a slow road trip in // montenegro
Perhaps not somewhere that you would immediately associate with road trips, Montenegro offers an array of terrifyingly beautiful cliff-top roads, sweeping down mountains with views of the Adriatic Sea below. If you’re seeking both beautiful scenery and an adrenaline-fuelled unforgettable drive, the road circling the Bay of Kotor should be your first port of call.
The Bay of Kotor
Although the Bay of Kotor has the appearance of a Norwegian fjord, it isn’t classified as such (it’s actually a ria, a submerged river valley comprised of four connected bays). Looking up from the bay, you find yourself surrounded by towering mountains, but it is when you climb up high to view the scenery from above that you can truly appreciate your spectacular surroundings. The drive circling the bay is perfectly located for visitors arriving at Dubrovnik airport, sweeping up into the mountains to take in the views before dropping back down to the town of Kotor, offering plenty of vistas along the way.
photo: solo in the balkans
The drive around the Bay
One of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, the Bay of Kotor is unlike anywhere else in southern Europe. Once you enter Montenegro, you are almost immediately thrust towards the bay, as you drive past Herceg Novi and the road begins to curl around the headland. The largest town in the vicinity, Herceg Novi doesn’t look like much upon first appearance, but take a detour towards the water to discover the old town with its ornate buildings and opportunities to take to the water.
Leaving Herceg Novi, you soon find yourself trapped between the staggering peaks of the mountains to your left and the sparkling blue water to your right. As you loop around the bay, you are constantly rewarded with the views from the opposite side of the water. Small towns and patches of dense woodland are framed by the mountains that tower above them and the water below.
photo: via wikipedia
There are several spots to stop off at on your way to Kotor, to soak in the beautiful views and relax on the shore. Located within the bend of the bay, the small town of Morinj is divided into an upper and a lower section, leading down onto a small yet pretty secluded beach. Further down the road, Perast sits directly by the water, featuring a small harbour sheltered by a stone wall and the ornate spires of small churches peeking out from above terracotta roofs. Despite its small size, there are actually sixteen churches here to explore.
Driving towards Kotor, Mount Lovcen rises dramatically to your left, providing the promised thrills of the road trip, but is worth spending some time exploring the fortified town before continuing your journey. Wander the winding medieval streets, exploring the unspoilt architecture, venturing into curious boutiques, and admire the view of the bay from the old town walls. It’s easy to get lost whilst randomly walking the attractive network of cobbled streets, and at times it will seem like you have the entire town to yourself. Be wary that when the cruise ships dock here it will suddenly become flooded with people, and this may be the time to escape into the peace and quiet of the mountains.
Rather than following the main road along the peninsula or southwards inland, take the back road that leads up the slopes of Mount Lovcen to experience one of the most memorable road journeys in the whole of Europe.
The road begins innocently enough, leading up the lower slopes of the mountain before you are greeted by 25 precarious hairpin turns, each revealing views of the bay that become more impressive the higher you climb. Find a place to park your car and perch as close to the edge of the mountain as you dare, drinking in the views of the entire bay and the Adriatic Sea behind.
Follow the road through a series of historic village en route to the former royal capital of Cetinje, stopping off along the way to explore the picturesque Lovcen National Park. With Cetinje as your base, you can spend the remainder of your trip exploring the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
mahabis of choice...
Take a summery stroll and put your feet up in our nora navy summer edition mahabis. Add a colourful sole, like the borgen blue, and enjoy unwinding by the Bay of Kotor.
Fancy taking someone on a road trip in Montenegro? Share this post with them using this ready-to-go tweet.