Things to do in Kotor, Montenegro
There are many beautiful things to do in Kotor. Each time when I travel to Montenegro, I like stopping by Kotor. This lovely town has a special significance for me and I can’t emphasize enough it is my favorite coastal town in Montenegro.
“One of the magical things about Kotor is its naturally beautiful setting. The city lies on the majestic Bay of Kotor, nicknamed the ‘southernmost fjord of Europe’, and is backed by towering mountains.”
Bay Of Kotor Map
This quaint town is not only about a strong historical background but it is also a harbor – in the summer months, it receives many cruisers with numerous tourists.
Now, let’s have a look together which are things to do in Kotor:
Wandering Kotor’s Old Town
Many times you can hear that Kotor is linked to Dubrovnik – some call it a mini Dubrovnik because it is also a town surrounded by a fortress wall, built for protected purposes in the past. The town’s walls extend about 4.5 km (3 miles), reach a maximum height of about 20 m (65 feet) and thick from about 2 – 15 m (7-50 feet).
As you can assume, the most famous part, also the best-known landmark of Kotor is The Old Town, well-preserved Medieval town, built between the 12th and 14th century.
This walled jewel town can be entered via any of three gates and then exploring narrow streets, number of squares, numerous medieval monuments, and stone family houses. Despite small in size of the Old Town, you can easily get lost here.
At the heart of these squares is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon from the 11th century (admission fee is 2.50 €). This is one of the most recognizable symbols of the town, therefore you have probably seen it in most tourist brochures or photos when presenting the town of Kotor. The clock tower is the focal point of the town as well and is the first thing you see as you enter the town through the main gate. There you can find also numerous palaces – one of the buildings is the Maritime Museum, where are kept portraits of the famous captains, sailboats, navigational instruments, an ethnographic collection of the golden age of Kotor navigation and other sea treasures. Admission fee is 4 €.
The Old Town is interesting at night when one can choose among various open bars and pubs. There are also various restaurants offering local cuisine or different Mediterranean food and might be more pricey than outside of the Old Town. Moreover, there are different kinds of shops, beauty centers, etc.
A good thing is that cars cannot get into the Old Town, so getting around is possible on foot or bicycle.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks (locals call it “Gospa od Škrpelja“) is a gorgeous island church set in front of Perast and one of Montenegro’s most popular attractions.
Interesting is that the island is almost completely artificial, made by two seamen who discovered an icon of the Holy Mother of God, so they brought big stones and built a tiny Orthodox chapel on the island. The tradition of bringing stones on this island is alive even today and every 22nd of July – the celebration of boats at sunset under the name of fašinada.
The church houses a 15th-century icon of Virgin Mary, today is known as Our Lady o the Rocks, and ornate altar. Behind the church is a small museum, representing a history of the town of Perast.
How to visit the island? By taxi boats (find them in Kotor harbor or along the shore) or as a part of the cruising through the bay of Boka.
Climbing up the town walls
For those looking for more adventure, vigorous hikers, nature lovers or photographers will be interested in hiking the hill and at the top with the amazing view of the bay.
As I already mentioned at the beginning of this post, Kotor is surrounded by city walls, about 4,5 km (2,8 miles) long, rising steeply slopes of St John’s Hill behind the Old Town.
This circular pathway starts with the North Gate of the Old Town. Climb up the 1350 steps, pass the landmark, the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, and continue to the very top of the fortress, which is 280 m (918,6 feet) above sea level. At this point, you will be awarded by a magnificent view of Kotor, the whole bay of Boka and a fortress of St. John, also known as San Giovanni (locals call it Sveti Ivan). To return you can choose the same path or taking a path to the St. George church and from there follow a marked trail. The route will take you about two hours to complete.
The entrance fee for this trail is 8 € per person. It is opened from May to October, daily between 8 a.m – 8 p.m. Other parts of the year it is free of charge.
If you choose to climb the hill in the summer months, I propose you to walk early in the morning when the path and the fortress are less crowded, and even at that time, there will be the shadow. Moreover, my suggestion is also to wear sturdy shoes, as the path is steep and rocky.
I like so much the summer months in Kotor when the walls are wonderfully illuminated by night and make the town glittering and romantic.
Hiking the Ladder of Kotor
Good news for adventure lovers – there is another hiking trail, the most popular trail on the Montenegrin coast, so-called Ladder of Kotor. This trail that connects Cetinje with Kotor, was in the past used by locals taking goods to the market in the Old Town of Kotor.
Start your trail from the Krstac pass (940 m /0.58 miles above the sea) in Njeguši village and go downhill on an old military trail with more than 70 U-turns and spectacular views of the whole bay. Continuing this well-marked trail you will reach the almost deserted village of Špiljari with an old church. You can either continue zig-zagging downhill or follow the path until you reach the wall of the St. John’s fortress and then finish the trail on stairways downhill along the town walls.
The whole hike takes about 3.5 hours.
Across the bay of Kotor is Vrmac peninsula, long limestone ridge, separating the inner and outer parts of the bay. This is an old military road, from the Vrmac fortress to a summit of Sveti Ilija, with a one-way distance of 5.5 km (18 feet). The hiking trail is easy and suitable for everyone, no matter if you are in a good physical condition or not. On this trail, you will pass the ruins of Austro-Hungarian fortresses, the views of Mt. Lovćen, and several impressive views of the different parts of the bay.
How to get to Kotor?
There is an option to take a plane to Montenegro – to the capital, Podgorica or to Tivat Airport (it is only 10 min drive to Kotor), but take into account that tickets might be pricey.
Another option is to flight to Dubrovnik and from there either taking a taxi, renting a car or taking a bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor.
Getting out of Kotor
Kotor has a good location, as it is only 91 km (56.5 miles) to Dubrovnik, 21 km (13 miles) to Budva on the coast and 75 km (46.6 miles) to Podgorica.
Day Trips from Kotor
Kotor is in the right position, in the middle of two historical and popular summer destination in Europe. Dubrovnik is a perfect destination for a day trip from Kotor as it is only 1 hour and half of distance. On the other hand, Sveti Stefan is only half and hour. Another option is to visit Balkan’s largest lake: Lake Skadar
This was our article about the best things to do in Kotor, hope you like it! Please your comments or questions. Thanks!
You are right, Podgorica is not really interesting, it has some historical places and that’s all. We have been in podgorica because we have family there.