Kotor, Montenegro, is more popular than ever with tourists, but its public transportation system has not quite caught up with the crowds.
You could wait an hour for a bus, and when it comes, it might be too full to squeeze in.
That picture was taken during our visit in August – during high season. I am not sure how crowded the buses are in other months.
Buses come about once an hour, depending where you are on the bay. We could not find any formal schedule. Sometimes it’s a full size bus. Now and then it’s a minivan bus, similar to the colectivos we used in Mexico or Belize. And the buses and minibuses are not always packed.
In our experience, if there hadn’t been a bus for more than an hour headed into Kotor, it was full, as pictured above. Outside of rush hour, you are more likely to see buses that are not stuffed, especially on buses heading away from Kotor, as pictured below.
The price is almost never the same. Sometimes it’s .6 euro, sometimes it’s 1 euro, going to the same place on the same route. I don’t mind paying one euro, but it would be nice if the price was uniform, or at least explained to me when and why it’s different. The only explanation I got one time was the driver grunting “Tourist!” at me pointing for me to sit down without any change.
Aside from the infrequent, overcrowded buses with random fares, other options for local transportation are walking, biking, or taxi.
Taxis have meters. I am not sure how these meters work. There are no displays to show the price per mile, or base rate.
I was charged 6.85 euros to go three miles – from the Dobrota area to the Kotor shopping plaza. That’s $7.87 for three miles. That’s a bargain compared to other European cities, but it’s a lot of money for budget travelers like us.
We hitchhiked once and met some really nice locals. I am not advocating you jump into cars with strangers – it just works for us now and then. Along the roads around Kotor, we’ve seen backpackers holding signs to faraway destinations.
The main road around the bay on the Dobrota side has a sidewalk nearly the whole route into town, but often cars decide to park on the sidewalk. So you have to wait for passing traffic before you can step out into the road and get around a parked car. Not exactly a pleasant experience.
But here’s the good news: on the Dobrota side of the bay, there is a water walkway the entire route into town, so you never have to walk on the busy traffic road if you don’t want to. Cars do drive on this walkway, but traffic is not frequent. And cafes and hotels line the waterfront, becoming more frequent as you get closer to Kotor proper.
The scenic views are why you come here in the first place. So what if you have to walk a couple miles to town? I mean, look:
On the Prcanj side of the bay, the heavy traffic road and waterfront walkway are one and the same. It’s a narrow, slow-go road, just barely wide enough to two cars.
Bikes are an option, and my husband Tedly used the bike that came with an Airbnb rental. Traffic on the narrow roadway made me nervous – there’s no bike lane, not even a shoulder. While he has ridden around a bit, he hasn’t really rode his bike around too much.
If you visit Kotor Bay with a rental car, make sure your unit has a parking space. Parking is at a premium here. These beautiful towns were created and designed long before cars, and so there aren’t many places to park. We’ve seen cars lining up and waiting outside lots, with drivers sitting in their cars waiting for their turn to enter the parking lot.
Somehow the system works – you’ll be able to get from point A to B without too much time or money. Relatively speaking, $7 for a cab won’t put you in the poor house if you do it once in awhile. For vacationers, this is no problem. The charges are reasonable when you compare what you would pay in other places like Barcelona or Rome.
But for us budget travelers, it’s not really an ideal situation for longer than a month if you need to get to Kotor proper often and you’re staying somewhere else on the bay.
Luckily for us, we don’t need to do much but enjoy this unbeatable view!