Monday, May 17, 2010

The Adriatic Coast of Montenegro

Mountains dropping into the sea, wispy waves crashing into the rock; Montenegro's coast is dynamic and far less tread than it's neighbour's in Croatia. Along the coast you won't find resort towns or 4-star all-inclusive hotels. What you will find however are castles, churches, medieval walls, mansions and spectacular gardens. The Bay of Kotor is one of the most beautiful bays in the Mediterranean but is still yet undiscovered by the hoards of tourists which make it still one of the great treasures of the Balkans.

The town of Kotor is located in the inner most part of the bay, protected from wind and storms. It is surrounded by walls which have stood for centuries now. Within the city walls you'll find tiny streets leaving to picturesque squares and plazas, a labyrinth of homes and shops. The only landmark one can see from the whole city is St. Tryphon's Cathedral. Recognized by its two square towers built in a mix of Byzantine, Roman, Venetian styles.

A must-do in this area is a climb to the top of the city's walls at the Fortress of St.  Ivan. From here you'll be able to see most of the bay, the city below you, and the dome of the church in the next village in Perest.

From Kotor there are a number of great day trips you can take, Perest for example, is known for its "floating churches." Out in the bay you can find two churches sitting atop small islands and appear in certain light to be floating on the water. 

Herceg Novi is the one place in the area where you'll actuallly find a resort, the trickling over from Croatia's border. The old town that sweeps up the hillside is very aattractive and quaint, a nice spot to enjoy the sunshine.

If you're looking for a place to bathe and soak in the sea, Budva is a better place to head. It is no more than a half hour drive from Kotor and you'll find a city that still keeps it's medieval charm despite having been almost completely demolished in an earthquake in the last 1970s. Just south of Budva is Sveti Stefan, an old and popular fishing village on an island which has been invaded by hotels and is often crowded by tourists, especially in the summertime.

You can reach Kotor by plane. Trivat Airport is only 5 km away and there are regularly scheduled flights from Belgrade and Zurich arriving daily. A little further away is Podgorica Airport (65 km) which is serviced by many airline flights from all over Europe.