Marina. This marina is a mooring location for some GIGANTIC yachts. It was there that we realized quite a bit of wealth visits this beautiful peninsula.
4. Sveti Stefan Island
After leaving Budva, we got to briefly check out (from afar) the island of Sveti Stefan. The island is a five star resort owned by Aman Resorts. The iconic island has hosted some of the world’s top celebrities including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Marilyn Monroe, and more.
“Average Joe’s” won’t be spending a night on the island as the cheapest of rooms costs over 850 euros a night! Apparently, you are only allowed on the island if you make a restaurant reservation.
Our time in this beautiful country was almost over. In order to save time, we hopped on a ferry to shuttle us across the Bay of Kotor. That alone was an attraction in itself, and it was so nice to take in the breathtaking landscape on the water.
Before we knew it, our one day in Montenegro was over. Was it worth it? Absolutely!
If you are planning to visit the area, you need to check out 1 Day In Bosnia: Mostar, Medjugorje and Počitelj!