Discovering Montenegro

When I first rode my bike across the border from Croatia into Montenegro, I had little idea of what to expect. The small country on the Adriatic Coast is just 18 miles south of the Backroads' Trip Leader house in Močići, but as I descended towards the border city of Herceg Novi, something in the air changed.

Montenegro Coast

As I cycled along the narrow waterfront roads, Montenegro's wild nature and honest humility began to pull me in. Compared to the polish and sparkle of Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, Montenegro's coastline is at times rugged, raw, exotic and, somehow, hopelessly mesmerizing. And where most of Western Europe feels well-traveled, Montenegro is a one-way ticket to Old Europe.

An independent country since 2006, it's still developing a cohesive identity, much as it has strived and struggled to do for centuries. It's beginning to be a place where old meets the uber new, and on Backroads' Croatia to Montenegro Multi-Adventure trip, we experience this change firsthand. We stay in one of the most luxurious hotels on the Mediterranean at the Regent Porto Montenegro in the modern town of Tivat. Then we venture out on a hike to see what Montenegro looked like centuries ago in traditional villages and mountain regions loaded with history.

Kotor Bay Montenegro

The country has been shaped by centuries of control under different European powers, resulting in a tremendous mix of culture and architecture. The World Heritage town of Kotor is an exceptional example of how one empire left its mark. Lined with traditional cafes, Romanesque churches and medieval aristocratic mansions, the elegant tastes of the Italians and the Austrians under the Hapsburg Empire still gleam.

One of the best ways to experience the area is by getting out on the waters of the serpentine Bay of Kotor. With Backroads, we kayak past former Austro-Hungarian fortresses on our way to the charming town of Perast. Then we hop onto dry land in the middle of the bay to explore Our Lady of the Rocks, a church with a fascinating legend of protecting sailors since the 15th century. This is kayaking with a purpose: to gain a truly unique view of Montenegro!

Kayaking on Kotor Bay Montenegro

Aside from the landscape's beauty, the people Montenegro truly shine as some of the most welcoming hosts I've encountered. They're sincerely kind with a keen sense of humor. And once they become a friend, they're one for life. On trip, we're joined by incredible local guides who embody the spirit of Montenegro and share its secrets with us. These friends are a huge part of why I'm so excited to return to this region as a Backroads leader.

On my last day in Montenegro, I watched the sun inching lower over the Bay of Kotor. The sky turned pastel, then electrically orange, pink and red. Once the sun disappeared below the horizon, the dark shapes of the surrounding peaks engulf me, and remind me of what Montenegro means: Black Mountain.

As I make preparations to return in April to lead our Croatia to Montenegro Multi-Adventure trip, I can't wait to share this culture and beauty with our guests. Until then, vidimo se! I'll see you at the border, ready to ride with you into the mystery and mystique of Montenegro.

Laura and Katarina Sladoljev on the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

8 Responses

  1. Jay Weitzman

    Did the Croatia trip this summer….amazing! Joining Backroads from Amsterdam to Bruges in April but this Montenegro trip is next! This part of the world is amazing!!!

    • Laura Short Laura Short

      So glad to hear that you traveled through Croatia this summer, Jay! Our trips on the Dalmatian Coast are some of my absolute favorites. Enjoy your time in Amsterdam and I hope that we will see you in Montenegro soon – you’ll love it!

  2. Lori Humphreys

    Though I will not travel to Montenegro, I was delighted to learn about this lovely country which time forgot,! Lovely article!

    • Laura Short Laura Short

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article, Lori! That is well said – it is certainly a country that time forgot in some places. The country is changing rapidly yet still maintains its captivating heritage.

  3. Did this trip in September. It was so awesome. Loved biking through the border and having cocktails at the marina cafe at the finish of our bike…before our boat trip to that magnificent hotel. We so enjoyed the kayak to the church too. The local guide was the best!!

  4. Enjoyed your blog Laura. We are going to Montenegro before our Puglia Backroads trip and I was wondering if you could suggest a 5 day itinerary? We are thinking of staying in Kotor. Is it realistic to think that we can do a day trip to the Taro river? We are interested in the kayaking – do you have a recommendation ? I appreciate your help!

    • Hi Melissa! So glad to hear that you are taking a trip to Montenegro – it is an amazing country with so much to explore.
      If I had to suggest a 5-day itinerary, I would spend a day or two on the Bay of Kotor. I would choose the town of Perast as a base to explore the Bay rather than Kotor Old Town. Kotor is very busy in summer with cruise boat traffic and Perast is a much more intimate environment with the same charm. Kayaking on the Bay of Kotor to the Lady of the Rocks island is a must! Such a pleasant day and unique way to experience the water and mountains surrounding the Bay.
      Then I would head to the national parks – either Mt. Lovcen which is just above Kotor or to Durmitor national park which is not far from the Tara river canyon where you can spend a day rafting.
      For a spa day, see if you can make a reservation at Aman Sveti Stefan – a premiere resort on the coast of Montenegro not far from Budva.
      I hope this helps you with your planning! There is so much to see and I am confident you will not have any issues filling your 5 days there with some amazing activities. Have a great time!!

  5. Thank you for your thoughtful article Laura! We just booked the Croatia Montenegro trip for next July!

Leave a comment