The Best Thing to do in Kotor: Get Out of Kotor
Kotor is a nice little city but it’s awfully touristy and very overpriced. It’s worth spending a bit of time roaming the streets and the hike up to the fortress is a must do. However, those two activities combined will take a few hours at most. So, what do you do with the rest of your time in Kotor? You get out of Kotor!
There are lots of day trips on offer from hostels and local agencies but if you want more freedom, then the best option is to hire a car. You can hire a car for as little as €30 p/day – which, if you can get a full car load, is dirt cheap! One day on the road is enough to see a good chunk of the highlights of southern Montenegro.
A little note about my pics: When I did this daytrip, Montenegro was suffering from some pretty awful bushfires, which is why some of the pictures are a bit hazy. I’m sure you’ll get a much clearer view!
Here’s a suggested itinerary:
Pick up your hire car nice and early to make the most of the day. Oasis and Montenegro Golden Bay are two of the most central places to organise a car, or you can rent a car from the airport. Best to organise it a day in advance to ensure availability.
Head up along the Serpentine Road, stopping for the views as often as you please. Along the way, there’s a few street vendors selling Raijika (a local spirit) as well as other delicacies and souvenirs. As with all Montenegrins, they’re usually lovely people who are happy to chat about their products and their beautiful country.
If you like the local delicacies, it’s worth stopping in Njegusi. This is where most of the country’s prosciutto ham comes from. There’s a tiny little market set up in the town with delicious ham and cheese (which you can sample!) plus handmade clothing and crafts.
Entering Lovcen National Park (€3 p/person) you’ll be treated to mountainous views all round. Drive up to the Jezerski Peak where (for another €3) you’ll get to check out the mausoleum of the Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar II Petrovic Njegos, while also checking out the 360° of mountain views.
The next stop is Cetnje; once the capital of Montenegro, now a sleepy little town. This is a good spot to stop for lunch, as there are many options for tasty local food. My suggestion is Restaurant Kole. Reasonably priced, good quality Montenegrin food. Some of my favourite dishes include sopska salad (cucumber, tomato, pepper and LOTS of cheese) and tarator salad (garlic yoghurt with slices of cucumber – similar taste to tzatziki)
While you’re in Cetnje, roam the quiet streets where murals give you an insight into parts of the city’s history. Cetnje monastery is worth checking out too and if you walk up the road behind it, you’ll get a nice view of the town.
The next stop is purely for a photo… but an incredibly stunning photo! Lake Skadar lies on the border of Montenegro and Albania and is the biggest river in Southern Europe. The lake eventually becomes a river, and I reckon the best spot for a photo where the river bends right around. This is at Pavlova Strana, just by Gazivoda Hotel.
Head back towards the coast (taking the road by the lake if you want more scenic views) and make your way to Sveti Stefan. The tiny island, connected to the land by a little walkway, is a 5-star resort, so only accessible if you’re a guest. From the main highway, you can get a nice view of the island and the coast. Once you’ve had some time to relax on the beach, walk around past the private hotel beach and you’ll find a path that goes along the coast. From here, you get lovely views of various beaches as well as the coastline further north.
If you’ve got time, there are plenty more beaches you could stop at on your way back to Kotor. I’ve yet to meet anyone who actually likes Budva… but if it takes your fancy, you could stop there too. Otherwise, drive back along the coast until you return to Kotor. Allow plenty of time for the last 20km or so – traffic there is always bumper to bumper, particularly in the early evening.
Here’s a map of the suggested route: