Visiting Croatia And Montenegro


Croatia and Montenegro have so much to offer. Dubrovnik and Kotor are spectacular, the village of Cavtat is charming, and Montenegro’s fjord is sublime.

I searched the apartment for the free wifi password, only to discover it was ‘welcome to my home’. I knew from that moment, I was going to like it here! I wanted to see visit Croatia and Montenegro and searched for a resort that would not be too crowded during the summer months – Cavtat ticked all boxes.


Surrounded by cypress trees, when we arrived in the picturesque resort, it reminded me of the Tuscan coast. We stayed at the Villa Milica, which is only a few minutes from the seashore and a leisurely 20 minute stroll to the village. A traditional farmhouse, we were warmly greeted by the owner Milica who kindly offered to give us a lift to the grocery store, for what she called our ‘big shop’!


This spacious two-bedroomed apartment is a mixture of old and new. It has a country cottage feel, but with all mod cons including a large double bath, a separate shower room, and a huge balcony with sea views.

Villa Milica, Cavat, by The Travel Expert

Cavtat is situated about 45 minutes from Dubrovnik by water taxi and has everything you need for a relaxing break. The village is really authentic, with stone buildings housing superb restaurants. The town remains unspoilt and although there are plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from, they fit in with the landscape perfectly.


Bugenvila is one of Cavtat’s best restaurants, but you will need to book it a day in advance. The food would rival many Michelin Star restaurant and the service was excellent. Unlike many restaurants there, they have a separate kids menu so the prices are very reasonable for such high quality food.


Try the hangar steak, you wont be disappointed. Pizzeria Desteka was another great find. It has great pizza and an ideal choice for a family night out. In fact most restaurants were very reasonably priced and the quality was very high.

Bugenvila Restaurant, Cavtat, by The Travel Expert

Be prepared to ogle at the super yachts as you enjoy a drink at the waters edge – there are many multi-million euro yachts here. The emerald green sea is the perfect temperature for bathing, although the beaches are stoney. In fact, most beaches along the Dalmatian coast are stoney, so make sure you bring surf shoes.


There are great watersports available, including jet skiing and scuba diving. There are plenty of small fish that swim close to the shore, so we picked up cheap snorkel masks and spent hours swimming with them.

Cavtat is a good choice for families and couples. There are lots of four and five star hotels perfectly suited for couples who a upmarket holiday as well as apartments like ours which are great for families.

Cavtat, Croatia, by The Travel Expert



Visiting Dubrovnik from Cavtat

There are regular ferries / water taxis to the old town of Dubrovnik – this suited us perfectly. We took the 5pm ferry so we could climb the city walls when the city was less crowded. It was also nice to explore the city at night time and soak up the atmosphere over dinner.


We also took an early ferry another day and rode the cable car to Srd Hill and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. This is a great way to see the city without the crowds and heat, with the added advantage of enjoying a one hour boat trip on the Adriatic Sea.

Read: My top tips for discovering Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia as seen from the cable car on top Srd Hill



Day trip to Montenegro from Croatia

From Cavtat there are numerous boat trips and excursions to choose from. We decided to take a day trip to Montenegro, and booked this through the local Croatia tours representative. Normally we would hire a car and travel independently, but the organised coach tour was a better option.


With the recent influx of migrants to Italy and Greece, the border check points have long delays. We were advised that if travelling by car you could be hours waiting to get through – the tour was a much better option.

We drove around the bay of Kotor and saw the Mediterranean fjord – the only fjord in Southern Europe. The scenery was spectacular. We stopped at the beautiful walled city of Kotor and had plenty of time to explore the cathedral and the city’s winding streets.


Kotor was built to hide from the enemy, and therefore not on a grid system. This adds to the charm when exploring as you really don’t know where you will end up. However, the furthest point is only ten minutes walk from the entrance, so there is no chance you can get lost.  

A trip to Kotor by The Travel Expert

Our next stop was the popular town of Budva. We drove through the tunnel used by James Bond in Casino Royale, before arriving at what was unfortunately a massive let-down. Budva has an authentic walled city, but unfortunately this has been ruined by the modern resort built beside it. It looked like there was no planning involved and modern high rise blocks are placed beside the medieval city – it is such a shame.


After a quick bite of lunch, we took the ferry across the fjord before heading back to our hotel. I would highly recommend a day trip to Montenegro – if for no other reason than to visit Kotor, it is absolutely stunning.  Note: Although Montenegro is not in the EU, they use the Euro and don’t readily accept Croatian currency.





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Top Tips For Discovering Dubrovnik’s Old Town & Cliff Bars


It is impossible not to fall in love with Dubrovnik. It’s old walls and limestone streets are intoxicating. Check out my top Dubrovnik tips and get planning your next break away.

Walking through the streets of Dubrovnik in the blistering heat, I longed for a bar with a sea view. One of the Dubrovnik tips I read on TripAdvisor was to seek out Café Buza, but when I arrived, I was underwhelmed. People were packed like sardines under sweltering umbrellas, fighting for a view of the ocean. Fortunately for me, I didn’t hang around to tick that particular box.

I did however stumble across a unique ‘hole in the wall’. To be honest, it was my son Luke, whose curiosity got the better of him, who discovered it. We followed him through a gap in the ancient stonework. With no apparent signage or indication of what was below, we climbed down numerous stone steps only to discover the coolest cliff-top bar, packed with sunbathers and tombstoners. For those of you who have not come across that term, tombstoners are people who jump off high (and sometimes dangerous) rocks into the ocean.


I asked the barman if he had a card or even an address. He looked at me perplexed and said that the less people who found the bar, the better. An unusual form of marketing, I thought! It’s called Café Bard, but keep it to yourself… Everyone was chilled out sitting on cheap white plastic chairs, or sunbathing on the rocks with towels they clearly brought from home.


The bar reminded me of a scene from my student days. For an hour or more, we sat back and enjoyed a few beers and watched the daredevils jump from crazy heights. I wondered, with some trepidation, if that would be my children someday.

Cafe Bard, Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik had been on my wish list for many years. Finally this year, I got there. I have visited many walled cities and towns before, but Dubrovnik is special – it looks like something straight out of a film set. When you consider the walls were constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries and were bombed as recently as 1992, the town is remarkably well preserved.


The surrounding walls are one of the main attractions – you have to climb them. If you are not feeling energetic, or like me, have small kids with you, you can choose to climb one half. This takes about thirty – forty minutes. Dubrovnik Tips: Enter at the gate beside the port and exit at St Saviour’s church – this is less strenuous than the other half.


The full loop will take ninety minutes to two hours so make sure you have comfortable shoes! One of my top Dubrovnik tips is to walk the walls between 6pm and 8pm – after which they close entry. The hoards that descend on Dubrovnik from the visiting cruise ships will have more than likely left, so it should be less crowded. You may be lucky to get the sunset over the terracotta rooftops too.

The terracotta roof tops of Dubrovnik
A trip on the cable car is also worthwhile. A three minute ride will bring you to the top of Srd Hill where you can get a view of the city and the neighbouring islands. On a clear day you can see up to 60 km, hence the fortress was built here as a lookout point.


This fortress is now a museum depicting the Homeland War. Although many of the articles are in Croatian only, it was very moving. To think this war happened just over 20 years ago is staggering. Watching news footage of the war from the BBC made you appreciate how much has changed in 20 years. The vibrant city below shows no outward signs of the atrocities that took place.


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Next to the museum there is a modern outdoor café. This is a good choice for lunch or a snack, with good food and spectacular views. On a hot day, the cool breeze makes the al fresco dining much easier to bear, than the narrow side streets of the old town below.

Dubrovnik, Croatia as seen from the cable car on top Srd Hill

Discovering Dubrovnik is not only about the paying attractions – wandering through the old town is an attraction in itself. Built on a grid system with one main street through the centre, it is very easy to navigate. The side streets are crammed with eateries and souvenir shops and the atmosphere is electric.


There are street artists performing on the main street and the whole place just feels alive. The town has two drawbridges, numerous turrets and lots of places to explore. Although it houses plenty of designer boutiques and modern ice cream parlours, it still feels medieval throughout.

An evening in Dubrovnik's old town.
My advice would be to avoid visiting for long periods during July and August, or stay in one of the resorts close to Dubrovnik rather than in the city itself. Some days there could be three cruise ships moored. That could mean 10,000 tourists walking through this small city, in soaring temperatures.


There are some beautiful resorts close by, all of which offer water taxis to the harbour. I stayed in Cavtat, which you can read about by clicking here. We visited Dubrovnik in the evening and early morning when temperatures were cooler and the city was less crowded. Croatia tours are the specialists to Croatia and they have many accommodation options available close to the old town.


Top Dubrovnik Tips: Check out the monthly cruise schedule that the Croatian Port Authority publish. If you are staying outside the city walls you can choose the days which won’t have as many cruise ships docked. Click here. 

The Croatian currency is the Kuna. Most places do not accept euro and many places do not accept credit cards either. You can however, withdraw money from cash machines in the airport or in most villages.



I hope you enjoyed my top tips for discovering Dubrovnik and that they help you with your travel plans. Dubrovnik is one the most spectacular cities in Europe, you can not help but be in awe of the place. Go see it.

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