Most travelers have heard of the Bay of Kotor but know very little about it. At least that’s the position we were in prior to our visit! So if you’re considering a trip to the historic city of Kotor Montenegro there are some things you should definitely know. Our Kotor travel guide will share the best things to do, fun hikes above the city, and more helpful tips. Come explore the unique streets of Kotor Old Town with us!
Kotor Montenegro General Info
Official Language: Montenegrin
How Long to Visit: 2+ Days
Airport: Tivat (TIV) OR Dubrovnik Airport (DBV)
Best Time to Visit: June and September During Shoulder Season
First Impression of Kotor Montenegro
When our bus pulled into Kotor Montenegro we had literally no clue what to expect. Our experience in the budding city of Budva had given us a small taste of Montenegrin culture, and we were excited for more!
As we walked through Kotor old town on our way to the hotel we got a sense of why this place was so special. It had the winding streets and architecture of other old cities, yet with a twist you’d only get in the beautiful Balkans.
15 Helpful Tips and Things to do in Kotor
1. How to Get to Kotor Montenegro
You should know there are many ways to get to Kotor Montenegro. We took a bus from Budva to Kotor which is a quite popular route. This was especially easy compared to what we experienced with the local buses in Albania! After visiting Kotor, we then continued on by bus to the seaside town of Herceg-Novi.
Once you arrive at the Bay of Kotor the main bus station is a quick walk from Kotor Old Town. This small and charming town is the heart of the bay, and where most of the best things to do in Kotor are located.
2. Stay in Kotor Old Town
The best advice we can give you is to stay as close to Kotor old town as possible. This is the epicenter of the city and where you’ll spend most of your time in Kotor Montenegro.
We chose to stay just outside of town walls to save money, but it was still only a 10-minute stroll into the center. Check out the bottom of this post for hotel recommendations to fit every budget.
3. Eat a Meal at Tanjga
Also just outside of Kotor Old Town you’ll find the best restaurant in the city! We first spotted Tanjga when walking from the bus station into town. The sweet smell of roasting chickens and potatoes pulled us in, and we ended up going back every day. If you’re looking for all the great traditional food of Montenegro be sure to stop in to Tanjga on your visit.
4. Boat Ride Through the Bay of Kotor
Just like the giant cruise ships you’ll inevitably see in port, you can also hire a boat to take you around! Jumping on one of the many boat tours available is a great way to experience Bay of Kotor.
Some tours will even take you to the beautiful islands just outside of town, and beaches that can only be accessed by boat.
5. Explore Kotor Old Town
The ancient Old Town is the reason everyone comes to Kotor Montenegro! It’s filled with history and architecture that remarkably dates back to the Roman Era. This part of Kotor honestly feels like you’re walking through a living museum!
We knew Kotor Montenegro would be interesting but were shocked by the number of great restaurants and bars old town had to offer. Soak in all the music, food, and Montenegrin culture as you walk through one Europe’s oldest cities.
6. Walk the Kotor Montenegro Walls
The main section of the ancient city is fortified by walls that surround Kotor old town. Keep an eye out for random staircases going up onto the walls to get a birds-eye view just above this UNESCO center.
Sure they’re not as big or jaw-dropping as the nearby walls of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Yet, it’s still incredible to be able to look down on Kotor old town and the turquoise-colored Scurda River below!
7. Relax at a Bay of Kotor Cafe
The cafes and bars spill out into the colorful streets of Kotor Montenegro and draw you in with their sweet smells and aromas. Start your day off with an ultra-strong Turkish coffee, and watch the many people pass by into old town.
Simply people watching and taking in the atmosphere at a cafe is one of the many fun things to do in Kotor! Looking for where to start? Head to the always lively Square of the Arms in the center of Kotor old town.
8. Try a Traditional Beer
The most popular beer in Montenegro is the Nikšićko Lager, and no Kotor travel guide would be complete without it! This traditional beer can be found everywhere in the Bay of Kotor. It’s great to enjoy on a hot summer day and especially after a day exploring this historic city.
9. Enjoy the Scenery and Kotor Mountains
Kotor Montenegro is blessed with an abundance of beautiful nature and hikes to enjoy. While many travelers stay around the streets of old town, the bay and surrounding mountains should not be missed!
Kotor itself is located on a slender plateau at the base of Lovcen Mountain. Just looking around the Bay of Kotor you’ll be amazed by the sheer magnitude of the limestone rocks towering above.
10. See History at the Castle Of San Giovanni
Now that you know about the mountains of Kotor Montenegro, how about a hike to see some history? The Castle of San Giovanni sits high above the walls and has since before the 6th century. Also referred to as the Castle of St. John, these ancient ruins will take you about an hour to hike up too.
However, you should know it won’t be the easiest of hour-long hikes! The climb to the Kotor castle is full of endless twists and turns with 70+ switchbacks on the way up.
This might sound crazy but we promise it’s all worth it! Not only will you get to see ruins from thousands of years ago, but you’ll also have a stunning view of the Bay of Kotor from the top.
11. Hike Up the Ladder of Kotor Montenegro
If you’re up for a bit of a longer hike then plan to do the Ladder of Kotor instead. The trail starts at a different point and goes up past the main trail to the Castle of San Giovanni. It’s 8 miles round trip from start to finish. The best part is on the way back you can still hike through the famous fortress and into Kotor old town.
The Ladder of Kotor is great for the more experienced hikers since it’s longer, and you still won’t miss any of the historic sites from the shorter hike we mentioned. It takes 5 hours in total, but remember you can turn around at any point to shorten it. Be sure to stop at the incredible Church of Our Lady of Health and Chapel of St. Ivan to snap some photos!
12. Shop at the Local City Market
Just outside the walls of Kotor old town is an awesome market to check out. Also known as Gradska Pijaca, this is where they offer many local fruits, vegetables, and nuts from Montenegro.
Even if you’re not shopping for produce, it can still be fun to sample some local treats… Specifically the meats and cheeses! Once you get back inside the old town of Kotor Montenegro it gets quite touristy, so the local market was refreshing to see.
13. Don’t Miss Out On St. Lukes Church
All of the Bay of Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This means there are many old and important structures including St. Lukes Church to see! This tiny religious building sits in the middle of old town, and dates back to the year 1195!
It is actually not known whether it was built as an Orthodox or Catholic church so it has been used as both to this very day. Make sure to check out the other historic churches in the Bay of Kotor, such as St. Tryphon Cathedral and St. Annes.
14. Avoid Cruise Ships in Kotor Montenegro
As we mentioned earlier, the Bay of Kotor Montenegro is a popular stop for cruise ships from around Europe. For this reason, you should avoid visiting Kotor during the peak summer months when there are sure to be multiple cruises in town.
Kotor old town is so small that it will feel cramped with hundreds of travelers walking around at once. At the time of our visit, we only had one cruise in port so I guess we got lucky!
This is actually one of the best reasons to stay overnight in Kotor Montenegro. Once the cruise ships and day-trippers leave for the night you’ll have it all to yourself!
15. Day Trip to Perast
After you’ve experienced all the best things to do in Kotor, consider taking a day trip! Just a few kilometers Northwest of Kotor is the small town of Perast. The main draw of Perast is the two small islands that can be seen from the shore.
You can actually book a boat tour from the Bay of Kotor that goes all the way to St. George Island and Our Lady of the Rock Island. Both play host to historic churches and are a lot of fun to see. If you don’t feel like taking a boat to Perast it’s only about a 15-minute car ride from Kotor.
Continue On From Kotor Montenegro to Budva
If you want to see more of Montenegro consider making Budva your next stop! While it does get busy during the summer, Budva has an abundance of beautiful beaches to swim at.
This is a great alternative to Parest and Herceg-Novi depending on which way you are traveling. Also, Budva is the starting point of the Seven Bay Trail that goes to the world-famous Sveti Stefan.
Where To Stay in Kotor Montenegro
Ultra Luxury– Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro – Looking for some luxury inside the walls of old town? Check into this renovated 18th century masterpiece right in the middle of all the action. Hotel Cattaro also features one of the most popular nightclubs in the Bay of Kotor along with Maximus.
Fun Vacation – Old Town Clock Tower Apartment – This fun apartment is located just steps away from the famous old town clocktower and within range of all the other historic architecture of this UNESCO world heritage site!
Hostel Life – Old Town Youth Hostel – Set right in the heart of Kotor old town, this hostel is the perfect place to go if you’re looking to make some new friends on your trip. We regularly walked by Old Town Youth Hostel and would hear people chatting, having fun, and even singing into the night from the common area.
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Kotor? Please comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
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Montenegro Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars for renting vehicles. A quick travel tip is to ask for a discounted weekly rate rather than booking 2-3 days.
Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From food tours to skip the line entry passes!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.