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Insider Tips: Montenegro & Dubrovnik

Amber and Milly recently returned from a road trip discovering Montenegro and Dubrovnik in Croatia. Here are their top tips to make the most of your travels there.

MONTENEGRO

1. If you’re flying into Dubrovnik, it’s well worth taking the Kamenari – Lepetane car ferry across the Bay of Kotor; it saves you over an hour’s worth of driving around the fjord; it only costs €4.50; they are very frequent and efficient with the total crossing taking no more than 10 minutes; the views are spectacular and once you’re over the other side you can enjoy a stroll along the promenade of quaint Lepetane.

2. If you’re looking for a scenic stop for a bite to eat en-route to Budva or Aman Sveti Stefan, pull over at the cliff top El Rey Caffe along the E80/E65 just before you reach Budva, to sit on their terrace and enjoy the coastal vista.

3. Budva old town is Montenegro’s mini Dubrovnik and soon to be easily reached by luxury speed boat from Aman Sveti Stefan, but avoid its neighboring new town which is far less attractive and challenging to navigate.

4. If you need tiding over, a local snack worth a try is the Burek pastry, most often filled with cheese or potato – delicious! Other Montenegrin delicacies include smoked sheep and goats cheeses as well as wonderful smoked prosciutto, paired perfectly with either Montenegrin red wines, or nearby Macedonian whites and Serbian roses.

5. If staying at the beautiful Aman Sveti Stefan, take the 10 minute scenic coastal walk to their private Queen’s Beach nestled in a stunning secluded bay and for a change of scene for breakfast or lunch pop over to their Villa Milocer on the mainland and dine in dappled light under their wisteria clad pergola.

6. To escape to the wilderness, Lake Skadar National Park is under two hour’s drive from all our properties in Montenegro, it is the largest lake in the Balkans and the only one dominated by aquatic and wetland ecozystems. It’s a particularly important habitat for birds and as such is included in the IBA and RAMSAR lists and is a paradise for wildlife photographers.

7. Voted Lonely Planet’s number one Top City for 2016, Kotor is a gorgeous walled city where the cruise ships are yet to overwhelm, so best to visit before they catch on! If you’re feeling energetic (we didn’t!) you can climb approximately 1,350 stairs at a cost of €3pp to visit Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni for stunning vistas of the fjord and old town. It’s advisable to wear shoes with a grip to avoid slipping.

8. From Kotor, jump in the car and head north hugging the fjord for around 20 minutes until you reach picturesque Perast, where for €5 you can head across the fjord to the islets of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Afterwards enjoy a relaxing lunch over the water at one of the many restaurants lining the waterfront.

9. For a scenic dinner spot, request a waterside table at Hotel Forza Mare’s terrace restaurant, just a 10 minute stroll from Palazzo Radomiri Historical Hotel.

10. If staying at Regent Porto Montenegro, guests are granted entrance into the members only PMYC Lido for €25, which is located a short 5 minute walk away and is very much the place to be and be seen! You can also hop on a boat for €40 a day at a nearby beach, which technically isn’t private, but is such an inaccessible hidden gem it’s almost exclusively used by Regent guests.

DUBROVNIK

1. Walking the city wall is an absolute highlight of visiting this fantastic city! The wall technically closes at 7pm but you’re allowed to stay up there for thirty or so minutes after closing, therefore try to head up at around 6:30pm as it’s then very quiet and you get amazing warm hues over the cities terracotta roof tiles.

2. From Dubrovnik, you can enjoy boat trips out to the nearby Elaphiti Islands, such as Lopud and Kolocep as well as the extremely beautiful Mljet Island National Park. If you’re on a private boat, you can enjoy mooring in one of the many secluded bays and pass the time snorkeling and swimming in the inviting crystal clear waters.

3. For Game of Thrones and Star Wars fans, you don’t have to do a specific themed tour when in Dubrovnik, instead enjoy an informative and fun private city tour with one of our trusted enthusiastic guides who will be able to point out key highlights as part of a wider experience.

4. For foodies, head around an hour north to the pretty coastal town of Ston to visit one of the many oyster farms as well as vineyards to sample an array of delicious local Croatian wines. Ston is also home to the “European Wall of China”, a UNESCO protected 5.5km long defensive city wall.

5. Another day trip to be enjoyed is popping across the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina (a circa 2.5 hour drive), where you can see artwork and buildings from the Ottoman Empire, witness an eclectic culture, and explore their capital Sarajevo.

6. If staying at Villa Dubrovnik, you can enjoy complimentary luxury speedboat transfers to and from the hotel and old town marina, they run every hour except for between 2pm – 6pm, with the last return at 11:15pm by Viano, taking just five minutes to get back to the hotel.

7. For scenic views, delicious Peruvian Fusion food and a romantic setting, reserve a terrace edge table at Villa Orsula’s Victoria restaurant – fantastic! The classic catch of the day ceviche was a particular stand out starter, followed by the lamb for main.

8. If staying at Hotel Excelsior, their spacious spa and platform beach offer a welcome respite after a day on your feet sightseeing.

9. For an out of town retreat with scenic coastal views and pebble beach access into azure seas, Hotel Bellevue is a perfect choice for all and is within easy walking distance of Dubrovnik new and old town.

10. To avoid the crowds for great locally sourced food and homemade olive oil, head to Pantarul on the outskirts of the old town for a relaxed atmosphere and great friendly service. It’s worth booking in advance as it’s extremely popular with locals and tourists alike, with their calamari and fava bean risotto being a particular stand out, as well as their local sparkling wine produced by a boutique vineyard which has been in the family for over 500 years.

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