Before and after the break up of the Republic of Yugoslavia, Croatia has been a favorite tourist destination in Europe for its climate, beautiful beaches and historic towns; but, for tourists venturing further south, another gem on the Adriatic coast is waiting to be discovered: Montenegro.
After leaving Dubrovnik following the coastal road past the border between Croatia and Montenegro, the Bay of Kotor comes into view.
Consisting of four connected straits, the main town is Kotor. A number of villages scattered around the bay are worth a visit before getting into Kotor.
One of them is Perast, once part of the Republic of Venice it has some beautiful buildings, like the palace of Bujović on the waterfront and a number of churches, St.Nicholas’ and Our Lady of the Rosary among others.
From the small harbour in Perast, boats leave regularly to take visitors to the two islands in the bay in front of the village. On St.George island, a Benedictine Abbey can be visited and on the smaller neighbouring island of Our Lady of the Rock there is a church of the same name.
Driving towards Kotor, it is common to see cruise liners making their way up the bay with passengers keen to visit this wall encircled town and climb the hill to St.John’s Fortress.
The main access to the historic city centre, (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is through the Sea Gate leading to the Clock Tower and Saint Tryphon Cathedral. Numerous churches can be seen in Kotor, including St.Luke’s, St.Michael’s and St.Nicholas’.
Along the narrow streets and in the small squares of Kotor there are many shops, restaurants and bars so that visitors to the town can enjoy a pleasant stay before moving on to other locations in Montenegro. Driving further south along the coast, there is the city of Budva with its beautiful beaches and Aman Sveti Stefan. Originally an island, it is now connected to the mainland by an isthmus and it has a luxury hotel and pink sand beaches. The best view of the area is from the road above, with the red tiled roofs contrasting with the blue water of the Adriatic Sea.
The coastal road continue south to the towns of Bar and Ulcinj and driving inland, the border with Albania is only a few miles away. It is a relatively new country on the tourism map with new infrastructures, roads and hotels being upgraded to accommodate visitors keen to explore this almost unknown part of Europe.