A daytrip to Montenegro.
From the deep fjords, rugged and sandy beaches, ancient architecture, rich cultural heritage, and beautiful mountains, what's not to love about Montenegro!
I booked a daytrip to Montenegro through Viator before I left home. I thought that I would have had a few days of being solo around Dubrovnik, and a day on a small group tour (about 15 of us) would possibly be a good thing to do for my sanity.
An organised daytrip was actually a really good thing to do.
Looking down the on the Old Town of Budva.
Daytrips for solo travellers.
A daytrip is a great way to give you:
- some timeout from planning everything!
- great social interaction with like-minded travellers
- hugely in-depth local knowledge
- an opportunity to cover alot of areas in a quick time.
I really appreciated the day for all the above reasons.
I met the loveliest people doing the most amazing things. And after bring solo for only a few days, I really cherished the company. There were people doing a weekend trip to Dubrovnik (OK, this is where I have major jealous moments that people can just pop down to Dubrovnik for a long weekend!!!). There was a young American teacher, currently working in Russia. There was a family on the trip of a lifetime from Australia. And there were a couple of more seasoned solo female travellers who were great to talk to and get their tips.
Doing a daytrip was a good way to ease myself into solo travel.
Getting into Montenegro.
I was picked up outside Pile Gate in Dubrovnik and the bus drove round town picking up the other passengers. You could see this as annoying spending an hour driving around picking up people, or you could see this as an opportunity to see some of the other areas of Dubrovnik outside of the city walls (my preferred take on the situation!)
Once we got to the border, this was an extremely slow process (like 2 hours) - but so as not to waste time, our incredible guide (and I'm really embarrassed that I can't remember his name or the company as it was through Viator) gave us a run-down of the history of Montenegro. The politics of this region are hugely complicated and he did a great job of explaining the history and culture.
Once we had our day visas we were free to explore and off we drove - well, the bus driver drove. I gazed out the window listening to our guide tell us stories of the area, and bringing the country to life for us.
Our first stop, Perast.
Perast is a small village deep in the Bay of Kotor. The road in winds around the shore, with water views on one side and steep hillsides on the other.
In the middle of the bay is a rock with a church 'Our Lady of the Rocks'. We had a choice of wandering around the village or taking a boat to the church. I chose to wander the village.
Perast is simply beautiful. It's unfussy, and looks probably the same as it did 100 years ago. It was the first of May, so the spring flowers were out. I loved the architecture and brickwork.
It wasn't a long walk through the town (although I still managed to get slightly lost on my way back!), so I sat on the waterfront for a while just taking in the views. It was truly magical. And on a sunny day, I was in heaven.
Simply beautiful, Perast!
I've dreamt about seeing Kotor for so long!
Kotor has been this mystical place that I've dreamt of for years.
I first saw it in a travel agency in London in the early 1990's - a huge picture of the staggering scenery covered the wall behind the agents desk. "Where is that?" I asked. She replied, "Probably the most magical place I have ever been - Kotor in Montenegro". That was all I needed to hear, and it was on my must-see list. But then the Croatian War hit the region and it wasn't to be...until 25 years later!
So, you can imagine, I was just about jumping out of my seat in anticipation as we continued round the roads of the Bay of Kotor to this place of my dreams! I was sooo excited!
I finally got myself in the picture that adorned the wall of the travel agency 25 years ago!
Magical is the perfect word for Kotor!
So the bus parked slightly outside the old town and we walked along a moat in front of an extremely formidable fortressed town. The anticipation was growing.
The scenery of the bay and the town, nestled in amongst such steep mountains was just breathe-takingly stunning.
There is a mingling of small tourist groups as we approach a very impressive main gate. Certainly this would have been a very safe place to live in days gone by if under attack.
The impressive walls of Kotor's Old Town.
Inside the walls of Kotor Old Town.
We had a couple of hours here with a 30 minute guided tour of the old town, introducing us to the history. Again the architecture was incredible. The extremely narrow streets were filled with people, both tourists and locals going about their day.
The markets, shops and houses were nestled securely inside the solid walls.
It was from here that we walked up the hill behind the Old Town to capture the entire view of the town and the bay. While up there, a massive cruiseship arrived, absolutely swamping the town with it's domination of the view. Luckily we got photos before it's arrival.
I love lanterns! And these were just gorgeous.
The beach town of Budva.
From Kotor, we then headed out of the Bay of Kotor and back onto the main coast road of Montenegro.
We passed by quiet fishing villages, gardens, farms and empty beaches on route to our final major stop for the day, Budva.
Coming over the crest of the hill we took in the view of Budva. There was a collective gasp as we took it all in, and were shocked at the complete contrast to the surrounding countryside. High rises, casinos, and huge blocks of new buildings in various stage of construction.
Russian influence and money has been embraced and Budva has been turned into a luxury resort town. Even the Old Town is full of designer fashion boutiques filled with all the bling you can imagine! I felt that the old town had been stylised for the wealthy, and had lost a lot of its original charm.
An island just around from Budva, reachable by a causeway, was viewable from the hills above. It was not within my budget, but a spot for the wealthy, could pay an eye-watering amount per night to enjoy the luxury within this secluded resort.
Looking from the Old Town of Budva to the developing resort town in the background.
And so ends my 14 hour daytrip to Montengro.
By the time we left Budva it was dusk. We had absolutely jam packed our day with amazing sights.
The drive back was a great time to converse with fellow travellers, and for me travelling solo it was a lovely social opportunity.
The day had been slightly longer because we lost a fellow traveller in Budva. In amongst all the new construction she'd got disorientated, but eventually made her way back to the meeting point an hour late. No one was cross. We were all extremely relieved to see her back in the flock, and secretly relieved it wasn't one of us that had gotten confused.
Daytrips are great for solo travellers!
I would recommend breaking up your solo travel with daytrips. It's nice to spend some quality time with fellow travellers. I personally found it a bit of a break from the organisation and self-management required on solo travel.
From Dubrovnik, I did a boating daytrip out from Hvar - although there were only three of us in total, but our guide Dino made up for it! And I had another daytrip booked to Mljet National Park from Korcula, but the weather meant the sailing ship stayed in port, so I took a ferry instead. Even so, a lot of people on the ferry were stopping at Mljet, we all ended up going the same way, and then back to Korcula on the ferry, so by the end of the day, it felt like an organised daytrip!
So, if you are travelling solo, consider a daytrip. It can be fun.
And if you're down in Dubrovnik - definitely consider a daytrip to Montenegro. It's well worth it!