Montenegro isn’t a country that was on my radar so while I’d like to take credit for discovering Muo, Kotor’s hidden gem, it was pretty much down to the suggestion of my friend Bex. It was while we were discussing holiday plans that she mentioned Montenegro, and in particular the Bay of Kotor.
Other than knowing Montenegro used to be part of the former Yugoslavia (some of my friends thought it was in South America) I didn’t really know that much about it. After a quick search on Google images confirmed everything Bex had said about how incredible the area was we booked our flights. I couldn’t believe I’d never thought about a trip to this part of world before as from the pictures it looked like one of Europe’s hidden gems.
Bex warned me that Kotor’s Old Town was a bit touristy so I decided to try and find somewhere for us to stay in Kotor Bay away from the main throng. While I’m all about discovering hidden gems it can be a catch 22 situation. Destinations with less tourism also don’t necessarily have nice places to stay, or those that do come with a hefty price tag. Having checked out the hotels in the area and not being particularly impressed by either the facilities or the price – it’s one thing paying a lot for somewhere luxurious, it’s another paying a lot for somewhere that’s not – I decided to check out holiday apartments. Again there appeared to be no middle ground. So I couldn’t believe my luck when I found a brand-new apartment on Airbnb located in the little village of Muo, a 10-minute walk from Kotor Town, that was just £35 a night.
It seemed to good to be true. I’ve always been a bit dubious about renting an apartment through Airbnb, but my fears were unfounded. The apartment was lovely, exactly as it was in the pictures so we were more than happy to be staying in Muo, Kotor’s hidden gem. We also had the added bonus of a veranda where we could eat breakfast against the backdrop of the mountains.
It was just a short walk down our path to the main road and the stunning setting of the bay itself. The only thing that marred the view on occasion were the cruise ships, though we were fortunate there were only a couple. Even off season there were still plenty of tourists milling around Kotor’s Old Town.
I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of the cobbled streets filled with souvenir shops, bars and restaurants (there are no cars allowed) geared towards tourists, serving pizza, pasta and fish. It reminded me a bit of Sorrento and the type of place my mum would go on holiday (no offence mum).
The only time we ventured into the Kotor’s Old Town after our first day was to climb up to the fortress to check out the panoramic views of Kotor Bay from the top (take sensible shoes and bear in mind that it’s definitely not a 45-minute walk up, even taking into account that I’m a bit unfit). But as you can see from my pictures, it’s easy to see why tourists flock to this picturesque part of Montenegro.
About a 30 second walk from our apartment, we also stumbled across the Barracuda one of the best fish restaurants we ate at (aside from the Catovica Mlini), on the whole of our trip. It’s so unassuming we almost walked past it. But I’m glad we didn’t as the succulent parcel-wrapped fish, topped with cheese and accompanied with fried peppers, was light and flaky and tasted like it was fresh out of the sea.
I ordered white fish on a stone, which was set alight in front of us, in quite a spectacular display (sadly we were too slow to get any pictures). If you do want to eat here though I’d advise trying to reserve in advance. We were initially turned away as there appeared to be a private party, with lots of loud Montenegrin karaoke going on, but the owner ran after us and let us eat at one of the tables outside.
If you’re looking for a great-value holiday with some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe you won’t go wrong with Montenegro. Clearly I’m not the only one to have cottoned on to this. But for now at least, it is still possible to escape the crowds with a stay in Muo, Kotor’s hidden gem, though maybe not for long…