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Just brainstorming

We are brainstorming ideas for where to spend about two weeks before embarking on a Danube River Cruise that ends in Budapest(meeting point for the start is Munich). We are considering locations within a train ride from Munich, but find ourselves more excited about a visit to Montenegro (Kotor?) or Slovenia (Ljubljana?), or both. However, I'm not sure about the logistics. A quick search revealed relatively cheap flights to Munich, but we'll also need to think about our arrival flight from east coast US.

We want to stay somewhere, ideally up to a week per location, and be well-positioned for a few days trips. We'd prefer to avoid renting a car. We aren't interested in hikes. We're looking for interesting cities and towns to explore.

We'd be grateful for any suggestions!

Posted by
12036 posts

I made a few comments about Montenegro in your other thread, but they weren't town-specific, so these are my thoughts after a one-week visit in 2015:

Kotor: Very picturesque medieval walled town. You can walk on the wall. James E has called it a sort of mini-Dubrovnik, and upon reflection I think he may be right, though the historic district is far from small. It does get some large cruise ships, so the trick will be to check online cruise-port schedules and try to avoid days when monster ships are due in. On the schedule I've linked, you can click on the ship name to find out its passenger capacity.

The trip by bus around Kotor Bay is lovely. There are also some boat trips. Works as a base for Budva and Herceg-Novi as well as for boat trips on the Bay of Kotor. Might work for a day-trip to Cetinje, but another poster has warned that approaching Cetinje from Kotor takes you along a hair-raising road.

Budva: Somewhat similar to Kotor in appearance, but not as spectacular. The old town is a healthy walk from the bus station. Like Kotor, quite touristy, though I don't think it gets large cruise ships.

Herceg-Novi: Another atmospheric coastal town north of Kotor. Being more different from the latter, I'd make it a higher priority than Budva, but others might disagree.

Ulcinj: Coastal town to the south (near Albania) that is very Turkish in feeling. Recommended. Comparatively few tourists. Bus station quite a walk from the old town.

Cetinje: Historic capital, very pretty and--as an inland town--with an appearance quite different from Kotor and Budva. Doesn't get many tourists.

Podgorica: Definitely a smaller percentage of attractive buildings than you'll encounter in the other cities I've listed. A good bit of ticky-tacky Titoesque architecture, and my general reaction to the city was to call it "charmless". However, I wouldn't be surprised to find that it has a worthwhile museum or two, and I hardly gave the city a chance since I just used it as a base for day-trips to Ulcinj and Cetinje.

Lake Skadar: Good for bird-lovers. You can actually get to the lake by bus, then you need to pay for a boat ride. Not so easy to arrange before you get there unless you take a tour, but I found someone to take me out on the lake for 25 euros. I don't remember how long the trip was--maybe an hour.

Lovcen National Park: Difficult if not impossible without a car unless you can pick up a bus tour somewhere. Said to be really lovely.

Beyond Podgorica, as you move toward the Serbian border there's some lovely country. A guide book would help you out there, but I'm not sure about the frequency or extent of bus service east of Podgorica.

It's possible that it would be affordable to hire a car and driver (taxi?) for a day or two. It's a small country, so distances would not be great.

Posted by
8545 posts

Good advice for our Fall return trip to Montenegro. My impression after the first trip is that other than Kotor, Montenegro is more of a natural experience than anything else; which works for me. We are going to the north to do some fishing. If you want a pair of countries, and if the natural beauty thing is what you are looking for, then pair it with northern Albania.

You might also consider putting the two weeks after your cruise, as from Budapest you can fly Wizzair to some pretty amazing places for under $75. Places like Potogorica, Kyiv, Georgia, Albania, Skopje ....

Posted by
71 posts

I'm a little short on information here but have a ton of experience in that region so......

You're starting your cruise in Munich and want a couple of weeks beforehand?

If Montenegro is on your list then may I assume you're willing to fly within Europe to achieve your goals. In which case, anything is possible. Montenegro is spectacular. So is Bosnia, Macedonia and Croatia. I like Slovenia, too.

If this was my trip and I was in your shoes, I would (and I could continue with literally dozens of possible routes here but will just choose the one that first pops into my head) fly into Dubrovnik, get a car and head to Kotor Bay, Montenegro. Visit Lovcen National Park and Cetinje, then up to Ostrog Monastery. Then, Dormitor National Park and then a spectacular drive to Sarajevo. Explore Bosnia a little by visiting Kraljevo Sutjeska monastery, towns of Travnik and Jajce, and then to Mostar. If you have time, visit a Croatian island, either Mljet or Korcula, and return to Dubrovnik for one night (Dubrovnik is VERY touristed and in May I wouldn't want to stay more than one night. Plan ahead to make a full day of it but you'll see what I mean if you do this).

So, say....
Kotor (3 nights) Day trips include anywhere around Kotor Bay or the town of Budva
Cetinje (1)
Zabljak (1) I would say 2 nights in either Cetinje or Zabljak, depending on the times of day. In other words, there would be no point in arriving at Zabljak late in the day and then leave in the AM for Sarajevo since you'd miss the national park.
Sarajevo (2) Or (3)
Jajce (1)
Mostar (2 or 3) - Lots and lots of possible day trips from here (Blagaj, Medjugorje, Kravice Falls, Pocitelj)
Island, either Korcula or Mjlet (2 nights)
Dubrovnik (1)
That is 14 to 16 nights but that is one damn good itinerary, if I do say so myself.