If you would like to explore one of Europe’s most daring natural creations, where the sea shamelessly penetrated the mountainous region, you should head to the southern coast of the Adriatic Sea, to Montenegro. The Boka Bay, also known as “Bride of the Adriatic”, is a one of a kind geological formation, comparable (although not exactly in the same way) to the Norwegian fiords. So, if you would like to lay your eyes on a truly exceptional attraction, but wouldn’t like to catch a cold in Norway, the Boka Bay is a worthy substitution.
The Boka Bay - nature at work
The Boka Bay is a symbiosis of a couple of bays and gorges, encircled by wooded mountains to the south (conditionally speaking) and mountains with sparse vegetation to the north. The coastline is jagged, mostly with small rocky and pebble beaches, and there are a few islands to be found, one of which is artificial.
The Boka Bay becomes especially colorful in spring (and remains through summer) when its floral diversity, featuring Mediterranean and alpine species, expresses itself the most. It isn’t uncommon during early spring to have blooming of the flowers along the coastline while the mountainous peaks are still covered with snow. While taking your tour along the coastline, you can enjoy a harmonious unity of palms, mimosas, pomegranates, lemons and other representatives of the tropical vegetation with such an extraordinary environment.
The Boka Bay – men at work (creating settlements and legends)
It might be strange that this photo evokes human craftsmanship, but the right islet is completely an artificial creation. Its name is Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks), and the islet stands on the foundations of countless parts of various sailing ships and rocks, which were added by the sailors after successful returns from distant voyages. According to a legend, the construction started in 1452, when stranded sailors found an icon of the Virgin Mary on the rock that was the cause of their stranding.
Along the 104 kilometers (64 miles) long coastline, various interesting and picturesque settlements had risen; interesting legends and turbulent history are attached to almost each one of them. In my opinion, the town of Stoliv features the two most interesting legends.
One hundred olives (Sto – oliv) are credited for the town’s name. When a young man fell in love with a local girl, her father (who didn’t approve of their relationship) made a deal with a fellow that they will have his blessings if he manages to plant one hundred olive trees on the narrow slopes of the mountain (olives were never cultivated in the Boka Bay before). Since true love knows no limitations or boundaries, the man in love met his part of the bargain.
While you sail along Stoliv, open your eyes for a mansion with a walled window. In this mansion, three sisters, who were in love with the sailors, used to live. They waited for their loved ones their entire lives, and weren’t lucky to welcome them back. As they died one by one, the remaining sister(s) walled the window of the room of the deceased. At the end, one window remained open since there was no one left to wall the window of the last sister’s room. Today, there is only one window remaining walled.
Kotor, a town with a medieval soul
The medieval town of Kotor is the one the Boka Bay (Bokokotorski zaliv) is named after. It assumes the farthest point the Adriatic Sea managed to stretch inland, and features a walled town. The Old Kotor is connected to St. Ivan’s Fortress (260 meters / 853 ft above sea level) by a fortification system. Take a break next to a church (in the photo) on your way up at 110 meters (360.89 ft) above sea level. Within the walled town you can explore the narrow streets, Orthodox and Catholic churches and buildings and palaces from the previous centuries. To familiarize yourselves more thoroughly with Boka Bay’s history, head to the Maritime Museum.
Perast, the religious capital of the Boka Bay
Perast is another especially beautiful town, but 18 Christian religious structures are what it is most famous for. Out of these 18, there are 17 Catholic churches and 1 Orthodox church. Like Kotor, Perast features numerous palaces, most of which are Baroque. The Perast Museum displays old weapons, various portraits and other items related to historical, cultural and economic development of this historically significant town on the Boka Bay.
Herceg Novi, a bit of history and two bits of cardio training
To make a proper exploration of Boka Bay’s third major town, make sure you are in good shape. Herceg Novi is the steepest settlement of the Boka, whose main symbol is 100 001 stairs. So, there is no way around endless climbing and descending here. Take comfort, you’ll be richly rewarded with historical sites and grand panoramic views.
Herceg Novi was ruled by the Turks, Venetians, Spaniards, etc. From the Kanli Kula (the Bloody Tower in Turkish), which used to be a Turkish prison, you can enjoy the best panoramic views of Herceg Novi. The list of other interesting historical structures continues with the Forte di Mare (Sea Fort), Citadel, Spanish Tower, Tarnovice Tower and ends with the Clock Tower, another symbol of the town.
Explore the Boka Bay properly
Best way to explore such an outstanding symbiosis of natural and human craftsmanship is by car and boat (not necessarily in this order). You should start your road trip in Kotor, and finish it in Herceg Novi. As for a cruise, once you embark on a ship in Tivat, the cruise ship takes you all the way from Herceg Novi to Kotor; time for sightseeing is allocated in the main points of interest. Make sure to enter the Our Lady of Rocks Church, featuring a spectacular interior. Shuttle boats for the islet are available in Perast. If you are without a car, a couple of bus companies cover the entire bay efficiently.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.