Dubrovnik side-trip: Mostar or Kotor?

I'm planning the conclusion of a couple weeks in Solvenia & Croatia in May 2012; we end our trip in Dubrovnik. I think we will have one extra day there for a side-trip (still working out some other details, but I'm pretty sure we will have an extra day to spend there). Ideally, I'd like to drive to Mostar and spend a night there, but I'm beginning to doubt that we will have enough time for that. If we only have a single day for a side trip, I'm thinking we could either do a day-trip to Mostar (along with everyone else who does that), or we could drive to the Bay of Kotor and spend the day exploring around there (returning to Dubrovnik for the night). If we had 3 extra days, I'd do both. But I need to prioritize. My question for those who have been to both is: which is the better side trip: a day trip to Mostar (and back) or a day trip to the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro (and back)? Right I'm leaning towards Kotor (although I'm willing to be persuaded), because: 1) It sounds like Kotor is more doable in a single, comfortable day than Mostar (less time spent getting there, more time there). 2) I'm guessing it would be less crowded in and around Kotor (I understand that a day-trip to Mostar is very popular, maybe even with cruise ship passengers, from Dubrovnik, but mass tourism hasn't reached Montenegro yet). I greatly prefer to avoid crowds when possible.
3) Although I'm sure Mostar's islamic community provides a very interesting cultural contrast, I've been to several islamic countries elsewhere (although admittedly not in Europe), several times, so I've heard the call to prayer and have experienced all that an islamic city offers (to a tourist). So - if you've been to both, which would you recommend if you had to pick one? Thanks!

Posted by Frank
Wilmington, DE
1542 posts

I've been to both, but not both as day trips. I did a bus day trip to Kotor offered by Atlas Travel. It lasted about 12 hours (7am-7pm) and made multiple stops in Montenegro. I did Mostar as an overnight on my way from Dubrovnik to Split. If I had to choose only one, I'd choose Kotor. The scenery in Montenegro is amazing and the trip itself was well paced and very enjoyable. Mostar is definitely worthwhile, but IMO it's better done as an overnight.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
811 posts

While I personally liked Mostar better, I agree with Frank that Kotor would make for an easier day trip from Dubrovnik. Frank did the Atlas tour, which he seemed to enjoy, and my husband and I rented a car for the day and drove from Dubrovnik to Montenegro, which we enjoyed. I recall there were no viable public transportation options between Dubrovnik and Kotor at the time we were there (2008), but that may have changed.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2615 posts

Have done both, enjoyed both, but as a day trip, Montenegro makes more sense, either as part of an organized tour or on your own. Mostar is best done as an overnight, allowing most of two days.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1459 posts

Thanks for the input - much appreciated. We will have a rental car so I'm not concerned about public transport in this case. One more question: I saw a reference elsewhere about cruise ships in Kotor (and the crowds they produce). That completely shocked me - I had assumed that that kind of mass tourism had not appeared there yet. But I'm wondering (and hoping) that perhaps the person who wrote about "the big cruise ship crowds" may have been referring to Dubrovnik instead (where I know they are). Wishful thinking? There are no cruise ships in Kotor, are they? (oh please, say no...) Thanks.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
811 posts

Welllllll, I didn't see any cruise ships when we were there, but it was in March and I don't imagine that is prime cruising season. I have, however, seen websites before that list all the ships coming into each port of call and how many passengers they anticipate. Take a look at this website for an example of what I'm referring to: http://www.cruisetimetables.com/cruises-to-kotor-montenegro.html The good news is since you'll have a car, if the crowds become unappealing you can skedaddle and check out another part of Montenegro.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1459 posts

Ugh - well that is extremely depressing. Four cruise ships. Sigh. Well, I guess it's better I know beforehand so I can go somewhere else that has not been spoiled. Still very bummed. :/

Posted by Semir
Stilic
1 posts

Hello! I am a little biased in this decision, considering I was born in and live in the wonderful city of Mostar. I would definitely recommend going to Mostar if you have even the slightest chance of doing so because it truly does give you a different experience than the one you have had thus far. It is a magnificent city with wonderful cafes near the bridge that will have you in awe. It does get crowded but the experience is well worth it!! Good luck with your travels!

Posted by Erich
Piedmont, OK
54 posts

I travel to Montenegro once or twice a year and have also been to Mostar a few times. You cant go wrong either way. However, Kotor is cool and the drive around the bay to Kotor is the most beautiful place i've seen. Yes, Kotor has cruise ships. But they only seem to be in port for a few hours. Hopefully, your trip wont coincide with their time there. If it does, i've never had much problem going a different direction down different alley ways around Kotor to avoid the crowds. There is usually parking directly across the main gate entrance. For side trip, you could stop at Perast-its on the coastal road towards Kotor coming from Dubrovnik. Perast has a lot of history and two beautiful islands big enough to hold a church off the coast. Also, you could take a trip up to Mount Lovcen about an 1 1/2 hours car ride straight up the mountain from Kotor where you'll have great views of the bay. Near Lovcen is a town called Njegusi, that is famous for their prsut or dried hams. Another side trip would be to see the blue cave. Boats travel from a town about a 30-45 minutes drive away to take you to it, but this trip could take 3 hours or so. I know i've probably given you too much information, but as you can see you have lots of choices if Kotor is crowded.

Posted by Stacy
San Diego
37 posts

We did a trip to Mostar from Split, not Dubrovnik. It was an easy drive, and we do not regret going there. To me, it was not a typical tourist place, as we hired Alma in RS book as our tour guide. She is very reasonably priced, sincere and amazing. It brought our time there to a whole different perspective. The people are wonderful, food excellent and the city charmed us. Tourung the mosques was beautiful and my kids loved climbing the minaret, something we did not do in other Islamic communities we have visited. We enjoyed the drive there, going through fertile river valleys, passing by ancient palaces, seeing the signs in dual languages (they still use the Cyrillic alphabet) and the countryside. We have not been to Kotor, but have heard it is beautiful there. Yes, there are tour groups, but Alma brought us a different experience, away from the tour groups. We stayed overnight and the city was amazing after dark. It was very cool to see a people recover from a conflict with such spirit and eagerness for life. We have Mostar on our list of places to return to, it captured us. I hope your trip is beautiful and that wherever you go will be amazing for you!

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1459 posts

Hah - funny to see one of my old threads pop up. We did the day trip to Kotor, and loved it. It was easy, spectacular, and was one of the highlights of our trip (which is saying a lot, because pretty much everything else on the trip was kind of awesome, too). There were no cruise ships there on the day we went (thankfully). I've posted details of how we spent the day in other threads here in recent days. If you don't see the answers to your questions there, PM me if you like.

Posted by Jessica
San Antonio, TX, 78023
10 posts

Hi, I am curious as to which one you chose? I am going to be in Dubrovnik, and I will have an extra full day and night, which I thought I would spend traveling to and staying the night in Mostar. I am not sure if it would be best for me to drive or to try and find a bus route? I will have a rental car in Croatia, but I do not know how it works crossing the border with a rental car? Thanks!

Posted by Erich
Piedmont, OK
54 posts

Hi Jessica, I highly recommend the side trip to Kotor also. Mostar is a beautiful city, but to me, there's much more to see on a trip to Kotor. Regarding crossing the border in a rental car, there's nothing to it. They will ask for your rental car papers and your passport and that's it. Depending on when you go the border crossing is usually pretty quick. Also if your rental car doesnt have the sticker already (which it usually does) they will sometimes make you pay a 10 euro kind of tax, when entering Montenegro, so it would be a good idea to have a few euros with you.