We've never been to that area, so I'm planning 'on the blind'. Was going to stay in Dubrovnik for 4 nights (right outside Ponce gate to walled city?), then rent a car and do a day trip to Bay of Kotor. Dubrovnik seems like a larger bustling city - we're more into less touristy, lots of natural beauty with hiking, beaching, exploring, etc. How would it be for two nights in each place (having a car in Kotor)? Any help would be appreciated.
Both cities are heavily touristed now especially in the daytime (cruise ship tour groups). Both are much calmer at night. I love Dubrovnik, liked Kotor less (but it's nice). I have stayed in Dubrovnik twice and on my most recent trip spent a night in Kotor. After a brief stop, I think I might have preferred staying instead in the lovely little town of Perast, which you pass about 20 minutes before you get to Kotor. I stayed about a 10 minute walk from the center of Kotor (easier for parking), and I admit, it was nice not to have to worry about parking to explore Kotor itself.
I'm glad I had a night in Montenegro vs. just a day trip. The highlight for me was the amazing scenery around the Bay of Kotor. Plan to stop and take pictures numerous times. (Stop in Perast too if you don't stay there.) Above Kotor, consider "walking the walls" - which unlike in Dubrovnik really means climbing steep steps above the town - but from above you get a stunning view back down on Kotor and the bay beyond. Go in the morning if you can (there will be cruise ship people climbing already, probably getting in your way). Your pictures from up here are probably going to be the highlights of your entire trip, the ones people will go "wow!" over.
With more time, I was able to twisty drive from Kotor through the mountains to the town of Cetinje (instead of the faster route not through the mountains). The scenic twisty route - with more breathtaking views down on the bay - has many hairpin turns that might scare some drivers, I guess - I had no trouble with it. But I took it easy and didn't panic, even when a bus came down the hill as I was driving up on the narrow road, with no room to pass. I stopped; the bus driver BACKED UP going up the hill until there was room for me to pass. He was a pro, no sweat. Don't get stressed and you'll be fine. Once you get to the top and head toward Cetinje, the landscape is very different - like another planet almost from Kotor below. Cetinje itself didn't seem like a particularly charming town; I walked around for a little while in the daytime and didn't find much of interest.
Maybe with two nights in Montenegro you could do some recreation on the bay itself? Or some hiking? I didn't explore that. Otherwise, two nights in Dubrovnik probably is enough. Try to get up to the Buza Bar in the walls at sunset in Dubrovnik, for the view!
I wouldn't characterize Dubrovnik as a "larger bustling city" though - the old town really is fairly small. That's the problem - it's small so the tourists can easily overwhelm it.
I stayed right outside the Pile gate on my first trip - no steps to navigate there, which can be a problem in other parts of Dubrovnik, which is built into the side of a hill.
One of my favorite memories of Dubrovnik, oddly enough: at dusk, the swallows come out and hunt bugs, flying above you at high speeds. They are neat birds!
I liked Cetinje, but it's not spectacular in the way the medieval districts of the coastal towns are. With a car you could visit one or more of Montenegro's national parks. I gather that they are lovely, but they aren't really accessible via public transportation, which is the way I travel.
On the way from Dubrovnik is the historic town of Herceg-Novi, which is much less touristy than Dubrovnik and Kotor--though Kotor is not bad at all on days when there's no mega-ship in port.
In Dubrovnik the Hotel Villa Sigurata was perfect for us and inside the walls. Dubrovnik for us was unbearably crowded during the day, but perfect in the evenings and wandering the narrow passages to the hotel after dinner really added to the experience. http://villasigurata.com/
We then hired a guide to take us first to Perast http://www.hotelconte.me/, The towns and villages (ate lunch in Herceg Novi - beautiful place) along the bay were amazing. Perast was a perfect two days of walking, fishing, eating and just spending time together. Then on to Kotor which was a disappointment after Dubrovnik, which wasnt the end of the world because we traveled that afternoon on to Titograd by way of this amazing mountain road with a stop in a ham smokehouse in Njeguši for prosciutto . Titograd was just a place to sleep (we got in late) before a flight to Belgrade the next morning and then a few days later Budapest. This was our first taste of Montenegro and it was small.
But we loved Montenegro so about a year later we returned. This time we landed in Titograd, spent a night and saw some things of interest before driving to Ulcinj for a night and then on to Novi Stari and Budva http://astoriamontenegro.com/ the next day. Two nights in Budva were great. Loved the town and will be looking for an investment there later this year. Then to the Ostrog Monastery built into the side of a cliff before reaching the Tara Canyon. Stunning scenery. Did the zip line and spent the night at the Motel Tara MB http://www.mbturist.com/en . The next day was a little south east of Tara where we found this amazing resort of cabins in the mountains http://www.imanjerakocevic.me/ . Spent 3 days fishing and sight seeing. LOVED IT.
Does anyone know of a place to stay for one night within walking distance of Kotor? We will get there by car, so we'll need to having parking at or near the place stay, but I'd like to be able to walk into the town center of Kotor. We thought of staying for the one night in Perast instead, but for only one night Kotor may be more convenient. Any thoughts?
If I were going to stay in Kotor I would go to tripadvisor and find a place inside the walls. I can't recall seeing anything close outside, but we only spent 3 hours there. When in Dubrovnik notice that the ground floor shop entrances are mostly all of identical design (reconstructed obvuously) and then note Kotor is also the same.
Where are you departing from? Are you back tracking to Dubrovnik? If so and you don't have tickets yet consider leaving out of Podgorica so you can still see more of Montenegro.