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Montenegro Travel Blog: The Bay of Kotor Montenegro Will Blow Your Socks Off – Here’s Why
Virtually unknown to North American and Western European—with some exceptions, of course—tourists, Bay of Kotor Montenegro has the potential to exceed everyone’s expectations.
Located within easy driving distance from Dubrovnik, Croatia’s star attraction, it is sometimes described as the only fjord in the Mediterranean. While that is technically not true, it does effectively reflect what the landscape looks like.
Intro to the Bay of Kotor Montenegro – Boka Kotorska
The Bay of Kotor Montenegro, also known as Boka Kotorska begins seemingly like any other Mediterranean bay. It’s simple and rocky, not really invoking any awe or causing any jaws to drop. But as you continue further into the bay, swinging around bends and meandering along its many folds, the landscape becomes increasingly spectacular. The coastal mountains get steeper, the scenery more rugged.
Assuming you’re coming from Dubrovnik—alternatively, it’s also a hugely popular cruise ship stop—you will pass virtually featureless towns such as Igalo and Herceg Novi. There’s no need to stop anywhere near the mouth of the bay. It’s what lies more inland that people come for.
After a pleasant ride along the first part of the bay, you’ll arrive at the Verige Strait. This is the entrance to what gives the Bay of Kotor its fame. This very entrance, incidentally, was pivotal in the Bay history, a narrow bottleneck allowing access to the port towns deeper inside the bay. Because of this strategic strait, which was easily controlled, the people living in the Bay were able to thrive and live peacefully. No one was able to reach them there. Moreover, on the inland side, the sheer mountains offered another form of natural protection.
Although not more than a quarter-mile wide, the strait is deep enough to allow passage to even the largest modern cruise ships. This, of course, is very convenient nowadays, bringing loads of tourism money into the bay.
Ancient Towns, Magnificent Landscapes
Now, you’ll have made it into the innermost part of the bay. Nearly entirely secluded, except for the Verige Strait, this part is of such exceptional beauty that it’s almost hard to grasp. A scenic, winding road runs along the edge of the bay, allowing you to explore essentially every part of it.
There are several villages and towns in the Bay of Kotor, but only two you should really focus on.
Perast lies almost directly across the water from the Verige Strait and is probably the first thing you’ll see when entering the inner bay. This small town, because of its location adjacent to the inner bay’s entrance, was an essential part of the bay’s fortifications.
Formerly under Venetian control, Perast was granted a tax-free status by Venice, just because of its important role in the bay. This eventually made it an extremely wealthy town. Prestigious mansions dotted the townscape in the 1600s and 1700s. Nowadays, you can still see the remnants of that prosperous time—there are sixteen churches and no fewer than seventeen grand palaces. One of those former palaces now houses the Perast Museum, which is worth visiting. It displays Perast’s seafaring history.
Because of the fact that it used to be part of Venice, Perast is often referred to as “the Pearl of Venetian Baroque.” Many Venetian-style buildings make up the heart of the town. Even the main church, St. Nicholas’ Church, reminds people of Venice. You can climb the tall bell tower for amazing views of the town and the Bay of Kotor.
Just off shore from Perast lie two small islands, both of which are fascinating places to visit. The Island of St. George is the smallest one. Its larger neighbor, Our Lady of the Rocks, is accessible by boat from Perast.
Set at the foot of a sheer cliff, surrounded by rugged coastal mountains and with the bay’s water lapping gently against its shores, Kotor is the star attraction and namesake of the Bay of Kotor. Set in the far southeastern corner of the inner bay, this marvelous historic town is one of the true gems of the Mediterranean.
Boasting a network of strong fortifications, cobbled alleyways, hidden piazzas and stunning architecture, the Old Town of Kotor is of such cultural and historic significance it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Unique in its history, setting, and picturesqueness, Kotor is a must-visit destination if you’re in the Adriatic. It’s to Montenegro what Dubrovnik is to Croatia, what Venice is to Italy, what Mostar is to Bosnia-Herzegovina and what Lake Bled is to Slovenia.
Kotor is filled with historic attractions. While it’s possible to “do” the entire Bay of Kotor on just a one-day road trip, you’re strongly encouraged to take your time and spend at least one night in Kotor Town.
Main attractions include the Town Walls, the Sea Gate, St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, St. Luke’s Square and the Maritime Museum of Montenegro. The real beauty of Kotor, though, is its overwhelming historic charm.
And the views of the mountains behind it are nothing short of world-class.
Photo Credits: Pixabay & SarahTz