Stunning Places To See And Awesome Things To Do In Kotor
The idea of visiting Kotor first came to me from my Serbian friend who just happens to have grown up in Montenegro. I didn't worry much about planning things to do on our visit, because I knew I was in good hands. Sure enough, she took me to see all the great spots in and around Kotor. Though there's no shortage of things to do there, we also took a day trip to a couple of other great little places in Montenegro. All in all, our few days in Kotor were full of sightseeing and eating some great food!
What Are The Top Things To Do in Kotor?
It was a nice change for me to not have to plan out an itinerary for Kotor. Typically, I plan way too much and get myself worn out. Luckily, my Serbian friend made me feel taken care of so I could just sit back and take it all in.
We arrived after a short flight from Belgrade, landing in Tivat Airport. A local friend picked us up and showed us some lovely hospitality with a fantastic, homemade meal in her home.
The drive from the airport to where they live was absolutely stunning to me. Having grown up here the other two didn't seem a bit distracted by it and continued their catching up while I gazed out the window with my mouth open and eyes wide!
It was nice having a Montenegrin (who now lives Serbia and showed us all around Novi Sad as well) with me. Not only did she know the place like the back of her hand but she spoke the language! Now, you can easily get around in Kotor speaking English. The country of Montenegro is starting to pick up steam with respect to tourism (get there soon!!) so traveling around and not speaking Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin languages is not an issue.
As I mentioned before, we went to a friend's home located on the west side of Kotor Bay. However, going to Kotor Old Town directly from the Tivat Airport is a short taxi ride of about 10 minutes. This can be longer, though, with traffic.
We encountered a bit of traffic on our way so I suspect it can happen on a daily basis. From what I remember, there's a shortcut drive now through the mountain thanks to the "new" tunnel. There's also a route around the mountain that takes a bit longer. Either way, taxis are relatively cheap in Montenegro as compared to other popular European countries and the U.S.
For those of you who just want to get the list, here are the best things to do on your visit to Kotor:
- Roam around the Old Town and Check out The architecture. Let the charming, pebbled alleys absorb you into their maze of delight.
- Peak into the fascinating churches and see where the heart of the culture lies.
- Stroll along the bay, dine along the water, and gaze up at the towering mountain ridge that hugs the waterside in a U formation.
- Hike the magnificent Fortress walls and pay a visit to the Castle Of San Giovanni for epic vistas of Kotor Bay.
That's it in a nutshell for visiting one of the most amazing places in Montenegro. If you want to know more details of what to do in Kotor, keep reading below. We'll also give some insider travel tips for your visit along with some easy day trip locations you can explore if you have a couple of extra days.
Taking a walking tour is a great way to get an introduction to this beautiful place and will also help you get your bearing. If you've never tried one, this is a great place to fo it!
Kotor Old Town
If you do nothing else in Montengro, visit the Old Town Of Kotor. This is a must see!
With its stone architecture reminding me of our time in Venice (yet the Republic of Venice had this place at one point in history!), I'd venture to say tat the appeal and romance is unmissable here.
Just get lost here!
You'll realize the area is not very big and eventually you end up somewhere you've already been as you walk around.
There are, arguably, way too many touristy nicknack shops. However, it does make it easy to grab a postcard of souvenir here. Aside from those, you'll be a ble to find some treasures in one of the local shops, offering unique or handmade gifts. Even if you don't really enjoy shopping (like me), it's still fun to pop your head in a couple of them and check them out.
One of my favorite aspects of the Old Town is that it is pedestrian only. The no car element is also enjoyed by the many cats of Kotor. They dart around and even, occasionally, sneak into some shops and get shooed out of eateries. They are well cared for in this town and really add to the magic of this historic area.
There's even a cat museum, if you want more of these furry felines!
You can enjoy a full day visiting the many squares where people have gathered over the ages as well as admiring the gates, arches, pathways and magnificent fortifications surrounding the center.
Places to check out along the way:
- Gurdić Bastion
- Maritime Museum (Grgurina Palace)
- Kampana Tower
The Old Town of Kotor is a great example of a well preserved historic center where monuments, churches, cathedrals, and medieval architecture are presented in a small package for visitors to enjoy.
Explore Kotor's Churches and Cathedrals
One thing that I never really plan on, but always end up doing, is going inside churches when I visit a new place. Kotor was no exception to this. You can't not stop and, at least, admire these structures from the outside.
The churches are usually in an area with a small square (pretty convenient since they are the ultimate gathering hub of any culture, past or present). The photos above and below here were taken at Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Катедрала Светог Трипуна).
The cathedral was pretty much located in front of our apartments and we even had a cool rooftop view of it from our place.
It was interesting to see the inside and walk up to the second level.
The fee for getting in was minimal and we made the decision on the spot. This is an iconic building in Kotor. One that is featured in many postcards, so it is worth a close look at some point on your trip.
We never got the opportunity to visit the inside of St. Nicholas Church, but it is another one of Kotor's best in our opinion.
This Serbian Orthodox church was built in the early 1900's in the location of a previous church that was destroyed by fire and is located in the northern edge of the Old Town.
The two bell towers on each side topped with golden crosses, along with it's "newer" look give this church it's prominent distinction.
There are a lot of churches and cathedrals in such a tiny town center.
One of my top favorites to see was located on the way up to the fortress on the mountain.
I'll talk more about making the hike up coming up.
Church of Our Lady of Remedy is a little bit of a climb up St. John Mountain, but well worth a visit even if you are not there for religious prayer. Though this church was built in 1518, the oldest building in all of Montenegro has been discovered right under it!
Below is St. Luke’s (Црква Светог Луке) orthodox church and the historic square surrounding it..
Hike the ramparts to the hilltop fortress
The place we were staying at in the Old Town was a very convenient walk over to one of the many spots where you can start the hike up to Saint Giovanni Castle (AKA Castle of St. John or Tvrđave Kotora).
I guess we got out of having to pay since we didn't go in from the main entrances. Ooops!
Anyway, I'd recommend having a good breakfast (and coffee, perhaps) before you start going up. We had some food, but no caffein so that was a bit challenging for me!
Having said that, we also recommend going up early in the day. In April, we went around 10 A.M. It was a bit cool that time of year but I can't imagine doing this hike in the middle of the day in the summer time! You may even consider going around 8 or 9 A.M. if you are there during the busy season.
Watch our quick video below to see what it's like!
It was nice not having more than a couple of sets of people pass us along the path and made for great photo opportunities.
You might need to stop once in a while to catch your breath, but this is a good thing because you'll have incredible views to distract you!
The bay and fjords are just mesmerizing!
It took us about an hour to go up the 1300 something steps. Admittedly, we were going a bit fast. It might be better to give yourself a couple of hours so you can make multiple stops for photos.
Take photos. Lots of photos as you go!
Walk along the water At The Bay
An easy stroll along the east side of the bay is a great way to take in the magnificence of the surrounding mountain as well as stretching your legs out a bit.
There are restaurants all along the way if you happen to have an appetite and want to stay a bit longer.
Where is Kotor?
Kotor is located near the Adritic Sea on the western side of Montenegro. The unique bay and towering mountain ridges give this city in the Balkans it's appeal.
Cities nearby that are also favored by tourists year-round include, Perast to the north and Budva to the south, along with Tivat further west adjacent to the sea.
Kotor Travel Tips
When is the best time to go?
Our trip to Kotor took place in April (right around Easter, actually) which turned out to be a great time of year to be there. Now the weather may not have been the best at the time (mostly cold and a bit rainy), but it did keep the crowds away.
Jeans, long sleeves, and a medium jacket is the perfect outfit for getting around and sightseeing in the springtime. Make sure to pack some hiking boots (or, at least, sneakers) for going up the Fortress. Comfortable shoes are also a good idea for all the walking around you will likely do in town.
I'd much rather put up with some cold and cloudy days than have to fight my way through a thick layer of people in the narrow streets and small shops of Kotor's Old Town.
I would, without a doubt, recommend going on the "off season" for the best travel experience. I know that people generally prefer to take their holiday in the summer and have the warmth and sunshine, but I know that it can get really busy in this town during that time. Prices are likely to be higher with the higher demand as well.
You may not be able to enjoy water activities or work on your tan if you're there in the Spring or Fall but you'll certainly enjoy the quiet and feeling of exclusivity.
Where should you stay?
I highly recommend renting an Airbnb right inside the Old Town(here's a coupon to save you some money if it is your first time using Airbnb). If you take our advice of going in the less crowded seasons, you'll really appreciate the feeling of being in the heart of Kotor.
The experience is really one of a kind.
Staying in an apartment in the Old Town is also a good idea if you don't have a lot of time to spend in Kotor. If you plan on staying only a couple of nights, like us, you'll enjoy the convenience of this location. It will allow you do do a lot in a short amount of time.
If we were staying around 5 days or a week, I may have liked to get a place along the bay. Regardless, I think that being right in the Old Town is a must if you are there for the first time.
You may also consider an apartment down the way along the water, if you are there during the summer. You will enjoy being a it farther from the crowded spots and might even be able to score something with a view!
You'll still be close to everything if you go with the second option, so no need to worry about the distance.
If you prefer to stay in hotels nearby, there are also a great selection to choose from:
What To Eat
Seafood is certainly the top choice for the best type of food to eat while in Kotor. There are mussel farms located all around the bay (we saw them on our bus ride to Croatia). The fish and prawns are also top notch dishes.
Our favorite restaurants in old town Kotor:
- Konoba Scala Santa
- Regina del Gusto
There are a variety of mediterranean style dishes as well as Italian specialties if you are not a fan of seafood. Our favorite pizza place was Pizzeria Pronto. We loved the pizzas as well as the "cave-like" interior.
If you've traveled to other countries in the region you will start seeing a lot of overlap in the foods. A popular meat dish, Ćevapi, is a good one to try. The cheeses and cured meats are yummy snacks as well!
As far as desserts go, Krempita is probably our favorite. It's a cream filled fillo dough like a Napolean. However, crepes are not bad either. Generally, the cakes are good too. The gelato is a great choice in the summer!
Taking Day Trips
Going From Kotor To Dubrovnik
It was super easy to take the bus from Kotor to Dubrovnik in Croatia. At the time, it cost around $20 per person for the one way bus ticket.
The tickets can be purchased at the bust station located just about 10 minutes walking distance from the southern part of the Old Town.
There are stops along the border (you get a new country stamp!). For us, the stops only took about 20 minutes and there was very little traffic. You do have to exit the bus and approach the border patrol booth individually.
Expect to arrive in about 3 hours, which is not bad even if you just want to spend one day in Dubrovnik . The bus ride is comfortable and even a bit scenic. Do keep an eye out for some great views of Old Town Dubrovnik from above the cliffs as you approach it on the bus.
The taxi ride from the Dubrovnik bus station to the historic town took about 20 minutes and cost around 15 Euros at the time.
Visiting Tivat in Montenegro
Tivat is a short distance from Kotor and makes a great day trip to add to your itinerary.
This is where the Port of Montenegro is located. You will undoubtedly walk by some luxurious yachts as you stroll down the docks. It is a very upscale area with delightful cafes and restaurants. Though everything is pretty high end, the prices are still really great for those traveling from the U.S. or Western Europe.
You can also take a full day tour from Kotor to see some other amazing sights like Cetinje Monastery and River Crnojevica.
Another great destination to visit in a day would be Perast where you can get a chance to see Our Lady of the Rock Church and museum!
Are you ready to visit?
We made this itinerary jam-packed for your visit to Kotor. Grab a guide, too, for further reading.
Don't forget to take a camera! Kotor is super picturesque. We'd recommend one of these for photo taking on your trip. We also have our favorite travel gear listed on our Amazon store, so make sure to take a look for anything you may need.
Oh! You'll also want to make sure you have travel insurance!
If you've already been here, let us know in the comments. We love hearing about other people's travel experiences and stories.
About the Author
Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!