I remember it as clear as day. I was sitting at the nail salon 3 years ago in anticipation of getting engaged on Valentine’s Day the next week … I know… how basic can I be? Fortunately, my husband has always had a hard time keeping secrets so I knew that I should, at the very least, be prepared. Like usual, I went for the first travel magazine I spotted.
I believe it was a National Geographic Travel article on the Baltics. I stopped dead in my page-flipping when I came across a section about the “Fjords of Montenegro”. Fjords? I thought those were only in Norway? The image showed these massive mountains, clear blue water, and a church, smack dab in the middle of a massive bay. Well… just another place to add to my never-ending bucket list. Two years later, Shelley texted me to ask my opinion on Montenegro for our next trip. I was SOLD.
The drive from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Kotor, Montenegro was a scintillating scene of water as placid as glass and white stone mountains that jet up to unbelievable heights. The pictures… as hard as I tried, really can’t do it justice. Town after town passed by as we watched the gorgeous Fjord open up to reveal even more beauty than before. Our house was situated in Dobrata, about a 5 minute drive from Kotor overlooking the bay. Kotor sits tucked away at the back corner of the bay in a quaint, walled city built during the Venetian period (15th and 17th centuries). The 1,000 steps to the top of the old fortification is well worth the history and unbelievable views.
Not many Americans know about Montenegro. Truth is, many Europeans vacation there, including Russians. The Adriatic country was formerly part of Yugosalvia, and today massive Russian yachts dot the harbors and new compound-like houses are going up on every corner of the Fjord. I was surprised by a couple of things. The food for one was amazing. Fresh fish, cheese, local fruits, vegetables and shockingly delicious wines adorned every meal. And second the country felt incredibly safe. A huge bonus in my book! Overall, I found Montenegro to be a fantastic little place that’s undeveloped… for now. My advice… go before it’s rustic charm is overrun by huge resorts and pricey tourist traps.
After adventuring to this incredible piece of paradise, I’ve compiled a list of the highlights below so our readers know what places and restaurants to hit.
- Old Town Kotor. While it’s shopping is less than spectacular, and EVERY store is a myriad of Tourist trinkets that were not, by any means, local, a walk through the old city is well worth the visit. Get lost in the narrow, windy stone streets and find your way back to the front again where you can enjoy some amazing desserts at Forza bakery.
- Kotor City Walls. At the back left corner of the old city, you’ll find a man collecting euros to climb the old fortification walls. Yes, it is 1,000 steps, but you don’t have to do the whole thing and the views of Kotor bay from the tiny church halfway up are totally worth the leg cramps. TIP: Wear comfortable shoes that have decent treading on the bottoms. I mistakenly wore my Birkenstocks and almost ate it on the smooth, stone steps several times on the way down.
- Lovcen National Park. Wow! It’s the only way I can describe not only the National Park but the drive from Kotor to the top of the mountains. You will find yourself with your head above the clouds looking at the ocean in one direction and mountains situated around Lake Skadar to your left. It’s honestly the most stunning place I’ve ever seen. I could have spent hours perched at the top of the tiny, old stone staircase overlooking the whole world.
- Our Lady of the Rocks Church. I’m not sure that I really have the words to describe this. Cliche… but seriously, just look at the pictures. Take a boat out to this little church in the middle of the fjord. Contemplate the meaning of life, meditate, enjoy the ridiculous views and bay breezes. Try to come early in the morning since many cruise boat tourists make their way there starting at around 11 am.
- Zanjic Beach. Our rental company recommended this slice of heaven to us and we ended up spending two days savoring the sun, the food, the kayaks and the friendly servers at Contakt Bar. Grab your sunblock, favorite book and pull up a free beach chair as you enjoy the turquoise waters, cool breeze and fantastic Mojito’s. The drive to Zanic is a windy, one-lane road that takes some time to navigate, so be prepared for that before unwinding at the end of it.
- Forza – Bakery in Old Town Kotor
- Forza Terra – Best Sushi I’ve ever had in my LIFE!
- Forza Mare – the most Prestigious and Isolated of the Three – Forza Marre has seen visitors like Beyonce, Jay-Z, and Tom Cruise and the food, although pricey is amazing. TIP: DO NOT agree to the four course meal like we did. You’ll end up paying 100 euros per person. DO order the cocktail that has Sorbet, Prosecco and Vodka – It’s seriously like drinking a cloud.