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What to See on a Dubrovnik to Kotor Day Trip

Dubrovnik to Kotor Montenegro: Our Lady of the Rocks
Dubrovnik to Kotor is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Despite ominous clouds rolling over the Croatian hillside, we booked a car rental and set out on a day trip to Montenegro.

Crossing the Border from Croatia to Montenegro

The border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro is about an hour outside of Old Town Dubrovnik. A red sign hinted that the border was near.  We entered a short queue at the Croatian border and after about 15 minutes, our car was waved through after a cursory passport check.  We thought we were done but that was actually just the halfway point.  We'd exited Croatia but we still needed to enter Montenegro.  We entered a slow moving line of cars and after about 30 minutes we were finally on our way toward the Bay of Kotor.  If you visit Montenegro, make sure you leave plenty of time for the border crossing, particularly during the high season.

Driving Montenegro to the Bay of Kotor

We drove through picturesque villages. We saw hints of the Adriatic Sea in the distance. Green hills rose beyond. We soon rounded a bend and found ourselves faced with the entrance to the Bay of Kotor.  The scenery was stunning despite the iffy weather. We pulled over and took a few minutes to admire the views. We could see Perast in the distance across the Bay. Our Lady of the Rocks sat just offshore. A lonely hill punctuated the Bay of Kotor. We hopped back in the car, excited for the sights that lay ahead.
Bay of Kotor Montenegro

Pitstop in Perast

We rounded the Bay of Kotor and parked our rental car in Perast.  Just offshore, we could see Our Lady of the Rocks built on an artificial island planted in that spot because of the alleged Madonna and child sightings in that area by fishermen over the ages. We wandered along the waterfront of Perast. Colorful buoys seemed to mark various sea traps. The town itself featured soulful statues and unique structures.
Dubrovnik to Kotor: Perast, Montenegro

Our Lady of the Rocks

We boarded a boat bound for Our Lady of the Rocks.  It cost about a fiver. Fun fact:  Montenegro uses euros even though they are not officially part of the EU.  Their historical currency was the German Deutsche Mark. We rolled up alongside St. George Island which houses a 12th century church but is not open to the public. We continued on our 10 minute journey to Our Lady of the Rocks. The church loomed in front of us with its sky blue dome accentuated against the stormy sky. We disembarked and took a tour of the small island. We could see St. George Island nearby. We entered the church and were impressed by the boldly colored interior. A midnight blue dome grounded the scene. Masterpieces in oil decorated the ceiling and walls. Many superstitious Montenegrins come here to make an offering in thanks to Our Lady when they have a near miss at sea or in thanks for the good things in life.
Dubrovnik to Kotor: Our Lady of the Rocks
A small museum sits above the church and displays many of the offerings left here over the years.  It costs just a couple euro to enter. We emerged from the church and museum, past a weather-worn lion. We boarded our ferry back to Perast. Safely back on dry land, we watched the ferry do a quick turnaround back to the island to pick up more passengers. We in turn, retraced our steps back to the car in search of a bite of lunch.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in other places to visit along the Adriatic Sea? Why not visit Istria and the picturesque town of Piran along the Slovene Riviera or Rovinj in Croatia? You could even dash over to Italy for a seaside city break in Trieste.

Lunch at Stari Mlini

Rick Steves' guidebook recommends Stari Mlini as a good stop for lunch in Montenegro along the Bay of Kotor.  Situated along the mouth of the raging River Ljuta, we parked the car and did a quick tour of the grounds. There were clearly storms in the area so the river was running hard and fast. Rugged hills accented the scene. We were amazed at the power of the short river tumbling down the hill at this weather-worn bridge.
Raging river near Stari Mlini Restaurant on a Dubrovnik to Kotor day trip
We made our way to the restaurant and were seated at an outdoor table under a protective roof.  Onions and garlic lined the walls. The river rushed past right next to our table. We were served a bread basket with three kinds of homemade bread. Our waiter carefully explained the fresh caught fish on offer for the day.  We were able to pick out the specific fish that we wanted. We indulged in a small glass of white Montenegrin wine with our meal. A big bottle of local sparkling water quenched our thirst. While we waited for our food to arrive, I took a moment to walk out to the footbridge over the river. The Ljuta was raging past into the Bay of Kotor.
Dubrovnik to Kotor: fresh fish at Stari Mlini in Montenegro
I arrived back at the table just in time to watch our waiter filet our fish table-side. We split our entrees in half and each took half the fish and half a portion of Montenegran seafood rice. We ate our meal while the river coursed by next to us. Once again, we made a new friend in the process. What is it about cats and seafood restaurants?
Dubrovnik to Kotor: Stari Mlini restaurant
Stari Mlini is a bit pricey but worth a stop if you are on a day trip from Dubrovnik to Montenegro.  The atmosphere and surroundings are worth that little bit extra.

Kotor Town

The deluge started just as we were pulling up to Kotor Town on the Bay of Kotor. We toughed it out though and set out to explore despite the turn in the weather.  We followed our fellow umbrella-wielding tourists onto the main square just inside the town wall. Stone buildings lined the square with a dramatic mountain range in the background. An old fashioned pump was at the ready should we have gotten thirsty.
Kotor Montenegro: soot covered church
I felt a bit like a fish after about 20 minutes walking around town.  It was raining that hard. The River Skurda ran just outside the walled town. We ducked back into Kotor Town and continued our attempt to get to know the place. Houses, a church, and even the wall itself seemed to spill down the mountainside. We made our way back to the center of town and admired the nearly deserted brick facades. We caught a glimpse of the interior of an orthodox church. Some of the facades had seen better days and were covered with soot.
Dubrovnik to the Bay of Kotor: The city wall of Kotor
We parked ourselves under a large awning and sampled delicious coffee and cake. We ducked back out through the entrance to the walled town and gazed out at the Bay of Kotor. We walked back to our car which was parked in the shadow of the giant cruise ship that had docked in the port at Kotor Town that morning.  I don't think Montenegro will keep itself off the tourist radar for much longer.

Car Ferry on the Return from Kotor to Dubrovnik

The sun was starting to set on our day trip to Montenegro so we took Rick Steves' advice and took the car ferry shortcut back towards Dubrovnik. As an added bonus, the scenery from the boat was gorgeous.  I love how the clouds seemed to be caressing a modest church on the hill. The ferries run continuously back and forth across the Bay of Kotor. We looked back at a quaint village with small boats sitting on the still water. The ferry crossing with our rental car took less that 15 minutes but it was the perfect amount of time to enjoy the views and reflect on our unique day trip from Dubrovnik to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.  If you find yourself in Dubrovnik, Montenegro is just too close by to miss.
Kotor to Dubrovnik Car Ferry

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: What to See on a Dubrovnik to Kotor Day Trip
What to See on a Dubrovnik to Kotor Day Trip
Take a day trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor in Montenegro. Drive the Bay of Kotor in one day. Learn about renting a car and spending one day in Montenegro.
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