Montenegro as an entire country seemed to be all but closed for the winter.
The only thing turned on in Budva, coined “The Montenegrin Miami”, were the neon lights along the riviera. I attempted to go have a craft beer at Casper bar since they brewed their own but it turns out that’s only in the summer. On another day I tried to go visit a vegan ice cream shop but again found out that they’re closed for the winter. Budva in the winter, as it turned out, felt much like visiting a remote town in Ukraine.
I’d been to Budva before but had actually forgotten until arriving at the bus station. There’s a very unique cafe there that I remembered having a coffee at with my friend who was living here at the time. Last I visited was also during the winter so it makes sense why I’d so easily forgotten it. There’s a ton of construction underway now and a plethora of condos popping up on every corner.
It felt like I had the city to myself walking along the waterfront at night. The only time I’d really pass by people would be if I stumbled past a cafe. In the summer this is a completely different scene. Boats will be out and people will be partying throughout the night.
Montenegro seems to have been quite focused on boosting their tourism industry for some time – seeming to mainly focus on marketing to Russian tourists. The country is apparently really trying to boost it’s infrastructure in this regard, particularly focusing on hiking and biking at the moment. Either that or it’s just Russian tourists who enjoy Montenegro the most. In any case, the only thing opened during the winter here seemed to be the nature.
The cats of Kotor were probably my favorite thing in Montenegro.
They’re everywhere. More cats than people if you go in the off season. There’s even a cat museum along with numerous cat shops. I knew this before going so I even came up with a cat jingle I’d been singing since Mostar. Where did they all come from? There are theories but no one knows for sure. I do know one thing though: cats love the shi* out of me. Speaking of cats, I one day plan to get a hairless one and name it prune.
I’d originally planned to stay in Kotor. Plenty of people along the way of my trip mentioned how I should visit Dubrovnik. Game of Thrones was filmed there they said. I only ever saw a couple of episodes and wasn’t really a fan so didn’t sway me. Aside from the G.O.T. reference everything else I read didn’t sound too appealing – mostly that it was an expensive(relative to the region) tourist trap. Kotor was recommended as a place with parallel beauty minus all that.
When I was looking at apartments in Kotor I didn’t see too many nice, non-smoking one’s within my budget. It’s a short 30 minute bus ride from Budva and I found an excellent Airbnb there so I decided to make Kotor a day trip.
Kotor is really beautiful.
Unfortunately almost everything here seemed to be closed as well. I was really looking forward to going to the cat museum! However, this was probably the perfect time for hiking up the fortress. I didn’t pass by anyone on the way up or down aside from some locals drinking beer. In the summer I believe you have to pay an entrance fee of a few euros to hike up but in the off season there are no attendants around to charge you.
I wondered through several little forts, bridges, and towers hiking up. It’s a really amazing hike and I definitely recommend you to walk up the fortress. Maybe it’s more exciting in the summer but unless you’re looking for a place to solely soak in the views I’d suggest staying in Budva and making Kotor a day trip.