To the Mountains

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
On our first day in Montenegro, we sat on a patio in the main square of the old town of Kotor. We were under the central clock at the main gate where a glimpse of the harbour could be seen just beyond. We sipped on fluffy coffees and watched tourists pour in and out, stopping to take photos of the clock, the square, the gate, anything clickable in the scene around us.We looked at each other and said it without saying it: we kinda missed Albania.

But we had left it so abruptly. We had plans to stay the entire month, had never initially fathomed heading north to Montenegro, but as the weeks wore on and we realized we were too early in the year to see everything we wanted, we made a change in plans. We enjoyed our three weeks on the Albanian Riviera but we were restless.

And most of all, we were craving mountains. Which Albania has, but which were covered in snow still, only accessible via roads that weren’t exactly good even in drier conditions.

And so we headed north. To the mountains.

We loved our three weeks on the Albanian Riviera but were restless. And most of all, we were craving mountains.

Kotor Bay
Kotor Old Town
Kotor North Gate
We spent most of our time around Kotor Bay and a few days in Budva – the latter was a place that we barely enjoyed preferring instead the far more photogenic Kotor and all the activities within. There we were nestled in between mountain peaks on the edge of the bay, with far fewer people around and more to do. We hiked up to the Kotor fortifications (Pete even did so twice), up the other side, and even managed a 20km paddle on kayak out to the small town of Perast and the small islands that sit in front.

For us lovers of mountains and being on the water, Kotor is basically a small slice of heaven.

Kotor Reflections
Kotor from Muo
Kotor Lit Up at Night
From a climb up to the fortifications.

Kotor Church of Our Lady of Remedy
Kotor Fortress Staircase
Chruch in Fortifications
Kotor Fortress Church
St. John's Castle
Kotor Fortress View from Top
Kotor Flowers
From our paddle out to Perast.

Perast Taxi Boat
Perast Harbour
Perast Montenegro
Abbey of St. George - Perast, Montenegro
Perast from Above
Perast Silky Waters

where we stayed

We first stayed for a few days in Kotor Old Town but realized that spending a weekend in there is not the best idea – it is very noisy with all the partygoers and church bells constantly ringing. So then we moved out here, a ten minute walk from town and with very nice and friendly hosts!

how to get there

There are very few options for how to get to Montenegro from Albania (and vice versa). We came into Montenegro with public transportation and it took us 9 hours on four different buses – to go only 200 kms! You can find some information on how to do it on this blog. Be prepared to be flexible, we met some people who spent several extra hours in Shkodra just because the first bus never showed up.

On the way back we decided to pay a bit more and have a private transfer and it was well worth it. Our excellent driver from Montenegro Hostel even played tour guide along the way and stopped so we could take photos. If they aren’t running private transfers on the day you desire, this company also does it as well.

27 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • Mom
    May 19 2015

    Wow..amazing photos Pete. Looks like a gem of a place to visit.

  • Wynne
    May 19 2015

    Stunning photos – I can see why you prefer mountains and water to the interior towns. Gorgeous!

    • May 21 2015

      Maybe it’s because we grew up near the Rockies…but we need to get our FIX of mountains every once in awhile. This was the perfect spot!

  • May 19 2015

    Wow, this place looks beautiful. I love the mountains, adding this to my Europe wish list now!
    Yasmine recently posted..Learning how to make udon noodles in Osaka

  • May 19 2015

    OMG! Pete, all of these pictures are drop dead gorgeous! I love the mountains & water, so I can see how Kotor Bay should most definitely be on my list of places to visit!

  • Phyllis
    May 19 2015

    Amazing pictures. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of the beautiful country. They’ve been there all my life and I never knew. Wondering who walked those steps now and who built the beautiful little church.

    • May 21 2015

      It is St George monastery, I am sure you can find some info on it!

  • May 19 2015

    Oh my god, these are incredible photographs! Very vivid, and they seem to depict the area in its natural existence– breathtaking! Also,
    am I the only one who was gettin’ a Game of Thrones vibe??

    • May 21 2015

      We DEFINITELY got that vibe while we were there!

  • May 19 2015

    I only very briefly visited Kotor but I also loved it. Definitely somewhere I want to go back to explore further
    Katie recently posted..Why I am going home to New Zealand

  • May 19 2015

    This brought back so many memories.
    I went swimming off that little island you photographed from Our Lady of the Rocks at Perast. I’m not sure I was supposed to. The man who took me over to the church said he could sneakily drop me off because it was the best place for swimming in the area.
    For about an hour it was my own private island ๐Ÿ™‚
    Megan recently posted..Hunting for fagus: Tasmaniaโ€™s autumn secret

    • May 21 2015

      Oh wow! Well, we did debate swimming but it seemed a bit too cold at that time of year. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • May 20 2015

    Montenegro is stunning. It’s one place I wish I had spent more time in. We drove from Albania, which was the way to go obviously. We were on a tight schedule, but we did get to see both the inner National Park areas and Kotor a bit. Love your photos — definitely keeps me anxious to go back!
    Erin D recently posted..Imperial Stout by Tro Ales #OTTBeerDiary Day 130

    • May 21 2015

      Driving definitely would have been a good option! So happy we found the direct transfers though, saved some agony. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • May 21 2015

        You have never been on a road trip with Brett driving…you may have had the better deal. HAHA That road trip was a bit crazy. 23 countries in 10 days or thereabouts as we thought it would be fun to drive from NL to Croatia for a cruise, and it turned into, how many countries can we eat in along the way. Will never forget arriving in Albania at 2am completely lost and having armed police stop us, or the GPS taking us on a 4-wheeler type path over the mountains in Serbia. Mind you we were driving a Prius! LOL Good travel memories though, I suppose. ๐Ÿ™‚
        Erin recently posted..Pelforth Brune by Heineken (France) #OTTBeerDiary Day 132

  • I have been looking SO much forward to this post! Kotor looks amazing! I have four days in Montenegro and chose to find a hotel in Kotor, not Budva. It sounds like I made the right decision. Did you visit Durmitor, too?

    • May 21 2015

      We enjoyed Kotor immensely over Budva. We didn’t visit Durmitor.

      Do plan a trip out to Perast (if even for a few hours)! Some great restaurants along the waterfront and it was so picturesque. We kayaked there (20km round-trip), but it is also an easy bus ride. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thanks, Dalene! I’m staying in Perast for one night so I’ll definitely have a look around. I’ll probably nok kayak there, though ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • May 21 2015

    Just came on your site and saw this post. I just posted on Kotor this morning: http://bbqboy.net/photo-essay-why-kotor-montenegro-totally-blew-us-away/.

    When did you go? We were there just a week ago today and loved it, ended up extending our stay from 3 days to 5. And like you we stayed in an Airbnb apartment about 10 minutes from the old town. Would have been funny if we had recognized you in a square somewhere…

    I’m not a 100% sure from reading this if you enjoyed Kotor or just enjoyed Albania more? We were incredibly impressed by Kotor but haven’t been to Albania yet (we have to go back to Canada for a short trip but intend to be back in the Balkans in late summer, so hope to see Albania then).

    Anyway, fantastic photos!
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Photo Essay. Why Kotor, Montenegro, totally blew us away

  • May 27 2015

    what a stunning pictures, you just made me miss Kotor so much! It was one of my dream destinations and the place that was even better than I had imagined! You are so right, this place is a heaven!!
    kami recently posted..Persepolis images – a gallery from the most known ancient city in Iran

  • Just gorgeous. Mountains make for such dramatic landscapes. Sorry to hear Albania didn’t work out quite the way you planned, but Montenegro looks promising ๐Ÿ™‚
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..SPAIN: Working Holidays In Andalusia

  • I’ve been to Kotor many many years ago (at least 10) and back then it wasn’t touristic at all. I’ve heard various stories about it from gorgeous to too touristic, but your pictures for sure make me want to go back one day!
    antonette – we12travel recently posted..Confessions: Iโ€™ve got the Blogger Blues

  • June 1 2015

    Ahhhh these photos are so dreamy! I want to spend more time in Montenegro SO BAD.

  • Montenegro and also Albania and Bulgaria have stunning nature. Your images are truly breath-taking! Kotor looks like quiet and tranquil place.
    Izy Berry – The Wrong Way Home recently posted..Why you should take up Photography

  • What a stunning view!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..PHOTO ESSAY: El Yunque National Forest

  • January 23 2016

    Kotor remains one of my favorite cities of all time. The views of the fjord from the church atop the defense walls are immensely beautiful! Didn’t have much time there though -1 day :(. I really want to come back.
    Hung Thai recently posted..Yes, you too can become a digital nomad

  • October 3 2017

    I love your blog. I came back here to see if you’d been to Montenegro after seeing a friend’s photos recently. Your photos are just stunning. Kotor may be difficult to get to, but isn’t that half the fun?
    Sharon recently posted..2017 Hit-Air Motorcycle Airbag Vest and Jackets – Are they really worth it?

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