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One Day Private Coastline Shore Excursion from Kotor, Montenegro
Posted On 03/04/2019 17:02:56
Trip Date 12/03/2018
Destinations | Cruises | Montenegro | Kotor | Budva | Perast | Our Lady of the Rocks Island | Montenegrin Coastline Tour | Kotor Shore Excursion | Day Trip from Kotor | Private Tours in Kotor
With only one day to explore Kotor, we joined a small private tour for our first visit to Montenegro allowing us to also see some of the countryside. In just seven rainy hours, we got a taste of two medieval walled cities, journeyed by boat into the Bay of Kotor, learned a little history and enjoyed some great scenery along the way.
This post will provide anyone traveling by cruise ship to Kotor with an overview of a one day private shore excursion worthy of consideration. At a cost of $92.00 USD per person with a group of six (excluding lunch and tips), a van driven by a guide allows visitors to see and learn about more than could easily be done on their own in the same amount of time.
Overview of "The Best of the Montenegrin Coastline" Tour
Kotor Private Tours offers a selection of customizable tours, some which are perfectly designed for those traveling via cruise ship. Scott and I joined four others who we "met" through Cruise Critic on The Best of the Montenegrin Coastline tour. With instructions to meet our guide on shore after tendering, our itinerary included visits to the coastal cities of Kotor, Perast, Our Lady of the Rocks Island and Budva while driving along the "Budvan Riviera".
After meeting our guide Daniel, we departed from the port area of Kotor. Our first stop was at Vista Vidikovac, a restaurant with a spectacular panoramic view. Knowing that Daniel would be leading us on a walking tour of Old Town Budva within the hour, we did enjoy seeing the town from above. As the temperatures were rather cold, we passed on sipping coffee on the outside deck.
View of Old Town Budva from Vista Vidikovac Restaurant
Aman Sveti Stefan
Although we didn't even get out of the van at our next very quick stop, it was interesting to see and hear about the Aman Sveti Stefan. Only open to guests for about 6 months each year, the 15th century fortified island and fishing village of Sveti Stefan is now home to resort style
accommodations. The luxurious 50 rooms, cottages and suites most often occupied by the rich and famous are accessible either by foot or by boat.
Aman Sveti Stefan
If only we had visited Kotor about ten years ago during the year that the resort opened. Reportedly, two hour passes for visitors who wished to see the island were available for "only" 20 euros per person!
Budva Old Town
About 20 minutes later we reached Old Town Budva where we had the opportunity to stretch our legs with a walking tour. The walls which surround this popular tourist town today were built on the foundation of the original walls which were destroyed by an earthquake in 1667.
Ancient Walls surrounding Old Town Budva
As we stepped through one of the entrances to this walled city built atop a small peninsula, we were walking into 2,500 years of history.
Entering Budva Old Town
The buildings and ancient stone streets reminded us of days gone bye, but today's retailers were offering more current products and services. I have to admit that it seems a bit odd to see state of the art technology services sold in a medieval village!
Strolling the Stone Streets of Old Town Budva
While picturesque during daylight hours, I can only imagine how charming Budva would look during an evening stroll along the streets lit only by lamp.
Imagine Walking towards the Steeple on Budva's Lamp-Lit Streets
We paused at Richard's Head where we could see up to Vista Vidikovac, the location of our morning stop where we saw the panoramic view of Budva. Within steps of the ancient city walls, the beach is quite popular with those wanting to enjoy the sun, sip on a cocktail or eat a snack during the warm weather months.
Before departing, we spent some time wandering around one of the squares in Budva which is home to five of the 700 or so churches in Montenegro - including the two oldest in the country. During our visit, a local musician was playing lovely guitar music in the same area where live theater is performed "between the churches" during the summer months.
Church of Santa Maria in Punta
Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity (left) and Church of Sveti Ivan (right)
As we headed to the van to start making our way nearer to our ship, I knew that if we return to Montenegro, Budva would be a town that I'd love to visit again.
Bay of Kotor
Often referred to as the southernmost fjord in the world, we made a quick photo stop to see the beauty of the fjord-like Bay of Kotor surrounding our ship.
Rhapsody of the Seas anchored in the Bay of Kotor
Our Lady of the Rocks
Our next stop, also located on the Bay of Kotor, was in the small town of Perast. A short journey by the boat Dado took us to one of the two islands across the bay - Our Lady of the Rocks (Island Gospa od Skrpjela), often referred to by its nickname "Island of Joy". Although we sailed nearby, we did not make a stop at Island Sveti Djordje (St. George Island), also referred to as "Island of the Dead", "Cursed Island" and "Island of Tears".
Island Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks Island)
Dado docked at Our Lady of the Rocks Island
According to local legend, an icon of the Virgin Mary was found by seamen on a nearby seaside cliff. They brought the religious icon home, however, upon waking up the following morning it was gone. After finding it on the same cliff, it was again brought home and the same thing happened. This was thought to be a sign from above.
To speed up the building process, more than 150 boats and ships were filled with rocks so that they would sink. A man-made boat-shaped island was then built on top of the wreckage. Upon completion of the island, Our Lady of the Rocks Church was built and an icon painted by a famous artist was hung above the marble altar.
Altar inside Our Lady of the Rocks Church
Icon of the Lady of the Rocks in Our Lady of the Rocks Church
In addition to a small gift shop, the church is also home to a museum filled with numerous donated artifacts.
Museum in Our Lady of the Rocks Church
Lunch in Perast
After returning to the tiny town of Perast via boat (and accompanied by a light drizzle), Daniel had two suggestions for a lunch stop. We all agreed that our preference was a casual restaurant, so we walked the short distance to Cafe Armonia. Had our visit been during the warmer season, we would have preferred to dine in the restaurant's courtyard as it appeared to have an awesome view of the Bay of Kotor with the two nearby islands.
Unfortunately at about the time that we finished our lunch, the rain was beginning to come down harder. Because of the
weather, we passed on the chance to walk along the main street of Perast which parallels the sea. If we had a little more time, Scott and I surely would have climbed the belfry tower of the still unfinished Parish Church of St. Nicholas.
Approaching Perast, Montenegro
Bell Tower of Parish Church of St. Nicholas
Old Town Kotor
Once our wet bodies were back in the van, we rode the short distance back to our starting point of Kotor for our final walking tour of the day. At nearly 3 miles long, the wall surrounding Old Town Kotor is well preserved. With only three entrances into this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we passed through the main gate and into history.
Gated Entrance into Old Town Kotor
Just opposite the main gate is Kotor's Clock Tower, often pictured as a symbol of the city.
Clock Tower in Old Town Kotor
Getting its name for being where arms were repaired and stored in years gone by, the Square of Arms is the largest of the many squares in the town.
Old Town Kotor's Square of Arms
Located in the center of the medieval town stands the Cathedral of Sveti Tripun (St. Tryphon), one of the oldest churches in Europe. Originally built in 1166, the church unfortunately suffered immense damage from two earthquakes. After the most recent destruction in 1979, some of the original architecture was included when the church was rebuilt. In addition to a large number of relics inside the cathedral's treasury, there is a ciborium (a canopy standing on 4 pillars over an altar) dating from the second half of the 14th century.
Cathedral of Sveti Tripun in Old Town Kotor
Altar with Ciborium in St. Tryphon's Cathedral
Across town, the Church of Sveti Luka (St. Luke) has two altars - one is Catholic and the other Orthodox.
Remarkably, this building survived the most recent earthquake with very limited damage.
Church of Sveti Luka (St. Luke)
After saying our goodbyes to our guide, we had some on our own time to further explore the town or shop before returning to the ship. Old Town Kotor has shops featuring just about everything imaginable - antiques, books, clothes, electronics, food, jewelry ... the list goes on and on, and of course includes souvenirs. The most popular souvenirs come in many different forms but they are all cat shaped - yes, that's right, Kotor is known for a high population of furry felines!
As the rain was once again beginning to come down harder, we quickly passed St. Mary's Collegiate Church as we
walked toward the Gurdic Gate. It was under this South Gate that we "hid" to try not to get soaked before
returning to the ship.
St. Mary's Collegiate Church
The Walls of Old Town Kotor from Outside the Gurdic Gate
Had we had more time (and less rain), we probably would have attempted to climb the stairs high up over the city to the Church of Our Lady of Remedy and then further up to St. John Fortress. There will hopefully be a next time, and this is first on my list - if I'm still young enough for the strenuous uphill hike! Now, I can only imagine seeing these sites up close ... not to mention the awesome views of the bay and city from above.
Church of Our Lady of Remedy
The "WE Did It!" Evaluation
In the honest opinion of The Wordy Explorers, The Best of the Montenegrin Coastline tour is excellent for a first time visit to Kotor by cruise ship. In comparison to the tours offered by Royal Caribbean, the price of this private tour was almost identical. The differences, however, included a much smaller group size, a longer tour and a walking tour of Budva. (Royal Caribbean did not offer a tour which included all four locations.)
While we could have spent additional time in most of the towns that we visited, we preferred the introductions offered by the tour. The tour matched perfectly with our travel style when we only have one port day - "see a little of a variety of places". We now also have enough information to allow us to tour on our own should we return to Kotor. (My preference for my first return visit would include spending time in both Perast and Old Town Kotor where I would see more of both towns plus do the hiking and climbing that we missed out on.)
Knowing what I know now after having completed the tour, the only thing that I might do differently is to opt out of lunch
(assuming all on the tour agreed). When traveling, we often eat a heartier breakfast and skip lunch giving us the opportunity to explore more. With the tour ending by mid-afternoon, we would happily have either grabbed a quick snack or waited until our return to the ship for another meal.
If you are planning a cruise that also makes a visit to the Port of Naples, check back in the coming weeks for tips on visiting the ruins of Pompeii. Our post titled Itinerary for a DIY Shore Excursion from Naples to Pompei will arm you with the details (and costs) to help you get to and explore this amazing archeological site.
As this was our first visit to Montenegro, we'd love to hear your recommendations of your favorite places to visit, sites to see, restaurants to check out and any other suggestions that you have for someone visiting the country.
Total Fitbit steps: 10,552
Weather:50F Mostly Cloudy
Created On 03/03/2019 12:41:17
Updated On 04/01/2019 20:27:23
Scheduled On 03/04/2019 13:02:56
Posted On 03/04/2019 17:02:56
Last Editor Scott
Location Square Of The Arms, Montenegro, Montenegro