Kotor is an ancient town of merchants and sailors, located in one of the most beautiful bays in the world. The old town of Kotor is the best-preserved medieval urban settlement included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage. Check out what this magnificent fortified city has to offer!
Why visit Kotor?
Kotor is a fortified medieval town located in one of the most fascinating bays. Surrounded by the Adriatic Sea and tall mountains, both the city and the Kotor Bay are unique and worth visiting.
Kotor Bay is one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. It is actually a ria – a long, narrow inlet formed by the submergence of a river canyon. In combination with cliffs and mountains that surround it, the entire Kotor Bay area is forming a beautiful landscape that will take your breath away!
The town of Kotor, located at the end of the bay, is an ancient Mediterranean port. The Old Town of Kotor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, as part of Venetian Works of Defence between the 15th and 17th centuries. The historical center, surrounded by medieval walls, counts with several churches and other important buildings, that attract many tourists year after year. It is a favorite stop for many cruise ships as well as visitors that come from Dubrovnik daily.
Today, Kotor is one of the most prominent cities in Montenegro, the one that attracts many foreign investors, and brings the highest rate of tourism, together with the town of Budva.
km long bulwarks
UNESCO World Heritage Site
What to see in Kotor
The Old Town of Kotor is a fortified medieval town full of history and culture. It is also the most famous and most visited part of Kotor, a nucleus, a living monument, and a reminder of passed times. The Old Town has a great number of preserved monuments of medieval architecture, which include several churches, a cathedral, palaces, and museums. All these are arranged in the labyrinth of narrow streets and big squares, surrounded by the city walls and guarded by the city gates.
City walls and gates
The historical center of Kotor is the best-preserved medieval urban entity in the Mediterranean. The magnificent bulwarks (defensive walls) that surround the Old Town are 5km long. They reach a height of 20m and a width of 10m. Completely preserved, the walls of Kotor are a rare example of fortification architecture in Europe. The construction of the bulwarks started in the 9th century, but they were only finished centuries later. Most of the towers date from the 16th century.
The town can be entered through three city gates. The Sea Gate, on the western side of the town, is the main gate. The gate dates from the 16th century and was built in the Renaissance and Baroque style. The North Gate, also known as the River Gate, was built in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. This gate leads to the bridge over the Scurda River that closes the walls from the north. The South Gate, also called Gurdic Gate, is the least attractive of the three but, considering the remains, it was once an important entrance to the town since it had a drawbridge.
San Giovanni Fortress
Located high above the Kotor Old Town, the San Giovanni Fortress is also known as the Fortress of St. John. The fortress is a continuation of the town’s fortification system, situated in the mountain above the town to provide a good overlook of the entire area. The fortress is connected to the town by steps that form serpentines which go to the very top of the fortress, 280m above sea level.
The climb towards the fortress might be hard, but it is very much worth the effort. The view of the Old Town and Kotor Bay from the top is just breathtaking! But remember, the climb is a real hiking experience, so think twice before indulging in such an adventure, especially in the summer.
Kotor Old Town has several lovely squares, many of which carry an unusual name. The main and the largest city square is Arms Square (Trg od oružja). It is also the first one you encounter by entering through the Sea Gate. The square houses several important buildings, such as the Clock Tower, the Old Town Hall, or Venetian Arsenal.
Another important square is the St.Tryphon Square (Trg Svetog Tripuna), housing the cathedral. Other significant monuments on the square include the Town Hall, Historical Archives, and several palaces. Third important square is St. Luke Square (Trg Svetog Luke) with St. Luke’s Church and St. Nicholas’ Church.
Other squares are the Milk Square, Wood Square, Prison Square, Flour Square, Cat Square, etc.
The most significant cultural monuments of Kotor are located in the Old Town area. The historic center counts with 10 churches and monasteries, more than 10 palaces, and many other important historical buildings.
The most famous monument of Kotor is the Saint Tryphon Cathedral. The cathedral was built in 1166, on the place where a smaller church stood. It is one of the oldest churches in the European territory. In the devastating earthquake, which occurred in the 16th century, the cathedral suffered great damages and the renewal followed. The church was restored in the Renaissance and Baroque style, the appearance it has today.
The cathedral is known for its treasury, which holds the relics of Saint Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor. The relics are guarded in a silver coffin and were brought to Kotor from Constantinople in 809. The legend says that the Kotor fleet took part in the welcoming of the relics of the saint, and this event is still celebrated today. The Tripundan (St. Tryphon Day) is one of the most important festivities held in Kotor and in the entire bay area.
Beaches near Kotor
While the long sandy beaches are found in Budva or Ulcinj, Kotor has smaller, mostly rocky beaches. Apart from the beaches near the town center, there are several nice beaches in the 10km radius, such as Bajova Kula Beach and Orahovac Beach (both pebbly beaches).
Most beaches are public and free to use, but if you want to use sunbeds and umbrellas you do need to pay. The daily price is about 10 to 20 euros, but it really depends on the beach you choose.
The Kotor beaches are opened from May to October, which gives you plenty of time to plan your vacation in the period that best suits you. Bear in mind that July and August are the busiest months with the highest number of visitors, so the beaches are crowded, as well.
How to get to Kotor
Kotor is easily accessible by car. A bus is also an option, whether you are coming from another town in Montenegro or neighboring countries like Croatia and Serbia, but it is not always recommended. The bus network is often outdated and buses are likely to be poorly equipped, which might have a negative impact on your trip. Therefore, our recommendation is to travel by car or to hire a professional driver/guide.
Another option is to take a plane. The airport is only 10 minutes away from the Old Town of Kotor and there is always a possibility of taking a taxi to reach the center.
Although located on the coast, due to the specific shape of the bay, Kotor is not reachable by any public boat or ferry line. Only organized cruisers enter the Kotor Bay.
How to get to Kotor from Dubrovnik
You will need approximately 2h to reach Kotor from Dubrovnik. The trip might take longer in summer due to the increased traffic at the border. There is only one border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro and it does get busy in high season. Also, Montenegro is not part of the European Union, so remember to prepare your passport when coming to the border.
When coming to Kotor from Dubrovnik, there is only one road you must follow and it is enough to follow the instructions on the road, you can’t get lost! Once you reach the Bay of Kotor, you have two possibilities. You can either go around the bay (which is a lovely experience that offers a great view) or you can take a ferry. The ferry makes the trip from one side of the bay to another faster, but there could be significant traffic jams on the line in high season. For more information click here.
How to get to Kotor from Budva
Kotor is only 30 minutes away from Budva. If you are arriving by car, take the E80 road that connects the two towns. The road is pretty straight, there’s only one turn you have to make. But the instructions on the road are easy to follow, so you shouldn’t have to worry about making the wrong turn. The only possible problem are jams on the road, which are common in the summer season.
How to get to Kotor from Podgorica
When heading to Kotor from Podgorica, you will need approximately 1h30 to get to your destination. To reach Kotor, you will have to pass through Budva. First, get on the road M2.3 and continue towards Budva, following the instructions. After passing Budva, take the E80 road to Kotor. The road is pretty straight and the instructions on the road are easy to follow. The only possible problem are traffic jams, which are common in the summer season.
Where to eat in Kotor
Some of the traditional montenegrin specialties include cicvara (a dish of cornflour with the addition of cream or cottage cheese) and kačamak (maize porridge with buttered potato and kajmak, served with milk or cheese). Local specialties also include vegetable stews and grilled meat. Seafood and fish are very popular on the coast. Typical dishes are black risotto, buzara (prawns and shellfish cooked in a delicious wine and tomato sauce), calamari (fried, cooked, grilled), etc.
Galion is a lovely gourmand restaurant with the supreme service and good tasting food. The restaurant is located on a shore and has a nice open-air terrace overlooking the Old Town. The strongest feature of this restaurant is a sophisticated fish menu. Whether it is a local recipe or international cuisine, you can enjoy the fish specialties accompanied by an extended wine list.
Luna Rossa is an Italian style restaurant serving traditional Montenegrin food and Mediterranean dishes. The restaurant is located in the heart of Kotor Old Town in one of the old stone houses. It is situated on the ground floor of the Hotel Monte Cristo. This romantic restaurant serves specialties like the famous Montenegro steak, a large selection of fish options, and other local dishes.
Is Kotor safe?
Kotor is a wonderful town with a long tradition of tourism. Therefore, it is a perfectly safe town with good infrastructure.
What to visit near Kotor
Located only 15 minutes from Kotor, the town of Perast is one of the most beautiful towns of Kotor Bay. The little town stretches along the coast, forming a line of renaissance and baroque palaces overlooking the sea. The lovely palaces testify of the former glory and wealth of the Kotor region and the town of Perast. Perast was once a town of sailors that have been well known in the world, and many ships would occupy its docks. Today, it is a town with less than 400 residents that attracts tourists because of the two islands near its coast.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Our Lady of the Rocks is a lovely little island in the Kotor Bay, not far from Kotor. The Our Lady of the Rocks Island (a.k.a. Gospa od Skrpjela) is an artificial island which, according to the legend, was made by the seamen from Perast and Kotor, who would return from the sea adventures on their ships and bring big stones which they laid here, eventually forming an island. The only object on the island is a beautiful church built in 1630. Since the only access to the island is by boat, there are many boat tours available from both Kotor and Perast.
Tivat is one of the most luxurious yachting resorts in the Mediterranean Sea. Located at the entrance to the Kotor Bay, Tivat holds a big modern marina that attracts expensive yachts and high-class guests. New and modern, Porto Montenegro in Tivat is one of the most attractive destinations in Montenegro. But, like any other town on the Adriatic Sea, Tivat has a historical center, as well. Not to mention all the beaches near the town and plenty of boat tour options.
A half-hour drive from Kotor lies the town of Budva. Budva is a star of Montenegrin tourism and the most visited town on the coast of Montenegro. The town is divided into two zones. The Old Town of Budva is 2.500 years old, which makes it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. The Old Town is full of history and medieval architecture with lovely churches and narrow streets, while the new part of town is dominated by tall glass buildings and exclusive hotels. Budva Riviera is also famous for having some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.