“Go early!” Our apartment host urged as we talked about a popular drive from Kotor to Cetinje. “You don’t want to be on the road between 10 and 4, there’s just too much traffic.”
I’d heard about this drive before – spectacular views from a tiny road that climbed so steeply that there are 25 numbered switchbacks, plus two historic towns as destinations to visit. The fear of traffic in us, we hit the road a little after 9:00 and had the whole empty road to ourselves.
The Serpentine Road – 25 Numbered Switchbacks
The road climbs steadily with a couple of opportunities to stop and take a photo, and with no one before or behind us we did just that. But the first big photo op is at numbered switchback #10 where you get a terrific look down onto Kotor.
At switchback #13 look for the empty vine covered building along the road. This was an old customs house that was on the former border between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Kingdom of Montenegro.
One thing we noticed at each numbered switchback was how luxuriously wide the road was. Just made for parking and getting out to look when you’re driving up, right? More on that later…
Just after the last switchback, #25, you know you’ve hit the tourist spot by the vendor kiosks set up along the road. A little farther along, above switchback #24 is the last spectacular view.
The Village of Njeguši
Leaving the spectacular views behind you eventually dip down into a lovely valley and the village of Njeguši, famous for making it’s own type of air-dried ham called Njeguški pršut, similar to prosciutto.
We weren’t the only ones on the road any longer! Njeguši is obviously the tourist stop and several buses were idling waiting for their groups to do their shopping and dining. We decided against a stop and continued on into the interior.
The City of Cetinje
Winding up out of the valley of Njeguši, it’s another 45 minutes of twists and turns before getting to the big parking lot near the Monastery in Cetinje. A big parking lot with a lot of big buses.
Cetinje was once the capital of Montenegro and has some sites of interest to some tourists. We strolled around, dropped in at the Serbian Orthodox Monastery for a look and ended up whiling away some time at a bustling shady café in the little town square.
There are two choices for returning to Kotor, make a loop drive by going over to Budva, or returning the way you came. What will it be? Back the way we came of course, heck with the traffic – a lunch stop at the view restaurant we saw on the drive sounded perfect.
Back to Kotor
Now in the afternoon, we were getting into some bus traffic on the drive back. And the reason for those wide turns on switchbacks became apparent.
One thing about bus traffic on tiny roads – you always want to be behind the bus, not coming the opposite way. Happily following a bus or two, the drivers were very courteous and always urged us to pass when the road was clear.
On the drive from Njeguši to the view restaurant, look back to see the old donkey path that used to be the way to get to Cetinje from Kotor long ago.
Restaurant Nevjesta Jadrana
Perfect lunch spot with super friendly wait staff, the fog was just descending on the Bay of Kotor as we got our view table outside and ordered some of the local Njeguški pršut (like prosciutto) and a local wine.
Campers Versus Buses – Guess Who Wins?
Happily following a bus down the road to Kotor, we congratulated ourselves on listening to the excellent advice to leave early. On coming traffic has to give way to the buses…that means all those cars and campers have to back up until they can find a spot wide enough to let the bus pass. We didn’t mind the wait, we had the big bad bus in front of us to clear the path, and we weren’t the ones doing the backing up.
Spectacular Drive Summary
If you have plenty of time and you like long drives, sure, go all the way to Cetinje. But for the best use of your time, just go to the wonderful view Restaurant Nevjesta Jadrana…and Go Early!