Explore rocky shores undulating above a glassy sea, evocative walled cities and impenetrable castles – a land full of history and natural beauty.
Dubrovnik and Montenegro; mythic places with rich histories dating back to ancient times and clouded by the mists of time for centuries. Shrouded behind socialism and burdened with war in our era, this region opened to the casual visitor in the last decade of the 20th century. Now flourishing with tourism and recent updates of classic properties, it is a serious rival to the crowded rivieras of the western Mediterranean.
Unless you’ve got a boat, the best way to discover this part of the Adriatic coast is on a road trip. The road from Dubrovnik to Montenegro is one of the most beautiful in the world and Travellur can take you there. This is your guide to a 14 day slow-travel road trip of this land of legend. There is plenty of time to relax, swim, nap and daydream. All the stuff you don’t get back home. If you are short on time, you can do it in 7 days, but you will have to make some edits.
Slow-chic vibes can be found the in the sleepy little fishing village turned minimalist resort town of Mlini. Mid-way between the airport and the city, this is where I found the sweetness of life.
There are several accommodation options here and Travellur has the low down on the whole scene, including some local rentals not on the market. It’s easy to lose a few days here especially if local partner “Tony” can take you to Dubrovnik, or to the best swimming cove via tiny boat.
Day 7 Molunat - Perast
About an hour from Molunat the road takes you into the mouth of Kotor bay. Cross the border into Montenegro and enter a realm of otherworldly light, of graceful fjords and ominous hills rising steeply from glassy fjords. There is a sense of calm and disbelief, like it is all a dream or a Dungeons & Dragons fantasy novel.
The water is clear and placid throughout the bay, and it’s completely fine to stop anywhere you like and take a refreshing swim. You will see locals and tourists doing it, feel free to join them! This slow-travel itinerary is designed to accommodate such desires.
Following the road around the bay towards Perast, you will pass the ancient Illyrian town of Risan which has a modest archeological site displaying the mosaics of a 1st century Roman Villa.
Stay for two nights in Perast where there are number of small hotels and many guest apartment rentals. Travellur recommends the Monte Bay Retreat with its mini infinity pool just steps from the bay, and rustic touches of local stone. Book a table at a waterfront restaurant and take in the pink and blue dreamlike sunsets of this watery world.
Day 10 & 11 Milocer & Sveti Stefan
Explore a string of fabulous beaches from Mogren beach, just north of Budva, to the iconic beach at Sveti Stefan. Instagrammer alert: you’ll want to be here at 7.30am. At night, grab a table at Il brodetto or one of its quint neighbors for an excellent and inexpensive meal with a view of the small resort town.
Drive back to Kotor bay and have lunch in Porto Montenegro, the newest star on the Adriatic. A modern marina catering to glistening luxury yachts, several hot beach clubs and a casino makes this town a happening party place. Check out the Waikiki Beach Club for sexy lunch, people watching and a sandy beach swim.
After lunch, take the ferry across the straights to Herceg Novi. This unassuming town is not as picturesque as it’s neighbor Perast but possesses the healing power of mineral rich clay.
Get a room at the Guesthouse Aria where the spacious rooms with bay view terraces and free wifi & parking are a godsend. You’ll fine home-style cheap eats and daily specials at Konobo Karaca just a few minutes walk from the Aria.
Day 14 return to airport
Dubrovnik International airport is only an hour away from Hercog Novi. It’s small and easily managed so you really don’t need more than 20 minutes to return the car and make it to the check in counter.
If you have time before departure, take lunch at Popovici and a last swim at Pasjeca beach a secret locals don’t want to share.
When to go:
Dubrovnik is swarming with tourists July and August, but the weather is delightful and warm enough to swim in May through end of September. The best time is in September, when the crowds have receded (relatively), the days are not too hot and the sea is still warm from the heat of August.
Days 1-3 Dubrovnik
Fly into Dubrovnik airport, which has direct flights from most European hubs. This walled city known as the pearl of the Adriatic has earned her moniker with every ivory colored paving stone and medieval church. But you really don’t need more than a day or two to get the whole picture. Be sure to take refreshment at the Buza Bar, literally a hole in the wall of the city of Dubrovnik. It’s the perfect place to rest your feet after walking the ramparts and watch the cliff divers plunge into the emerald sea.
Streets in the old town are lively and pedestrian only. Parking anywhere within walking distance is not cute. Forget even attempting it in summer.
That’s why you should book a hotel just outside the town to recover from your jetlag in peace and make day trips to enjoy the town. For a plush recovery, I like the Excelsior with its matchless view of Dubrovnik harbor, smart renovation and a chic vintage motorboat that can whisk you to dinner in the old town in minutes.
Day 5 & 6 Molunat
With its deep-water coves, sandy beaches and pine shaded hillsides, you will want to stay in Molunat forever. But be forewarned, there are no hotels, only private guest rentals that is typical of this part of the world. Don’t expect luxury accommodations. More like an old world welcome from a generously proportioned Croatian matron who only takes cash.
Day 8 Perast & Kotor
Take a small boat to the unbelievably cute holy island just off shore and visit the shrine of Our Lady of the Rocks. Instagrammer alert: this is your big moment. After lunch, head over the busy medieval town of Kotor, only 15 minutes away. Wander the tiny stone paved streets, creep into gloomy churches 800 years old, contemplate the massive defensive walls and moat. An hour and a half before sunset you’ll want to climb the 1355 steps up to the Fortress of San Giovanni. It’s a steep climb and not much remains of the castle and ramparts, but you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Kotor and it’s red tiled rooftops.
Day 9 Perast – Milocer
Book a beach bed and table for lunch at Almara beach club where you can refresh with a swim at their sandy beach and enjoy some very good food on a relatively secluded part of the coast. Then head south to the small village of Milocer. There are plenty of inexpensive guest rentals, but parking is tough. If you are averse to parking challenges or exceptional yet understated luxury is your ticket, splurge on the Aman Sveti Stefan, a world class resort on a private island. Fans of Nobu Matsuisa will delight in the on-site Nobu restaurant nestled in a grove of seaside pines.
Day 13 Hercog Novi
Probably known since Roman times, the magical mud found in the shallow bay of Hercog Novi has spawned a sprawling spa and convalescent complex. With excellent practitioners and facilities (albeit in a 1970’s Soviet block style) and prices a fraction of what we’d pay in the US, it’s a good place to catch up on everything from massages to dental work. But if all that is too much for you, just head down to the beach, grab some mud from the sea (you will see other people doing it), and apply liberally. Let dry, and rinse.
If pastoral upland scenes with local cheese and honey are appealing, take the winding road up to Zvinje and have a medieval style lunch cooked over an open hearth at Konobo Pocetnik.
WE GOT THIS
For personally vetted logistics that will save you time & money, such as when and where to rent your car, border crossings, ferry crossing, where to eat, how the spa works, and the best times to visit each location, talk to Travellur before booking your trip. Local knowledge & contacts can make all the difference. You will enjoy the luxury of custom travel planning and discounts on hotels and tours.
Sort of a win-win.