Posted: October 6 2019
This post deals primarily with how to get from Shkodra, Albania to Kotor, Montenegro and from Kotor to Dubrovnik, Croatia based on information collected on my backpacking trip to The Balkans in September and October 2019. But there is more about Kotor itself towards the end of the post.
From Shkodra (Albania) to Kotor (Montenegro), I took the the Old Town Tours bus which runs from Tirana to Kotor (via Shkodra, Podgorica and Budva. Departure from Tirana is 08:00. It gets to Shkodra at 10:00, Podgorica at 12:00, Budva about 13:00 and Kotor about 14:00.
Ticket price to Podgorica is 10€, Kotor, 15€. I bought my ticket from the driver.
The stop in Shkodra is on Rruga Teuta, outside the Hotel Rozafa. In Podgorica it stops at the main bus station for a 10 minute toilet break (0.50€)
There is another bus, Adria Tours, which departs Shkodra at 13:30 from the same point on Rruga Teuta. This is a long distance bus as indicated on the listing in the photo below.
Ticket price for the Adria bus is the same as the Old Town Tours bus. To Podgorica is 10€, Kotor, 15€. They are sneaky in that they will charge you 2€ for the bags.
From Shkodra you can also get to Ulcinj, Montenegro from where you can get buses further up the coast to Bar, Budva and Kotor. This service is run by Vllazen Lluja. Times as per photo below. Departure point is on the same stretch of street. Ask for more details from the tourist office on the corner.
Bar is the point where you can catch the train to Belgrade. See more details on www.seat61.com.
From Kotor you can catch buses right across The Balkans:
I took a couple of shots of the timetable in Kotor Bus Station.
I bought a Dubrovnik, Croatia ticket upon arrival in Kotor for 3 days hence on the 08:30 bus. Price was 17€. Arrival time in Dubrovnik was at 12:00 noon. We lost time at the border crossing. It ends its journey at the Main Bus Station in Dubrovnik, which is 3km from the old town. There are money changers at the bus terminal. There are local buses into town. Or just walk as I did.
Kotor is a delightful little town on the Adriatic Coast.
But, sadly, it is not very quiet. In fact, it's heaving. Even late on in the season, there were 2 cruise ships in town, each day. These must carry 500+ passengers each though they sleep on board.
There are a few hotels and hostels within the Old Town.
Another word of warning, restaurants stay open 'til late. Outside my hostel was a guy on the saxophone 'til gone 11 AND across the square is a church whose bells are clanged on the hour, every hour from 6 am 'til midnight and a short dong on the half-hour. At 9 pm and 7 am they ring out for 5 minutes or more.
Yes, it's very cute and very pretty but don't plan on getting a good night's sleep. Earplugs didn't help much.
Everything within the Old Town is very expensive. But luckily for the locals and backpackers alike, there is a shopping centre with the Aroma Supermarket, a Voli Supermarket and an Ideal Supermarket all within a short walk from the Old Town.
The highlight of Kotor is the Kotor Fortress. Entrance fee is 9€. But for budget travellers, some were entering at around 7 am without any checks. The ticket booth is open from 8 am. And if you can't be arsed to go out exploring at such an hour, beyond the Kamelja shopping centre, begins a footpath which will give you after a time, a bird's eye view of the fortress and if you keep on going, stupendous view over the Bay of Kotor. The trail is well defined. After 2 hours of non-stop uphill hiking, you'll get to a signpost. The trail splits. Left to the church, right to the restaurant and road. Both church and restaurant are about 1.5km further. The sign says about an hour but I can not confirm this.
The trail is steep. Very steep but you start at sea level so there is still a lot of air. If you've slept in, there won't be any shade. It gets blisteringly hot here, so take a hat, sunscreen and lots of water. And wear some decent shoes. There are two small snack shacks in the vicinity of the fortress viewpoints.
Notes about Albania, Montenegro and Croatia:
Albania is not in the EU, is not in the Schengen Zone and uses the LEK
Montenegro is not in the EU, is not in the Schengen Zone but uses the Euro
Croatia is in the EU but not in the Schengen Zone and uses the Kune
Things will change but this is as it stands, October 2019.
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