Coastal Montenegro (Ulcinj, Sveti Stefan and Kotor)
Coastal Montenegro is something special. Although I thought that Croatia’s coastline is gorgeous, Montenegro’s shores just blew me away. They are just a bit quieter, more rugged and less developed and I know that I’ll be spending more time there on my next visit to the Balkans. Read on as I describe our visit to Ulcinj, Sveti Stefan and Kotor, and explain why you should definitely visit Montenegro.
Visit Montenegro – Ulcinj, Sveti Stefan and Kotor, the best of Coastal Montenegro
As we crossed over from Albania, our first stop was Ulcinj, a small city close to the Albanian border the majority of whose inhabitants are ethnic Albanians. We went straight to the old town on a hill overlooking the sea and walked along the wall. The sky was full of threatening clouds and the wind was picking up but we got to opportunity to look out at the deserted beach and small harbour and watch the waves crashing against the rocks just below us. A short walk lead us to the castle which was completely empty; there wasn’t much to explore so we headed back to the car before a downpour got the better of us.
Next up on our coastal Montenegro trip was Sveti Stefan. We were lucky enough to have the rain stop just as we were driving towards the tiny private island so we were just in time to catch a lovely sunset over it. The only reason for stopping by at that time of day was to soak in the view of the island which is connected to the mainland by a narrow (probably reclaimed) road. The whole of the island is a resort and is inaccessible to non-guests, but the beaches on the mainland right opposite seem to provide a lovely tanning spot. This is easily one of Montenegro’s most picturesque spots and we were super fortunate to have it all to ourselves!
The fortified city of Kotor
We arrived in Kotor in the dark. The town is famous for its location right within Kotor bay, a fjord-like stretch surrounded by mountains. The bay and old town are both UNESCO world heritage sites. We had booked a room in a guesthouse in an area just outside Kotor old town called Dobrota, a ten minute walk away. It was the second time that Nikki was visiting Kotor and he enthusiastically pointed out the old town walls which rise up dramatically above the city. They were all lit up and provided a truly spectacular sight set against the cliffs’ dark background. We agreed to climb the steep 1350 steps to the top early the following morning before breakfast, looking forward to what we assumed were incredible views.
The old town itself is is very pretty with medieval churches, squares and palaces and lots of ice-cream shops, contributing to the charm of coastal Montenegro. I actually thought that it was prettier than Dubrovnik maybe because it was really quiet at that time of night. Kotor actually reminded me a little of Malta’s own walled city of Mdina.
The next morning we woke up to a thunderstorm. Unfortunately the fjord was clouded over and it seemed pretty useless to climb the town walls other than to burn off the previous day’s dinner (the most divine stuffed calamari ever) which didn’t seem worth the effort. I was bummed that I didn’t get to see the spectacular bay during the daytime but as the rain got heavier, we decided to leave and head off towards Croatia.