Last summer I was lucky enough to have been treated to a week in Montenegro for my 30th birthday and despite knowing nothing about the country before visiting I quickly fell in love with the picturesque coastal Bay of Kotor which features stunning views, Mediterranean temperatures, plenty of history and culture as well as delicious food and wine – the perfect destination! Here are my top 10 must sees.
Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast
Our Lady of the Rocks is one of the two islets off the coast of Perast in Bay of Kotor. Legend has it that the island was built by sailors after finding an icon of Madonna and Child on the rock in the sea. Upon the island sits the bijou Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks along with a nautically themed museum. Accessible only by hiring a boat from Perast this is the perfect morning trip for an intrepid visitor.
St. Tryphon Cathedral, Kotor
If you love impressive architecture and religious relics then the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in Kotor should definitely be on your list. It is one of two Roman Catholic cathedrals in Montenegro and is the seat of the Catholic Bishopric of Kotor which covers the entire gulf. As well as an extensive collection of relics the Cathedral showcases art alongside its beautiful interior.
Blue Grotto, Herceg Novi
If you enjoy natural beauty then you just have to visit the stunning Blue Grotto in the Lustica Peninsula, accessible by boat from Herceg Novi. The Blue Grotto is a naturally formed cave, about 15 meters wide the interior is round-shaped, with the ceiling shaped as vault. The water is a dazzling blue colour and you’re free to dive in to take a closer look!
Maritime Museum, Kotor
Located in Bokassa Fleet Square, Kotor, the Maritime Museum and its lovely 18th-century Baroque edifice is guarded by two canons representing the conflict between seaman and pirates. The museum opened to the public in 1900 and showcases an extensive collection of nautical artefacts from across the ages.
Built originally as a fortress to defend the town from around 1425, Budva’s Citadel features stunning architecture as well as an impressive garrison, library, open area theatre and a small museum. The 160 meters of sea-facing city walls offer the perfect view across the bay. The Citadel is now privately owned and the large terrace serves as the main stage of the annual Theatre City festival as well as other events.
Mon Ami Wine House, Kotor
Montenegro has a fantastic range of wine, although I noticed that local boutique wine producers rarely get a look-in on restaurant menus. For a wider selection of the country’s wines pop into Mon Ami Wine House in Kotor. This cute little shop offers tasting and friendly, helpful advice on their extensive range. I recommend picking out a bottle of rakija (fruit brandy) to take home!
Mamula, Herceg Novi
Between Prevlaka and Luštica peninsulas at the entrance to the Boka Kotorska Bay, you will find Mamula, an uninhabited islet in the Adriatic Sea. The island features a fort, built in 1853 by Austro-Hungarian general Lazar Mamula which you can explore and makes a great spot for some holiday photos.
Ćatovića Mlini, Morinj
Now, let’s talk food. The Bay of Kotor has some fantastic restaurants and cafes in which to dine, however, when researching our trip my sister came across Ćatovića Mlini, a restaurant and world-class tavern converted from a mill which used to grind olives and grains. It serves an exciting array of fresh, local dishes including seafood specialities, home-made cheese and prosciutto and home-made wine inside the converted building as well as out on the terrace amongst the beautiful gardens.
Church of Sveti Ivan, Budva
Inside the Old Town of Budva you will come across the church of Sveti Ivan (St. Ivan) sitting on a site which dates from the VII century. The current Church as a lovely three-transept Basilica featuring a façade and an impressive belfry built in 1867. Pop in to see the icon of Holy Mother of God with Christ, better known as Budvanska Bogorodica, a painting of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Greek icons and the painting of Sveti Luka, a piece of work of Anastas Bocaric.
The fortifications of Kotor are certainly something to behold! This historical fortification system protected the medieval town of Kotor and is made up of ramparts, towers, citadels, gates, bastions, forts, cisterns, a castle, and ancillary buildings and structures. The circumference of the outer wall is 4.5 km, with a thickness between 2 and 16m and a height up to 20m! If you are feeling fit (and brave) why not walk along the walls? Be warned, in some places there are sheer drops and no protective rails!