Montenegro: tips for staying in Tivat

21 November 2019

While planning our trip to Montenegro, we did a lot of research on the best places to stay. Before booking at Palma in Tivat, we considered other hotels in Perast, Kotor and Budva. But Perast, however beautiful and idyllic, was both too expensive and not very practical since public transportation is limited to one bus an hour and very few guided tours have a pick-up point there. Kotor and Budva on the other hand have all the transportation possibilities you might need, but as two of Montenegro’s most touristic spots they didn’t exactly meet our wish for a more peaceful stay.

Why we picked Tivat

Looking back, Tivat really was the perfect location for us. Because it’s so central, it was easy to get to all the places we wanted to visit without having to spend the whole day driving. It’s also well suited for tourists, but not so busy that there was a queue at restaurants (that is, when we visited in July). All in all, Tivat ticked off the most qualities we were looking for, with some additional advantages:
  • central location and easy access
  • touristic, but not too crowded
  • the beautifully renovated Porto Montenegro
  • many charming restaurants and bars
  • supermarkets and ATMs at hand
  • 10 minute drive from Tivat airport

Where we stayed

We stayed at Hotel Palma in the heart of Tivat. The hotel has recently been refurbished and was very clean and modern, and honestly a joy to come home to every day. Our room looked out on Tivat’s old port and the blue water of Kotor Bay on the other side. But we mostly spent time taking a swim and relaxing in the lounge chairs on the pebble beach in front of the hotel. The staff was always friendly and tried their best at talking English, which was a lot since – as you’ll undoubtedly discover if you ever visit Montenegro – there’s a small chance at finding a local who speaks the language fluently.

We had breakfast at the hotel restaurant almost every morning. The buffet was really nice with all kinds of pastries and spreads varying from day to day. For dinner they also serve a great homemade burger which was the perfect comfort food after a long hike. The only thing lacking (sometimes) was a good wifi connection, but that’s not a surprise in Montenegro where internet in general is scarce. If I had to pick a hotel a second time, I’d definitely go for Palma again.

Where to eat & drink

Tivat’s marina, its most prominent feature, was renovated 10 years ago. The beautiful Porto Montenegro is now a home to not only a great many private boats and luxury yachts, but an equally wide range of restaurants for every taste. We kind of made a sport out of trying a new spot to eat every evening and these are the ones that stuck with me:


One was “the one” restaurant that stood out above the rest. It’s kind of a high-end brasserie serving an extensive menu of meat and fish options as well as risotto and pastas. We first enjoyed some refreshing cocktails and then had a really nice steak with homemade fries for dinner. The setting and atmosphere were lovely and the service very professional.

Al Posto Giusto

We had a candlelit dinner at Al Posto Giusto and it was magical. This Italian restaurant has a terrace with a lovely view over Porto Montenegro, which is beautifully illuminated at night, and I would probably recommend it for that view alone. Luckily the food is actually great too so it’s a win-win! All of their pasta is handmade and they have some really nice wines to try as well.


On our last night in Tivat we went for pizzas and garlic bread at Bevanda, a ‘ristorante’ and pizzeria just two minutes from our hotel. Rens went for a classic Margherita while I indulged in the Tartufata with mozzarella and black truffle. My pizza was so good I swear I can still taste it while thinking about it.  


Looking for a quick bite for lunch? Right in the middle of Porto Montenegro you can find Ukemochi, a small noodle bar where you can put together your own noodle or rice box with meat or fish and a sauce of your choice. Plain and simple, but delicious!

S&M Brza Hrana

Another great stop for 'fast food' is S&M Brza Hrana. You probably won't find this small family business anywhere on the internet, but it's well-loved among locals for their delicious (and gigantic!) artisanal crepes and pizzas made on the spot. Look for the food stall close to Bevanda open from 7pm.

Moritz Eis

Moritz Eis served the best ice cream we tasted during our stay. You can't miss this little place thanks to the large cone display and vintage ice cream cart outside.


To our delight, we found Porto Montenegro even had good coffee to offer. Specialty coffee shop Kafeterija became our go-to spot for a daily dose of caffeine. Tip: ask for the chocolate cake with ice cream and relish.

What to do

Tivat isn't the most interesting city in Montenegro, but you can easily spend a day there without getting bored.  

Go yacht-spotting

The obvious thing to do in Tivat is of course take a stroll along the many yachts anchored in Porto Montenegro. Part of it is reserved for the most expensive yachts and only accessible to the owners, but the rest of the quay is free for all to snoop around.

Take a dip in the Adriatic Sea 

If your hotel is in Tivat, it's very likely to have a private swimming area marked out. But even when you're just visiting, you can take a dip in the water at one of the little pebble beaches scattered across the shore for a bit of refreshment.

Hike up the hill to Gornja Lastva 

In for a little adventure? Gornja Lastva is one of the highest villages in Tivat at a 300 m altitude on Vrmac mountain. A hike up there gives one of the best views over Tivat Bay and only takes about 1,5 hours. My best advice is to wear pants or long boots for the trip as you'll encounter many nettles and thorns along the way. You can use Google Maps to find the starting point on Jadranska Magistrala and from there, there's only one road to walk up!

Transportation tips

There are a few ways to get around Tivat and visit nearby cities in case you don’t have a car or don’t want to hire one:

By taxi

Taxis are everywhere to be found in Tivat and are probably the quickest manner to get to any destination you wish. They aren’t particularly cheap – not in comparison to taking the bus. But at least you can count on an experienced driver who knows every single road, which is a lot in a mountainous country like Montenegro.

By bus

There’s one bus stop in the center of Tivat where you can take the Blue Line bus to Kotor and Perast (direction Herceg Novi). It only costs €2 to get you to your destination, but be ware this bus takes a very narrow road along the coastline so it's not exactly the most relaxing trip. You can find the time schedule at the bus stop, located next to a news kiosk on Palih Boraca street. However, keep in mind that buses in Montenegro are rarely on time so it's basically a matter of waiting to see when one shows up.

To catch buses from other companies, you can take a taxi up to the large bus station near Tivat Airport. GetByBus can be a good help to find different options for where you want to go.

Book a day tour

If like us you're limited to a week's stay, tour organizations may come in handy to make sure you get to see as much as possible. For trips to Montenegro's national parks like Durmitor, Skadar Lake and Lovćen, we made use of Globtour Montenegro and 360 Monte. We're still happy we made that decision because not only did we visit places we otherwise wouldn't have, we also learned some interesting insights from our tour guides on the way. Make sure to check out all available private and group tours for a fully arranged day of fun and surprises.

More tips on how to spend time in Montenegro?

Read my post about everything we did during our week's stay here

7 days in Montenegro

27 October 2019

Montenegro is one of those unexpected – and highly underrated – destinations which until this year I had never even thought of visiting. We just happened to stumble upon this last minute offer and since we had no idea where to take our holidays this year, I started researching about the country and its possibilities and honestly it didn’t take long to have me convinced this was the destination for us. Mountains, icy blue lakes, picturesque fishing villages, more mountains… Montenegro or Crna Gora as the locals call it is a gem for anyone who appreciates a good mix of stunning nature and exploring historical towns.

We were there for 7 days in the last week of July and were based in Tivat. You can read more on why it’s the perfect place to stay and about all there is to do in Tivat in my other blog post. But first I thought it might be handy to give you a bit of an overview of all the activities we managed to squeeze into our week’s stay. While a few extra days to relax in between tours and hiking ventures would’ve been nice, we pretty much got to see everything we wanted in the time we had. It really was the most wonderful getaway and I’m hoping this post can inspire others to put Montenegro at the top of their bucket list!

Lake Skadar National Park

One of the largest national parks in Montenegro is Lake Skadar. Well I say Montenegro but one third of it actually belongs to Albania. As the name suggests, the centerpiece of this park is the Skadar Lake or ‘Skadarsko Jezero’. We did two boat excursions on the lake, one starting in Virpazar in the South and one starting at Rijeka Crnojevića in the very Northern area of the park. In this remote little town you can also find Skadar’s best-known part: the so-called ‘horseshoe bend’. To get a really good look at it, you can visit the Pavlova Strana viewpoint, either by taking a tour or by driving up there yourself. Though I have to warn you, the narrow and winding Montenegrin roads can be quite a challenge.

If you’re visiting this park with a guide, my best tip is to check beforehand if the tour includes the view of the horseshoe bend. The first tour we did with Globtour Montenegro was limited to the Grmožur Fortress and the secluded beach of Pjesacac, where we got to have lunch at the local restaurant. I’m not saying this wasn’t a lovely experience, but it was a bit of a letdown since the tour advertised a photo of Pavlova Strana. We ended up ordering a really expensive taxi the day afterwards to take us up there, only to realize it actually was included in another tour we’d go on later in the week with 360 Monte, but more on that hereunder.

Lovćen National Park

The next national park on our to do list was Lovćen. This park is mostly of symbolic importance to Montenegrins as Petar II, the country’s heroic leader, was buried on top of Lovćen’s second highest peak. The unique mausoleum that was built for him in 1971 is one of the most visited spots and one of the best viewpoints of Montenegro. It took 461 steps to get up there, but I will never forget the stunning views of Kotor Bay, Cetinje and Štirovnik, the park’s highest mountain just opposite the mausoleum.

We visited Lovćen with a tour company called 360 Monte, as part of their ‘Great Montenegro’ tour. This also included a visit to the towns of Njegusi and Cetinje, and photo stops at Sveti Stefan and as I mentioned earlier, Pavlova Strana in Lake Skadar National Park.

Durmitor National Park

And so we’ve arrived at my undeniable favorite: Durmitor National Park. I have a weak spot for tall pine trees and since about 50% of the park is covered with them, you can figure why it absolutely blew me away. It was a 3 hour drive from our hotel in Tivat, but so worth the trip. And since we did it as part of a tour, we also stopped at some interesting spots like the town of Žabljak, Slano Lake and the Tara Canyon on the way. You can find details of the tour here, though if you’re up for a drive, I’d recommend going by yourself so you’re not limited to time and can freely explore the park because it is huge.


The Black Lake

Durmitor consists of 18 glacial lakes, also referred to as ‘mountain eyes’. We spent about an hour at the Black Lake or ‘Crno Jezero’, the largest of them all situated at the foot of the majestic Medjed mountain. The Black Lake is the most popular spot in Durmitor with a large beach area, kayak rental and the dreamiest pine forest surrounding it. You can walk all the way around the lake following a 3,5 km path. But unfortunately we only got to do like 500 m of it before we had to head back to our tour bus, hence my earlier advice to visit this park individually.

The Tara River Canyon

Also part of Durmitor is the Tara Canyon, which we were told is the largest canyon in Europe. You can get a nice glimpse of the canyon and the bright turquoise river running through it from the Đurđevića Tara Bridge. This 365 m arch bridge was partially destroyed during World War II to prevent the Italians from crossing and it took four years for it to be rebuilt. Just a little nice-to-know if you ever walk across it.

Near the canyon there’s plenty of activities for visitors like zip lining or rafting on the Tara River. Riding a zip line over the canyon was probably one of the raddest things I’ve ever done. It’s about 1 km long and it was so thrilling and such a beautiful sight to see the canyon rushing by below my feet. We were advised to go with the Yellow ‘Tara Zip’ company because apparently they’re the only one with the right certification (this must only be possible in Montenegro) and it cost €20 + €10 for a photo set of the ride. The memory, though, is totally priceless.

Kotor (Old Town)

For me, one of the biggest surprises of our trip was Kotor. I’d read a lot about it beforehand while deciding which hotel we’d stay in. The coastal town, after which Kotor Bay was named, is one of the most touristic places in Montenegro and that’s why we opted for Tivat as our base instead. But as busy as the center was, I never expected to be so charmed by the medieval stone houses and narrow streets Kotor has hidden behind its old city walls. You can spend the entire day walking past souvenir shops, traditional restaurants and numerous small churches scattered across the map. If you have some spare time, and energy, you can hike all the way up to the St. John's Fortress for a view over the city and the bay.


From Kotor we took a speed boat to Perast, the single little town that won me over while deciding whether or not to go to Montenegro. I read about it being described as “a historical fishing village pretty as a painting” and “the highlight of Kotor Bay” so I was really excited to finally see it for myself. It was beautiful and so tiny it would indeed fit into a painting. It features the same Baroque style buildings as Kotor Old Town, but still feels a bit more authentic and less crowded.


Our Lady of the Rocks

In front of Perast there are two notable islands which you can both visit by boat. Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island built by two seamen after they found an icon of Madonna stuck on a rock where the island is now, or so the story goes. The church on the island is said to be a little museum now, with a small collection of 17th century paintings. But keep in mind the doors close at 5 pm, cause we never got to see them ;)


The Island of Saint George

Next to it is the Island of Saint George. This smaller, natural island houses a Benedictine monastery, but its contents seem to be a mystery. Visitors aren’t allowed here, most probably for religious reasons. Legend has it a priest was killed on this island and the Pope himself cursed the place after the event. It’s all quite fascinating, really. And luckily you can get a nice glimpse of it from Our Lady of the Rocks.

Slano Lake

Another incredible lake, that’s not part of a national park, is Slano Lake in Nikšić. We only got a look at it from one of the viewpoints along the road, but there are plenty of beaches and forest roads to be discovered on the green islands gracing the lake. While it pretty much looks like a miracle of nature, Slano Lake was actually built artificially in order to power the nearby hydroelectric power plant.


I’d place the following attractions under ‘optional’ because they didn’t necessarily mean an added value to our trip, but were simply included in the tours we did. What I’m saying is, if you don’t have a lot of time, save these for last and try to see as much possible of the beautiful National Parks Montenegro has to offer. Want to be able to say you’ve seen absolutely everything? Here you go.

Ostrog Monastery

High up in the mountains of Nikšić – and by high I mean 900 meters above sea level – you can find the Ostrog Monastery, a popular pilgrimage place in Montenegro. Visiting Ostrog was a rather bizarre experience for us. There was a mass going on and what seemed like hundreds of people were praying to some sort of religious music, which made us feel really out of place. The monastery itself had some nice paintings and the view from the top floor was quite impressive, but I wouldn’t go back a second time.


Cetinje is the former capital of Montenegro. As it’s close to Lovćen National Park, a visit to this cultural town is often included in bus tours. We only got to see a small part, mainly the Monastery of Saint Peter where we were only allowed in wearing 'skirts' as pictured above. Other than that there wasn't much to it that's worth remembering.

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan was once an island occupied by the Petrović family, who named it after their protector Saint Stephen. Now connected to the mainland by bridge, the peninsula has become a luxury resort. You can only enter if you have a reservation at a restaurant or a hotel, but since that would cost about €2000 a night the place is only ever visited by royalty and celebrities. This leaves merely a photo opportunity from a distance for the ‘average’ tourist, which to me wasn’t really worth it since getting there means having to drive through the traffic-packed – excuse my language – hellhole that is Budva.


Speaking of which, I’d totally put Budva on the ‘avoid’ list instead of the ‘optional’ one if it weren’t for the old part of the town. Budva is one of the most crowded places in Montenegro because of its large beaches and many nightclubs. With a mix of modern skyscraper hotels and unfinished building projects, it’s kind of the odd one out next to the other coastal towns. On a small peninsula on the Southern end you can find the remaining part of Budva’s old center surrounded by stone walls. It has some lovely old squares and houses to stroll past. Though the thing is you can see those same style buildings in Kotor or Perast, so making another stop here just seems a bit unnecessary if you’re short on time. It’s up to you!

A family weekend in the Mosel Valley

30 June 2019

Every now and then my brother and sister in law like to organize these little ‘culinary’ weekends away with the family. Our last trip took us to the Champagne region in France and this year we went for wine tasting in Germany. We spent a few days in the Mosel Valley and a day in Trier on our way back. Here’s a few photos and some tips on which villages to visit.  

We stayed at a charming bed & breakfast called ‘Gästehaus Bollig’ in Trittenheim, in the middle of the Mosel, where the Wine Festival had just started. During this annual event the people of Trittenheim come together under the main bridge to celebrate with wine and music. We got to taste some lovely wines from local wineries “Trittenheimer Altaechen” and “Trittenheimer Apotheke”.

From Trittenheim we journeyed to other municipalities where we visited a couple of Roman ruins, like Villa Urbana in Longuich and Villa Rustica in Mehring. Now honestly, once you’ve seen one of these, you’ve kind of seen them all. But I do recommend the one in Longuich for its beautiful surrounding views. In Mehring we also did a wine tasting at Weingut (the German word for winery) "Zum Römerkopf” where we took home a delicious Riesling wine. And we made a third stop at Longen for a walk through the vineyards – for which June seemed like the perfect timing. I remember it was only April when we visited La Champagne and because the grape vines had just started growing, it took away a bit of the view’s magic.

We ended the weekend with a day in Trier. It’s said to be the oldest city in Germany and I was really charmed by its beautiful old town square, The Hauptmarkt. After schnitzels for lunch at Restaurant Schlabbergass, we continued our walk past the Porta Nigra to the Liebfrauenkirche and onto the Palace Gardens. Also worth a visit is the Roman Amphitheater just outside the city walls. It was built in the 2nd century A.D and you can walk all around the arena and even enter the basement underneath.

Sipping coffee in Bruges: 5 favorites

31 March 2019

5 favorite coffee spots in Bruges

I’ve thoroughly discussed my love for Bruges on here before, so a list of my favorite coffee spots couldn’t stay far behind. Whenever I plan a day trip there on the weekends, I like to try some new places or revisit old favorites. What I love about Bruges’ coffee scene is that there seems to be less of a hipster culture present. The people and places feel more authentic, which is so refreshing compared to other Belgian cities. If you’re a coffee geek like me and heading to Bruges soon, you’ll love these five places to enjoy your daily cup of joe.

5 favorite coffee spots in Bruges: Vero Caffè + Adriaan

Vero Caffè

Grabbing a coffee at Vero Caffè has become a fixed habit when visiting Bruges. It’s one of those spots that make you feel instantly at home, which isn’t surprising as its interior is literally living room goals. The coffee is definitely the highlight though. My favorite order? A cappuccino with a large piece of their white chocolate cake - so sweet but so good!

Coffeebar Adriaan

Housed in a 19th century building, Adriaan is a mix of a traditional Belgian coffee house and a modern bar. By traditional, I mean a typical breakfast at Adriaan consists of freshly baked crusty bread rolls with ham and cheese. Trust me, breakfast doesn’t get more Belgian than that. Before taking a sip of one of the many coffee options, be sure to stop and admire their collection of old coffee cans and grinders on display in the back of the shop. It’s gorgeous.

5 favorite coffee spots in Bruges: Kottee Kaffee

Kottee Kaffee

“We do it for the locals” Didier, the owner of Kottee Kaffee, told me the first time we visited on my birthday two years ago. And you can taste the passion he and his wife put into their work, and food. Their bread basket formula is far from the average one. It includes seven different types of bread, all wheat-free, served with complementary spreads and delicious homemade jams. This cozy spot is hidden away in a quiet alley, but definitely worth looking for!
5 favorite coffee spots in Bruges: Margritt + Cafuné


Margritt is one of my more recent discoveries located in a charming side street of Bruges’ market square: the Sint-Amandsstraat. They offer good coffee, homemade bakes and several breakfast and lunch options. Don’t be fooled by the tiny space you see when you enter, there’s plenty more seats in the back of the place!


Cafuné is a specialty coffee bar that has recently opened its own roastery, which already gives away the high quality you can expect from their coffee. I always go for a cappuccino but they have several slow coffee options like Kalita and Aeropress as well. If you’re visiting in the afternoon and craving something sweet, you should have a go at their homemade apple turnover. Oh and for breakfast the banana pancakes are pretty awesome too.