Here Are Some of the Best Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro!
Wanting to experience the beauty that Montenegro has to offer? Head for Kotor to check it out firsthand!
This small, historic town nestled into the famous Bay of Kotor is no longer a hidden gem of the Adriatic Coast. Whether you’re visiting on a day trip from Dubrovnik, on a cruise ship, or on land via car or motorbike, Kotor makes for a great stop with loads to do, see, and eat!
We loved our time in Montenegro. Podgorica – the capital – was nice to see, but it was the Montenegrin coastline along the Adriatic Sea that stole our hearts.
We visited Kotor on our way from Croatia to Tirana, Albania. The whole area is really beautiful and definitely worth a visit. Seeing the ocean and the tall mountains so close to each other makes for incredible, awe-inspiring natural views.
So, having spent some time in Kotor here’s our detailed guide on things to do and see as well as other tips for visiting like where to eat, sleep, and more!
Kotor Quick Guide
Best Time to Visit: Summer for hot and sunny weather (busy), the shoulder seasons (May-June & September-October) provide decent temperatures and fewer people.
Getting Around: The Old Town is walkable (with smooth cobblestones), and the waterfront is also easily walkable. A rental car is needed for surrounding villages or accommodations.
Where to Stay: Boutique Hotel Astoria for a boutique hotel in the Old Town, Hotel Monte Cristo for an authentic Old Town hotel experience, and D & Sons Apartments for popular apartment rentals also right in the Old Town!
Table of Contents
Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro
As we mentioned above, there are lots of things to do in Kotor but many of them are day trips or things you actually do outside the Old Town.
So, keep this in mind when you plan how many days you want to spend in Kotor.
Hike up to the Fortress – the Castle of San Giovanni
This was easily one of the highlights – if not the highlight for us while in Kotor. The view from the top is incredible – just look at the photos and you’ll understand why.
It doesn’t take super long to hike up there but in the summer it can get quite hot so we’d recommend you do it either early in the morning or later in the day since there is not a lot of shade.
Tip: You can hop on a guided Kotor hiking tour if you don’t want to navigate all this yourself!
Also, don’t forget to bring enough water! We show our experience in Kotor in this YouTube video, should you want to check it out.
Back when we visited, the town has just started charging 8 Euro to begin the climb from the Old Town. There also used to be a second pathway which went around this “gate” so that you could hike up for free.
In 2023, there is lots of chatter about having set up two ticket booths so that you must pay admission to hike up to the fortress. Given the crumbling state of the stairs and walkway up to the ruins, some argue that it’s not worth it. Other travellers are happy to pay for the experience.
To each their own. We thought the experience and the views would be worth it. So you know, the “Ladder of Kotor” hike, mentioned below, if still free.
There also used to be a path from the Ladder of Kotor into the Fortress (via a back route) but that has also since been blocked off. We’d recommend just paying the 8 euros and enjoying your day!
If you go the way we went, you’ll have a combination of large steps and a flat path to get up to the fortress. You’ll pass the church, seen above, on both the way up and down.
It’s a nice place to stop for a few photos and a water break. On this pathway, there were men selling bottles of water out of coolers for a few Euros so if you DID forget water and had some cash, you might be able to buy some.
On a hot day, however, we’re sure these guys sell out.
Overall, we’d say that hiking up to the fortress was one of our favourite experiences of the entire few months travelling the Balkans.
It was one of those things you do that puts things into perspective as you travel. Maybe it was the grandeur of the mountains and the Bay below, but you kinda realize how small you are in this world when you’re up there.
You also realize how beautiful the world can be – and that’s always a nice realization.
Take a Boat Cruise Through the Bay of Kotor
Location of Some Waterfront Tours: https://goo.gl/maps/4a4oETx5fR2b837a6
There’s a good chance you already experienced the famous Bay of Kotor if you arrived by water. If you arrived by land, getting out on the water is a popular and worthwhile way to appreciate the history and natural beauty of the area.
We did a boat tour through our accommodation and it was actually a really great day out on the water.
The one that we did, admittedly, was more of a drinks cruise but there were lots of people (us included) who only had a few drinks. There were lots of sights to see, swimming, and a lively atmosphere which made for a nice day out!
That said, there are a number of popular boat tours in Kotor that allow for sightseeing, swimming, on-shore exploration, and more.
Kotor Boat & Bay Tours
Getting out on the famous Bay of Kotor is a great way to enjoy the area. Here are some of the best Kotor boat tours to help you explore the water:
You can book a tour in advance (recommended in the high summer season) but you can also just wander down to the water where many of the companies advertise.
As you may have noticed, three of the top attractions in the Bay area are Our Lady of the Rocks, the famous Blue Cave, and the small, very old village of Perast. Many of the tours above make a point of stopping by some – or all – of these sights!
Wander the Old Town
Address – Aim for the Clock Tower: https://goo.gl/maps/W1z4Auap38LxJDyh9
Once you’re in Kotor, just wandering the old town is an experience in itself. As soon as you cross through the gates, you’re brought back in time and it’s a very cool setting.
If you wanted to learn about the history of what you’re wandering by instead of just walking by things, you might even consider taking a guided tour of Kotor’s Old Town.
We didn’t, and looking back we kind of wish we had since there is quite a bit of history we probably missed and walking tours had been a good idea thus far in the trip.
Visit Our Lady on The Rocks
Speaking of fish, if you’re in the Bay of Kotor, one of the most popular attractions is visiting Our Lady of the Rocks islands. There are two smaller islands, one of which has the church of the same name on it.
That island is actually artificial, and it was made by sailors over hundreds of years. Eventually, a church was built on the site (to commemorate the legend of finding an icon of Madonna and the Child here in the 1400s) and now visitors come from far and wide to see it.
These days, you can visit the church, museum, and small gift shop on the island. But make sure you are very respectful because the island plays a huge role in the cultural, historical, and religious significance of the area.
Tip: Here is that highly-rated Our Lady of the Rocks boat tour if you’re interested! Booking a tour in advance of your visit ensures you get a spot on a boat!
Eat at BBQ Tanjga Family Restaurant
This place was suggested to us by the accommodation and we are so glad we went. If you like meat, BBQ Tanjga is most certainly the place for you. You can order vegetables and other salads – but meat is definitely the way to go.
It’s grilled fresh right in front of you. They have a small indoor seating area in the storefront but there is a larger patio area with lots of seating around the side and back.
We had cevapi, the Balkan-style minced meat sausage that we ate in basically all the other Balkan countries that Eric absolutely loves.
It’s also conveniently located near the roundabout at the south end of the old town by the bus station.
Our Tip: Explore Kotor through your taste buds on this wine and food walking tour!
Visit the Beautiful Churches
Address for Saint Luke’s Church: https://goo.gl/maps/QsDFjitcUarEJueB6
Because of the rich history of the area, there are lots of places of worship in the old town and in the surrounding areas. Within the old town, you’ll see quite a few of them just by exploring on your own.
Saint Luka’s Church is among the most famous in the Old Town. Originally built in 1195, different religions have taken turns over the centuries hosting their followers.
We saw a guided tour wander inside so we aren’t sure if you can just walk in for free or if you need to be part of a group. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into churches.
The square in front of the cathedral was filled with people taking photos and you can definitely walk inside since we say many people do so!
Eat Fish at Cesarica
You can’t go to the Montenegrin coastline without trying a seafood-based dish. Knowing this, we grabbed two friends we had made at the hostel and went for a nice dinner in the Old Town.
At first, we had a hard time finding the location since it’s tucked down a side alley. Once we found it and sat down we knew we were in a good spot!
Cesarica has good reviews – Eric had seafood pasta while Lisa had a squid ink seafood risotto – but all the dishes ordered were really good!
Go to the (Rocky) Beach
There is a beach nearby in Kotor that is a short 10-15 minute walk from the Old Town. We didn’t venture to the beach since we didn’t have a ton of time in Kotor but it’s there if you want to lounge around!
The beaches close by are mostly rocky ones (like most in the Adriatic) and in front of the hotels at the water’s edge. If you want sandy beaches, you might consider driving the coast down to Budva or Ulcinj!
Hike Up the Ladder of Kotor
Location of the Trail Start: https://goo.gl/maps/Hz1328YRsZN66MZy8
If the fortress isn’t high enough for you and you really want to get a workout, then you can climb the mountain behind Kotor via the Ladder of Kotor.
The trailhead is close to the North Gate of the Old Town (the free entrance we talked about up top) and the trail is the well-marked switchback you can see from the fortress.
The change in elevation is 940 metres so make sure you have lots of water before you begin. Depending on your fitness level and how many photo breaks you take, the entire hike can take you a few hours.
Don’t miss the Cheese Shop for food and drinks if you make the hike up or down the Ladder!
There are even more paths that continue on but just the Ladder is to the top of the ridge where you enter a pine forest and end up at the P1 roadway. You can head for Restaurant Nevjesta Jadrana for stunning views and refreshments when you’re at the top!
Eat Burek at a Local Pekara
If you’ve been following along on our Balkan adventure you’ll know that we absolutely fell in love with Burek – the flaky pastry in every country we tried it. First, it was Montenegro, then Bosnia – we ate it in Sarajevo and in Mostar.
Wanting a cheap breakfast one morning, we asked the hostel guys where the best bakery was. He said to leave the North Gate and so we did. We had the classic cheese one and a classic meat burek and it was pretty good!
We actually tried two places – both were outside the Old Town. This Kotor Pekara was just outside the North Gate (as mentioned) and the other one we went to before getting on the bus was the outside the South gate between the roundabout and the bus station.
Both are so local that we can’t even find the address on Google Maps. So, you know it’s good!
Visit the Museums
There are a few museums in the Old Town that you can check out. We don’t usually go to museums unless we’ve heard about them before and it really interests both of us.
That said, there are two in Kotor that might be of interest!
Lisa has actually read up that there was a Cats Museum in Kotor and we kinda laughed. Well, turns out it’s a pretty good attraction and we missed out.
Address: Trg Gospa od Anđela – Stari Grad 371, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
Cats play a significant role in the history of the region. There are also loads of vats just laying around the old town in places you wouldn’t expect there to be a cat.
One time we rounded a corner and there were almost a dozen cats just laying on the sidewalk.
Another museum that we intended to check out but didn’t get the chance is the Maritime Museum. Obviously, the coastline and the Bay of Kotor come with a boatload (pun intended) of history that relates to the sea.
From fishermen to traders, smugglers, and actual pirates – the waterways of Montenegro have a rich past that is fascinating to learn about.
You can learn about this history, and more, in the museum.
Address: 391 Trg Bokeljske Mornarice, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
Experience Lovcen National Park
Located just outside of Kotor, Lovcen National Park is definitely another place that you should explore.
If you didn’t already get to know the rugged, rolling hills and mountains of the surrounding area, this park will bring that point home for you.
Featuring the mountain peak Lovćen (with hiking trails, panoramic views, and a mausoleum at the top), this large national park is good for hiking, camping, and much more.
Bonus: White Water Rafting on the Tara River
Last, but certainly not least, we wanted to mention more of a day trip from Kotor that would be worth it: White Water Rafting on the Tara River!
Located in the northern parts of the small country, you can make a day trip from Kotor to one of Europe’s deepest river canyons for an intense and awesome day on the water.
Even without the guided thrill of a day of rafting, the natural beauty of this more rugged area away from the coast is something to be experienced!
Here is a popular option for a Tara River Rafting day trip from Kotor!
Other Things to Consider When Visiting Kotor
This section is all about helping you plan your visit. Montenegro can feel a little off the beaten path but it definitely doesn’t have to!
Here’s our take on the best time to visit, how to get there, and accommodations in Kotor!
Where to Stay in Kotor
Kotor is a popular place to visit given the history to explore, the natural beauty of the mountains and water, and much more.
So, there is a pretty robust offering of accommodations across the Old Town and also up and down the shores of the Bay to the north, south, and to the west of Kotor. You’ll find Old Town hotels, more popular hotel brands, and then lots of apartments (apartmeni) and guesthouses.
As with any popular destination – especially a popular summer destination – accommodations tend to book up in advance. Our advice is to book ahead if you know you want to visit Kotor to avoid disappointment.
Here are a few that you might want to check out. Boutique Hotel Astoria is more of a boutique hotel experience that is located right in the Old Town.
For a bit more of an authentic Montenegrin building, Hotel Monte Cristo is also located in the Old Town and certainly fits this description.
Lastly, if you are looking for an apartment for a longer stay (a common way to visit Kotor), then D & Sons Apartments is one such popular apartment rental – and it’s also located right in the Old Town!
If you’re looking for more budget accommodation, we stayed in the Old Town Youth Hostel which, as the name suggests, is also in the Old Town of Kotor. We really liked our stay – so much so it made our list of 27 hostels all over Europe that we loved.
The lively atmosphere and mix of private and dorm-style rooms mean that it’s a place that can suit many different types of travellers.
The hostel is split up into several separate buildings with dorms in one, private rooms in another, and common areas in another. If you’re passing through Kotor, it’s a good place to make travel friends. We did, and we saw them again in different Balkan countries afterward!
Best Time to Visit Kotor
In recent years, Kotor has exploded in popularity. This is because of both its proximity to Dubrovnik and the fact that major cruise lines have it on their Adriatic Cruise itineraries.
So, Kotor in the summer season can be hot and beautiful – but very busy with cruise ship visitors and day trippers from Croatia.
We experienced this – during the day in summer it was busy in the Old Town… and once night fell, the town fell silent. It was actually a beautiful contrast to experience firsthand.
That said, common sense would suggest the shoulder seasons of spring and fall (May-June & September-October) are the best times to visit Kotor. The weather – especially in June and September – is still nice for sunbathing and swimming.
We visited in May just as the place was picking up and it was definitely hot enough for a warm vacation!
How to Get to/Around Kotor
We travelled up and down the Adriatic Coast through several Balkan countries over the course of a few months. A rental car is definitely the most convenient way to do this.
A car allows you the flexibility that the buses just can’t compete with.
That said, we did not rent a car. Instead, we did rely on the regional buses with ran from town to town. They form an essential part of the local infrastructure so it’s pretty easy to book a ticket – usually at the bus station person or machine – and then hop on without issue.
We took the bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor and it was pretty easy overall. The bus station is located in the south end of town (south of the Old Town) and it was a quick walk to the water and our accommodation in the Old Town.
Once in Kotor, you can walk everywhere. You might use a car to explore surrounding towns or areas of interest but your own two feet are good for the water promenade, the Old Town (mostly smooth cobblestones), and the hikes around the area.
If you’re planning to visit Montenegro and explore a few different places around like we did – then you can check out our helpful guides:
- Things to Do in Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital
- What to See and Do in Herceg Novi (Northern Montenegro)
- Our Tips for Visiting Ulcinj (Southern Montenegro)
- Podgorica to Split, Croatia (Bus Trip Experience)
- How to Get from Ulcinj to Tirana, Albania (Also Bus Trip)
And there you have it – our take on some of the best things to do in Kotor. We had a great few days in Kotor and we’d definitely recommend checking it out – if not for the Old Town then for the hikes, beautiful water, and history of the surrounding area.
The Bay of Kotor has lots to offer travellers of all interests and it’s a great way to see what a piece of Montenegro is all about!
As always, Happy Waddlin’,