Kotor is the most popular destinations in Montenegro. It’s stunning bay views, beautiful fortress and proximity to the more popular neighbor – Dubrovnik, make it a hot destination. It also is the UNESCO world heritage site. If you are looking for the beaches, however, Kotor is not the place for them. Instead, head to Budva, Sutomore and Ulcinj.
It’s hard to say, when was the city first settled, but some say it dates back to 2nd century BC. The legend has it that the town was built with the support of a Greek fairy, who advised the settlers to build their town at the shore.
If you are a budget traveler, don’t even try to stay in the old town area, it’s just extremely expensive and you would have to drag your luggage through cobbled streets. Try to find something outside the area. We found a lovely flat with an amazing view over the bay for quite cheap, I think it was something around 25 EUR per night. We needed to walk about 10-15 mins from there to get to the old city gates.
Also, keep in mind that the food places inside the old city are somewhat expensive for budget travelers. We mainly grabbed burek and coffee and ate proper meals outside the old city. The main place we ate at was a place located inbetween the old city and the bus station. The place is called BBQ Tanjga. They have only a few places, but we would get a takeaway.
Dedicate your first day in Kotor to exploring its cute old city. It has three major gates, do explore each one. Near the major one – the Sea gate, you will find the Main square with the huge clock tower of 1602. From the main square, chose whichever direction you wish and start exploring. If you go eastwards, you will get to another major square, where the 12th century St Triphon catholic monastery. I heard that you can climb up the tower here, but on the day we were there, it wasn’t possible. By the way, we wondered into one of the yards nearby this church and saw this lovely place (pictured below). It wasn’t closed and there was literally no one around. So we relaxed here with our bureks that we grabbed along the way.
There are several other highlight points you should see. The orthodox St Nicholas church is also quite impressive. Others include St. Luke’s church, the St Mary, St Claire’s, etc. Just walk around and peak into them.
Go on with discovering the walls of the city, but don’t climb up the fortress yet, unless of course, you want to do that on the first day and explore the city later. Just climb on different parts of the walls, where you are allowed to, it’s definitely worth it 😊 Don’t be afraid to get lost and just wander around, having general idea in mind in order not to miss any parts.
Also, if you are a cat lover, don’t forget to pass by the Cat museum. It is located in a lovely area, so do explore it well. Cats are abundant in the city, as in the whole of Montenegro.
Overall, the small city offers numerous photo opportunities at every corner, in the little hidden alleys on on the city walls.
Kotor has a beautiful fortress (St. John’s or San Giovani) with stunning views. the fortress was being built for quite some time – from 9th to 15th century. Originally there was a castle here even in the 5th century.
Granted, it is quite a climb, but you have stairs and you won’t be slipping at least. There are over 1300 steps here, so be prepared and take breaks 😊 It took us about an hour, but we were taking tooons of photos on the way 😀 Try to avoid the hottest parts of the day, as you will hardly find any shadows. Also, try not to wear the shoes that may be slipping off your feet.
Entrance to start climbing costs 8EUR. I was told that if you get there outside the working hours – meaning before 8am and after 8pm, then you can enter without a charge. We haven’t tried this, so not sure how true that is.
Don’t forget to take water with. They sell it there, but it’s obviously extremely overpriced.
Btw there is another way from the back. They say it’s an easier climb, but at some point you will have to climb a wooden ladder and get in through the window. Keep in mind, you can’t buy tickets there. When you get to some point, they will ask for a ticket and unless you bought one at the ticket booth, you won’t be allowed in, so make sure to buy the ticket first.
Slightly less than halfway to the fortress, you will find the church – Our Lady of Remedy, where you can rest in the shadow. It’s a small Catholic church built in the 16th century.
When you reach the top, don’t forget to explore all small corners of the fortress. It is impressive. Interestingly although there were many people enjoying the views, there were very few actually exploring the castle. You will find the Montenegrin flag here and it makes a beautiful backdrop for your photos 😊
After visiting the castle or before – whatever you prefer – take a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast. You can also do this by bus, but by boat is so much more fun. For getting a boat, just show up at the harbor and ask around about the prices. They also do tours to the Blue cave from here, sunset tours, etc. We opted to combine sightseeing with boat trip.
After about half an hour on the boat, we got to the island of Our Lady of the Rocks. Near it is the St. George’s island, where visitors are not allowed to stop. We walked around the tiny island, which is lovely. The small chapel costs 2 EUR. It was rather crowded at the time we were there, so we had to wait to get a chance to enter.
After this, you will get to Perast, which is a village built by Illyrians in the 14th century and then prospered under Venetians.
Perast is a car free area. It’s a cute little city/village with a number of churches, old palaces and museums. Not too far from the marina is the St Nicholas church. It was built in the 17th century. Next to it is the 55-meter Bell tower. To climb the tower you just have to pay 1EUR. Don’t miss this, as from there you can see views over Our Lady of the Rocks and the St. George’s island nearby and it’s beautiful.
For the views, you can also climb up to the main highway. We got a great view of the area, while on a mini-bus from Herceg Novi to Kotor.
Another church with great views is Our Lady of the Rosary. You can climb up the tower of this 17th century catholic church. The Zmajevic palace next to it is closed to the public.
if you have enough time on your hands explore its city museum, which is located in the 18th century palace. Btw. Palaces are not as magnificent, as you would imagine, but lovely big houses. There are other prominent palaces to check out, such as Smekja palace, which houses a hotel now. Overall, just wander around the waterside and the town and enjoy it. We did regret that we didn’t have more time for this cute town.
Btw. You can take a boat from Perast to Our Lady of the Rocks and back from the marina.