Balkans: Montenegro: Belgrade to Bar train and Kotor

If you love train travel, then you must arrive in Montenegro from Serbia on the rather famous Belgrade to Bar train. This is the train line that Tito commissioned in 1976. His trademark blue carriages were used to conduct meetings with officials from the Yugoslavian countries as well as heads of state from foreign countries. For special events today, Serbian Rail will attach a blue carriage or two so people can thunder along in Tito style.

Two trains operate on this route; a day train and a night train. We took the day train which departed at 9 am and offered comfortable second class carriages. We had a stash of food and drinks to tide us over the journey as per other travellers’ advice.

It’s the landscape that seals the deal for this train trip which is every bit as good as travel bloggers describe it. There is a visual overload of mountains, valleys, gorges and villages as the train climbs to a height of 1032 metres and passes through 254 tunnels and over 435 bridges. One tunnel is 6 kms long and a very small part of the track dips into Bosnia. It’s a remarkable feat of engineering across the mountains and for 21 euros, it makes good economic sense to ride this train.

We alighted at Podgorica, capital of Montenegro after a comfortable nine hours, a couple of hours before Bar.

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All aboard at Topcider Station Belgrade
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Inside the carriage – I borrowed this photo from maninseat61.com – an excellent site I’ve used many times for train information

Some of my photos do justice to the superb scenery from the train, others not so. With so many tunnels, it’s easy to miss good photo opportunities.

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Road bridge being built in background

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I borrowed this photo from Google to show you one of the fabulous bridges the train crosses.

We stayed one night in Podgorica but saw little of the city as we left early the next morning on a bus bound for Kotor on the coast.

Medieval Kotor is a walled town and entry is through the gates. It’s a very pleasant mix of churches, accommodation, cafes, shops and wine bars that feed off the cobbled alleys.

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Our apartment was here … pretty good location!

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Outside the Old Town are beaches and long walks around the bays that lead to beautiful villages.

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Currently, there’s a heat wave in Western Europe and while Eastern European countries like Montenegro are not as hot as France and Spain, it’s still warm. Swimming is definitely on the itinerary.

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Kotor is cruise ship heaven. If you’re lucky enough to sail into Kotor Bay, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular scenery.

Perast is a beautiful village that is connected to Kotor by a local bus. With just one main street and a number of churches and palazzos, it’s quite grand. Here, we spent the day having a slow lunch and swim before making our way back to Kotor. The feature photo at the top of this blog is Perast.

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The climb to Kotor Fortress is popular despite 1320 steps. Surprisingly, it’s doable because the steps are in good condition. The walk there and back should take 2 hours. I took 3 hours – no need to hasten the experience when the views at every step of the way are stunning.

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The walk begins through this gate
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Getting to this small church takes about 20 mins
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The steps are in good condition, the track isn’t
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Beautiful views from the top

We are leaving Montenegro tomorrow and heading to Croatia to visit Dubrovnik and Korcula Island. From here we’ll venture into Bosnia and then return to Croatia.

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