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Kotor has to be one of the most scenic places in the world. Located close to Montenegro’s Tivat Airport, the town is often the first stop for arriving tourists and definitely one of the best places to visit in the country. It’s also a popular stop for Mediterranean cruises – my cruise with Silversea Cruises stopped in Kotor for a night.
I’ve been to Kotor twice now and it never fails to impress me. With a fjord-like bay and a fortified old town, Kotor is definitely a spot not to be missed. Make sure you stay enough time to take a boat trip out on Kotor Bay to visit Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast; this is one of the highlights of any Montenegro trip.
To help you plan your itinerary, here are some of the top things to do in Kotor:
Best Things To Do in Kotor
Wander the Old Town
At the heart of Kotor lies its medieval old town, which is filled with churches, plazas and stone streets. Wherever you walk in the town you’ll find cute streets and interesting things to see, so have your camera ready.
Being a fortified town, Kotor is surrounded by walls which were built during the Venetian era. There are 3 main gates to enter through the city walls, although Sea Gate is the one that most people enter through.
When you enter through the gate you’ll immediately be greeted with the sight of Kotor’s famous clock tower. The 3-story clock tower has two faces and was built in 1602, combining elements of both Baroque and Gothic architecture.
Hiking in the Mountains
Montenegro’s landscape is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking and white water rafting. If you’re feeling adventurous, go hiking in the mountains to explore the country’s beautiful scenery. Black Mountain offers a range of Montenegro tours, including guided half-day or full day hikes.
Popular hiking routes include:
- Mount Orijen – the highest peak in the Coastal Dinarics chain
- Lovcen National Park – 1 hour drive from Kotor
- Vrmac Ridge – low level hike close to Kotor
- Mount Rimija – divides the coastal seaboard and Lake Skadar
On my first visit to Montenegro I enjoyed a one day hike on the Vrmac Ridge, which wasn’t too difficult although I was definitely tired and hungry by the end of the day!
We hiked along the ancient Austro-Hungarian switchback pathway, until we eventually reached a wide ridge which offers spectacular views on either side.
We then made our descent down the pretty mountain village of Gornja Lastva, which offers views of Tivat Bay. Here we explored the Stjepcevic family house, which is over 200 years old.
If you plan to hike in the mountains, don’t forget to pack a water bottle and comfortable hiking shoes.
Climb to the Fortress
You’ll either take one look at this and say “hell no” or you’ll decide you’re up for the challenge. Snaking up the hillside is a set of stairs that takes you all the way up to San Giovanni Fortress. It’s hard to notice the stairs in the daytime since they blend in with the scenery but when the town is lit up at night you can see the path quite clearly.
To climb the Ladder of Kotor you’ll pay a small entrance fee before making your way up a flight of around 1350 steps. On a hot summer’s day you’ll get pretty sweaty as you make your ascent, so make sure you bring some water. Part way up the path you’ll reach the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, before finally making it to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan.
The view from the top is incredible and totally worth it. This is the absolute best spot for a photo of the town and the Bay of Kotor.
At the time of writing, the cost is €8 euros between 8am and 8pm, May-September. If you’re visiting in peak season, try to climb them early in the morning when the weather isn’t too hot. If you do the climb at say 7am, it would be free.
Visit St. Nicholas’ Church
Located in the north part of the town, St. Nicholas’ Church is a significant Serbian Orthodox church that was built from 1902 to 1909. It’s built in the location of a previous church which was burnt down by fire in 1896. The church treasury holds a valuable number of icons, artistic crafts, documents and church gowns, plus items that were donated by wealthy Kotor families.
Boat Trip to Our Lady of the Rocks
My favorite of all the things to do in Montenegro is a boat trip to Our Lady of The Rocks. The boat will take you across Kotor Bay (also known as “Europe’s Southernmost Fjord”) to this small islet, which is home to a blue-domed church built in 1632. Inside this Roman Catholic church are 68 paintings by baroque artist Tripo Kokolja, who was from nearby Perast.
According to local legend, a bunch of seamen found a picture of the Virgin Mary there in 1452 so they made an oath to build a church in the same spot. When they returned from each successful voyage, they threw a rock in the bay and gradually formed an island in the sea.
Spend a Day in Perast
Most Bay of Kotor boat trips will take you out to Perast, which is an idyllic fishing village on the north side of the bay. If you walk along the waterfront promenade you’ll stumble across several restaurants and hotels.
You’ll eventually come across Peskovita plaža Perast, which is a small beach where you can go swimming in the bay. There’s also a bar/restaurant here called Pirate Bar, which can get quite fun with lots of people ordering beers and jumping off the jetty into the water to cool off.
Have Lunch at Stari Mlini
This is my favorite of all the things to do in Kotor. I’ve eaten here twice and both times have been such a great experience. Star Mlini is a family-run restaurant located on the site of a former flour mill, which made flour for the locals of Kotor in the 1700s. The restaurant is located in a stunning setting on the water and even has its own marina for boats to dock.
The restaurant is accessible by sea, or by land. When you arrive by boat it really adds to the experience and makes it feel all the more glamorous and special. Dishes are made with local produce and you’ll find lots of Adriatic seafood on the menu.
Try Montenegrin Food
While you’re in Kotor you must try some Montenegrin food and local wine. My favorite dishes are Crni Rižot (black risotto), Burek (filled pastry), Brav u Mlijeku (lamb in milk) and octopus salad. The diet in Montenegro mainly consists of fish, seafood and hearty meat dishes, served with plenty of fresh vegetables. Most menus feature fish and meat dishes plus pizzas and pastas.
Best restaurants in Kotor:
- Konoba Scala Santa
- Konoba Bonaca
- Restaurant PRŽUN
- Restaurant Galion
White Water Rafting on the Tara River
The Tara River is a river that stretches through Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It cuts through the Tara River Canyon, which is the second canyon in the world after The Grand Canyon. In total the river measures around 146 km (90.7 miles) and the canyon is 1,300 meters at its deepest point.
White water rafting on the river is a popular activity, with the most popular route being the stretch from Brstnovica to Šćepan Polje. The route is 18 km long and it takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. The Tara River is such a popular rafting destination that it has even played host to the World Rafting Championships.
Pet Cats at the Cat Museum
If you’re an animal lover then you may want to visit Kotor Cats Museum, which is filled with cat-related memorabilia, including art works, magazines, books, greeting cards, postcards, advertisements and even menus.
Kotor was chosen as the location for the Museum because of its peaceful environment, charming Old Town and large cat-loving population. It was set up after a large donation of images by Countess di Montereale Mantica and over the last ten years, the collection has grown due to more donations.
Around Kotor Old Town we saw lots of cats – they seem to really love the environment here!
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
One of two Roman Catholic cathedrals in Kotor, the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon is named after St Tryphon, who is the patron saint of the city. It was consecrated in 1166 but has been damaged over the years by numerous earthquakes. The last major restoration occurred after a major earthquake in 1979, which had a magnitude of 6.9.
Interesting features of the cathedral include some 14th century frescos, a stone ornament above the main altar depicting the life of St Tryphon (Sveti Tripun), plus a relief of saints in gold and silver. St Tryphon’s body lies within the cathedral, inside a coffin made of silver.
Sunbathe on Kotor Beach
Unlike Budva, Kotor doesn’t have many beaches to speak of because it lies on The Bay of Kotor as opposed to the Adriatic Coast. It does however have one small beach called Kotor Beach. It’s pebbly and small, but if you want to sunbathe then it does the job. The views are also rather nice too, since you get a nice view of Kotor Bay and the cruise ships coming in.
The beach can be found along the promenade just north of the Old Town.
Go Stand Up Paddleboarding
If you’ve never tried standup paddle boarding then the Bay of Kotor is a good place to do it. The flat, tranquil waters are ideal for SUP, so I’d recommend booking a tour so you can explore the bay’s coves and islets. Tours usually include transfers to Solila Beach, which is just a 15 minute drive from Kotor.
You’ll be provided with all the necessary equipment and a guide will show you the ropes before heading off on your own to paddle around St. Marko Island, the Island of Flowers and other attractions on the bay.
Visit the Maritime Museum
Kotor Maritime Museum features a collection of nautical exhibits, including model ships, paintings, weapons, nautical instruments, clothing and furniture. The collection has grown from a donation founded by the “Boka Marine” Fraternity around the year 1880. It’s an interesting place to learn about Montenegro’s maritime history and to learn about the Bay of Kotor’s rich past. The museum can be found inside a baroque palace within the Old Town.
Kotor Farmer’s Market
For fresh produce you can’t beat Kotor Farmer’s Market, which is located just opposite the Sea Gate. Here you’ll find all sorts of produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses, fish and meat.
How to get to Kotor Montenegro
To get to Kotor you’ll need to fly into Tivat International Airport. If you’re flying from the UK, easyjet offers seasonal flights from London Gatwick or Manchester to Tivat. Once you arrive in Tivat you can take a taxi from the airport into the town. The distance is only 8 kilometres / 5 miles so the journey to Kotor by car takes only 15 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Kotor, Montenegro
Montenegro is best visited in the summer months or the shoulder seasons. Peak season is during July and August when the weather is warm and kids are off school – this is when hotel prices are at their highest and the towns are usually filled with tourists. That’s also when the town is full of cruise ship passengers.
If you want to avoid the crowds then you may want to visit in May/June or September/October when the weather is mild and hotel prices are slightly lower.
Your FAQs Answered
Yes, Kotor is one of the best places to visit in Montenegro. The scenery here is incredible, especially if you take a boat out on Kotor Bay. Don’t just wander the Old Town, make sure you organize a boat trip to visit Our Lady of The Rocks and Perast.
Definitely allow yourself at least two days so you can experience all the things to do in Kotor. 3 is probably ideal so you can properly explore the town, take a boat trip and maybe do a hike.
Kotor is known for its famous clock tower and fortified Old Town. The city also lies on the beautiful Bay of Kotor, which is a popular place for boat excursions.
Prices are fairly reasonable in Kotor. It’s cheaper than some other cities in Europe and definitely a little cheaper than places like Dubrovnik and Split in Croatia. Obviously as the destination becomes more popular prices are increasing but it still remains affordable.
Yes, Kotor is a great holiday destination. I’d recommend combining it with a trip to Budva, so you get to experience both Kotor Bay and the beaches along the Adriatic Sea.
Kotor only has one small shingle beach and lies on a bay, whereas Budva has numerous sandy beaches and lies on the Adriatic. However, Kotor’s scenery is incredibly majestic and awe-inspiring. If you have the time, do both. Budva has a lively energy and is known for its nightlife, so if you like to party, you’ll probably like it there.
A Final Word…
With its stunning emerald green bay and fortified town, Kotor is a destination that most travelers find very impressive. There are quite a few things to do in Kotor, so spend about 2-3 days here if you can. Definitely leave enough time to take a boat trip on the bay because this is the highlight of any trip to Montenegro.
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