We are traveling to Croatia next month and have 3 nights in Dubrovnik. It would appear that we would have enough time there for a 1 day excursion outside the Dubrovnik area. My question is what have you experienced travelers found more rewarding Mostar or Bay of Kotor? Did you rent a car, go by bus, or hire a driver and how much did it cost? Craig
We were in Dubrovnik long enough to do both of those day trips and I think you would be okay with either one. I preferred Mostar and my travel partner preferred the Bay of Kotor trip. I liked Mostar for how interesting it was to see a city split in two by religion. The damage from the 1990s fighting was still very evident. Walking through the Old Town was interesting, but better yet was when we strayed further afield...the shops and restaurants were devoid of Americans and it was interesting and a little intimidating. I loved it. The Bay of Kotor was an equally interesting day. The town is tiny and you take a little boat out to a church, which was of limited interest to me. Our guide then took us down the road a bit to a larger town, but the name of it eludes me. We wandered there for a bit and then headed back. He also took us a little further south towards Albania and we stopped for a drink in Budva, which was interesting because of a strong Mafia presence there. I saw a fabulous line of black Mercedes with all doors ajar outside a hotel filled with a group of members - to allow for hasty retreats for them. All very interesting. I think what made both days so interesting was the amazing guide we used: Petar Vlasic at firstname.lastname@example.org. Petar is from Dubrovnik and he was able to give us so much historical background on the area - it made everything come to life. He charged us $250 a day. You can't go wrong with either trip.
Thanks Valerie for your input. Any other opinions from the seasoned Croatian travelers?? Craig
I unfortunately skipped Kotor due to my road trip's time frame being compressed at the last minute, but I did stop in to Mostar. I really liked Mostar, and a nearby town called Pocitelj, for the same reason as the person above. I actually wished I had more time in the town but it was pretty much just a half day there on the way from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo. I think it depends on what you are looking for. I notice you are staying in Dubrovnik - for us one of the reasons Kotor got the axe instead of Mostar when the time crunch came was our feeling that Dubrovnik and Kotor were towns of a similar typology (both being dalmatian coastal towns with a lot of tourists and a roman background), and that Mostar and Sarajevo would have a different feeling, which it did. But obviously not having been there I don't know that for sure.
Didn't go to Mostar so cant help you with comparisons. We loved Kotor and were very glad we did the easy day trip there.
David, Did you take a bus or rent a car? Craig
I went to Mostar by way of Sarajevo (and then onto Dubrovnik) - took a bus from Mostar's main station and the cost was negligible. Used Viator for a day trip to Kotor and other sites in Montanegro (cost was about $70 for the day departing from Dubrovnik). Kotor and Montanegro had undeniable natural beauty; in turn, Mostar had immense historical pull (as well as being very beautiful and situated on a gorgeous river where the "Stari Most"- Old Bridge - was located). I really liked both for different reasons; if you had never been inside a mosque and are interested in doing so, then I would suggest Mostar.
We arranged for a rental car for the day trip to Kotor. Or, more accurately, the owner of the Sobe we stayed at in Dubrovnik arranged our 1-day car rental. Couldn't have been easier. We told her the day before, at 7 am the next morning (as we had agreed), she met us and led us through the old town gate to meet her friend with the car. Car was fine, actually was nicer/newer/cleaner than one of the other 3 cars we rented on this trip from a larger company. Paperwork took 5 minutes and we drove off to Kotor. Easy drive, only a short wait and no hassles at the border. Nice drive on decent roads. We sat out some rain then explored Kotor town for a couple hours and had lunch. Then we climbed. And climbed. Lots of steps. Incredible views, really worth the burning muscles. Spent an hour at the top then came down all those steps. Explored a bit more, decided we had had enough, and drove back to Dubrovnik. No hassles at the border, called the car owner via cell phone as we were approaching Dubrovnik. Met him, handed the keys back, walked to our some, went out for some dinner. Easy all around. I'd do it the same way again if we went back to Dubrovnik. Hope that helps.
Mostar is a beautiful city, but in my opinion the side trip to Kotor is more rewarding. The trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor takes about a 1 1/2 hours, using a rental car. The trip takes you around Bay of Kotor, with the mountains rising up off the road to one side and the sea on the other-a Beautiful Drive. There are some nice stops on the way including the town of Perast with a great view of 2 small islands off the coast big enough to hold a church. Kotor is similar to Dubrovnik but not as polished for tourism, much more to my liking. There's a local market outside of the City walls every morning. As David mentioned there's a nice hike up the old ramparts behind the city or you could drive up to the top of Mount Lovcen in about the same amount of time, for much more spectacular views of the bay. About half way up and only a slight detour, about a mile off the road is an old fortification with no one minding it, you can explore all by yourself. Near the top is a town called Njegusi, set in a valley between the mountains, which is famous for prsut or smoked hams, that you can sample and purchase from the people in the town, with some of their homemade rakija. About an 1 hour drive from Kotor are some small beaches off Lustica penninsula, where you can rent a boat to take you to the Blue cave. The drive there is unique as well taking you thru some old olive groves.
If you choose to go to Mostar a must see side trip only about 30 minutes out of the way is Kravica Falls a huge waterfall, where, if its warm enough, you can swim in. If you feel you've done Dubrovnik in one-day, you could check out Mostar one day, and then Kotor another, probably tiring, but worth it. Have a great trip.
Agnes, did you think that Viator did a good tour of Montenegro? we are thinking of using them for their small group tour.
I went to Mostar about 5 years ago and loved it. I arrived by train from Dubrovnik and was met by Elaina who offered to show me to her B&B. The B&B was spartan, but I would gladly stay again. It was interesting to talk to her about growing up during the war. Mostar is a beautiful city, dominated by High Bridge. The Christian and Muslim sides are separated by the river. I stayed on the Muslim side, touring a mosque and looking at the Muslim cemetery where an incredible number of young men died in 1990. Unlike Dubrovnik, the signs of the war are evident everywhere - buildings with trees growing out of them and bullet holes in the walls of buildings. Very few people spoke English (German seemed to be a common second language and I found some French speakers). However, I had no trouble getting what I needed. I left town on the train, heading to Zagreb. When I bought my ticket, the woman opened her cigar box and gave me my change in Croatian kuna, Bosnian marx and Euros, making sure I understood the conversion between the different currencies, never using a word of English.
Hi Erich, I sent you a PM. Linda, I thought about doing this tour as well. However, after carefully perusing the reviews on this tour I decided to opt for renting a car and exploring Montenegro myself. If you book through Viator, you're going to get a super packed and super fast day trip...meaning maybe only 30 minutes to an hour in each stop. Most of the time is spent driving. Why not spend the money and create your own trip and rent a car? I have not done this trip, but will be doing so in September. I already reserved a rental car in Dubrovnik.
We have several options, and I appreciate your input. we will wait and see what to do regarding Montenegro. We may rent a car, though we are not fond of driving in Europe. another possibility is taking the public bus. I mainly want to see Kotor, so the bus might work fine to see just one place along the coast. We are spending 3 weeks along the Dalmatian coast and Bosnia- Herzegovina with 8 nights in Dubrovnik alone.
Linda, I wouldn't take a public bus to Kotor. Like Gabriel said, a car is a much better option, or even a taxi. We took a public bus from Kotor to Dubrovnik about 8 years ago, and the 1 1/2 hour drive took all day. Dropping us at the border, walking about a mile across - up hill with bags in July, then catching another mini bus in Croatia. It cost more than it would have for a taxi and it took all day. I learned my lesson and have rented a car ever since.
Craig et al - to those who are worried about renting a car and driving in Montanegro to Kotor, I just want to chime in that the drive should not be stressful (this is not city driving) - it's along the coastline and unless you're going to take the hairpin turns to drive up the mountain (for the killler views), I wouldn't hesitate to rent a car at all (caveat: I was there in Sept so I don't recall any major traffic jams except a wait at the border). It seems like renting the car in Croatia (although maybe not Dubrovnik, which is expensive) is the better option since they are not on the Euro and I'm just guessing it may be cheaper (although I guess it all depends where the largest inventory and most competitive prices are). I only used Viator so I could get a whirlwind tour in 1 day - I had some problems figuring out the bus schedule between Croatia and Montanegro, otherwise that could have been another option. Getting a personal driver would probably be the most expensive option, after taxi. @Linda - I wouldn't discount the bus option altogether (primarily because the prior comment described an experience 8 years ago), but enlist the help of someone on the ground (or check Tripadvisor forums) if you need to in order to figure out whether this is a viable option and if you can afford to be flexible enough to partake. I am guessing that the bus service transition from Libertas (Dubrovnik service) may not be seamless at the Montanegro border and that is something to consider. If most locals drive across the border, then the bus services are likely to be fragmented (they won't have the incentive to provide a smooth transition).
I'll just chime in to say that in our experience, simply renting a car and driving ourselves was about as simple as it could be. There were no hassles, no delays, no surprises, no price gouging, no way to get lost, no stress, no problems. If you can manage a scenic, easy 90-minute drive at home, you can drive from Dubrovnik to Kotor just as easily. There is NOTHING complicated about it. Honestly, I can not imagine any need to pay for a driver or a "guide" for this. Just my 2 Kuna.