The travel buzz about Kotor, Montenegro is swirling. When considering where to spend a summer in Montenegro, Kotor is an easy choice. This Adriatic gem is appearing on everyone’s travel radar and it was an easy destination decision for us on our Balkan tour. When Tasha visited Kotor in 2012 it was still “relatively undiscovered.” However, after Lonely Planet’s naming of Kotor as one of the best places to travel in 2016, the destination is picking up speed fast. Yet, Kotor is striving hard to keep it’s atmosphere despite the cruises that continue to cycle through and we still wanted to find out the best things to do in Kotor. The city may have no beaches, and no grand site to see, yet there seems to be this allure that continues to draw a large audience.
What’s the deal with Kotor, Montenegro?
Kotor is a moody well-preserved former Venetian city inhabited by less than 13,000 people. Once visitors pass through the city walls a labyrinth of marbled streets, old lamps, stones houses, and quiet piazzas await them. The old city is fortified and encompassed by imposing stone walls while the town itself sits at the foot of a gorgeous Adriatic bay with the Dalmatian mountains rising high up above turquoise waters. Some refer to the Bay of Kotor as being the southernmost Fjord in Europe, and with the stunning beauty of the bay it is easy to see why. It’s a magical destination that feels as if you’ve taken a step back into time. It didn’t take much convincing to get Tasha to return as we made our way North through the Balkans.
Things to do in Kotor
Explore Old Town!
The charm of Kotor is undeniable. It is a wonderful city to meander through old streets and piazzas. We found joy in walking in circles around the old town. When you’re done meandering through town, Kotor is the perfect place to enjoy a cafe while basking in the sun and enjoying a stunning view. Every hour the church bells ring adding to the ambiance and magic of Kotor. The central point of the town is the Cathedral of Sveti Tripun, it is a cathedral that dates back to 12th century. The allure of city extends beyond the city walls and into surrounding area of the bay with places such as Perast, Tivat, and Herceg Novi.
Climb up to the hilltop fortress
Out of all the things to do in Kotor, this is my number 1. Climbing the 1350 steps to the Castle of San Giovanni is a right of passage when visiting Kotor. It is one of the main attractions in Kotor, and from the castle the views over the bay are incredible. The initial ascent will be met with some huffs and puffs, but the top of the fortress is spacious and offers some exploration while overlooking the region. The climb takes about an hour to complete and the descent is always easier. We suggest climbing the hill in the morning to catch the best views, and it makes for a great start for the day. For the active bunch, you could throw on those running shoes for a heart pumping morning workout.
Enjoy the restaurants and cafes
There are plenty of cafes to relax in and wonderfully quaint piazzas to dine in while visiting and checking out all the things to do in Kotor. Visitors have a wide variety of places to eat in and around Kotor, making it the perfect location for a summer in Montenegro. Our favorite places marry rich seafood from the nearby Adriatic Sea and ambiance of the region.
You won’t be disappointed here. The classy Galion serves up wonderful food with stunning views of The Bay of Kotor sitting on glass terrace over the water. They serve up some of the best fish in town with splendid Montenegrin wines.
Tucked away in the Bay of Kotor is Ćatovića Mlini is a splendid hidden gem in Montenegro. As we’ve said one of the greatest draws of Kotor is the ambiance. Ćatovića Mlini is located in a former farm along the bay nestled against the rising mountain ridge.
Tasha would kill me if I didn’t include this one, but for a delicious dessert head to Astoria. It has an adjoining hotel with a hip interior that exhibits the local atmosphere. Ask for the Molten Chocolate Cake. You won’t be disappointed.
For location, this restaurant takes the cake for us. Conte is reputed for being one of the best restaurants in Montenegro serving up great fresh seafood from the local fisherman of Perast. Perast is the town over from Kotor, and a must for those with the time. Read on below for more.
Visit Perast, a beautiful escape from Kotor
About a 20-minute bus ride north of Kotor is the small village of Perast. Take the Blue Line bus that runs every 30 minutes along the main road to reach the town (€1.20). The town resides on a hill along the Kotor Bay coastline. There are locals around, but the area is known for being a quiet reprieve to enjoy the bay. No cruise ships drop anchor in Perast, so you already know you are beating those crowds. There are several old churches and museums to venture into, but we found the real charm to lie in just soaking in the ambiance of the cafes frequented by the locals.
We found one of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever found in the Perast. It was a small patio replete with concrete columns and fragrant wisteria. It was a photographers paradise. And of course, we had to do a handstand. We get a lot of questions on where to find this location and I don’t know the exact name of it. All I can say is that is right along the water past many of the main shops in Perast. The town is not that big so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. The photo below was taken in early April.
Visit “Our Lady of the Rocks”
There are two islands right off the shore of Perast that can be reached by boat for €5 a person. One of the islands is private so the boat will not be able to dock there, but it makes for great photos. There are also a few restaurants to have a bite to eat in, and small guesthouses in Perast also double as cafes.
Kotor is sure to be a highlight of anyone’s trip to Montenegro or around Europe for that matter. It is one of the most beautiful destinations we’ve been to in the Balkans and can not suggest it enough. The city is readily accessible with buses running daily from Dubrovnik, Tirana, Mostar and many more cities in the region.
Finding bus times to Kotor
Bus Ticket 4 ME – We found this site after some searches for bus times in Montenegro. Reliable and offered the ability to book online, which is nice if you have access to a printer and would prefer to use a credit card. 😉
Croatia Bus: Croatia Bus is the largest bus company in Croatia and runs routes from Croatia out to the surrounding Balkan area. They have modern buses with Wifi and toilets and definitely give them the seal of approval.
Plan Your Trip to Montenegro
We rely on a few trusted websites that help save us money and time when booking hotels, flights, and car rentals. Check out some of our preferred partners below:
tFlights to the Balkans: Compare airlines, dates and prices all in one place with Skyscanner.
Travel Insurance: We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. We ALWAYS travel with travel insurance. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
Water: We found the water in the Balkans fine to drink, if you want extra assurance then we love traveling with our Lifestraw Go Waterbottle
Guide Book: Sometimes it’s just nice to have a real book and look up the top things to do in Kotor there. We like Lonely Planet.
Still looking for more? We suggest traveling with Lonely Planet Montenegro to help you get around the Balkans!
Have you been to Montenegro? What things did you do in Kotor?
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