An Adriatic Adventure: Off-Season Travel to Dubrovnik, Montenegro and a Bit of Bavaria

This is the introduction of our ‘An Adriatic Adventure: Off-Season Travel to Dubrovnik, Montenegro and a Bit of Bavaria’ trip report.

Spontaneous trip

After my amazing trip to Laos a month earlier I found myself back home as the corona (COVID-19) pandemic arrived to Europe. I wasn’t planning to travel during the winter months, but an unfortunate situation changed my mind.

Due to a cock-up at the power company, I would not have electricity at home for more than a week. And no electricity means no WiFi internet, not being able to charge my laptop and phone, no fridge and no hot water from the boiler.

What to do in such a case? That’s a no-brainer. Take a trip somewhere, of course! And return back home once the problem is finally fixed.

Last-minute flights

While sipping a coffee in a cafe I checked some last-minute flights out of the country and managed to find a decently priced one-way ticket Bucharest-Athens-Dubrovnik (75 euro on Aegean Airlines).

It has been quite a long time ago that I visited the Balkans – a region through which I travelled extensively in my student days and developed a soft spot. The coastline and nature are gorgeous, the people friendly and the food delicious. Plenty of reasons to head back!

Dubrovnik

I visited Dubrovnik once before many years ago in June – and was happy that I had to leave again after two days. Sure, the city is beautiful, but I didn’t enjoy it at all due to the massive crowds. And that was even before Game of Thrones was released and cruises on the Adriatic Sea really started to take off, bringing even more tourists to the small city.

Although I had a bad experience before, I was willing to give Dubrovnik another chance. It being March, there were only limited international flights to Dubrovnik as the season basically only starts in mid-April. Surely that would mean that this time around the tourist crowds would be more manageable?

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Dubrovnik in early March: completely devoid of tourists! ©Paliparan

Montenegro

With a map in hand I started to draft the rest of the itinerary. Although I considered heading into Bosnia, it was logistically a much better choice to opt for Montenegro as the next destination after Dubrovnik.

With stops in Kotor, Cetinje and the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, this part of the trip was set as well. Although many tourists skip Podgorica given there is not much to see, I decided to include it as it is one of the few places in the country which I haven’t yet visited before.

The fact that I would have an early flight out of Podgorica Airport also made for a good argument to opt for a night in the capital.

Overland or flying?

Travelling from Montenegro to Romania isn’t as straightforward as it looks like on the map. I considered doing it overland as the train ride from Montenegro to Belgrade is simply one of the best and most scenic railway journeys one can make in Europe.

There were however some time constraints with this option. From Belgrade, there hasn’t been a direct train to Romania in years. Even the slow regional train connection Belgrade-Vrsac-Timisoara has been disbanded due to financial reasons some years ago.

From Belgrade to Timisoara there is a minibus service, but given my hatred for bus travel this didn’t sound appealing. Also, the whole journey from the Montenegrin coast back to Romania would take 2.5 days of travel at the very least, which also didn’t appeal to me as most of the time would be spend in public transport instead of actually seeing something.

Bavaria and back

In the end I decided to fly. I could have chosen an Air Serbia connection Podgorica-Belgrade-Bucharest, which at 250 euro one-way was a bit expensive. The schedule wasn’t great either, as I would arrive in Belgrade in the late afternoon and fly out again in the wee hours of morning the next day.

I found a better solution when looking at the low-cost airlines which serve Podgorica as Wizz Air had a 10 euro (!) one-way fare to Memmingen in south-western Bavaria departing at a convenient morning hour.

From Bavaria, I found a decent Air France deal from Munich to Bucharest via Paris for 99 euro one-way the day after, allowing me a full day of sightseeing in Bavaria. Regional rail transport within a single German state is always a good deal. A Bavaria ticket, which allows for unlimited travel on all regional trains in the state of Bavaria within a single day, only costs 25 euro.

This way, I could see the city of Memmingen in the late morning and afternoon, and add a second city in Bavaria to my itinerary as well before catching my flight back home the following day. As I already saw the bigger tourist draws of Bavaria before, I came up with the city of Landshut as my overnight stop as it looked pretty on pictures and was located close to Munich Airport.

With everything decided on, the final route map of this trip looks like this:

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The trip to the Adriatic Sea and Bavaria would involve a total of 5 flights. ©Great Circle Mapper

Highlights

In this ‘An Adriatic Adventure: Off-Season Travel to Dubrovnik and Montenegro and a Bit of Bavaria’ trip report, you can expect the following highlights:

– Reviews of economy class flights on Aegean Airlines, Olympic Air, Wizz Air and Air France
– Exploring the wonderful city of Dubrovnik without any other tourists in sight
– Staying in of Europe’s best boutique hotels in beautiful Kotor
– Visiting both the old (Cetinje) and the new capital of Montenegro (Podgorica)
– Drinking beer and wandering around the historic Bavarian cities of Memmingen and Landshut

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Looking over the massive city walls of Dubrovnik. ©Paliparan
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Kotor must surely be one of Europe’s most spectacularly located cities. ©Paliparan
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Landshut is a charming and beautiful Bavarian city. ©Paliparan

Trip report index

This trip report consists of the following chapters:

1. Review: MasterCard Business Lounge Bucharest Otopeni Airport
2. Review: Aegean Airlines Economy Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
3. Review: Aegean Business Lounge Athens Airport Hall A (Non-Schengen)
4. Review: Olympic Air Economy Class Athens to Dubrovnik (Bombardier Dash 8-400)
5. Review: Apartments Festa, Old Town of Dubrovnik
6. A Dubrovnik Winter Trip: Off-Season Travel Away from the Tourist Crowds
7. Review: Dubrovnik (Croatia) to Kotor (Montenegro) by Bus
8. Review: Palazzo Drusko Deluxe Rooms, Kotor, Montenegro
9. Kotor, Montenegro: Old Town Charm in Europe’s Most Spectacular Scenery
10. Cetinje – The Old Royal Capital of Montenegro
11. Review: Ramada by Wyndham Podgorica, Montenegro
12. Podgorica: Is the Capital of Montenegro Worth a Visit?
13. Review: Wizz Air Podgorica to Memmingen (Airbus A320)
14. Memmingen: More Than Just a Low-Cost Airport Close to Munich
15. The Bavaria Ticket: Unlimited Train Travel Across the German State of Bayern
16. Review: Michel Hotel Landshut, Bavaria, Germany
17. Landshut: Bavaria Off The Beaten Track
18. Review: Air France/KLM Lounge Munich Airport

** rest of the chapters to follow soon **

Koen

Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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