When we visited the amazing city of Dubrovnik for five days in March this year, we also made plans on one of our days to take a road trip to the town of Kotor in Montenegro which is located 57 miles (92km) from Dubrovnik making it a very easy drive. As Kotor is only a short distance away, it is a very popular day trip destination and even though there are buses and coach trips available, neither of these will give you the freedom to stop whenever you want to enjoy and take in the amazing scenery during the journey.
We were originally planning on renting a car just for one day of our trip however our flights with British Airways worked out strangely cheaper when we included our car rental from Avis for the whole five days of our stay in the same booking. This worked out well for us as we were also able to add an extra driver for free so we could both drive as we are members of their Executive Club loyalty scheme – this benefit alone makes it work signing up for.
One great tip I can give if you plan to rent a car whilst in Dubrovnik is to book the smallest car possible. We had use of a parking space at the AirBnB where we were staying at but be aware that the roads in Dubrovnik are very narrow and tight even before people have parked along them leaving very little room for driving or turning a car around. We had a Ford Focus (a car I used to drive at home) and even though we managed okay, we found it a little too big – knowing what we know now, we would have booked a smaller car.
Also when renting a car in Dubrovnik to drive to Kotor, make sure that you have all of the car documents from the rental company including the Green Insurance Card – you will need this to be able to take the car across the border into Montenegro.
On the day of our road trip, we woke up after two days of bright blue skies and sunshine to a very overcast morning. After having some breakfast, we left our apartment just after 9:00am and joined the D8 road towards Dubrovnik Airport. Make sure to adhere to the speed limits which are clearly signposted along the road – I read many reports online before we went of people being stopped for speeding.
About forty minutes and some rain later, we arrived at the Karasovići Border Crossing. Thankfully as it was March and outside of tourist season, there was no wait to cross the border though I have read of long waits in the summer months. You can check the current wait times online. After showing our passports and car documents (including the Green Insurance Card) to the Croatian immigration officials, we then had a short drive to the Montenegro Border Crossing at Debeli Brijeg where there was also no wait. All of our documents were checked once again and after our passports were stamped, we were on our way in no time.
Once we had crossed the border, we continued on the D8 road which is called the E65 in Montenegro towards Herceg Novi. Kotor is clearly signposted so it is very difficult to get lost. The journey to Kotor from the border is 32 miles (52km) and without stopping, the journey time is just over an hour.
However the best part about doing this journey in a car is that you can stop as many times as you want as the scenery around the Bay of Kotor is simply beautiful. Even though the weather was not great on the day we visited, it still looked impressive. I would love to see it again when the skies are clear as I can only begin to imagine how incredible it must look.
Eventually you will reach the old town of Kotor. Our first stop was to actually head past the town and up the very narrow and windy roads towards Mount Lovćen to get a view of Kotor from above. We only went a short way up and the view was amazing – we could have gone a lot higher but as it was very overcast and misty that day, we were happy with the photos that we managed to get.
Our next stop was the town of Kotor itself. We parked our car in a car park alongside the waterfront promenade opposite the Sea Gate which is the main entrance to the old town. The price to park was €0.90 per hour – another handy need to know is that the Euro is the official currency of Montenegro. It is also worth noting that if you plan to use your mobile phone in Montenegro, check with your network provider before you travel as Montenegro is not included in most European roaming plans.
We did not have much of a plan of what we wanted to do in Kotor but as it is so small, it is very easy to explore on foot and see what you can find. Before our visit, we had made sure to visit on a day when there were no cruise ships docked as we wanted to enjoy the town when it was peaceful and quiet – something we also did for our stay in Dubrovnik. You can check the cruise ship schedule for Kotor here. Visiting out of season is definitely recommended!
The main square is situated next to the Sea Gate and after wandering around the tiny old streets of Kotor, we were both hungry so stopped at Caffe Pizzeria Pronto which had good reviews on Trip Advisor and was located in the Old Town. The pizza was delicious, it was not too expensive and we were then ready for the rest of the afternoon and to finish exploring the town.
Due to the weather one of the things we did not do was to climb to the Church of Our Lady of Remedy and the San Giovanni Fortress high above Kotor to get another good view of the Old Town. If the weather and the visibility had been better, then we definitely would have done it but the rain kept coming down so we did not want to risk it. The entrance to the 1350 step uphill walk is located by the Church of St Mary near the North Gate of the old town and it costs €3.00.
Once we were ready to leave Kotor, we paid for our parking when leaving the car park and simply headed back the exact same way as before. Once again we made several photo stops on the way and Dubrovnik was clearly signposted.
There was no wait at the Debeli Brijeg Border Crossing in Montenegro and once again we both had our passports stamped but there was a short five minute wait at the Karasovići Border Crossing to enter Croatia. We were back in our apartment overlooking Dubrovnik just after 5:00pm that evening making our little road trip about eight hours in duration.
If you get a chance to visit Kotor soon, make sure to rent a car and have a great time in beautiful Montenegro!
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