An Adriatic odyssey

Freedom to explore the story behind the picture-perfect Adriatic coastal towns.

Montenegro’s Kotor Serpentine is a single-lane mountain road that snakes its way up 25 hairpin bends, a vertiginous drop on one side and a sheer cliff on the other.

It offers breathtaking views of Kotor Bay and all the way to Italy. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain during our road trip and a thick fog was descending. All I could see was the terrifying canyon beside us and a bus lumbering in our direction.  

I was suddenly regretting taking the scenic route to the coast. But what would a road trip be without challenges?

A cruise is the obvious choice for visiting the Adriatic, but Mr F and I spent three weeks on the road. Since picking up a car in the Croatian port of Pula, we drove through Slovenia, sipped sparkling rosé on the walls of Ljubljana Castle and rowed around the fairy tale church on Lake Bled. 

We made our way through bear country to the magical Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, taken a car ferry from Split to Korcula Island and spent five glorious days hanging out with friends in our own little olive grove by the sea. Think rocky coves, clear blue water, pomegranate trees laden with fruit, insects buzzing around ripe figs and you’ve got the picture. 

Split croatia

Montenegro is a country oozing with old-world charm and new money. After three days exploring the medieval town of Kotor, swimming in sea caves, venturing into disused submarine pens and admiring super yachts, we diced with death on a mountain road. 

Full credit to Mr F. He squeezed past buses and cars, avoided landslides and rogue dogs to get us all the way to the coast. There we found Sveti Stefan, possibly the prettiest islet in the entire world and definitely worth the white-knuckle ride.

By the time we reached our final destination – the breathtaking walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia, we’d driven 1500 km and explored three countries. It had been three weeks, but it felt like months – like a Gap Year of sorts. I know that’s for school leavers, but why should kids have all the fun? 

Written by Julie Fison.