Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Whilst staying in Dubrovnik I was able to take a day trip into Montenegro. Due to time scales and fitting in all the other places on the trip, I was only able to fit in a day tour of the country. If I'd had a little more time then I'd have stayed for at least one night.
The tour consisted mainly of visiting Kotor which is famous for it's many cats that roam the city. But there was a quick stop off in the town of Perast to visit Our Lady of the Rocks.
Although the day tour was good, it wasn't long enough to properly explore Kotor, and we also hit Perast at a peak time which resulted in huge crowds. Add on top of this the wet weather, it really limited what I could do in the short time.
Kotor is quite small, but filled with small alleys and passageways much like Split and Dubrovnik, but on a smaller scale. It's fun to get lost as you explore and come across various cats of all different breeds and colours.
If you are based in Dubrovnik, you can take a bus to Kotor fairly easily, although the return bus leaves Kotor quite early in the evening. But if you're happy to visit Kotor and stay overnight, it's quite easy to arrange and it will give you a lot more time to explore the city properly.
Our Lady of the Rocks
An islet off the coast of Perast, situated in the Bay of Kotor. It's actually an artificial island, created from old ships loaded with rocks.
The aptly named Church of Our Lady of the Rocks resides here, which is quite a pretty sight from a distance and close up, but the interior is quite stunning with the many frescoes.
The problem I experienced here though was the overcrowding. Being on a day trip we had limited time, and there were many other tour groups waiting to enter. I didn't think I'd actually get to see the inside, but thankfully I was able to just in time.
If you're visiting Kotor, then definitely stop off here, but make sure you hit this at a less busy time so that you can truly appreciate it.
The main gate to the city when entering from the west. There is also a gate to the north which I thought was more charming due to the bridge passing over the moat as you enter the city, but the Sea Gate tends to be the most used gate.
As you pass through you'll notice what appears to be a mailbox with a relief of Madonna and child above it. From what I remember being told by a local, it's good luck to touch this as you pass through the gate into the city.
Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral
There are several churches in Kotor, Saint Luke’s Church and Saint Nicholas’ Church being two of the most popular. But it's Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral that I felt stood out the most. Dating back to 1166, it was rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake. This seems to be quite a theme amongst cathedrals and churches in the Balkans, having to be rebuilt after earthquakes.
It features two bell towers, with one being unfinished. But I feel this is what gives it a unique look and is why it's one of the buildings that stands out the most in the city.
Located opposite the Sea Gate as you enter the city into the main square. I thought this was one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in the city. There's a watchmakers shop on the ground level which dates back to the 17th century. You'll also find a small pyramid shaped stone at the foot of the clock tower. It was once used as a pillar of shame to tie local criminals to as a punishment.
Being the city of cats, you'll find them all over the city. Although these are stray cats, they appear to be in very healthy condition, I think due to the locals and tourists alike both feeding them and giving them attention. Apparently the cats occupy the city due to sailors originally bringing them into the city to reduce the rodent population. Now the cats are seen as a symbol of good luck for the city.
There's a cat museum to explore and many cat souvenir shops where you can buy your own lucky cat of Kotor.
Ladder of Kotor
The one thing I wish I'd had more time for whilst in Kotor was to climb the Ladder of Kotor. This is a walking trail which leads high above the city to San Giovanni Fortress. Due to being on a day tour I hiked as far as the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which didn't take too long. There are some nice views from here, but the higher you go the better they get.
I think you'll need to set aside a few hours if you plan to hike to the ruins of San Giovanni Fortress, which I'm sad to say I didn't have the time to do.
Blessed Osanna of Cattaro
Located inside St Mary's Collegiate Church is a glass coffin containing the corpse of a nun. She wished to donate her life to prayer, even in death.
It's said to be good luck to touch the coffin as you enter the church. It's a little creepy seeing the corpse in all it's glory, but I went ahead and touched the coffin anyway. I can't say I experienced much luck though, as it then rained cats and dogs which prevented me from seeing as much as the city as I had hoped.