One day in Kotor is ideal if your cruise is docking here to get a taste of this Montenegro gem.
Kotor is in Montenegro, part of The Balkans and I visited as part of a road trip around the Balkans. We had just been to Dubrovnik and our tour guide told us that Kotor was much nicer and we will be wowed by it.
We only had one day in Kotor but that is plenty to see the highlights of the old town.
We visited Kotor after Dubrovnik and our tour guide said he much preferred Kotor but to be honest I wasn’t blown away with Kotor.
Dont get me wrong it’s a lovely place to visit and I enjoyed my day exploring Kotor old town but it didnt really have as much as a wow factor.
It is the surrounding area of Kotor that will blow your mind. We arrived in Kotor by road and its stunning driving into it.
We also got some beautiful views of the bay so if you are visiting Kotor as part of a cruise you have to be out on deck as you arrive into the bay of Kotor as thats going to be the highlight.
The historic city of Kotor is a lovely old town to walk around but one day was plenty and I felt as though I saw as much as I could. However, if you like hiking it might be ideal to spend 2 days in Kotor so you can hike up the hilly fortress to get amazing views.
The reason I say you would be best with two days in Kotor as you would not want to be doing this hike in the midday sun. A few of my group did abd said it was a struggle as there is no shade.
Also another thing that put my off Kotor was the crowds. I dont like crowded places and since 2 cruise ships were in dock it was terribly busy with tourists.
Another reason it might be best to spend a few days in Kotor is in late afternoon as the cruise ships leave and the hundreds of tourists vacate it becomes a much quieter place to explore at least that is what a local shop keeper told me.
Kotor is in the Balkans which are a group of countries in southeast Europe which dont seek to be on the UK tourist radar at the moment but they are becoming more popular with UK tourists and it’s easy to see why as they are beautiful and have something for everyone from luscious green mountains to stunning tranquil lakes.
Kotor is a secluded coastal town on the gulf of Kotor which is so beautiful and it’s not very large with less than 14000 population but dont expect it to be quiet as when the crowds arrive it can feel quite hectic especially in the main square.
If you can get a cheap flight to Kotor I would still recommend a visit for a short break or as part of a larger Balkans tour which is a great option if you are looking for a European road trip.
To be honest if there were two cruise ships not in port so it was heaving with tourists, I might have agreed but I just didn’t get the wow factor.
Don’t get me wrong it is such a pretty place but if the weathers not great like when we visited it is easy to tire of the old town
I am hoping it might just have been the fact it was raining during my visit to Kotor that’s not making me shout from the rooftops about this Montenegro town and do let me know if I’m wrong as I really don’t mind trying another visit.
So, it is very similar to Dubrovnik in the style of the architecture and the old town setting.
But one of the things that is special about Kotor is the fjord like scenery outside of the old town. Slightly spoilt by the cruise ships in port although I’m an avid cruiser so love looking at ships and if you walk a little farther down the water you can still get amazing views over the water to the hills.
I bet it is a beautiful arrival in Adriatic Sea by cruiseship so I will definitely be looking out for future cruises to Kotor so I can give it a second visit.
I do think Montenegro will become the next big destination people will be visiting. Even though I have said that about most of the Balkan countries I have visited on this trip as I just can’t believe how unknown these destinations are.
There is a newspaper that comes out once a year and it’s a tradition of 500 years old where you can write something about anyone and its anonymous
Getting to Kotor
Tivat airport is the closest airport to Kotor in Montenegro.
I visited Kotor on a road trip of the Balkans after Dubrovnik. You can also do day tours from Dubrovnik by bus or boat
Tip dont forget if travelling by land it may require be a border crossing so will need to take passport on day trip
When is the best time to visit Kotor
Summers will be hot and sunny and very busy. I visited in May and it did rain so be prepared. It will be less crowed and still warm in early June and early September if you want to avoid the peak holiday season in Europe which is July and August.
What currency is accepted in Kotor
Currency in Kotor is the Euro
If you just want a coffee or to buy a souvenir cash is preferred. A member of my group was desperate for his coffee hit but only had card and it took a couple of visits to cafes to find one that was willing to take a card for a small payment.
There were a few ATMs but in one part of the old town so make sure you get your cash before you go exploring. I also made the mistake of getting out 100euros and it came as a 100 euro note which again wasn’t going to help me for small purchases.
I wanted to go into the bank to ask for smaller notes but a member of staff on the door said the queue is very slow and will be 20 minutes wait I had some small euros so didn’t bother.
How accessible is Kotor
Walking to the old town from our coach drop off point or from the cruise terminal was flat and well paved. It is only a short walk along the water and there were several touts selling boat tours.
Inside the old town to the alleys are a little less accessible with cracked paving stones and some are steep obviously due to my mobility I avoided these and still managed to walk around at a leisurely pace. The hike to the fortress was not accessible as it was steep and uneven grounds.
I did see a few people in wheelchairs getting around the old town OK.
Top attractions in Kotor
I didn’t think there was overly much to do in Kotor abd if you dont like churches there even less as this seemed to be the main attraction in Kotor which is why I think one day in Kotor is plenty but thats my personal preference.
I have a friend who loves it and spent a week in Kotor so it does all depend on what you want to do.
If I had more time I would have spent it exploring the bay in Kotor as I only saw it from the road abd it was beautiful.
Kotor old town
Gurdich Gate is the main gate to the old town is from the 16th century. The streets around the square have names of what used to be sold there such as milk street and flower street.
The city walls surround the old town and at its highest part is 260 metres high. It takes around 45 minutes to walk on the top of the walls and costs 8 euros per person. It is the best medieval defence system in this part of the Mediterranean.
It is said that the 1st settlement dates to the 2nd century. The clock tower was built in the 17th century, it is leaning slightly but I didn’t notice. There are pillars of shame where people were tied as a punishment, so all the town knew they had done something wrong. There used to be 3000 people living inside the city walls but now this is only about 1000. No royal family live inside the walls anymore.
There is only one public toilet in the old town and it costs 50 cents to use as you can imagine the queue can be long, if you are going for something to eat or drink then I would recommend using the toilet there so you don’t waste time queuing.
There are a several unnamed streets in Kotor but one that is interesting is called Pusti me proć “let me pass” this is due to the street being so narrow and it is tricky when someone wants to pass in the opposite direction. It is named in Lonely Planet as being a nice place for a selfie
Look up as you walk around I loved the venetian style architecture with balcony’s and the buildings were so interesting just be careful not to walk into people.
We didn’t stay in Kotor but moved onto our next destination on the tour Budva this was a beach town and was supposed to be the Las Vegas of the Balkans although it must have been out of season when we visited as it was quiet.
Lots of souvenirs shops maybe too many selling the same postcards and magnets but at least you won’t forget to pick up your souvenirs here. There were a few shops selling local crafts and I liked the Christmas decoration shop.
There was a lot of beggars especially women and children sat outside the churches.
Cats in Kotor
Cats are very important in Kotor and they are everywhere from real life cats to statues and cat souvenirs in nearly all the souvenir shops.
I got talking to a shop assistant who was so friendly she explained that people in Kotor love cats as they believe they saved them during the time of the plague.
She also told me she lived outside of the old town as it is a little too touristy so most people have moved outside the walls and she lives a few km away but she has a beautiful garden with luscious flowers and in the old town there is no space for gardens.
You can even visit a Cat museum
Churches and Museums in Kotor
There are several churches in the old town all of which are Roman Catholic.
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
The cathedral has been damaged by previous earthquakes and has not been repaired, you can notice that there are differences in height and decoration of the two towers as they didn’t have enough money to complete them the same.
On the 3rd February the locals dance outside the cathedral to celebrate St. Tripun’s Day.
It is a tradition that originates from the IX century. The festivities in the glory of the protector of the town, Sveti Tripun, begin at the end of January, and they end on the first days of February.
In front of the old Kotor Cathedral of Sveti Tripun, Boka Navy first performs a dance circle, then follows the mass, and then follows a procession through the town. The festivity is accompanied by the church choirs, city music, and dances of folklore associations. (Visit Montenegro)
There are lots of alley ways and I could have easily got lost exploring, but the rain did put me off a little. Luckily it was sunny when we first arrived and started our walking tour of the old town
St Luke’s Church
St Nicholas church
St Claire Franciscan church
St Marys Collegiate
Hike to St Johns fortress
As mentioned earlier the hike to St Johns fortress is not the most accessible as there are 1350 steps to climb and will take about 45 minutes if you are fit. Anything that involves the word hike is not at the top of my list, but a few in my group did do the walk.
They said it was steep in places and some found it a struggle but felt achievement at getting to the top. However, on the way down a girl did fall and injure her hands and knees and she said someone else slipped as it was raining, and the ground became slippery.
There is a church that marks halfway so you can just get to there and still see amazing views but if you are willing to work out a sweat then hike to the top to the fortress. There is little shade along the hike so make sure you have water.
Might be best to do the hike early morning or late afternoon as we visited in May and even though it was raining it was still 27degrees and when the sun was out it was hot.
At the top is also Castle of San Giovanni Stunning medieval castle sited on a picturesque hillside featuring sweeping views of the bay.
It currently costs 8 euros to do the hike but if you go before 8.30 the start is not manned so you can do it for free.
“The Maritime Museum of Montenegro in Kotor has grown out of the collection founded by the “Boka Marine” Fraternity, around the year 1880 and opened to public in 1900. It gradually enlarged and in 1938, it was re-arranged and opened to visitors on the first floor of the present Museum building.
It was only after the end of World War II, in the period 1949-1952, that the whole building, Baroque palace of the noble Grgurina family from the beginning of the 18th century, was completely restored and adapted to meet the needs of the Museum.” (source: Maritime Museum)
Boat tours in Kotor
I really wish I had done this as a few members of the group did and said it was good but I didn’t think we would have time. I would advise if you are only visiting for the day doing the boat trip before exploring the old town so you don’t run out of time.
You can visit the blue caves and go swimming. You can book boat trips ahead of your visit or wait until you get there just outside the main gate to the old town is a kiosk with tourist information and as I said there are a number of people along the promenade selling tours ask there were 2 large cruise ships in port so not sure if there are there during quieter periods but I have read it’s just as easy to book a boat trip when you arrive.
Kotor bay boats to see little fishing villages and stone houses which will give you a different perspective of Kotor from the water.
Hop on Bus
There is a hop on bus to see Kotor outside of the old city.
There was a market outside the old town which is opened around 8.30 to 4pm. There were a number of interesting stalls selling vinegars fruit and cheeses. Although when it started raining, they quickly packed up and scarpered and it was only 3pm
Kampana Tower can be seen when walking around the harbour outside of the city walls.
Food and drink in Kotor
There are lots of restaurants and cafes go down an alley for somewhere quieter. Mussels are popular Be warned though if in a group make sure you have small notes as the waiters do not have much change and did not appreciate our group of 6 not having smaller notes.
Have you been to Kotor? Did you spend a few days there? Let me know what you thought of this city
If you enjoyed my guide to Kotor please pin and share