Aside from Dubrovnik being a magical city on it’s own, it is a great homebase to visit other amazing places on daytrips. Montenegro is one of them not to be missed.
Typically I don’t choose to go on escorted tours, but if we were going to visit Montenegro it was a bus tour or not go at all, and I wasn’t about to miss it. Fortunately there are regular day trips from Dubrovnik to Montenegro, and as soon as we arrived in Dubrovnik I signed us up for one with Atlas Tours; “Best of Montenegro”.
The tour bus picked us at 7 am at a hotel near where we were staying which was already a plus. We were the first ones to board, and the only Americans, and by the time the last passengers were picked up the bus was full. Our tour guide was very conscientious and enthusiastic, explaining the highlights and history of the areas we passed by and the places we stopped, all 13 hours of our adventure.
We headed south along the coast of the Adriatic Sea and it wasn’t long before we approached the Montenegro border, where all 38 passports were presented to the border control. My passport, and my daughter’s, were whisked away by the border police while all the European passports were quickly approved for entry. They were gone long enough that we began to wonder if we’d be let in but eventually they returned with our documents giving a positive nod to the bus driver to come on through.
On our way to the Bay of Kotor we passed through small towns and lush vegetation. It was a pretty drive and relaxing to look out the window while someone else navigated our way.
As we entered the Bay of Kotor we stopped to look at the Island of Gospe od Skrpjela, a man made island, also know as Lady of the Rocks.
We drove along the waters edge for some time admiring the beautiful scenery of the Bay through the bus window.
Eventually we arrived at the medieval town of Kotor where we were let off the bus for a couple of hours. The town is situated between the Gulf of Kotor and rugged mountains which are adorned with 3 miles of medieval walls. We could see the stone walls winding up the steep terrain above the town and if we had more time we would have certainly wanted to climb up at least part of it for the view and for the experience.
A local guide led us on a half hour tour of the medieval old town, pointing out the highlights, and then we were free to roam on our own until the bus was scheduled to move on.
While on the tour we were very aware of the time, much more so than we travel on our own, and very quickly it seemed we were boarding the bus for the next leg of our journey.
As we departed Kotor we soon began our ascent up a steep, windy road above the town for breath-taking views of the Bay of Kotor.
The view became more spectacular as we rounded each bend.
We were amazed how skillfully the bus driver maneuvered our huge vehicle around the 51 switchbacks it took to reach the top. The road was narrow and at times when we met an oncoming bus we had to back up for what seemed a long distance to let them pass. The driver took the sharp turns carefully and I never felt that we were in any danger which allowed me to calmly take in the views below.
The bus stopped at the top near Cetinje where we all filed out for ten minutes to take photos. It felt like being at the top of the world.
We continued on to the village of Njegusi
for local honey wine, prosciutto and cheese tasting.
After our lunch we headed back towards the coast, descending down the other side of the mountain toward the town of Budva, where we stopped for a short orientation of the Old Town.
Budva had the ‘old mixed with the new’ vibe to it.
The currency in Montenegro is the Euro.
After Budva it was time to head back to Dubrovnik.
The bus boarded a small ferry which took five minutes to cross the bay to Croatia.
By the time we reached Dubrovnik it was 8:00 pm. A very full and worthwhile day. I would definitely recommend the escorted bus tour as it was so much more than we expected. Both the bus driver and the tour guide were also excellent.