RV Roadtrip – From Split Croatia to Kotor Montenegro

The route from Split to Kotor.

The route from Split to Kotor.

After almost 3 months in Croatia our visas were expiring and it was time to move on. After bidding the fantastic staff at Stobrec au revoir we moved south through a bit of Bosnia and Herzegovina (simple border check) and ended up at a very small campsite just south of Dubrovnik. As we had spent a few days in Dubrovnik previously we were not tempted to visit the city center again; way too many tourists for our taste. Plus there were some abandoned hotels from the war that we wanted to check out and the camping was easy walking distance to them.

Dubrovnik from the road as we head south.

Dubrovnik from the road as we head south.

After we pitched up and surveyed our rustic camping we were going to walk over and check out the abandoned hotel resorts. As one reviewer said about Auto Camp Matkovica, “A very basic camping, but charming in its own right. It’s a very small terrain with simple facilities and a very charming owner. …” And we couldn’t agree more. Though keep in mind that if there is a breeze while you shower you might inadvertently become a naturist for a few fleeting moments! Our host was extremely nice and just across the street is a supermarket, perfect for provisioning for the next bit of our trip. If you need a place to camp that’s only about 15 minutes drive from Dubrovnik she’s got you covered. There’s even a water taxi or bus, if you so desire.

Rustic camping.

Rustic camping.

But back to the ruined resorts. Passing new modern hotels on the way, once we got to the waters edge we could see the abandoned complex just off in the distance, not far at all.  It’s curious to see what was once opulent resort living and a paradise for the military and elite now reduced to rubble, hollowed out buildings and graffiti.

Posing near the new hotels.

Posing near the new hotels.

According to Atlas Obscura “The once-exclusive holiday resort saw thousands of Yugoslav officers and their families in its heyday. In the early 1990s, during the Croatian War of Independence, the Yugoslav Army destroyed the former beach paradises. After looting each of the five buildings, they systematically burned the hotels down, floor by floor.

Shadows of their former self.

Shadows of their former self.

The hotels—Grand, Kupari, Goričina, Goričine II, and Pelegrin—had enough room for 1,600 guests at a time. A nearby campsite could hold over 4,000 more. They boasted private villas, too, and even President Josip Broz Tito had a holiday home at Kupari. The resort wasn’t built exclusively for the military elite, but as its popularity grew, booking became increasingly difficult unless one had connections.”

We were fascinated by the ruins and spent hours walking in and around the buildings. The location couldn’t be more perfect as it is one of the nicest beaches in the Dubrovnik area, strange it hasn’t been refurbished and still remains a very visible reminder of what took place just a few decades ago.

We opted to stay on the ground floors but clearly a more intrepid soul could (and do) visit the higher floors. As it was, there was plenty to pique our interest and invite speculation as to what the place must have been like in the prewar days.

With the ruins of Kupari behind us it was time to roadtrip to the bay of Kotor in Montenegro. 

Driving the coast of Croatia.

Driving the coast of Croatia.

Our real concern going south into Montenegro and then Albania on our way to Greece was the dog. While we knew we had all the right documentation that didn’t necessarily mean a border agent wouldn’t give us a hassle about Sebastian either coming in or going out. Another small concern was the quality of the roads heading south. Only time would tell.

An important sign we couldn't read.

An important sign we couldn’t read.

Our concerns about this border were unfounded though it seems that in a lot of cases our French license plates and American passports ease the agents attitude and we get pretty light scrutiny. I’ve always wanted to break out my driving license from the U.A.E. if asked, but that might sow all kinds of discord so if asked the California one is the one I’ll show. Still, I’m curious to see the reaction! Also, most of the agents think Sebastian is hilarious as he barks his head off at them while we try and feed him treats to stay quiet. So much for trying to slide across country borders as incognito as possible.

Typical Park 4 Night spot.

Typical Park 4 Night spot.

Our destination for the night was a parking lot near the center of medieval Kotor. We did pass several “Park for Night” spots along the twisting and turning road that wound its way along the fjord like coast towards Kotor. I am not a big fan of these spots, generally just a turn out or other dodgy spot some camper managed to spend the night in undisturbed. Signs as we crossed the border warned that ‘wild camping’ (Park for Night, cough cough..) was forbidden, but we see quite a few camping cars flouting the rules as we move along from country to country.

Our rig legally parked up for the night.

Our rig legally parked up for the night.

At any rate, the parking lot we were destined for was a gated facility right on the water with an incredible view. Sadly there was a bit of cloud cover keeping it from being as stunning as it might otherwise have been.  Still, pretty epic! The deep bay on one side, the fortified medieval city and castle fortifications on the other side. We were very glad we took the chance and went south into Montenegro. (Our original plan was to ferry over to Greece from Italy)

Our view from our parking spot.

Our view from our parking spot.

Sadly, the overcast conditions evidenced in our photos do not do the place justice. It is really quite incredible with the medieval fortified walls creeping up the steep hillside. We opted not to go up the stairs to the top of the citadel as this would likely involve carrying Sebastian (in the rain) for some or all of the way. Instead we were content to wander the old town and take in the sites.

Though they bear little resemblance, Kotor is a sister city to Santa Barbara.  In fact, Kotor has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is home to numerous sights, such as the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in the old town (built in 1166), and the ancient walls which stretch for 4.5 km (3 mi) directly above the city. (From Wikipedia)

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon.

There are at least 3 cats taunting Sebastian in this picture.

There are at least 3 cats taunting Sebastian in this picture.

As we wandered, we eventually found a nice spot in the old town for lunch and some drinks surrounded by old buildings and medieval cobbled stones under our feet.

The old fortified walls of Kotor.

The old fortified walls of Kotor.

After lunch we continued our strolling along the water and the lower fortifications and city walls. Eventually it was time to call it a day and head back to the camping car.  Our tour of Kotor complete, we would be moving on in the morning.

Sebastian was not amused by the 'famous' cats of Kotor.

Sebastian was not amused by the ‘famous’ cats of Kotor.

Stay tuned as we continue south to Petrovac, Safari Beach and through Albania as we make our way to the Peloponnese region of Greece and beyond!

6 comments on “RV Roadtrip – From Split Croatia to Kotor Montenegro”

  1. Dad says:

    What an awesome adventure, seems like it’s just getting better! Thanks for the pictures! Love you guys.

    1. Todd says:

      It is an awesome adventure and we are fortunate to do it!

  2. Scott says:

    Poor Sebastian…not his kind of town. Good thing you moved on…

    1. Todd says:

      There are a lot of restaurants with outside patios and they weren’t discriminating against dogs so we at least had that going for us.

  3. Raylee Howard says:

    We loved this area and on northward into Croatia. You got to see so much more that we did (in two trips). So maybe there is a reason for us to go back to one of our favorite areas.

    1. Todd says:

      We love this area too, there are so many hidden gems that we’ve been able to find. Each visit offers a new surprise.

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