Best Things to See in Kotor, Montenegro in 1-3 Days

Best Things to See in Kotor, Montenegro

Let’s be clear here peeps, you need to get to Kotor in Montenegro and you need to do it soon!

For while this gem of a Balkan beauty has definitely been discovered by travellers already, it’s only going to get busier!

I mean just look at nearby Dubrovnik!

Every bit as picturesque as Dubrovnik in my opinion, Kotor Old Town is a UNESCO-listed fairytale of an old walled city, perched above the aquamarine Adriatic Sea and surrounded by a wall of dramatic mountains – honestly, it’s hard to top the setting of this region!

But the secret is that it’s still half the price of its Croatian counterpart and, while Montenegro’s euro currency does make a trip here a little more pricey than nearby other Balkan states like Serbia or Bosnia, it’s still an absolute steal given the quality on offer!

Yup, there’s no question that Montenegro is one of the highlights of my eastern Europe adventures, so here’s my complete guide to the best things to see in Kotor to help you plan your trip there ASAP!

Montenegro, Kotor, Me in Doorway

 


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Is Kotor Worth Visiting?

Montenegro, Kotor, Old Town

Kotor is a must-visit spot if you’re in the Balkan region of Eastern Europe.

Well-known for its historical charm and stunning bay, the municipality of Kotor has loads of amazing things to do, see and explore, including UNESCO towns, beautiful boat rides, climbs to historic fortresses, amazing traditional food and drink, as well as some excellent day trips to boot.

At its heart, the Old Town of Kotor, which was settled as far back 3500 BC and was once part of the Ottoman, as well as Venetian, empires, sits as the jewel in the crown.

Actually, Kotor didn’t become part of Montenegro until after WWI, but nowadays it’s by far the busiest tourist hub in the country, with regular cruise ships in the summer bringing big numbers of visitors here for the day.

The rest of the bay that surrounds the town of Kotor however is much quieter and, despite looking as still as a lake, is actually an M-shaped sea inlet whose steep mountains sides jut up almost immediately from its saltwater shores.

It’s a stunning combo and if you’re spending even just a few days in Montenegro, I highly recommend visiting.

In fact, so stunning is Kotor in my eyes, that even if you’re in Dubrovnik in Croatia or Tirana in Albania, and looking to extend your trip by a couple of days, I think hopping into Montenegro and to Kotor is definitely worth it.

Find out more about how to make the journey from either of these cities in the travel guide section further on in this article.

 

Top Things to Do in Kotor

Montenegro, Kotor Old Town, Window

One of my favourite things about Kotor in Montenegro is that it’s the sort of place where there’s both a huge amount to do and simultaneously nothing much at all.

The perfect travel combination if you ask me!

If you are keen to be active and explore the history of coastal Montenegro, as well as spend some time chilling in, on or by the water, then Kotor really is the ideal spot!

Here’s my list of the top 7 things to see in Kotor, for those who want adventure, exploration plus a little downtime on the side!

 

#1 Explore Kotor Old Town

Definitely one of the best things to do in Kotor is simply to wander around the famous Old Town here – soaking up the beautiful, narrow streets and ambience of this well-preserved medieval town.

One of the best preserved and most picturesque medieval fortified towns in the Mediterranean, it’s easy to see why the largest settlement in the Kotor area is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If I were you, I’d first visit the Old Town during the early morning to snap the thin, cobbled streets, religious buildings and quaint squares before the crowds descend.

While on your sightseeing mission, don’t miss the 3 city gates, the clock tower (which dates back to1602 and has a mechanism some 2 centuries old), or the very cute churches here, including St Luke’s Church, which changed from a Catholic place of worship to an Orthodox Church when the Ottoman invaded.

The city’s 1st water pump is also still possible to track down and, if you’re after a guide, Bruna Dončić from Miro and Sons, comes highly recommended.

I’d then visit the Old Town again during the evening, when the place comes to life under the subtle hues of twinkling street lights and gentle live music emanating from the many restaurants.

Golden hour glory is hard to put into words here and there’s plenty of fab souvenir shopping and tasteful spots for an apertivo or 2… not to mention dinner!

If food is your thing, then this great walking tour with food and wine in Kotor Old Town look great!

 

#2 Explore the Kotor City Walls, Cathedrals & Museums

While wandering the streets and churches of Kotor is lovely, if you want to dive a little deeper into the story of this city (including the 12th century salt trade that brought the city its financial heyday, as well as the conversely devastating earthquake of 1979), then it’s definitely worth paying to visit a few of the major attractions in the Old Town.

To start with, and for just a few euros, you can wander the Old City Walls – definitely one of the best Kotor things to do, with amazing coastal view over the area guaranteed.

I recommend enjoying this one either during the early morning or late afternoon to escape the worst of the heat and the crowds!

Another top thing to see in Kotor Old Town is the St Tryphon Cathedral, with its iconic bell towers.

A church was first constructed on this site back in 809AD, but has since gone through many iterations to reach the present day version you’ll see, which is still one of the most ornate and stunning buildings in Kotor Old Town.

Going inside here is well worth the 4€ entrance fee, not only for the decorative interior, but also so you can enjoy the stunning plaza views visible from the first floor balcony terrace.

There’s also a small museum here to visit too.

And talking of museums, don’t miss the small Maritime Museum in the centre of Kotor Old Town as well.

Housed in a beautiful Baroque building, it’s stuffed full of local history and is open every day – including weekends and holidays. Learn more here.

 

#3 Hike to the Kotor Fortress

The next top thing to do in Kotor is set out on the Kotor Fortress hike.

A 2hr round trip, walking up to this imposing set of ruins, which dates back to the 9th century, involves choosing 1 of 2 routes – either The Walls of Kotor, which is the most popular route, or The Ladder of Kotor, which is the more challenging route with a hefty 1350 step climb!

Situated high above Kotor Old Town and the Bay of Kotor, whichever route you take up to this fortress, the views from the top will sure be worth it!

What it is even harder to miss however, is the 8€ entrance fee, which seems a bit steep given the lack of signage, exhibitions or curatorship!

But don’t fear travellers, there is a way to get into this fortress for free!

Walk the clear trail to the left of the fortress walls (as you gaze up at it) and when you get to the second rest house (which doubles as a cheese shop FYI), you’ll then want to take the trail towards the fortress walls.

Here you’ll find a window that has not been blocked up like the others… rumour has it they forgot to fill this one in and then, after UNESCO listed the fortress, they weren’t allowed to make any further modifications!

Climb through this window and you’re into the fortress for free!

Spend a while ogling at the amazing views and snapping some serious selfies, before descending through the paying entrance gate (trying not to grin too smugly!) to head back down into the heart of the Old Town.

As you can imagine, given the crowds and the heat, I’d recommend tackling the Kotor Fortress climb either during the early morning or at sunset.

 

#4 Check out the Kotor Farmers Market

Every day from 9am to 5pm, a farmers market can be found just outside the gate of the Old Town between the Sea and Southern Gates.

When it comes to what to do in Kotor, this one can’t be missed.

Head here to buy some yummy local, fresh produce including figs, grapes, tomatoes, nectarines, olives, cheese and more.

The perfect excuse for a picnic!

 

#5 Don’t Miss a Kotor Festival

Kotor hosts an impressive number of festivals year round, so no matter what time of year you visit, there’s likely to be one on!

From cultural events, like Kotor ART, through to the celebrations for City Day in November and even winter music festivals, there’s something for everyone here… and nearly all are free!

Don’t forget to check out what might be happening when you visit Kotor, and to put some time aside to soak up the ambience of these unique events that see both locals and tourists coming together.

 

#6 Hit the Beaches of Kotor Bay

Ok so there’s not a huge sandy beach in the Bay of Kotor, but there are some pebbly patches where you can easily spread out your towel with the locals and soak in some of those rays, as well as soak in the sea too!

In fact, just a short walk from Kotor’s Old Town, there’s a great public beach and swimming area called, imaginatively Kotor Beach!

Otherwise, if you feel like exploring a little further afield, the “suburb” of Dobrota has some quiet places to recline by the water amidst slightly upmarket cafes.

There’s also a cute beach on the other side of the inlet right by the Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort called Oskar Beach.

Both are lovely spots away from the main hustle of bustle of Kotor’s more touristic Old Town.

Click here to learn more about the best beaches in Kotor.

 

#7 Kayak or Take a Boat Tour

And talking about getting away from the crowds, what could be more delightful than soaking in the beauty of Kotor from the water?

For a budget version, you can easily rent a kayak and head out into the Bay at a peaceful pace.

Kayak Tours Kotor are a good hire outlet near to the Old Town that can hook you up with a rental.

Otherwise, for something a bit more relaxed, why not enjoy a Kotor boat trip?

I’ve written a full post about this here, but the short hand version is that you can easily either charter a boat to take you somewhere specific, or hop on a classic tour which leave regularly from the major towns, such as Kotor Old Town, and cover sights such as Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast and more.

 

 

 

Top Things to Do Around Kotor

Montenegro, Bay of Kotor, Perast

There are a selection of great independent, as well as organised, day trips you can make from Kotor that I highly recommend.

This list of my top 7 cover more of the top things to see in Kotor area as a whole, so are ideal if you’re staying here for 3 days or more.

 

#1 Cycle the Bay of Kotor

When it comes to what to do in Kotor in Montenegro, cycling the bay is hard to beat.

And yes, I mean the whole way round!

It actually is much shorter than it looks and easily doable in a day – including swimming, sunbathing, coffee, lunch and ice cream stops!

Heading out of Kotor Old Town in a clockwise direction is the easiest way round to make the loop when it comes to ascents, and don’t forget you can hop across the small channel on the ferry with your bike too.

Bikes can easily be rented just outside the East Gate of the Old Town for around 20€ for 24hrs.

And then you’re off cycling to your heart’s content!

If you only have time for one stop you must make it Perast – read on to learn more…

 

#2 Boat Trip to Our Lady of the Rocks

About a 20 minute boat ride away from the Old Town of Kotor, Lady of the Rocks is a manmade, artificial island built in the Bay of Kotor in the 13th century.

Apparently it’s bad luck not to visit this island if you come to Kotor, so I wouldn’t risk it if I were you!

Constructed by 2 fisherman brothers, who found a picture of the Virgin Mary washed up on some nearby rocks and were then healed after praying to the painting, the island church of Our Lady of the Rocks was built to honour this miracle.

Taking 180 years to build, which included the sinking of 120 ships for the island’s foundation, by the 17th century, the Church that sits on the island was finally finished too!

You can now enter the church, after docking at the island, for a couple of euros, and then spend a lovely hour visiting the cute chapel and the adjoining fascinating museum, with its fantastic first floor views.

Still to this day, Fasinada – a special festival in July – sees many tens of boats still sail from Perast to drop more rocks at the island’s base to keep it intact.

Every other day of the year (wether permitting), you can get a boat ride to Our Lady of The Rock from Perast that will cost you 10€ return.

The captain normally give you 30-60mins to wander round the island, which is free to enter aside the church entrance ticket costs.

 

#3 Head to the UNESCO Village of Perast

And now we come to Perast – another UNESCO-listed spot in the Bay of Kotor and a stunning, historic village you can’t miss.

If you don’t fancy cycling around the bay here, then you can also use the local Blue Lines bus service to get to this star attraction.

The Blue Lines bus leaves hourly (roughly) from Kotor Old Town and takes around 20 minutes to reach Perast at a grand old price of 2.50€.

When in Perast, it’s all just about wandering the tiny foreshore of this cute town, enjoying the views, having a coffee / burek, taking a dip and then drying out via one of the many small coastal platforms here.

It’s also great if you can take a boat trip from here, as the views of Perast from a watery distance, are stunning!

 

#4 Day Trip to Budva & Sveti Stefan

And my forth recommendation when it comes to the best things to do around Kotor is to make a DIY day trip south of Kotor to the central coastal area of Montenegro.

Board a regular bus to Budva and spend the day soaking up the charm of this historic town – including its ancient and lofty Citadel, it’s excellent museum, its fab beaches, its lovely marina restaurants and Sveti Stefan island.

You can’t actually enter this island, but enjoying some of the almost-red fine stone beaches around it, while you stare at the former A-list celeb islet infront of you, topped with historic red-roofed buildings, is quite amazing!

Buses from Budva back to Kotor run half hourly during the summer months and all rides cost just a few euros.

This day trip is a great way to see a little more of Montenegro without having to fork out loads of money unnecessarily!

Read my article about whether to base yourself in Kotor or Budva if you’re struggling to decide.

 

#5 Adventure to Durmitor National Park

Fancy getting some nature time?

Then do check out this top-rated tour to the beautiful Durmitor National Park from Kotor.

With some epic hiking, stunning scenery and top mountain vibes, not to mention the famous Tara Canyon, this is a must-visit spot for outdoorsy folk.

Check out this great guide if you’re planning on heading there.

 

#6 Enjoy Cetinje & Lovcen National Park

Another day trip I recommend you enjoy from Kotor is to Cetinje and Lovcen National Park.

Start by hopping on one of the hourly buses from Kotor to UNESCO-listed Cetinje and then spend an hour or 2 strolling around this historic capital and its interesting streets, which offer monasteries, museums and heritage charm by the bucket load.

Then continue on to Lovcen National Park for spectacular viewpoints, beautiful natural locations, a decent smattering of historic monuments and a boat ride on the Crnojević River.

This 12 hour day trip from Kotor is a winner if you want to cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time!

 

#7 Experience Dubrovnik

And finally, if you really want to give a Kotor day trip a good run for its money, then you can even get to Dubrovnik from this city using local buses or private transfer.

Around 2-3 hours from Kotor, Dubrovnik is in Croatia, which means you’ll need to cross the border (and bring your passport), but usually this is a fairly simple process.

Just do be aware that you’ll need to set off super early and have a lot of energy for this mega day excursion!

Here’s how to visit the famous Croatian city of Dubrovnik cheaply!

 

@bigworldsmallpockets Beat you to it guys! #kotor #kotormontengro #kotorbay #montenegro #travelmontenegro #uktravelblogger ♬ You Don’t Ignore (Too Late) – Petit Biscuit

 

Top 3 Day Kotor Itinerary

Montenegro, Kotor, Me and the View

Day 1

Hike up to the Kotor Fortress early in the morning via the free track and then wander back down through the Old Town.

Spend the rest of the morning exploring the historical centre of Old Kotor, as well as the local cafes, shops and markets.

In the afternoon, stroll along the foreshore to sunbathe and swim at Kotor’s public beach, before heading back into the Old Town during the evening for dinner and some picturesque moonlight snaps.

 

Day 2

Hike a bike or kayak and set out to explore the Bay of Kotor – the name given to the entire sea inlet in this part of Montenegro.

Cycling is possibly the whole way round – care of a handy ferry crossing – and makes for a wonderful excursion.

See more in the day trip section above.

Otherwise, why not hire a kayak and explore the beautiful Adriatic waters and views with the help of a paddle or oar?

Boat rides that include a Blue Cave tour, along with evening booze cruises (if that’s your thing), are also a great way to get out on the water and see more of the surrounding area.

 

Day 3

Why not venture out of Kotor and check out more of Montenegro such as nearby Lovćen National Park and the former capital of Cetinje, or coastal Budva?

My recommended day trip section above provides some great ideas for these options, otherwise, I’ve heard that the towns of Bar, Ulcinj and Herceg Novi are also amazing – I’d love to head to these places on my next trip to this country!

 

Where to Stay in Kotor?

Montenegro, Bay of Kotor, Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort Room

Budget

With a great location very nearby to the Kotor bus station and boasting marina views, Pupa Hostel has large, clean dorms and each bed has a curtain, reading light and charging station.

There’s a kitchen too, super-fast wifi and some very friendly, helpful staff.

A party hostel full of young, energetic things, Old Town Hostel is a firm Kotor favourite, situated in the heart of the Old Town.

There’s a kitchen and a pool here (both big drawcards) and the backpacker tour agency Monte360 is connected with them too.

Organising daily activities make this is a great place to stay if you want to meet others and enjoy the Kotor nightlife.

With more of a boutique feel, Stranger Tides is a renovated property that has diversified into the backpacker market, offering something of a quieter retreat from the crowds in the nearby suburb of Dobrota.

While this does mean a bit of a walk into the Old Town and the bus station, as well as shops, there’s plenty of delightful coastline to occupy you here, as well as a few upper-market style cafes and restaurants.

This would be the perfect place to stay if you want to relax in peace and quiet.

Right on the beach and close to the old town, Montenegro Hostel 4U seems to combine the best of both worlds.

It tends to attract a younger crowd, but the location is really hard to beat and they continually get top reviews.

Party is definitely the name of the game here!

 

Mid Range

With sea views and covered parking, plus great decor and a top location, De Luxe Apartments Sirena is an awesome place to stay in Kotor for the price.

Choose from a range of apartments that sleep 2 adults, include kids under 4 for free, and boast amazing views at this top-rated self-catering spot.

Alternatively, the owner of Apartments Castello is lovely and you’re right by the beach and the Old Town here.

Otherwise, the beautifully furnished with lovely views and good air-conditioning, the shared bathrooms at Guesthouse STEP help keep the price down.

 

Luxury… and My Top Pick!

If you’re looking for a luxury stay (and why wouldn’t you be in a country this affordable?!) it’s hard to get better then the Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort.

Located in a stunning part of Kotor’s UNECO World Heritage Site coastline, this fabulous hotel offers king rooms with mountain balconies from just £85pn including breakfast!

With 7 eateries and bars on site, along with panoramic views across the bay, a cute beach and a wellness spa, it’s the all-round package.

I was lucky enough to stay in one of the sea view villas here, which came complete with a private pool and roof terrace.

Trust me, if you’re keen on seeing some stunning sunsets in Montenegro, then this is definitely worth the splurge!

 

Where to Eat and Drink in Kotor?

Montenegro, Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort, Lighthouse Restaurant

With a big Italian influence (it’s just across the water!), eating in Kotor tends to be dominated (at least during the summer) by alfresco pasta and pizza options, along with a good spattering of seafood.

During my second visit I had lunch at Konoba Giardino in Kotor Old Town and it was delicious.

Otherwise, the funky spot of Hoste, also in the Old Town, provides some good vegetarian dishes, yummy snacks and a relaxed café vibe with strong coffee, free wifi and lovely outside seating.

The next best coffee in town can be found almost next door at O Clock Café.

However if you’re looking to head a little out of town, then the Lighthouse Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Kotor Bar Resort is open to non-residents and boasts the most amazing waterside views.

A stunning Italian-inspired menu is on offer here with great octopus salads, risotto dishes, wine and pre-dinner cocktails all perfectly paired.

Be sure to book in advance.

 

What to Do With Only One Day in Kotor?

Kotor, Old Town, St. Tryphon Cathedral

If you only have only day to spend in Kotor, perhaps because you’re on a tight itinerary, or perhaps because you’re visiting from a cruise ship, then I highly recommend spending the morning climbing up to the Fortress as well as enjoying the Old City Walls.

Then head down to the Old Town for lunch, before spending the afternoon sightseeing amidst the churches, museums and shops of the Medieval cobbled streets here.

If time, finish up with a quick boat trip around the bay at golden hour to Our Lady of the Rocks and Perast.

 

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Mini Travel Guide to Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro, Bay of Kotor, Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort

When to Visit Kotor?

I’ve visited Kotor during both late April and early September and found these periods had the perfect weather!

While the crowds of the peak summer season were also super thin (hoorah!), April was a little cold for swimming in the sea, but September would be perfect!

As such, I think the best time to visit Kotor is either the months of May, September or October.

July and August will be fun in Kotor, but hot and busy!

 

How to Travel There?

One of the great reasons Kotor makes a fantastic travel destination is because it’s easy to get to from lots of different directions and in lots of ways!

International airports can be found in Kotor’s closest hub Tivat, Montenegro’s capital Podgorica, or just outside the country in nearby Dubrovnik or Tirana in Albania.

All these airports boast budget airline arrivals from destinations around Europe – including Wizz Air, who I flew to Montenegro with and highly recommend.

I especially loved Wizz Air’s Priority offering which gave me priority check in, boarding, baggage and seats – I’d pay the extra again for Wizz Air Priority in a heartbeat!

Check out Skyscanner to compare prices, as they include Wizz Air and other budget carriers in their searches.

From Tivat airport it’s then just a 15 minute drive to Kotor, otherwise if you’re coming Podgorica, Dubrovnik or Tirana airports, you can then easily find a cheap bus or private transfer to Kotor.

For those already travelling in the Balkan / Eastern European area, buses to Kotor can also be easily found from nearby cities including Mostar in Bosnia and Skopje in Macedonia.

Busbud is a great resource for those travelling to and from Kotor, as you can book online bus tickets from a range of companies in advance and choose the best option for you based on price, duration and comfort.

 

How to Get Around Kotor?

Once in Kotor, you’ll then be delighted to know getting around this city is super cheap and easy.

That’s mainly because it’s undertaken using your own 2 feet!

Yes, Kotor Old Town really is a small place and, with the bus station situated just outside the city walls, there really isn’t any need to navigate Kotor Old Town any other way than your own 2 feet… especially given the traffic can be really bad here in the summer months!

The exception is if you want to head out to explore other parts of the Bay of Kotor, such as the village of Perast.

For this, it’s best to either cycle, hop on the public Blue Line bus or take a boat trip

 

How Much Time Do You Need in Kotor?

I’d honestly advise staying at least 4-5 nights in Kotor.

There’s a lot to see and do in and around the town and it also makes for a nice Montenegro base if you want to venture further afield.

Check out my itinerary above for a more detailed idea of how to spend your time here.

 

Practical Kotor Travel FAQs: Answered

Montenegro, Kotor Old Town, Saint Tryphon Square

 

Is Kotor Safe?

I travelled Kotor as a solo female and felt very safe.

 

What to Pack for Kotor?

#1 Good Camera – I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and which I love not least because it’s light, compact and robust!

#2 Good Walking Shoes – Make sure your feet are comfortable with a pair of New Balance Trainers

#3 Good Water Bottle – Ensure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because the tap water in Kotor is drinkable.

#4 Good Backpack – You can’t go past the Bobby Anti Theft Backpack, which is perfect for helping you avoid pickpockets.

 

Travel Insurance

World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.

 

How to Pay for Things in Kotor?

The currency in Montenegro is the Euro and I advise bringing some cash with you, as well as a good card you can use to pay for things abroad.

With real exchange rates, no transaction fees and no ATM withdrawal charges, you can use your Wise card just like a debit card when travelling… and it links easily with Google and Apple pay, Grab yours here.

 

What’s the best eSIM for Montenegro?

I highly recommend Holafly, which I used throughout my time in Montenegro and had great connection in Kotor, as well as across the country.

Get 5% off with the discount code: BIGWORLDSMALLPOCKETS

 

Can I Take a Tour to Kotor?

If you want to visit Montenegro with a group and an experienced guide, then check out these top tours that include a stop in Kotor.

 

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So there you have it, my complete guide to travelling Kotor in Montenegro, including the best things to see and do there.

Have you decided on the things to do in Kotor you’re going to be enjoying?

Heck, why not enjoy them all?!

Let me know in the comments box when you’re heading there…

 


My 2nd trip to Kotor was sponsored by the Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort as well as the Montenegro Tourism Board but, as always, all views are my own.

This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.


 

9 thoughts on “Best Things to See in Kotor, Montenegro in 1-3 Days

    • Steph says:

      Hi Craig – it’s a tough one to decide between the two. That said, both are close together so it is possible to day trip from one to the other, which does allow you the best of both worlds. Croatia is more expensive than Montenegro and has less tourists, but it just depends what you’re looking for. Either way, enjoy!

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