Encircle Bay of Kotor

No visit to Montenegro is complete without encircling the towns along the coastline of Boka Kotorska, better known as the Bay of Kotor. Come experience its history, scenery and pristine blue water.

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1 Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

Montenegro, whose name means Black Mountain, is landlocked except for a stretch along the Adriatic coast. Near Croatia’s southern border is the mouth of Boka Kotorska. The 17 mile long Bay of Kotor was formed by receding glaciers from the Dinaric Alps. Some people refer to Boka as a fjord but it is actually a river canyon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has four gulfs. Three of them – Tivat, Risan and Kotor – are surrounded by limestone mountains: Orjen and Lovćen. Nestled along its shores are serene towns. They are a joy to explore. This travel guide shows the highlights from Dobrota, Perast, Tivat and Budva.

Put I Bokeljske Brigade Dobrota, Montenegro
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2 Relaxing Coastline of Dobrota, Montenegro

Dobrota, Montenegro, is a town along the eastern shores of Boka Bay with almost three miles of beautiful coastline. Technically, it is a suburb of Kotor but the two communities could not be more different. Kotor is a fortified city that attracts crowds of tourists while Dobrota offers relaxing charm at the base of Mount Lovćen. Consider renting a holiday apartment in Dobrota and using it as a base for touring the towns encircling the Bay of Kotor.

Dobrota 243, Kotor, Montenegro
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3 Anchored Sailboats in Dobrota, Montenegro

As you walk or drive through Dobrota it is common to see small watercraft swaying gently while anchored just off shore. From this peaceful scene you’d never guess this area was part of a major port during the 17th though the 19th centuries. The maritime activities reached their peak during the late 18th century when it often accommodated up to 300 sailing ships as a time.

Put Bokeljskih Brigada, Dobrota, Montenegro
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4 St. Matthew’s Church in Dobrota, Montenegro

These steps lead up from the waterfront to the Church of St. Matthew’s. This Baroque Catholic church was built in 1670. Crkva SV Mateja has an impressive steeple and dome for a town the size of Dobrota.

Crkva Sv. Matije E65, Dobrota, Montenegro
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5 Swimming Piers On Shoreline in Dobrota, Montenegro

You won’t find sandy beaches along the eastern shores of Boka Bay. But that doesn’t stop the Montenegrins from enjoying the summer heat and sunshine. The coastline is marked with concrete piers that double as private quays and sunbathing retreats. They cherish these sunny days because during the winter this is one of Europe’s wettest regions with an average of 13 days of rain a month.

Montenegro Dobrota 145, Montenegro Dobrota 85330, Montenegro
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6 Tripković Palace in Dobrota, Montenegro

Dobrota has several mansions that were built by rich maritime families and ship captains. The Tripković Palace is an example of just how beautiful and elaborate some of these palazzos were during the Republic of Venice era. The Tripković Family owned 18 ships and produced over 80 sailors; nearly 75% of them were captains of various fleets. The balustrade in the foreground is part of the second-story balcony with a stunning view of the bay. The palace has been fully restored but typically stands empty waiting for someone to rent its seven rooms, yacht and fifteen staff members.

Dobrota 243, Kotor, Montenegro
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7 Sveti Nikola Fishing Boat in Dobrota, Montenegro

It is not surprising to see this old fishing boat anchored in Dobrota named Sveti Nikcola because Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. Nikolaos of Myra is revered by Orthodox Christians and Catholics which together represent about 75% of the religious affiliation in Montenegro. Or maybe I am reading too much into this moniker. Perhaps Sveti Nikola refers to a song by the hard rock band Kerber from neighboring Serbia … but somehow I think my first impression is right.

Dobrota, 223 Dobrota 85330, Montenegro
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8 Hotel Forza Mare in Dobrota, Montenegro

Most of the accommodations outside of Kotor in the neighboring town of Dobrota are small holiday apartments. The exception is the Forza Mare, the only five-star hotel along the eastern shores of Boka Bay. Each room is named after the country that inspired its décor such as China, Africa, India and Japan. Or perhaps you’d prefer the Dubai suite.

b.b. 85 330, bb Kriva 1, Dobrota 85331, Montenegro
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9 St. Eustace’s Church in Dobrota, Montenegro

St. Eustace’s Church, which was built in 1773, is classified as having a Baroque facade. But when the bell tower was added during the 19th century, the architects introduced a few Venetian Gothic elements surrounding the belfry. Crkva Sv Eustahija is dedicated to Saint Eustace who was martyred in 119 AD because of his Christian faith. Eustáchius is the patron saint for those who suffer from adversity.

Pešačka staza, Dobrota, Montenegro
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10 Waterfront Cityscape of Perast, Montenegro

Perast is one of several jewels encircling the Boka Kotorska or Bay of Kotor. The village is located on the north bank across from the narrow Verige Strait. The idyllic location offers more than 240 days of sunshine. Enjoy exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site with numerous Venetian palaces and churches like St. Nicholas in the foreground. Offshore are two islets with the Monastery of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks.

Sveti Đorde, Montenegro
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11 Woman Strolling Waterfront in Perast, Montenegro

While strolling along Persat’s shoreline you will find numerous palaces previously owned by captains of the Venetian navy, shipbuilders and former elite families. During its history, this town had the prestigious Nautica naval college, was the home to four successful shipyards and harbored over 100 ships. You would hardly guess its illustrious past by seeing the modest boats tethered in the bay.

Muzej grada Perasta, Perast, Montenegro
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12 Bujović Palace and Museum in Perast, Montenegro

During the late 17th century Morean War, Vicko Bujović marshalled troops from Perast to help the Republic of Venice fight the Ottoman Empire. In appreciation, they sent the Venetian architect Giovanni Battista Fontana to build this palace along the waterfront in 1694. In 1957, Bujović Palace became the home for the Museum of Perast. Its exhibits explain the town’s maritime and economic history since 1420. It also contains the municipality’s records dating back to 1441.

Muzej grada Perasta, Perast, Montenegro
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13 Two Church Towers on Shoreline of Perast, Montenegro

Perast has over 15 Catholic churches which is a lot for a community of 350 people. Two of them were constructed during the 17th century with very impressive bell towers. On the left is the slender, octagonal belfry of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary. It was built in 1687 next to the palace and mausoleum for Andrija Zmajevic who was the Archbishop of Bar. Three years later the bell tower of St. Nicholas Church was completed. Both were designed by Andrija Zmajcvic. They reflected the town’s growing prosperity as shipbuilders which peaked about one hundred years later.

Muzej grada Perasta, Perast, Montenegro
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14 St. Nicholas Church in Perast, Montenegro

With a belfry reaching 179 feet, St. Nicholas Church is the most prominent landmark on Perast’s shoreline. The five-story tower was built in 1691 and the Venetian clock was added in 1730. The namesake for this unfinished church is Nikolaos of Myra, a bishop and Christian saint from the 4th century. Dedicating a house of prayer to the patron saint for sailors and fishermen seems logical for a town dependent on the sea throughout its history.

Kapela Sv. Ivana Evanđeliste, Perast, Montenegro
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15 St. Mark’s Church in Perast, Montenegro

Several of the churches in Perast are more famous than St. Mark’s. However, Crkve Sv. Marka appealed to me for its simple Baroque architecture. It was built in 1760. On the gable above the rose window are three elegant statues. The risen Christ is in the center with the banner. On the left is St. Peter with the keys to heaven. The other sculpture is Mark the Evangelist holding the Bible.

Rimokatolička Crkva sv. Marka, Perast, Montenegro
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16 Winged Lion of St. Mark in Perast, Montenegro

Much of the architecture of Persast reflects when it was ruled by the Republic of Venice from 1420 until 1797. A classic example is this Winged Lion of St. Mark above the broken pediment of St. Mark’s Church. This represents Mark the Evangelist, the church’s namesake. But it also was on the Republic’s flag and coat of arms. To this day it is still used as the symbol for Veneto region and its capital city of Venice.

Rimokatolička Crkva sv. Marka, Perast, Montenegro
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17 Bay of Kotor Ferry in Montenegro

Visiting the charming towns along the Bay of Kotor is a perfect full day excursion. My advice is find a good cab driver like Prevoz Pejović, a true professional who drove me in a circular tour of the coast. Make sure to make frequent stops along the way to view the dramatic coastlines, dine on Mediterranean cuisine and swim in the aquamarine water. At the halfway point, you’ll take the Lepetane-Kamenari Ferry across the Verige Strait. This is the Boka’s narrowest channel.

E65 Kamenari 23, Herceg Novi 85342, Montenegro
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18 Emerging Yacht Marina in Tivat, Montenegro

In shape contrast to the small, historic and charming towns encircling the Bay of Kotor, a new development in Tivat is appealing to the social elite and their superyachts. In 2006, Canadian businessman Peter Munk purchased an abandoned 19th century naval shipyard and began creating Porto Montenegro. When it is finished, the marina will have 650 berths. 150 of them will accommodate personal ships up to 500 feet.

Obala bb, Porto Montenegro Village, Tivat 85320, Montenegro
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19 Shopping Promenade in Tivat, Montenegro

Proto Montenegro is fast redefining leisure along the Adriatic Sea coastline. This shopping promenade facing the marina and waterfront are just the beginning. Eventually this exclusive community will offer eight restaurants, three bars, a yacht club, sports facilities, an 18-hole golf course plus an ice-cream parlor for those hot summer days. The “Village” also hosts exclusive entertainment events.

Porto Montenegro, Tivat, Montenegro
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20 Exclusive Accommodations in Tivat, Montenegro

Porto Montenegro already has more luxury accommodations within its new gated community than the rest of the country combined. The Regent is a five-star hotel and includes 50 luxury apartments. Five more properties in the Residential Collection have sold out of their 130 apartments. The Ksenija Residences offers 50 waterfront homes. Plus additional buildings give you the choice from a studio to a penthouse. All of this phased development began in 2009 and it is still growing.

Porto Montenegro, Tivat, Montenegro
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21 Elevated View of Jazz Beach Near Budva, Montenegro

Judging from its appearance in this elevated view, you’d expect this 4,000 foot beach encircled by gorgeous turquoise water to be called crescent. Instead, it is named Jazz Beach because it is the frequent venue for music festivals and outdoor concerts. The most famous was in 2007 when the Rolling Stones played here during the Bigger Bang Tour. It is located about two miles west of Budva, Montenegro.

E65 El Rey, Prijevor, Montenegro
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22 St. Nikola’s Island Near Budva, Montenegro

It is easy to see how St. Nikola’s Island got its nickname “Školj” because it looks like a shell. This forested islet is about a mile wide and peaks at 397 feet. It sits majestically off the shore of Budva. During the summer, Sveti Nikola is very popular for its 2,755 (bare) feet of sandy beaches including the Beach of Paradise.

Spaska 1, Budva, Montenegro
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23 Tourism Capital of Budva Riviera in Montenegro

One look at Budva and it is very easy to see why it has become the tourism capital of Montenegro. The Budvanska Rivijera offers the allure of a Medieval fortified town, beautiful beaches, a thriving nightlife, gambling in several hotels, cultural centers and a Mediterranean climate with plenty of sunshine. No wonder it attracts over 40% of the country’s tourists.

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24 Main Gate Stone Tower in Budva, Montenegro

Flanking the Porta di Terra Ferme – the main gate into the Old Town of Budva – are two massive stone towers. They were built into the fortified walls during the 15th century. Look closely and you will see the Winged Lion of Venice up near the left battlement. This bas-relief is a testament to when this region was ruled by the Most Serene Republic of Venice from 1420 until 1797.

Vrzdak 1, Budva, Montenegro
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25 Time Period Map of Budva, Montenegro

The Old Town of Budva is very small (1.6 square miles) and very walkable. But Stari Grad is so rich in history and well preserved that it is hard to distinguish the age of its mainly renaissance and baroque style buildings. Fortunately there is a large annotated map near the main city gate which arranges them by timeline. Listed are structures from the Ancient (Antički), Roman (Rimski), Middle Ages (Srednji Vijek) and New Age (Novo Doba) periods. I’d suggest snapping a photo on your phone so you can fully appreciate every narrow street, square and historic site.

Stari Grad bb, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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26 St. John the Baptist Church in Budva, Montenegro

St. John the Baptist Church is the oldest in the fortified town of Budva; it dates back to the 7th century. Its bell tower is also the tallest; it was built in 1867. Look closely and you’ll notice it consists of three attached yet separate structures: the belfry, the church in the middle and on the right was the bishop’s palace when this was a cathedral and the seat of the diocese until 1828. Inside this Catholic church is the precious Madonna of Bulva, a 14th century religious icon believed to have protected the town from plagues since it was brought to St. John’s Church in 1807 from the Santa Maria in Punta.

Stari Grad bb, Budva, Montenegro
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27 Church of the Holy Trinity in Budva, Montenegro

Occupying Trg Starogradski, which is the largest square in Stari Grad, is the Church of the Holy Trinity. Its gorgeous red and white stone stripes follow a Byzantine design. Crkva Sv Trojice was built in 1804 shortly after the Republic of Venice lost control of the region. Over its door is a mosaic of the Old Orthodox Holy Trinity. Its rose window and three-bell terraced tower faces the Santa Maria in Punta, a church that was constructed nearly 1,000 years earlier but is now mostly in ruins.

Holy Trinity Budva Old Town, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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28 Citadel Fortified Wall in Budva, Montenegro

This massive wall at the southern edge of Budva plunges straight down into the blue waters of Boka Bay. The fortification is part of the Citadel at Budva. It was built during the 9th century probably shortly after the town was destroyed by Muslims. It was then expanded during the 15th, 17th and 18th centuries. This rampart has survived several attacks and suffered through earthquakes. But the Citadela stands as a testament to engineering by people who cherished their town and dreamed of freedom. Don’t forget to visit the history museum inside of the Citadel.

Crkva Svetog Save Budva, Montenegro
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29 Ricardova Glava Beach in Budva, Montenegro

In the shadows of the Budva’s old town is the Ricardova Glava Beach. Its 328 feet of coastline is a very popular place to swim and sun. The pebble/sand of Richard’s Head begins here at the base of Santa Maria in Punta, a church built as a Benedictine cloister in 840 AD. But if you are planning an extended vacation along the Budva Riviera, you might have time to lounge at all 19 beaches that are tucked along 23 miles of enchanting coves and bays.

Njegoseva 4, Old Town, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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30 Peninsula of Old Town Budva, Montenegro

Budva’s Old Town is suspended in the Middle Ages on a peninsula formally an island. Since the 4th century B.C. it has been occupied by Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Serbians, Venetians, Habsburgs, French, Austrians and Yugoslavians before becoming part of Montenegro in 2006. The country may be young but people have cherished its walled-in beauty for millenniums. Step through the city gate and step back into history. You will quickly discover why Budva is one of the finest historic towns along the Adriatic coast.

Merit Casino Avala Mediteranska 2, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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31 Parasailing Smiley Face in Budva, Montenegro

Those who can’t sit still during their vacation will love all of the water sports available along the Budva Riviera. Take your pick: a calm ride in a kayak or paddleboard; rent a guide to take you fishing or diving; ramp up your excitement on a jet ski or while wakeboarding. Or really get that adrenaline pumping by parasailing. You will be smiling from ear to ear.

Stari grad Budva bb, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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Domestic Balkan Goat on Mount Vrmac in Montenegro

When I saw this goat grazing along a road near the 2,300 foot peak of Mount Vrmac I did not realize they are fairly rare. Apparently all goats were banned under Yugoslavian rule in the mid-20th century and a half million animals were slaughtered. They were legalized again in 1984 but the population is now only 10% of the former number. The domestic Balkan goat is primarily raised on small farms for their milk and meat from their kids. This breed is endangered of becoming extent because of excessive cross breeding.

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