Conquer the Beijing of the Balkans: Hike the Great Wall in Kotor

Kotor is a compact seaport city whose beauty packs a mighty punch. ❤️

RKRZE1515Kotor is located along the coast of Montenegro, tucked within a bay, which empties into the Adriatic Sea. 🌊

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The name Montenegro actually means “black mountain.” I believe it’s this country’s rugged, mountainous landscape dotted with olive and cypress trees, surrounding a network of waterways, which leaves you with an impression to last a lifetime. ⛰️

DSC_4262As the English poet Lord Byron once said, “At the moment of birth of our planet, the most beautiful meeting of land and sea was on the Montenegrin coast.” ❤️🌎

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Montenegro…more like Monteneg-WOAH! 

The allure of Kotor only increases when you begin to explore its interior. This well-preserved walled city is filled with striking 12th to 14th century medieval Venetian architecture making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.⛪

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And while Kotor only has a local population around 20,000 in comparison to the estimated TWO MILLION tourists that visit annually, it’s still a living and breathing city.

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Here’s a local ice cream shop. I highly recommend the pistachio!
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tourist souvenir shop

I found lots of locals hanging out in the cafes or perched out on their balconies sitting alongside their laundry hanging out to dry.💮

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And while Kotor is a major hub for cruise ship tourists, the streets are relatively uncrowded during the mornings and in the evenings when all the travelers have gone back to their ships to set sail. 🚢

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busy tour groups during the day
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calm vibes in the evening

Conquer the Beijing of the Balkans: Hike the Great Wall in Kotor

It’s no surprise then that because of its secluded seaport location, Kotor needed to build grand fortification walls to protect itself from invaders throughout the years.

DSC_4327DSC_4310DSC_4322Now, immediately as I set my eyes on the great fortification walls of Kotor, I noticed they bore a striking resemblance to those that I saw in China. Beijing and Kotor are both well-preserved walled cities surrounded by fortifications, which extend far into the hillside. 🇨🇳 vs. 🇲🇪

DSC_4309Obviously, considering the fortifications needed to protect China were massive in comparison to those in Montenegro, Kotor is almost like a mini Beijing of the Balkans. If you conquer this great wall, you’ll get heavenly views for half the hike! 😍

TWUQ4250DSC_4351Yes, this walk to the top only takes 45 minutes and only about 1,350 steps, plus the panoramas all the way up are absolutely outstanding! 😍

DSC_4306DSC_4354DSC_4347DSC_4345DSC_4314DSC_4342I especially loved watching the mountain goats grazing around the rubble. 🐐

DSC_4331Now, the great wall of Kotor is SORT OF a regulated tourist site in that there is a guy in a wife beater sitting on a folding chair with a fan propped right in front of him selling tickets for 8 Euros a pop! 😂

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What exactly am I paying you for? 🤔 Maybe hoping to upgrade your fan…

DSC_4300There’s also a makeshift “beverage stand”, tourist shop and roadside entertainment along the way. 😊

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cooler of beverages for sale
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accordion entertainment
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handmade crafts at the church

That being said, the place is far from well-kept and still feels like a crumbling ruin, so be careful when you walk and bring the appropriate footwear. 👟

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Travel in Montenegro: The Balkan Budget Buster?

In regards to budget, compared to other war-torn Balkan countries, the prices in Montenegro tend to be a lot higher than neighboring Serbia or Bosnia. 💰

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This former hidden gem is now becoming a hot spot of the well-to-do elite. For example, there’s an exclusive 5-star resort here along the coast called Sveti Stefan where hotel prices start at around 900 USD per night!

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courtesy of Google images

Now, while in Kotor, I enjoyed two drastically different travel styles proving that whether you want to pinch pennies or pamper yourself, you can still have a great time. 😊

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Almara Beach Club in Montenegro

Pinching Pennies in Kotor

For the first part of my stay, I was at Stranger Tides Hostel. This has been by far my favorite hostel in the Balkans! They have lovely renovated dorm rooms with a pirate theme, including your own treasure chest to lock up your goods. 🏴‍☠️

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courtesy of Hostelworld

The pirate decor extends throughout the whole hostel as well with lots of antiques and trinkets throughout.🐚

IMG_E1388The main selling point; however, is their incredible dock, which leads right out onto the bay.

DSC_4238IMG_E1382DSC_4246IMG_E1379The hostel was about a 50-minute walk from the bus station, but the path is paved and flat, plus there are plenty of opportunities to break, swim, or people-watch along the way.

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two men fishing and an opportunistic cat patiently watching

DSC_4256It was especially nice to walk around sunset and admire the orange glow that illuminated the white stone buildings.

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pink oleander flowers

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Cost: 13 USD/night

As for budget eats, the city has a few supermarkets and the hostel has a kitchen making it easy to cook your own meals at a low price. They also have this wonderful local market located right outside the city walls where they sell fresh produce for only a few Euros, along with local cheese, cured meats, honey, and dried fruits.🍓

DSC_4267IMG_E1404This vendor is a true champ! Already chugging a tall boy and it’s only 9 in the morning! Hah!🍺

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Pampered in Kotor

If you’re hoping to splurge in Kotor, I would highly recommend the Boutique Astoria.

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patio dining at the Astoria courtesy of Google images
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hotel restaurant courtesy of Google images

Talk about luxury! This hotel is built inside a 13th century palace, and all the rooms are individually designed. 🛎️

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courtesy of Google images

The main selling point; however, was the incredible food at this hotel! They had fresh seafood options for dinner, including sea bass filleted table-side. 🐟

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calamari and Nikšićko Pivo, the local brew of Montenegro
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filleted sea bass

They also have live musicians playing in the evening to add to the atmosphere of elegance. 🎵

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view from the hotel looking onto the courtyard

Breakfast is also included in the price with lots of American/Mediterranean options.

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eggs with feta, spinach, and tomatoes on olive bread

Now, since there aren’t many public beaches in Kotor, I’d also suggest taking a short 20-minute ride to the Adriatic Sea to become sea-duced by its crystal clear waters.👙

DSC_4283My recommendation would be the Almara Beach Club, which is an absolutely spectacular place to spend the day!

IMG_E1454They have comfy lounge chairs, a lively DJ, an on-site bar and restaurant serving fresh seafood, plus they offer kayak rentals. 🚣🏼

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scallops with tomato and avocado
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spicy shrimp bruschetta

Only in the Balkans! Can’t let kayaking get in the way of smoking your two packs a day! Hah! 🚬

IMG_1521What I liked about the club was that it was also a local hangout. I think everyone around me was speaking some sort of Slavic dialect, and there were families, friends, and even fur babies at the club going for a swim.🐶

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families, friends, and dogs hanging out on the dock

Side note: To get from Kotor to the beach club, you’ll have to take a taxi. Balkan drivers are notoriously crazy speed demons and ours even got pulled over on the way. His nickname was Slow-bo, which obviously has nothing to do with his driving style.😂

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Transportation:

To get to Kotor, I took a bus from Belgrade. To be honest, I am still trying to block out this experience as it was slightly traumatic for me. 😂

IMG_1352 My bus got delayed four hours at the border making the total trip time about 16 hours. The bus was at full capacity with a broken bathroom and only two rest stops. People would also go up to the front and smoke cigarettes while we were driving, and the guy next to me smelled like he had been chain smoking his entire life.🤢 The only good part of the ride was the epic mountain view in the morning and our pit stop at this rustic cabin for coffee.

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What advice can you take from this? Do as I say, not as I do. If you are coming from Belgrade, I would recommend NOT taking a bus, but taking the train instead. In speaking with fellow travelers, they said that the views were spectacular! There is also a lot more leg room and bathrooms as well.

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train to Montenegro from Serbia courtesy of Google images

Anyway, after spending a rainy day mall hopping in the capital of Montenegro, I’ll be heading to Albania. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then! 😊

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Another awful hostel in the capital, which was so bad, the door handle broke off as I entered. Too bad the dog was so cute as I entered that I couldn’t get mad.

12 thoughts on “Conquer the Beijing of the Balkans: Hike the Great Wall in Kotor

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