Montenegro

Kotor Old Town and beyond – why you should spend at least 2 days there

Visit Kotor Old Town
(Last Updated On: 22/06/2019)

The majority of people who visit Kotor go there just for a day, having in mind the picture of Kotor Bay taken from the fortress up high above the old town. And while this is one of the most stunning sceneries I’ve ever seen, the one that makes my jaw drop every single time and an absolute Balkan highlight, Kotor is so much more than this breathtaking view! When planning your Balkan travels give yourself at least 1-2 days to visit Kotor properly and to enjoy the place to the fullest – you won’t regret it!

Visit Kotor Old Town

By now I’ve been to Kotor three times. Even before visiting for the first time in 2012 I knew I’m gonna love it there, and I was so right! Now, if you ask me if I want to visit Kotor I will run to pack my backpack, no questions asked. That’s how much I adore this place and I keep falling for it more and more every single time I’m there. For my Kotor, Montenegro is among top 3 most incredible places I’ve ever seen during my travels but I’m just playing it safe here and if you ask me about two other destinations I honestly can’t recall any right away…

I was lucky that during one of my visits Kotor Tourism Organization offered me a tour guide to my disposal (one of my favorite things about being a blogger). Tomo was amazing, he had a huge knowledge, told me so much about the town and surroundings and these few hours have opened my eyes to how much actually Kotor has to offer! Almost every building in the old town has an interesting history – I really had no idea!

Visit Kotor Old Town

But Kotor old town isn’t the only area worth visiting! There’s the part at the end of the bay, with (in)famous Hotel Fjord, there is Dobrota with even more palaces and finally there’s Perast with the Lady of the Rocks church on the island or Risan with Roman mosaics! So much to see beyond Kotor Old Town, really!

When you visit Kotor, Montenegro here are some places you might want to check out. They were all my favorites but at the same time I don’t think there was something I didn’t like about Kotor.

Just one friendly advice: if you can – visit Kotor in the low season. When I was there in December there were hardly any people around and it was perfect, in the Old Town there were mostly locals hanging around, doing their business or enjoying coffee with friends. The downside – the day is so much shorter, the sunset was around 4-5pm. During my visits in May and September it was quite the opposite , with at least few huge cruise ships moored at the Kotor Bay.


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Kotor Old Town

If you arrive to Kotor Old Town in the middle of the day you might be overwhelmed with how busy it is. The place is literally jammed with people, all the restaurant tables are busy and sometimes you need to wait in a queue to get through a narrow lane (true story). But at around 4pm everything changes, the cruise ships sail away and the Kotor Old Town gets pleasantly spacious. Of course there are still people around but enough for you to enjoy the place and actually see something.

For the place that can be walked through in 5 minutes Kotor Old Town has so many attractions that it will keep you busy for quite a while. Kotor itself was first mentioned in 3rd century BC and across the old town you can find the overview of roman, gothic, renaissance and baroque architecture. It is one of the best preserved towns in south-east Europe!

The buildings that should definitely catch your attention are the churches (especially St Tryphon’s Cathedral, Church of St. Luka and Church of St. Nicholas), palaces (more on them later) and three city gates. But the best thing you can do is to get blissfully lost and wander around narrow lanes – this is probably my favorite thing to do in Kotor Old Town (even though by now I can’t get lost there anymore)! Just have a map with you and check every now and then what gem you’re passing by!

If you are a curious traveler you should also consider getting a guide – you’d learn so much that way! I loved discovering Kotor Old Town with a person who knew all about it, I saw the place from another perspective then! The sightseeing with the guide would take you 1-2 hours and then you can continue just wandering around on your own. Click here to check the prices and details!

For all the cat lovers Kotor Old Town will be a heaven. Cats invaded the place, there are so many of them and they don’t mind tourists at all! They walk lazily around, sleep at the restaurant’s chair or just lie down in the shadow. There’s even a cats museum but as a dog person I didn’t visit it.

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Kotor palaces

Now that’s something that surprised me in Kotor the most – a really big number of incredible palaces dating back to 15th-18th centuries, the time of the town’s biggest prosperity. As Kotor has always been a place of big importance numerous noble families has lived here. When you wander around Kotor Old Town you can spot lots of palaces. Some of them don’t look all that impressive, only when you look closer you can see details that disclose the real value of the place. Others, like Pima Palace, catches the eye as soon as you leave the narrow lane leading to the square it’s located at.

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

Visit Kotor Old Town

With so many palaces around I just keep wondering how the life in Kotor looked like all those centuries ago. Fortunately I figured I can get a feel of the Kotor palaces when sleeping in one of them! I stayed at Palazzo Drusko – the building is some 600 years old and used to belong to one of the noble families of Montenegro.

I loved my time there! The interior was carefully designed using 150-years old antique furniture, here and there the original stone walls peak through. It was really beautiful and made me transfer back in time to the grand period of Kotor. Even though Palazzo Drusko is located in the very heart of Kotor old town, some 20 seconds away from Church of St. Luka, it was super peaceful and quiet. I’ve spent three nights there but I wish I could have stayed longer really, it felt so good!

Check the prices and details of Palazzo Drusko here!

Kotor fortifications

The biggest highlight of Kotor, surely famous for a reason! The fortification stand proudly above the old town, glued to the steep Lovcen Mountains. It’s pretty tiring to get all the way to the top, climbing up 1350 steps (some sources say even about 1500!) but the view is so rewarding you will forget about all the effort right away! On one side you can see the Kotor Bay and once you move around you have the foretaste of Lovcen Mountains. This view will take your breath away for sure, and not only because of all the stairs!

To get to the top of the fortifications you need at least one hour – more if you step every few minutes to take a picture as the view is getting better and better (but you really just stop to catch the breath and use picture as an excuse). But you don’t need to go all the way up – there is a small square a little bit up from the Church of Our Lady of Health, just before the fortress starts and the view from there is already good enough!

The fortifications can be enter from Kotor Old Town – there are two points of access, I always used the one close to the Northern Gate. I strongly suggest you going in the late afternoon – it’s not so hot anymore, it’s not crowded (imagine half of the people from cruise ships trying to climb the crumbling, narrow stairs…) and if you’re there before the sunset you might witness the whole area turning pink! The entrance to the fortifications costs 3€ (but in December it was for free).

During my last visit in Kotor I didn’t plan to go up there, after all I’ve already hiked the fortifications twice. But of course I went anyway, I just couldn’t resist seeing this stunning view one more time as I honestly can’t recall a more beautiful scenery! And even if I was a little bit sore on the next day I didn’t regret it for a second!

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortifications

Walk along the Kotor Bay to Dobrota

If you’re looking for a pleasant escape from the Kotor Old Town crowds the walk along the Bay might be your answer. I’ve discovered this place during my visit in December but then I went only for a short stroll in the evening. Recently I walked all the way to Dobrota, some 5 kms maybe, and it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. In contrary to the old town this place was pleasantly empty, I’ve passed maybe 5 other tourists along the way. Even if the day was pretty warm it was really bearable here as you walk along the water all the way here.

The scenery is amazing all the time and it’s changing along the way. You should also look back every now and then to see Kotor behind. But it’s worth going here to see more amazing palaces, sadly some in ruins now. That’s also where you can find quiet, secluded beaches to relax. Dobrota really feels like the best getaway from hustle and bustle of Kotor Old Town!

Once you’re tired with walking you just need to get up to the main road and catch the local Blue Line bus for less than 1€ to take you back to Kotor Old Town. There is no schedule for buses so you might wait a while, for me it was around half an hour.

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Dobrota Kotor

Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks

A short bus ride away, further into the Bay, you will find a real gem – Perast. A small maritime town has been a very important point on the Adriatic costs for centuries. Even today it looks insanely beautiful with the stunning palaces and churches dating back to 17th and 18th century. Perast is like a smaller sibling of Kotor that deserves a proper visit and a slow walk around too!

Perast

Perast

Perast

Perast

But the main reason why you should visit Perast are two islands located directly in front of the town: St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. The second one is the only artificial island at the Adriatic Sea. In 1452 two local fishermen found the painting of St. Mary on the rock in that place. Even if the painting was moved to St. Nicolas Church in Perast it returned to the rock, three times. Eventually it was decided the church needs to be built in that very place. Only until 1603 over 100 ships were sunk for that purpose!

The church was built here in the first part of 17th century. It is beautiful inside, decorated with baroque painting and silver plates from the ships – a gift after the safe return back home. But it’s worth to go to the island not only for the church itself but also for the stunning views of the Bay – together with fortifications this might be the most stunning landscape you will see when you visit Kotor! It’s very easy to get to the island – once you arrive to Perast you will be approached by local sailors willing to take you there for 5€/return.

Perast

Perast

Perast

Perast

Perast

Roman mosaics in Risan

A little bit further along the road from Perast you will arrive to Risan, home to the Roman mosaics from the 2nd century. You can visit a complex of seven rooms with a mosaic floor in a surprisingly good shape considering the age. There are different geometrical and floral patterns as well as the mosaic of the God of Dreams – Hypnos.

Risan mosaics

Risan mosaics

Risan mosaics

Alternative Kotor

I’ve already written the whole article about alternative Kotor sights (click here!) but it’s worth to mention here again that there is so much to see around that only Kotor Old Town and the more time you spend there, the more you will fall in love with the town and all it has to offer! You just need to give Kotor more than just a brief look!

Kotor can be also used as a perfect base for day trips around Montenegro. That’s what I did during my last visit! I took two tours with the local 360Monte agency: Great Montenegro Tour (click here to read my review) and Northern Montenegro Tour (review coming soon). Both were really amazing and I believe they are the best option for everyone who wants to see more of stunning Montenegro but is short on time or doesn’t have the car. Returning to Kotor in the evening is always a bonus!

Kotor Old Town

Kotor Old Town

Kotor – practical information

How to get to Kotor

During my both recent trips to Montenegro I flew from Berlin to Podgorica with Ryanair. You can find tickets as cheap as 20-30€/return. As always I look for the best deals at Skyscanner as I’m a huge fan of their “anywhere” and “anytime” options – it has helped me to find so many great deals, including those to Montenegro. From Podgorica airport you need to take the taxi to the bus station (don’t believe when they quote 15€ or more, you can get there for 10€) and then take the bus to Kotor. Buses run frequently and the ticket is around 7€/one way, the journey takes around 2 hours. In Kotor the bus station is within walking distance from the Old Town.

How to get from Kotor to Perast and Risan?

There are Blue Line Buses connecting the towns, they run around once per hour and the ticket costs around 1€. The bus stop in Kotor is near the Main Gate.

Kotor tourist information

You will find a tourist info point in front of the Main Gate, outside the Walls. It’s worth stopping by even if to get a map!


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Kotor, Montenegro - the Old Town and beyond       Kotor, Montenegro - the Old Town and beyond


Disclaimer: My trips to Kotor were in collaboration with TO Kotor and Palazzo Drusko but all opinions are, as always, my own.


love, kami 2

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47 Comments

  • Reply
    Tiffany Crystal Bowens
    30/07/2017 at 18:01

    Just in time…I will be in Kotor on Tuesday!!!

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:02

      you will love it! How long are you staying?

    • Reply
      Tiffany Crystal Bowens
      30/07/2017 at 18:06

      3 days! Are you traveling the Balkans anytime in the next month?

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:07

      perfect, you will have enough time to enjoy everything! In fact I am! I’m flying to Macedonia on 27th August and back from Sofia on 3rd September

    • Reply
      Tiffany Crystal Bowens
      30/07/2017 at 18:09

      I will be in Sofia from the 26-30th of August!

    • Reply
      Tiffany Crystal Bowens
      30/07/2017 at 18:11

      I’m in Macedonia now. I was thinking to come back. I’m going to Albania before Bulgaria and I was going to go to Greece for a few days but it’s kind of expensive. Any idea on how to bypass Greece when traveling from Albania to Bulgaria?

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:11

      we might catch up then! I don’t have a plan yet but I will keep that in mind! :)

    • Reply
      Tiffany Crystal Bowens
      30/07/2017 at 18:12

      That would be lovely! I love your page, been following for awhile! It would be great to meet you!

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:14

      Thank you :)

  • Reply
    Alex Uher
    30/07/2017 at 18:02

    Ah i see I’m not the only one addicted to Kotor, headed back in a couple weeks for my 4th or 5th visit :)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:03

      I should plan another visit too! :)

  • Reply
    Ewa Serwicka
    30/07/2017 at 18:03

    In summer, I recommend climbing the fortress at 7am, it’s not hot, you can enjoy the sunrise and it’s still free ;)

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      30/07/2017 at 18:03

      good to know! Can I add that info to the post :) ?

  • Reply
    Barnaby Evans
    30/07/2017 at 18:17

    I’ve never heard of Kotor – thank you for posting

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      07/08/2017 at 14:02

      you should definitely read more about Kotor, it’s such a wonderful place!

  • Reply
    Esther
    30/07/2017 at 19:28

    Two weeks ago I was in Kotor and it was tourist season. Lots of cruise ships and big groups, but luckily the ships leave around 4 or 5 pm. That’s the perfect time to go the old town (or early in the morning). I loved my time in Kotor, I stayed there for 5 days and took day trips to Perast and Budva. And after five days I still discovered new alleys in the old town I had not seen before! I would love to come back, but maybe fall or spring is a better time to go there.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:09

      I can imagine summer is crazy there but fortunately it’s so much better in the early morning or afternoon when the cruise ships are gone! I was there in May, September and December and the last one was the best as there were literally no tourists around. The downside – it gets dark pretty early. It’s amazing how there’s always something to do and to discover!

  • Reply
    Hanna Barbara Nowakowska
    30/07/2017 at 22:40

    Niestety, nie znam ang. ale patrzę i jestem urzeczona pięknem tego miejsca, tych miejsc! Zdjęcia, które Pani robi są rewelacyjne, gratuluję pasji i mistrzostwa w oddawaniu piękna miejsc, które Pani odwiedza! Pozdrawiam

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:10

      Dziękuję bardzo! A poczytać można przy pomocy tłumacza google: https://translate.google.pl/?hl=pl Co prawda tekst czasem dość pokracznie jest przetłumaczony, ale sens jest zachowany :) Pozdrawiam!

  • Reply
    Lynne Cowen
    31/07/2017 at 07:06

    I loved Kotor.

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      07/08/2017 at 14:02

      I really can see why, it’s amazing!

  • Reply
    Megan
    31/07/2017 at 13:56

    Yep, still never been to Montenegro. Guess this means I should get there pronto.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:11

      yes! And the sooner, the better! The views are incredible there!

  • Reply
    Jeffrey Scot Swoyer
    31/07/2017 at 14:07

    Thanks, Kami, now I’m getting hungry to traveling again

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      07/08/2017 at 14:03

      I’m glad to hear that :)

  • Reply
    Tiffany Crystal Bowens
    01/08/2017 at 09:56

    Just got to Kotor…i kind of hate it! August is definitely a bad time to visit.

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      01/08/2017 at 09:59

      you should really avoid the old town between 10am and 4pm!!! It’s insane there! But once the cruise ships are gone it gets so much better!

    • Reply
      Tiffany Crystal Bowens
      01/08/2017 at 10:04

      I hope so! I already want to leave! I found that tour to Ostrog, but it’s like an all day thing with stops everywhere, do you recommend it??? Kind of just wanted to go to only Ostrog.

    • Reply
      Kami and the rest of the world
      01/08/2017 at 10:10

      there’s a tour with 360 monte that goes to Durmitor and Ostrog, it’s all day long but I definitely recommend it as Durmitor NP is pretty amazing too (more than Ostrog if you ask me).
      If you need a cool bar in the old town then go to Letrika, it’s great!

  • Reply
    Bruno Arcos - Circum-Mundum
    01/08/2017 at 13:12

    Kotor is just lovely! We’ve actually spent two days there last month and the setting is drop dead gorgeous. I agree with your premise, one day is not enough, especially because no proper visit to Kotor is complete without going to Perast :)

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:12

      exactly! And Perast itself deserves at least half a day, with the town and the trip to the island :)

  • Reply
    Stacja Bałkany
    04/08/2017 at 12:27

    Ja uważam że Boka Kotorska to chyba najpiękniejsze miejsce w całej Czarnogórze w ogóle. I zgadzam się z Tobą, że warto tu przyjechać poza sezonem. Byłem w kwietniu, było deszczowo ale niesamowicie było na pustym zupełnie wtedy starym mieście . Byłem trzy dni a i tak trochę chyba mało :) Dlatego ja uważam że jeden dzień to absolutnie za mało :)

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:14

      zdecydowanie!

  • Reply
    Marina
    11/08/2017 at 21:27

    Hi Kami! I am a big fan of your blog from Canada :) I was wondering what camera you use for these pictures? They come out so nice! Thank you!

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:15

      Thank you for your kind words! I used to use DSLR but switched to mirrorless FujiFilm x-t10 and I love it!

  • Reply
    Wade K.
    15/08/2017 at 01:59

    I love the look of the cut stone buildings! Makes me want to visit not only Kotor but also places like Berat and Gjirokaster in Albania. If you ever visit Texas be sure to visit Fredericksburg. A lot of stone cottages there built by German settlers.

    • Reply
      kami
      21/08/2017 at 20:16

      This sounds interesting, I wrote Fredericksburg down for future! Thanks! I loved Berat and Gijokaster too. They are different than Kotor (and than each other) but so beautiful!!

  • Reply
    Alice
    05/09/2017 at 03:15

    Old town, beautiful scenery, will definitely have a trip here.

    • Reply
      kami
      05/10/2017 at 10:57

      Fingers crossed – it’s totally worth it!

  • Reply
    Joanne Brown
    15/02/2018 at 21:08

    Glad I found your blog. I am visiting Kotor in May and this gave me a good insight of what to see in Kotor

    • Reply
      kami
      29/03/2018 at 20:49

      I’m glad I could help! Kotor is amazing, you will love it! I’ve just returned from my another visit there, such a stunning place!

  • Reply
    Michelle Romanini
    01/06/2018 at 15:23

    Hate the cruise ship crowds! They totally ruined Korkula Town for me. Do you think by climbing the Ladder of Kotor I will avoid the masses. Plan to leave by 8am.Also think that 8Euros is a rip-off to climb the stairs.

    • Reply
      kami
      04/06/2018 at 19:10

      it’s actually 3€, not 8€. At 8am I think you will be fine going up as at that time most of the cruise ships won’t arrive to Kotor yet. Besides it’s pretty challenging to climb all the stairs so at beyond the church there will be less and less people going up.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    27/07/2018 at 15:11

    Hi Kami, Love your post and info. Do you have any recommendations to see Kotor with small children. Attention spans and time are limited. We will be going in the morning. We will be visiting Kotor for a few hours coming from Budva. Both children can walk for quite a distance. which do you recommend Bay of Kotor or old town of Kotor?

    • Reply
      kami
      11/08/2018 at 13:02

      Hi Michelle, thank you for your comment! I don’t think you’d be able to walk up the fortress but you can stroll a bit through the old town and then maybe walk beyond a little, towards Dobrota for example. Or you can go to Perast – it’s such a gem and less crowded than Kotor!

  • Reply
    Ral
    18/04/2019 at 13:30

    Thank you! Found your blog and am visiting Dobrota and Kotor for the long weekend (now!) – excellent information and details, but not overwhelming. A very pleasant read. Thank you again!

    • Reply
      kami
      27/04/2019 at 13:12

      Thank you! I hope you enjoyed Montenegro!

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