I’ve always thought that small, charming seaside towns are just small and charming, with long and interesting history but offering attractions only to “mainstream” tourists. I was so sure that Kotor is like that.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved it there, a lot, it’s a fascinating place to visit! I even believe it might be the most beautiful destination in the Balkans or even in Europe. I mean, look at the view from the top of St. John’s fortress, among others,it literally takes your breath away and not only because you had to climb that high.
But I didn’t expect to find there any alternative Kotor sights. Fortunately I was wrong!
As I want to share my love for this amazing town here is my list of some of the best alternative Kotor attractions that you should check when you visit Kotor too!
Table of contents
Hotel Fjord – the gem of alternative Kotor
This was probably the most surprising alternative attraction of Kotor, at least for me.
At the very end of the bay, in the most perfect location, a fancy, five star Hotel Fjord used to be. The spectacular building was designed as a real brutalism gem by the awarded Bosnian architect Zlatko Ugljen and the hotel opened its doors in 1986. Guests could stay in one of 155 rooms and they could use restaurants, bars, a conference center, swimming pool or tennis courts (these are actually still in use).
Hotel Fjord remained open only for 19 years, till 2005. The violent 1990s war in the Balkans, even if didn’t reached Kotor, weakened the economy of former Yugoslavia (that Montenegro was part of until 2006) and resulted in less tourists visiting the area.
Eventually the fancy hotel, a star of Kotor accommodation, had to be closed down. Now it’s just the abandoned concrete structure that might seem spooky at times.
The moment I’ve found about Hotel Fjord I knew I have to visit it! I was glad a friend of mine joined me for this trip to Montenegro, otherwise I’d be freaking out to explore the abandoned building on my own (still, I wouldn’t have resisted and went inside for sure).
When we approached the building there was no one around but couple of people playing at the nearby tennis court. We thought it might be difficult to get inside and we were even fine with admiring the building from the outside. But honestly, it was probably the easiest abandoned building you can enter.
There is a netting fence around (from the side of the bay) but it has at least three big holes that allows you to easily step inside the premises of Hotel Fjord. And from there you’re free to explore.
For the place that haven’t been in use for some 10 years Hotel Fjord in a pretty good shape. True, all the equipment (including elevators or doors) is long gone and the windows might be broken but overall it doesn’t look or smell that bad. There is even some floor-covering here and there and on the main door you can see sticker saying which credit cards you might use!
At some point we split and I was exploring the floor on my own. The thought that Agata is somewhere nearby was encouraging but I still felt kind of like in a thriller movie – Hotel Fjord would be a perfect scenery for such a production!
The future of Hotel Fjord is still unclear. The owner, the Irish investor Michael Fingleton, was supposed to renovate the place and reopen the luxury accommodation in Kotor but for years nothing has been happening.
On one hand it’s heartbreaking that such a beautiful building in the most perfect location is left to despair but on the other it’s the best alternative Kotor attraction and probably the coolest urban exploration sight in the whole Montenegro!
Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to properly see every corner of this concrete beauty as we were (literally) running to catch to the bus to Sutomore. I was still hoping to get to the top floor, next to the faded sign or to find the abandoned swimming pool.
Fortunately I’m returning to Kotor soon to go for some great day tours with 360 Monte (the best way to see all the awesomeness that Montenegro has to offer in the short time!) so I will do my best to return to Hotel Fjord and explore some more, even if I will have to go there alone…
Jugooceanija building – now the art center
Even if Kotor is a true gem and an UNESCO listed place that attracts thousands of people every year you might be surprised that tourism isn’t the main economy branch in the area. It’s the maritime industry.
For centuries people of Kotor Bay has been known as the best sailors and the sea has been the most important part of life. Therefore Jugooceanija – the main maritime company in the former Yugoslavia – was founded in Kotor.
These days the company’s building, located conveniently next to Hotel Fjord, is used mostly as an art center. There are 40 ateliers of both local and international artists, numerous cultural and creative events take place here regularly. The place also encourages street art which I’m more than happy about.
Letrika Caffe bar
The most alternative Kotor spot you will find inside the city walls. This small art cafe is hidden in a narrow street and crowds from cruise ships seem not to find it.
In the daytime it’s the relaxing oasis to enjoy the coffee or cold beer yet in the evenings it changes for the local party place with DJs and live music. I don’t think you can find a better hang out cafe/bar in Kotor Old Town! For some reasons I didn’t take any pictures of Letrika but that’s the street leading to it:
Fortunately Jelena and Slavenko from 360Monte send me some more pictures of Letrika! This is how the bar looks like:
For such a small and touristy town I was really surprised to find those alternative Kotor attractions and I somehow have a feeling there are even more of them!
When I was going from Perast along the old road (closer to the bay) I could see some really impressive abandoned palaces from the old times. There is also an abandoned building, possibly a factory, directly on the other side of the road from the bus station that I didn’t have a time to check closely. That’s why I’m really excited to return to Kotor soon and find even more of alternative spots there!
If you think of visiting Montenegro or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:
- Kotor, Montenegro in pictures – is it the most beautiful place in the world?
- Stari Bar – an overlooked gem of Montenegro
- and more!
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