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Mostar or Kotor day trip from Dubrovnik?

Hello,

I am having some difficulties trying to figure out if I should do a day trip to Mostar or Kotor. I have felt based on reading Rick Steves recommendations that Mostar would be an extremely different and rewarding experience for myself and fiancé. However I’ve also read amazing feedback from those who have traveled to KOTOR.

I’ve done my research on both and never having been to a country let alone city such as Mostar I do feel it would be some cultural shock and rewarding. Would anyone else agree?

With that being said, what is the allure of a trip to KOTOR? Is it just scenic and beautiful? Another old walled city? Is there anything different that I would be seeing that would separate it from my two week trip in Croatia? We will be starting in Slovenia and then heading south through split ,Hvar and Dubrovnik.

I know these questions can be general and difficult to answer, So I think anyone willing to take the time to provide some feedback.

Thank you kindly.

Steven

Posted by JS
Bay Area
3015 posts

Both towns make for a very long drive and day. For Mostar u must deal with border officials that usually even further make the trip long. We were on a guided bus tour , we waited over an hr for the officials to review our passports.
Therefore i would skip Mostar to me it does not warrant the time to really just see the famous bridge and it divers.
Re. Kotor it too is Long drive but more interesting. However if it cuts your time short in Dubrovnik, then enjoy the extra time there. Dub. was a highlight for me on our trip. Or see a nearby island when in Dubrovnik.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2090 posts

You won't have any border issues on a day trip to Mostar if you drive, if you have a US passport: stop at the border crossing, show your passport, perhaps show a rental car green card (insurance card, required to drive a rental car out of Croatia) and off you go. Not saying you need to drive if just going to Mostar, though it would allow you to make some other stops (like the Dervish house at Blagaj which is only a short detour from the drive to Mostar). And the hour delay for the bus mentioned above sounds unusual, not the norm.

You could encounter the same kind of delay at the Montenegro border, anyway.

I would say they are very different day trips. Mostar is indeed unique and quite different from what you see in Croatia proper - the mosques sure give it a different flavor from Croatia! Keep in mind that the city is half Croat - the side that still dominates the town, as I understand it. My Sarajevo tour guide (a secular Muslim) suggested that many in Bosnia (perhaps Muslims) consider Mostar part of Croatia.

Mostar gets a lot of tourists now especially on day trips, FYI. I haven't been there since 2009 - understand it can be crowded in the day in the old town, which isn't really that big. The Stari Most bridge (a reconstruction of the one destroyed during the war) is amazing and unique. If you go to Mostar, dig up some footage on YouTube shot during the war showing what it was like there when the snipers were out - scary stuff, hard to imagine it wasn't that long ago.

By comparison, the town of Kotor itself was not a highlight of my brief visit to Montenegro. The town is nice - great old buildings and squares, some beautiful churches, etc. But it wasn't outstanding compared to say Dubrovnik. On the other hand, the scenery around the Bay of Kotor is amazing and unforgettable. Although one can take a day trip by bus to Kotor itself, to me that would miss the point which is the scenery; I was glad I had my own car because I could stop and take pictures, which I did numerous times. I wouldn't have wanted to try to enjoy the scenery through a bus window driving by!

There are some interesting stops between Dubrovnik and Kotor such as the lovely town of Pearst - beautiful little town, try to stop for a little while if you can. I think you can take a boat to the island church from here (I didn't). I spent a night in Kotor but think I would have preferred staying in little Perast instead.

The walk along the "walls" above Kotor provides more breathtaking scenery. The "walls" are actually a steep climb up many steps to an incredible viewpoint - cruise ship groups do it routinely, so you probably can too even though it's steep. The picture of the Bay of Kotor from the top with Kotor in the foreground will probably be one of your trip highlight photos. If you have a car, you can get more great views driving up above Kotor through the mountains, driving to the town of Cetinje, a windy drive with many hairpin turns (but places to pull over for views). Doing that drive to Cetinje in addition to Kotor etc. is kind of a lot for a day trip, though, although I think Rick Steves suggests it can be done in his book. (Could be done but it would make for one very long day.)

So to sum up, I'd say Kotor is about beautiful scenery more than anything else, though Kotor may not seem a whole lot different from Dubrovnik on the surface.. Mostar is about a different cultural and historical experience than Croatia, more of a contrast than Kotor is. If I knew it was going to be a rainy day, I'd lean toward Mostar - I don't mind exploring a town in the rain, but it can kind of ruin scenic views like those along the Bay of Kotor.

Posted by Steven OP
New York
31 posts

What great feedback thus far.

Andrew I appreciate such a detailed and lengthy response.

If i were to travel to Mostar or Kotor it would be via private guide, no buses so that shouldn't be an issue at the border.

The day cruise on the yacht in Kotor while sounds amazing, I will be doing something similar in Hvar. Its nice to hear that Mostar will be a different experience. After a trip of many breath taking views I just cant imagine another view or scenery will alone be worth the trip to Kotor.

What side trips to break up the lengthy travel can one do on the way to Mostar?

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2090 posts

Well, the Dervish house at Blagaj I mentioned above doesn't really break up the trip to Mostar because it's close to Mostar - not halfway in between or anything. You could also try to squeeze in a stop in Trebinje (which is closer to Dubrovnik) - that's a nice town with its own historic stone bridge (though not as memorable as the Stari Most in Mostar). Trebinje is in Republika Srpska, meaning it's in a Serbian zone of Bosnia and Herzegovina, so you won't see many signs of Muslims unlike in Mostar. Trebinje has a beautiful (but fairly new) Serbian monastery on the hill overlooking the town (great views down). Trebinje unlike Mostar is not touristy at all.

If you want to see a big, beautiful waterfall, you could detour to the Kravice Falls (near the town of Ljubuški).

I agree - if you hire a private guide you shouldn't have issues at the border crossings.

As far as Bay of Kotor, I wouldn't write it off as just more scenery like you would already have seen in Croatia. It is different and unique, at least it was to me. Still, I'm a photographer, so I do tend to put a high value on new and different scenery - more photo ops! (Click on my profile to view my photos from the region.) But if you feel you will have had your fill of scenery by the time you get to Dubrovnik, I can understand why Mostar might be a better fit for you.

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4221 posts

Steven,
I don't know if your trip parameters are already set, but back when I went to Croatia, I decided to dedicate some time to both Mostar and Sarajevo. Both were very interesting cities and worth overnight stays. I highly recommend adding Sarajevo if you can, it is rich in history, architecture, and sites, and makes for a good 2-3 full days. A day trip to Mostar from Dubrovnik will probably seem really short. Granted it is a small town, but it is still nice to let it seep in (I wish I had more time than I did). If you can spend the night there and add in some other place(s) in Bosnia, I think you'll get more out of it. I traveled by bus and train between the two countries ands it wasn't difficult. I went to Montenegro as well on one very long day trip. In retrospect, I would have no problem renting a car in Montenegro - except for a really steep drive up to the mountains, the drive along the water was quite easy.

Posted by TC
Atlanta
2702 posts

Steven, Andrew H. mentioned a scenic road from Kotor to Cetinje. Allow me to elaborate on that road just a bit. The road leads away from the bay inland. The views are indeed spectacular. But, the road goes up the side of a steep mountain and has 25 numbered 180 degree switchback turns and at least 75 other sharp turns. Rock wall on one side and nothing on the other. Can't remember the name or number of the road, but it went to the towns of Njegusi as well as Cetinje. If you or anyone in your party is prone to motion sickness, or has a problem with heights, you might want to avoid this road. We've seen people with those types of problems throwing up on the side of the road so it's not for the faint of heart. You can go to bing.com, use the map feature, and see aerial views of what some people call the road from &*$$. You can also check it out on googlemaps.com. It is possible, however, to go to and from Kotor without using that particular road. On 12 Mar. 2017 there was a thread on this site titled "Greece Montenegro Croatia". One person included a link to the map that shows the road. Another person had a link to a video made along parts of the road. Just a heads up so you don't unknowingly get into a bad situation.

Posted by Steven OP
New York
31 posts

Thank you Andrew and Agnes.

Unfortunately our trip is set in stone for the most part. We originally decided on just Croatia but after some reading and recommendations added Slovenia to the beginning of trip. Would love to spend more time in other destinations next trip :)

TC - That is great information, would most certainly NOT enjoy that drive. Do you know if the trip to Mostar is similiar?

Best,

Steven

Posted by TC
Atlanta
2702 posts

Steven, we haven't been to Mostar yet so can't really comment on that road. Sorry. Perhaps someone who has been to both can offer an opinion or advice.

Posted by Agnes
Washington DC Region, USA
4221 posts

No, you won't face a steep drive like that on the way to Mostar (you can confirm with a topographic map). That road in Montenegro is steep because you're climbing up a mountain through switchbacks (hence the name of Montenegro, which translates to "Black Mountain"). It's a stunning road, by the way, that has beautiful overlooks that look like fjords. I went up by bus, it was a little scary but mostly really beautiful. I wouldn't want to drive a manual transmission up that road although I've been on a scarier road in Colorado that was much higher in elevation.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2090 posts

I had heard the horror stories about driving up that twisty road to Cetinje. But I had absolutely no problem with it, driving a manual transmission (which I have long experience with though I don't drive one at home anymore). It would have been even easier in a smaller car but the car I had rented unfortunately was slightly smaller than a mid-sized sedan, larger than I wanted. Still, it was fine.
It really wasn't scary to me at all. I just took my time. Although I am prone to motion sickness, it doesn't happen when I am driving.

The scariest part, if you want to call it that, was one instance when driving up hill (on a fairly straight section not on the cliff) and a bus was coming down the hill, and the road was pretty narrow right there. I didn't feel I had quite enough room to pass him safely at that stretch. So I just stopped...and the bus backed up the hill a little ways! When he got to a section that was slightly wider, I passed safely. It was no big deal. I expect some people might get flustered in a situation like that, but I didn't. No reason the panic. The bus driver seemed nonchalant about it - he probably deals with that kind of stuff all the time.

I guess some people might get nervous in situations like that. I didn't know if I would or not until I tried. I guess I can handle drives like that better than others. It might help to understand how you might react in situations like that.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2090 posts

Just to clarify: the drive to Cetinje, with the twisty (some say scary) drive, is an OPTIONAL part of the trip. This is beyond Kotor after you have driven from Dubrovnik along the bay to Kotor. That drive to Kotor is easy and mostly flat. Many people don't continue on up to Cetinje as I did - I'm guessing many don't even know of the option. You can still see amazing scenery without doing the drive up to Cetinje - it's "extra credit." Just stop when you get to Kotor if you fear the twisty turns. Do try to hike up the "walls" above the town for the incredible view down on the bay, though!