One of my favoreite things to do when planning a trip is to pick my destination and then zoom out on the map and start exploring what is nearby. When I was planning my trip to Croatia with my fiancé, I wanted to add a new adventure to the list because Croatia is somewhere that I had been before and I wanted to try something new. I started clicking around and fell in love with Montenegro. First, I clicked on Sveti Stefan, and was absolutely blown away by this tiny resort island and started researching more. A few days later I booked our flights to Dubrovnik and after a ton of research and a few weeks, our trip was planned.
Montenegro is a hidden gem on the Adriatic Sea just south of Croatia. We chose to stay in Kotor as this is a UNESCO world heritage site, less than a 2-hour drive from Dubrovnik and gave us the best flexibility to explore the country. We had a limited amount of time and ended up staying in Montenegro for only two nights. Our days and nights were jam packed and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Here’s the itinerary we went with but pick and choose as you will!
We arrived in Dubrovnik by plane and rented a car at the airport. Pro tip: go with a reputable car rental company as they will be right in the parking lot of the airport & not have as many hidden fees. Also keep in mind if you do this and drive over the border there is a 50-euro fee for a green card for the car! The drive was super beautiful and simple, and we went straight to Kotor.
- Drive through the countryside to the bay of Kotor. If you are uneasy about driving in other countries beware the roads are tiny, but the views are spectacular. The sea basically touches every town on the drive and with the mountains in the background it’s breathtaking! If your GPS takes you to a ferry, take it! It’s fairly inexpensive and a really fun way to take in the panoramic views!
- Stay in the old town of Kotor! It is a magical place and feels completely untouched by time. There are a few beautiful hotels and we opted for the Hotel Astoria, a unique 5-star hotel where every room was different and perfectly designed! (Keep in mind there are no cars in Kotor. There are a couple parking lots and some hotels validate parking but for the most part it’s 80 cents an hour so overnight isn’t too expensive!)
- Wander the city! There are jazz clubs, outdoor restaurants and fun pubs everywhere you look. The old town is quaint and easy to walk in just 15-20 minutes.
- Get up bright and early and hike the city walls. For only 8 euro it gives you access to hiking the ancient city walls that lead up to the castle above the city. The hike is no joke, but views are absolutely breathtaking of the city and the bay below. Just above the church is where you can pull over and take the picture that made Kotor famous!
- After your hike head back to the old town for brunch at any of the amazing outdoor cafes and plan the rest of your day! We opted to hop in the car and head out but there are also some awesome boat tours you can catch from Kotor itself
- Hit the road and head to Sveti Stefan. On your way you’ll catch gorgeous views of Budva, the casino town on the sea, from above. There are a few great pull outs if you’re looking for a photo op!
- When you get to Sveti Stefan there is a parking lot right by the water and you can get free parking if you dine at the restaurant Olive. For 30 euro we had a few drinks, an appetizer, 2 delicious seafood pastas, and validated parking!
- To get onto the island you must be staying at the resort, and unless you have 800 euro + to spend a night, it’s a bit out of reach. If you plan far enough ahead you can get a reservation at one of their restaurants and it’s a much cheaper way to get out there for a fun meal!
- There are beach chairs on either side of the inlet. One side is 100 euro for two chairs and much more spacious. The other side has chair sets from 20 euro to 50 euro for a pair of two with an umbrella. There is also a free area if you bring towels. The water is crystal clear and it’s the perfect way to spend the afternoon!
- After Sveti Stefan head to Budva for a night on the town. The ancient city center is similar to Kotor in that it’s a walled city with no cars, and has beautiful views from the citadela (free to go up to the top, paid if you are going to the museum) In Budva there is a casino but we opted for drinks and dinner. Jadran was the seafood restaurant we landed on which was on the water and the calamari and drinks were the perfect way to toast to an amazing day!
- Book a city walking tour. We opted for a quick 1-hour small group walking tour for 10 euro a person and it was the perfect amount of time! We started right out front of the city walls, a 3-minute walk from our hotel, and met our group of 5. The tour guide was knowledgeable and had amazing English. Highly recommend this tour! https://www.getyourguide.com/kotor-l32202/kotor-1-hour-essential-walking-tour-t98043/
- Drive to Perast. It is a pretty small town but famous for the small islands you can get to by boat in just 5-10 minutes. Our Lady of the Rocks is easily accessed (the other island is private) and such an amazing sight to see. Out on the island there is a museum, church, and gift shop. For just 5 euro a person you can rent a small boat to take you back and forth. The views are spectacular and totally worth the quick stop!
- Then head to Dubrovnik! After a packed few days, Croatia is a great next stop, although beware of the border, it can take hours to get through. Bring a good book if you get stuck!
Other Places to See:
Of course, we couldn’t go everywhere in just 3 days, but we were pleased with all we were able to see and do in our time! If you have more time to kill or are looking for more adventurous things to do, I have heard the River of Crnojevic is stunning and the town Ulcinj in southern Montenegro is said to be spectacular!
Montenegro is a special place and absolutely worth the visit! Bring your camera and be prepared to be stunned from the moment you arrive to the moment you leave!