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krisek Herceg-Novi - A travel report by Krys
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Herceg-Novi,  Montenegro - flag Montenegro
17728 readers

krisek's travel reports

True Adriatic Riviera Resort Indeed. Herceg Novi.

  11 votes
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Palm trees swaying slowly rocked gently by light breeze, incredibly blue and cristal clean waters, endless cafes and bars along a miles long seafront promenade, serenades played on guitars... Do you get the picture?

The old town seen from the fortress
The old town seen from the fortress
I arrived in Herceg Novi at sunset. The taxi from the Dubrovnik airport in the neighbouring Croatia set me back by €50. Although some drivers wanted €60! At 8 o'clock in the evening, there were no other sensible options and the airport had no information desk. As I descended from the border, I had a serious doubt about the town of Herceg Novi, wondering whether I should have start my first visit to Montenegro from this town. Concrete, grey blocks of flats rising everywhere occupying the slopes of the mountains sliding steeply into the Adriatic. Luckily my consternation did not last too long. I soon spotted stone houses with red tiled roofs and the palm trees squeezed between them as if they treasured every square inch of soil that remained amongst the tightly urbanised old town.

I was not expecting a world of Herceg Novi to be honest. I chose it for the first night as it was closest to the border and I did anticipate I would need to take a taxi from the airport. I had managed to find a few words and shots about the town on the internet, but they alone would probably struggle to convince me to come here, to be honest. And I was very glad I did. Herceg Novi was almost a perfect introduction to Montenegro for me. It had everything. The palm trees, the old stone town with red roofs, the beaches, the seafront promenade, the cold beer, the mountains around and little green islets sticking out of the clear blue waters of the Adriatic, and the Russian middle class on holiday...

Favourite spots:
Seafront promenade at night
Seafront promenade at night
The seafront promenade running parallel and just south of the old town was the best place to watch people. It was so conveniently located to everything one would need, apart from the bus station, which was built in the upper town, by the main road. The promenade was synonymous with a holiday resort. It was indeed commercialised by only to the point that it was making all the necessary facilities so readily available, from swimming, to dining, to drinking, to partying, to dancing, to shopping, to relaxing, to gossiping. At some point, the old town was descending to the promenade, making a great link between the new summer holidaygoes-oriented part of town to the historical, full of stories locked in the old buildings' facades.

What's really great:
One of the beaches
One of the beaches
The atmosphere of Herceg Novi bedazzled me. I consider myself a relatively difficult person to dazzle! I had not seen palm trees or warm weather for ten months and I had been working hard during that time, so this might have affected my judgement, but sitting at a round glass table at night watching stars and sipping beer, as happy shiny people around looked so happy and practically horizontal, made me think that Herceg Novi had the X Factor. The ambiance of the seafront at night was electrifying. I even started thinking that I should perhaps stay in Herceg Novi for more than one night, also I as found a great accommodation option right on the beach (see below). And this feeling came to me before I even saw the old town the next day...

Trg Herceg Stjepana with Church of Archangel Michael
Trg Herceg Stjepana with Church of Archangel Michael
The old town in Herceg Novi featured a collection of Italianate architecture, stone towers and villas, as well as fortresses and a monastery dedicated to St. Stefan. This was all packed in a small area that could be explored in about 3 hours at a very relaxed pace. It was located on the slope of the mountain sliding into the sea. The top of the old town was dominated by the large fortress. It was turned into a concert venue and rows of seats had been installed inside the main court, which looked a little odd. The entry fee was €1. The views from the fortress were fantastic. The entire old town was on a display, it seemed.

The Parish Church of St Jerome was one the prominent sights with nice bell tower. The Trg Herceg Stjepana with Church of Archangel Michael in the heart of the town was exceptionally pleasant, with a few cafes. The bells of the church were still operated by long ropes. The Trg N. Durgovića with tiny flower market was animated, entrance to which had a nice clock tower.

Room no. 709 in the Hotel Plaža
Room no. 709 in the Hotel Plaža
I had not booked any accommodation before arrival, which for me arriving at or after sunset at an unknown place is generally a no-no. I did try, but agents I found on the web, did not want to help me. They were more interested in visitors coming for a week or two; not an independent traveller wanting to stay only one night per town. The taxi driver, whom I confessed what I had not done, called his mate in Herceg Novi, handed me over to him, when I arrived and he took me to Hotel Plaža. I would not have chosen a hotel of this kind myself, but I was very pleasantly surprised! They charged €37.70 (good buffet breakfast included!!) for a large, clean double with ensuite bathroom, seriously comfortable firm bed, and balcony overlooking the sea! The hotel looked like a purpose built venue for party and government organisation conferences and holidays. It was massive and there was plenty of room everywhere. It had a gym, sauna, aerobic, a few restaurants. The receptionist spoke English well.

One of the cosy bars
One of the cosy bars
I was too knackered to stay up too late at the clubs and late bars. Many of the venues at the promenade featured live music, which varied from very skillfully played jazz and blues to tastefully interpreted contemporary music, to excruciating renditions of pop, wedding and 'easy-listening'. Not so easily listened to, actually. The latter should be avoided in the Yachtclub 32 and Aquarius. Some of them attracted crowds, which was perfect for mingling and trying new aquaintances from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Although all looked safe, that was an illusion. The southern hotblooded nation of the Montenegrins is no stranger to compulsive jealousy, grotesque cockiness and obssessive machosness, which often and unpredictably triggers haphazard fights and confrontation. Regardless of their legitimacy. I know this might sound strange but it is an observation coming from a coldblooded northern European national, who had learnt about the benefits of the stiff upper lip.

Clock Tower
Clock Tower
There were no sand beaches in Herceg Novi. Only pebble and rock beaches. There were always disadvantages and advantages of the lack of sand. It might be less comfortable on the stones, and they get extremely hot, but at the other hand there is no coerse sand getting in the eyes and even those parts of the body hard to get to, and obviously it is safer for photo equipment. The beached were well attended and one could hire a wooden or plastic chair or beach ottoman, often complete with a parasol. The non-beachgoers had about a hundred of cafes and bars to choose from, almost all perfect for sitting down, killing time and watching people. And as the local beer (Nikošičko) cost just €1.70 (and other goods priced proportionally) it was not that hard to secure a jolly good time.

Herceg Novi had a good number of cafes spread around the old town and the seafront promenade, which were perfect for people watching, sipping drinks and relaxing, and of course meeting the locals. And Russians!

Narrow lane in the old town
Narrow lane in the old town
Restaurant Bife Žalo at the seafront served a number of Mediterranean dishes, typical for the region, specialising in pastas and serving a few versions of pizza. All for very reasonable prices. Their draught beer was cold and good! But Herceg Novi boasted a very good number of places to eat and drink. Restaurant Aquarius looked very respectable and the Gradska Kefana, as a bonus, offered fantastic views of the old town, the fortress and the sea.

Other places to consider were Bela Lada Restaurant and Bar at the beach, Copas Bar, Caffe Nautica (very nice decor indeed), Cafe Bar Dodo (very trendy and great for people watching, as they wandered along the seafront promenade. The Yachting Club 32 served excellent fruit juices, had great views, but its sandwiches were rather terrible...

Other recommendations:
The fortress
The fortress
Frequent coaches connected Herceg Novi with other towns around the Bay of Kotor and Budva. The 30 minutes ride to Perast was €1.50, farther down to Kotor - €2.50, and 100 minutes to Budva €4.50 or so, if crossing the bay by ferry, otherwise was more expensive and took almost twice as longer.

Coaches to Dubrovnik in Croatia were leaving at 09:30 and 15:30, not too convenient for the easyJet flights to London, unfortunately.

Taxis to/from Croatia, could be a tricky business, as the countries did not reciprocate taxi licenses. Apparently, a tax issue was the cause, but it meant that taxis from Dubrovnik airport accepting a job over to Herceg Novi, risked being halted at the border, leaving the traveller stranded there. The same was the case in the opposite direction. I was lucky coming from Dubrovnik, but not so successful returning to Croatia, for my flight. My taxi was stopped and the 'friendly' customs officers 'kindly' ordered a Croatian taxi for me, which cost me an arm and a leg!

Published on Wednesday July 1th, 2009

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Fri, Jul 10 2009 - 11:29 AM rating by mistybleu

Great report; I love Herceg Novi and you've captured the essence so well.

Fri, Jul 03 2009 - 06:38 PM rating by jorgesanchez

All your reports deserve 5 points, without exception!

Thu, Jul 02 2009 - 01:55 AM rating by szidonia

Krys, I drunk your words - literally :) It is so well written and also helpful, we are taking our boats in the same direction next month, so it is a pleasure to have you pioneering the steps before us ;) Thanks and congratulations!

Wed, Jul 01 2009 - 05:46 PM rating by eirekay

I adore the description of the beachfront! I can see myself sitting there people watching!

Wed, Jul 01 2009 - 12:01 PM rating by jacko1

1 am constantly impressed by your in depth reports, the humour that you inject is exactly right, do you have any English blood?:-) Well done Krys.

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