Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from: Montenegro and Croatia

Bay of Kotor Christina is all smiles above the Bay of Kotor © Christina Webb

Christina Webb, Assistant Editor for Lonely Planet's Trade and Reference team, recently returned from a trip to Montenegro and Croatia.

In a nutshell… My boyfriend and I road-tripped through Montenegro’s untouched north down to the Bay of Kotor and over to Dubrovnik in Croatia. It was shoulder season, but we were lucky with the weather, which resulted in a combination of empty roads, beautiful beaches and hiking through snow in radiant sunshine. It was an incredible adventure in a destination that feels like your little secret!

Quintessential experience? Driving precarious mountain passes. En route to Lovćen National Park, one lesser-known road took us round 25 hairpin turns over 17km. At the bend of each of the 25 turns is a painted number – a reminder that you’re almost there (or still miles away)!

Defining moment? Driving round a bend and seeing the mass of dark blue that was the Bay of Kotor appear ahead of us. You can drive right along the waterfront through little villages with overgrown ruins – it's fantastic. There were tons of steps around the lake to get into the water and no one else was there to make use of them, so we dived in the bay for a swim. It feels very much like a lake until you taste the salt water.

Curevac viewpoint, Durmitor National Park At the Curevac viewpoint in the Durmitor National Park © Christina Webb

Fave activity? Walking and hiking. Walking up to the Curevac viewpoint in Durmitor National Park is a short but amazing hike, as is exploring the serene scenery of the dramatic Black Lake landscape. When hiking here we were joined by four friendly dogs who made sure we got home safely, walking us back into town for two miles. We did a lot of walking, but not all of it was amongst nature: we tackled the 1350 steps up the battlements of Old Town Kotor and in Croatia we walked Dubrovnik’s city walls.

Good food and drink? In the north we stopped off at rustic places serving hearty meals of river trout and countless local cheeses, ham and bread, including deliciously creamy cicvara (a porridge-like dish made from cornmeal and cream). In a cosy wood-panelled bar in Žabljak, locals kept us warm for the evening with shots of a spirit made from plums from a neighbouring village. We also gorged on fishy delights along the Adriatic Coast – a particularly great spot was Dubrovnik’s Bota Oyster & Sushi Bar.

CW2 The rock-hewn Ostrog Monastery © Christina Webb

You’d be a muppet to miss… The Ostrog Monastery in Central Montenegro, a blindingly white, tiny rock-hewn monastery – the construction of which is still a mystery today. We entered the cave-like rooms through tiny doorways to see extravagant Orthodox art and mosaics on the walls. Locals kiss the walls and step out of doorways backwards in respect.

Time it right… and you’ll see spectacular sunsets in all the right places around Dubrovnik. One evening we stumbled upon Buza Bar II located through a small doorway in the city walls. Clambering past the bar itself we found a spot on some rocks below where we were treated to a brilliant view of the lapping ocean, the island of Lokrum beyond and a beautiful sunset. We chilled out with other travellers and watched kayakers paddle past against the orange sky. Just topping this was getting an evening cable car to the top of Mount Srđ and seeing the sun set over the Croatian islands from the top – the perfect end to our trip.

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Want more behind-the-scenes adventures? Find out what Picture Editor Claire Richardson got up to on her recent trip to Hawaii.