Montenegro

Without doubt, the approach to Kotor is one of the most spellbinding in the world, and it can only be truly appreciated from the deck of a slowly moving ship. Vast, arid mountains wind along a route that heads inland from the Adriatic for about sixty miles. Deep, serried ranks of pine trees tumble down the steep hillsides to the edge of the still, mirror like water. Many people compare the epic approach to Kotor as being on a par with the most beautiful of the Norwegian Fjords- and that is no mean boast.

The town that eventually peeps at you from around a bend in the water is a true scenic smorgasbord as well. Seen from the ship, you will pick out several small lines of walls, running up into the hinterland like the threads of a spider’s web. Closer in, those same walls take on a very different stance.

A city with a history entwined with the medieval Venetian Empire, Kotor was massively fortified against the Ottoman Turks by its Venetian overlords. Over the course of almost four centuries, it evolved into the fault line between those two ancient enemies. What remains today qualifies this unique, enchanting city as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You should first of all see the beautifully impressive Square of Arms and the quirky cathedral of Saint Tryphon, dating back to 1166, with its curiously mismatched twin towers. It’s an area worth lingering in just to soak up the timeless vibe of this colossal brew of stone and marble, set against a powder blue sky. Europe has few more enchanting natural settings.

But the real highlights are the walls themselves. You should only attempt the walk if you have considerable stamina. In all, these winding walls extend upwards and along for a full three miles. Slate grey, jagged and impassive, they would have been a daunting challenge for any invading army.

For more tranquility, you could check out Sveti Dorde or Gospa od Skrpijea, a pair of islands that lie out in the vicinity of Perast.

Most cruise ships tender their passengers ashore in the port of Kotor. You will be tendered in to the pier, which lies about three hundred yards from the three gates that give access to the centre of the UNESCO old town.

If you’re lucky enough to be on one of the handful of small cruise ships that can dock here, you will arrive alongside this same pier, with the same short, three hundred yard walk into town.

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