Montenegro: The Sunny(ish) South

Although I could have easily stayed in Kotor for a lifetime, after 4 days there I decided to move on, heading south down the coast of Montenegro. The bus station in Kotor is great. It has a big timetable posted with the times of buses to all destinations, both domestic and international. It’s worth snapping a picture of it when you arrive. Since my hostel was close to the bus station, I tried to be organised and book my ticket to Bar the day before but the gruff ticket man told me to come back tomorrow so I guess, especially in the low season, you just buy your ticket on the day of departure.

It cost €7 for the 2 hour journey to Bar on a grotty little bus which took corners way too fast, to the point that the floor actually opened up next to me at several points. The bus stopped at the more touristy Budva on the way, which reminded me a lot of Benidorm with the high rises surrounding the beach. I’ve heard mixed things about Budva so decided to skip it. In contrast, Bar was very chilled. I booked an AirBnB here for a couple of days so I could chill. There’s not a whole lot in Bar, especially in low season, but it is nestled between the sea and the mountains and is a nice relaxing stopover.

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A man walks into Bar…

Unlike the Old Towns of Croatia, Bar’s sat way back from the sea and the rest of the city, giving it a scenic position amongst the mountains. It’s about a 30-40 minute to reach it from the city centre (alternatively a bus also runs – look for “Stari Bar”) on the front. The Old Town is littered with a few restaurants and souvenir shops but is much more low key than the others in this region. I had a bad weather day when I visited plus it was October so it was pretty desolate, though a few places were still open. I didn’t explore too much since the rain had made the cobbled walkways pretty slippery. I stopped and had a nice lunch though. Over in the new town, Bar has a nice promenade which makes for a good sunset spot. There are a couple of cheap restaurants dotted along the front and there’s a small stone beach. Bar’s not the sort of place that will blow you away but it’s definitely a nice place to recharge your batteries.

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Sunset at Bar waterfront.

From Bar, it was a short half hour bus ride (€2) to Montenegro’s southern city of Ulcinj, the pronunciation of which I’m still not 100% sure of. Buses ply this route every half an hour or so. Unlike Bar, Ulcinj is very much geared for tourists, with many people from neighbouring Albania holidaying here. It was quiet here due to the season – the Old Town was literally dead and deserted – but the promenade and centre still had a bit of bustle. I stayed in Hostel Breshka Rooms, just across the road from the bus station. This puts it about a half hour walk from the Old Town/waterfront but is super convenient if you’ve got an early bus. It’s a good hostel too, with friendly staff and a lovely dog.

Ulcinj itself definitely has the feel of a seaside town. The main beach isn’t the nicest (though it is sand, not stone) but the promenade is good and there are plenty of cheap restaurants lining the prom where you can grab a pretty cheap lunch or a drink (beers along the promenade went for between €2 and €3). Just in front of the Old Town also makes for a great sunset spot. As well as this, Ulcinj has a really good coastal walk. From the Jadran Peninsula which juts out at the end of the beach, follow the road south until you reach Hotel Albatros. Cutting through the car park of this hotel, you end up on a 50 minute or so forest/coastal walk which will lead you eventually to a huge beach. The beach again isn’t fantastic but the walk to get there is lovely. It’s not too difficult but at times the path does erode away completely requiring you to clamber over some rocks though it’s really not too taxing. The views of the crystal blue sea more than make up for it.

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A lovely coastal walk in Ulcinj.

Neither Bar nor Ulcinj set the world on fire in the way that fabulous Kotor does but they are chilled, easy stops on a Balkans tour and, in an area of the world where there’s so much to turn your head, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

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