“You should visit Montenegro” said Dragana in a private Twitter DM.
Less than a month later I arrived in the bay of Kotor and already I didn’t want to leave.
As we drove around Boka Kotorska, winding around old Venetian palaces and through small settlements on our way to the Old Town of Kotor, I commented to Dragana (my host from the Tourism Organisation of Kotor):
“I have a tendency to fall in love with places and never want to leave.”
Of course, I was being very optimistic. I’d only been in the country about half an hour. But it was already just so beautiful!
So, to make sure I wasn’t making any rash decisions before cancelling my flight home, I took a tour from the hostel I was staying at, Old Town Hostel Kotor. Run by 360 Monte from an office across the street from the hostel, I was a little worried about the 8.30am start time.
But I had a private room with air conditioning and slept like a baby… fully refreshed for my first day out exploring the country on the Great Montenegro Tour!
10 Reasons You Should Visit Montenegro with 360 Monte
1. You’ll see a stunning panorama of the Bay of Kotor
When you’re actually in Old Town Kotor, you can of course walk to the top of St John’s Fortress for a view of part of the bay (more on this later)…
But the view from higher up the mountain, which you’ll get on your way to the first stop on the tour, is even more astounding. And it also covers a much greater distance than you can spot from the Fortress.
2. You’ll get to try Rakija… for breakfast!
Rakija is a type of brandy made in the Balkan region and the type made at Kod Pera na Bukovicu in the vilage of Njegusi will knock your socks off!
Early risers will have been able to grab a quick breakfast at the hostel (breakfast starts at 8.00am and the tour at 8.30am) but if you’re like me and prefer a liquid breakfast of coffee then make sure to line your stomach with some of the incredible smoked ham and cheese before sipping on this strong local brandy at 10.00am in the morning!
3. You’ll get to take a picture on top of the world
One of my favourite stops on the tour is at Mount Lovćen.
Now the eternal resting place of beloved Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš, it was his favourite place to visit and think about his purpose as the leader of the small country of Montenegro.
4. You’ll get to try traditional Montenegrin dishes
I’ve already mentioned the smoked ham (Prsuta) and cheese that is traditional to the village of Njegusi.
It was incredible (I’ve never tasted such thick and flavourful ham!), and so not hard to imagine why residents of the village of Kotor used to hike the mountains regularly to trade for it.
Later in the day you also stop at the stunning location of Restaurant Poslednja Luka. With rave reviews for it’s authenticity on TripAdvisor I jumped straight in to try the Popeci.
It’s basically veal wrapped in more cheese and Prsuta and oh my goodness it was so filling! In my opinion you need a big appetite to finish it but when you do you’ll have more than enough energy to keep exploring Montenegro!
5. You’ll enjoy a relaxing river boat ride
This was another highlight of the Great Montenegro Tour with 360 Monte. By the time we had downed Rakija for breakfast, climbed Mount Lovćen, walked around Cetinje (the old royal capital), and had the epic lunch you see above, the sun was beating down and I was in need of shade!
The boat ride is totally optional, and so you share the cost of a boat hire with others in the group who want to go as an extra to the cost of the tour. But it’s so worth it because a) there is shade on the boat and b) there is a beautiful breeze received from skipping across the River Crnojevića.
6. You’ll understand a little bit more about Montenegrin history
I’m a history buff. I love it and try my best to read up as much on the history of a destination before I visit to make sure I understand as much of the culture as I can.
But Montenegrin history was a struggle to research. The Wiki page is incomplete, this book I downloaded is so complex (although very detailed and only 82p on Kindle) and we rarely hear of the country in the news.
So Slavko’s informative descriptions of the monuments and landscapes we passed through definitely help build a better picture of the history of Montenegro. Slavko was our guide, by the way. I haven’t mentioned him yet as he has his own section…
7. You’ll step inside an 18th Century Monastery
The European continent is gifted with well-preserved historic buildings and monasteries make up a lot of them. Given that people gave far more credence to religion than science in the old days…
The Cetinje Monastery is beautiful, and whilst it was built in the late 18th Century its roots go back even later to a medieval monastery that was founded nearby in the 15th Century.
Look out for the mummified hand of St John the Baptist, a preserved shard of the cross on which Christ was crucified, and my personal favourite, a stunning portrait of the Romanov family.
8. The tour guides are informative and…funny!
I know, I’ve told you already… but the people of Montenegro are really, seriously funny! Slavko, our epic local guide was no exception and kept us entertained at each stop, as well as on the (air-conditioned!) bus whilst travelling between landmarks.
He also scared the sh*t out of me by pretending to throw me into the River Crnojevića, and I still bought him a beer after the tour – so you can take my word for it that I had a great time!
Whilst we drank that beer he also let me in on a little secret about the Lion of Kotor. Keep your eyes peeled for another post on that or sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss it!
9. The Great Montenegro Tour leaves from the hostel
If, like me, you hate getting up early when on holiday, then the 8.30am start from right outside the hostel is perfect! I found that the heat woke me up at 6.30am anyway(!) so I actually had nothing to worry about missing the tour.
But being able to roll out of bed and downstairs to meet with Slavko definitely made life easier.
10. You’ll finish the day on the beach
Visiting Montenegro and learning about the small country’s big history and culture was incredible but… exhausting. Especially in the hot summer weather!
So when we got dropped off at a beach bar on Jaz beach for a beer and a swim before heading back to Kotor I was ecstatic! I went for beer first, swim second which meant I got to wade into the ocean just as these colours were setting in…
Practical Tips to Visit Montenegro with 360 Monte
๏ The tour costs €35 per person but you’ll need to carry cash for extras such as the River Crnojevića (which I highly recommend!), breakfast and lunch and entrance to the Petar II Petrović Njegoš mausoleum.
๏ It leaves at 8.30am from Old Town Hostel Kotor. If you’re not staying at the hostel but still want to take the tour, here is the start location
- Address: 284, Budva Old Town, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
๏ Make sure to take a small bag or backpack with a large bottle of water, and your swimming gear for the final stop!
- If you drink a lot of water you will be able to buy more at various stops. I went back to the hostel with four bottles as the heat makes me so thirsty!
P.s. You should also check out this short video which features Slavko the awesome tour guide doing his thing! And let me know in the comments if you also think you should visit Montenegro after reading this!
Lots of love,
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