If you’re thinking of visiting Montenegro and you want to see the sights, Kotor is certainly a town that should be at the top of your list. In the last decade, it has gained a well-earned reputation as a tourist hot spot but is it worth the visit? Well, this guide to Kotor should provide you all you need to know about this wonderful town and why it is a must-go if you are in Montenegro.
Its name likely comes from the ancient Greek word “katareo”, which means “rocky”. The town is situated at the base of steep mountains and is surrounded by fortified walls and towers, giving it a rocky and dramatic appearance. Over time, the name “katareo” was likely modified to “Kotor” as the town became an important center of trade and commerce in the region.
Where is Kotor?
Kotor is located in Montenegro, on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.
Kotor: Know before you go
✈️ Airport: Tivat (code: TIV)
⏰ Time Zone: Central European Standard Time (GMT+1)
Language: The official language of Montenegro is Montenegrin. Other languages commonly spoken in Podgorica include Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Croatian.
Visa: Those with passports from Australia, Canada, the EU, UK and US can travel to Montenegro without a visa and remain there for up to 90 days. Please click here for more details about your own country
Electricity Socket: The most common type of electricity socket used in Montenegro is the standard two-pin European socket, which uses 220-240 volts at a 50Hz frequency.
SIM Card: Wondering, Do I need a SIM card for Montenegro? The answer is yes, and read our blog post on what the best way is for tourists.
What is the best time to visit Kotor?
The ideal period to take a trip to Kotor is between May and September, with the highest demand occurring during the European school holiday season of July and August. For those not restricted by school holidays, June and September provide excellent travel conditions.
What Makes Kotor Special?
One of the first things that set Kotor apart as a unique and magical destination is its distinctive geography. Nestled beneath magnificent mountains, the town curves gently around the corner of Kotor Bay – perfectly situating itself between the peaks and the sea.
The surrounding environment is so spectacular that it is part of a World Heritage Site, known as the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor. With a name like that, it should come as no surprise that there is a huge amount to see and do.
At its core is the Kotor Old Town, which is a remarkable Venetian labyrinth of ancient walls filled to the brim with artsy cafes, intriguing museums, and iconic historical buildings.
What To Do In Kotor
Explore the Old Town
The heart of Kotor is its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic. Wander through its narrow streets, admire its ancient architecture, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this charming town.
Walk the walls
Kotor’s city walls are a testament to the city’s rich history and culture. The walls were built in the 9th century and surround the old city. Visitors can climb the walls and enjoy stunning views of the city and Boka Bay.
If you want to get a close-up view of some of the history that Kotor has to offer, the 8 euros it costs to walk the walls of the ancient Kotor Fortress is a very small price to pay.
Climb the ladder
There are many wonderful hikes around the town, but the Ladder of Kotor is perhaps the most rewarding.
It starts as an unassuming pathway hidden behind an old hydroelectric power plant (or you can join it from atop the Old Town walls, if you have paid the entrance fee). As you climb, the path snakes its way back and forth up the mountain, offering a breathtaking view of the entire bay all the way to the top.
Visit St. Tryphon’s Cathedral
One of the most impressive landmarks in Kotor is St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, a beautiful Romanesque church that dates back to the 12th century. Inside, you’ll find a treasure trove of religious art, including frescoes and mosaics.
You can also visit Saint Nicholas Church located in the heart of Kotor’s old city. The church is known for its stunning architecture and beautiful artwork.
Hike to the Fortress of San Giovanni
The Fortress of San Giovanni is situated on top of a steep hill and requires a strenuous climb up a series of narrow and winding staircases. The total distance to the top is around 1.2 kilometers (0.75 miles) and takes about 1-2 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level and pace. However, the stunning panoramic views of the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding mountains make the climb well worth the effort.
Enter the Blue Cave
The Blue Cave is a must if you are coming to Kotor – The Blue Cave, located on the Lustica Peninsula in Montenegro, is a natural wonder that draws visitors from around the world. This stunning sea cave is known for its crystal-clear blue water and the mesmerizing blue glow created by the sun reflecting through the water, making it a spectacular sight to behold.
Enjoy the water
One of Kotor’s greatest attractions is the bay that it sits on, so why not see it in all its glory? There are many different boat tours that operate from the port itself, or you can hire your own vessel and go out exploring for the day.
If you don’t feel like embarking, you can relax on the beach or set out a towel along the Promenade and go for a dip.
Eat and drink
There are a remarkable number of high-end bars, enchanting cafes, and incredible restaurants considering the town’s size. You can sit on the cobbled streets of the Old Town with a coffee or queue with the locals for some delicious meaty dishes at BBQ Tanjga.
Soak up some culture
There are several fantastic museums in Kotor, and two of the most popular are at completely opposite ends of the cultural spectrum.
The Maritime Museum is filled with captivating exhibits depicting nautical history, while the Kotor Cats Museum is a quirky and charming collection of cat-related artwork and memorabilia.
If however, you are more interested in what happens after dark, read our amazing guide to the 5 best nightspots in Kotor.
Places to stay in Kotor
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Kotor then you have a lot of wonderful options to choose from. The town is filled with boutique hotels, friendly BnBs, and even historic buildings that have been renovated to perfection.
To help you with your search, we’ve come up with a few of the best options out there right now that you can escape to. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious couples weekend or a fun and active extended stay with the kids, we’ve got you covered.
1) Best for Families: Apartments Olive
Address: Dobrota bb, 85330 Kotor, Montenegro
See availability on: Booking.com
With space for the whole family, these apartments are a very popular choice, with every convenience you could ask for. Each unit has its own balcony and they offer a range of extra bed options for the little ones – from sofa beds to large doubles – depending on the exact apartment you choose.
These apartments are one of the favorite places to stay in the area for families with children, and they’re located just a mile from the main part of town. You can also be at the beach in just a short walk to get a dip in and soak up some sun, with both Kotor Beach and Virtu Beach less than a mile from the door.
They make everything as easy as possible with free parking on-site and even helpful shuttle services to get you to and from the airport with no hassle at all.
2) Best for Couples: Boutique Hotel Astoria
Address: Stari Grad 322, Kotor Old Town, 85330 Kotor, Montenegro
See availability on: Booking.com
If you and your partner are hoping for a romantic getaway with a high level of luxury, you can’t ask for more than Boutique Hotel Astoria. It’s actually located in the UNESCO-protected 13th-century Buca Palace within the old town itself. You’ll be as close as possible to the best restaurants and cafes – and the surroundings couldn’t be more beautiful.
As for the hotel itself, it is really stunning with a whole lot of character. The bathrooms are entirely marbled, and every room looks like a work of art. Despite its ancient and historic setting, it has every modern convenience you could ask for.
3) Off The Beaten Track: Three Dots by Todorovic Family
Address: Dobrota 199, 85331 Kotor, Montenegro
See availability on: Booking.com
This incredible villa was once a palazzo, home to the families of many famous captains that lived in the region. The overall architecture still retains its classic beauty, but it is truly luxurious inside. The whole place oozes class and style, and you won’t find a more incredible way to wake up than with a coffee on the terrace, overlooking Kotor Bay.
It’s located a little north of the main town area, which puts you out of the way of much of the tourist traffic while still being within walking distance of all the sights. Perhaps the biggest draw that this place has to offer is that you’re just a stone’s throw from the waterfront, and a few hundred yards from the beach.
Can you recommend any day trips from Kotor?
Ostrog Monastery – Located in the mountains, this monastery is a place of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians.
Skadar Lake – The largest lake in the Balkans that is home to several species of birds, as well as numerous small islands and monasteries.
Kotor is located near several national parks, including Lovćen National Park. Lovcen National Park is home to the impressive Lovćen mountain range and is known for its breathtaking views and hiking trails.
Is Kotor Worth Visiting?
In conclusion, Kotor, Montenegro is a city that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Kotor has it all.
With its stunning old city, picturesque Boka Bay, and proximity to national parks like Lovćen National Park, Kotor is a destination that should not be missed. Visitors can also explore the city walls, climb the Clock Tower and Sea Gate, hike to St. John’s Fortress, and visit Saint Nicholas Church. And with Tivat Airport just a short drive away, getting to Kotor has never been easier.