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Kotor, a stunning coastal town in Montenegro, a UNESCO Heritage Site, and one of the best places in Europe to vacation. It is a great alternative to some of the pricier and busier summer european hotspots. And yes, Kotor is still busy (it is a cruise port after all), there are still so many beautiful, off-the-beaten path spots to explore.
Before we dive in, here are some of the top-rated tours in and around Kotor:
Top-5 popular tours in Kotor, Montenegro
How to get to Kotor
There are a few different ways to get to Kotor, Montenegro, including by flight, bus, or private car.
Kotor does not have its own airport, but the most convenient airport to reach Kotor is Tivat Airport (TIV), located approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the town. Another option is to fly into Podgorica Airport (TGD) which is about 90 kilometers (56 miles). From Tivat you will need to take a taxi or rent a private car, but from Podgorica there is also a bus if you are traveling on a budget.
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If you are visiting nearby cities or countries, you can easily reach Kotor by bus. Here are a few travel times from nearby destinations:
- Dubrovnik, Croatia to Kotor: 2-3 hours
- Shkoder, Albania to Kotor: 3-4 hours
- Budva to Kotor: 1 hour
- Podgorica to Kotor: 1.5-2 hours
Another great and easy way to get to Kotor is by renting your own car. I love the freedom of renting my own car when traveling. And planning a European road trip is one of the best ways to do that.
You could rent a car just to explore Montenegro (it is a small country so having your own car is a great way to explore), or you could combine it with a longer road trip to Croatia or maybe the Albanian Alps.
Getting around Kotor
Kotor isn’t a huge city, so it is relatively easy to get around, whichever method you choose. I’ve outlined a few options below:
Kotor Old Town, and nearby areas, are best explored on foot. The cobblestone streets and super narrow alleys make it difficult to navigate on anything but on foot. You’ll easily be able to explore any of the main attractions in the Old Town by simply walking around. Even if you’re staying in Dobrota (which I highly recommend – book your hotel now!) you can still reach the Old Town on foot in about 25 minutes.
Taxis are readily available in Kotor and are a convenient option for short distances or when you want to travel to places not easily reachable on foot. Make sure to confirm the fare with the driver before getting in, or have them use the meter so that you don’t get ripped off. Unfortunately, getting overcharged for a taxi ride is one of the easiest ways to scam tourists.
If you’re traveling to Kotor on a budget and trying to visit areas outside of Kotor such as Perast or Budva, then taking the best is the most budget-friendly option. There are both local buses and nonstop buses operated by tour operators. We took the bus between Kotor and Sveti Stefan and it was super easy. The main bus station in Kotor is right by the Old Town.
As I mentioned above, renting a car in Kotor gives you a ton of freedom. While you may not need a car to get around within the Old Town of Kotor, having a car can be convenient if you want to venture into the mountains or explore more remote areas.
Booking boat or land tours is a super popular way to explore the Bay of Kotor and the greater area of Montenegro. I did the Great Montenegro Tour on my first visit to Kotor and it is one of my favorite tours to date. You can also take organized boat tours that offer guided trips to nearby islands, such as Our Lady of the Rocks, or simply rent a small boat to drive yourself around the bay.
Where to stay in Kotor
My absolute biggest recommendation for visiting Kotor is to forget about the Old Town, and stay in Dobrota instead! I fell in love with this waterfront neighborhood. I swear I was looking at houses for sale by the second day of our trip.
Dobrota is still so close to all of the major attractions, you’ve got both the bay and endless hiking trails at your fingertips, and it is way less busy and expensive. Plus, there is a long walking street along the water. We stayed at the most amazing Airbnb. It is very tiny, but it is right on the water and has everything that you need!
Here are some other top-rated options:
Best things to do in Kotor
There are so many amazing things to do in and around Kotor, although you can easily just spend your days lazing around in the beautiful Bay. Nevertheless, I’ve outlined all of the best things to do in Kotor for a perfect trip.
Top things to do in Kotor, Montenegro
- 🥾Go for a hike above the city walls
- 🚤 Take a boat tour to nearby Perast or Blue caves
- 🌊 Swim off the docks of Dobrota
- 🍹Get lost in the Old Town (Stari Grad)
- 🚣♂️ Rent a kayak or SUP on Kotor Bay
Get lost in the Old Town (Stari Grad)
No trip to Kotor is complete without a visit to the Old Town, or Stari Grad. This historic part of the city is super charming – small, winding cobblestone roads to wander and get lost in.
This is also by far the busiest area in Kotor because it is where you’ll find the cruise port. I highly recommend checking out the cruise schedule ahead of time to plan accordingly.
Hike in the surrounding mountains
One of the most amazing things to do in Kotor is to hike. The hikes in Kotor offer stunning views of the bay, the Old Town, and the surrounding landscapes. Here are a few popular hikes to consider:
St. John’s Fortress (San Giovanni):
- Distance: 2.2 miles each way
- Elevation Gain: About 4,000 ft elevation gain
- Trail Description: The trail starts from the Old Town of Kotor and winds its way up the mountainside to St. John’s Fortress. The hike involves steep sections, stone steps, and some scrambling. From the top, you’ll have a panoramic view of Kotor, the bay, and the surrounding mountains.
Lovćen National Park – Mausoleum Hike:
- Distance: 1.2 miles each way
- Elevation Gain: About 1,500 ft elevation gain
- Trail Description: This hike is located in Lovćen National Park, close to Kotor. The trail leads to the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš.
Take a boat tour to nearby Perast or the Blue caves
With the beautiful Bay of Kotor at your fingertips, one of the best ways to explore the surrounding area is by boat. You’ll find tons of opportunities to either rent your own boat or join a boat tour. Popular nearby destinations to visit include Perast and the Blue caves.
Enjoy the best seafood at Restoran – Uzgajalište ostriga
If there is one restaurant that you eat in Kotor, make it this one! Our meal at Restoran – Uzgajalište ostriga was one of the best we ever had. I swear I still dream about the fish we ate here. There are only three food items on the menu: 1kg of mussels, fresh raw oysters served individually, and a full fish. I recommend getting all three, and pairing it with some of their homemade white wine.
This restaurant is about a 10 minute drive from the Old Town. I don’t recommend walking (we did and found ourselves walking along the side of the highway at one point which wasn’t ideal).
Swim off the docks of Dobrota
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love Dobrota. It is such a charming area. We visited in August and it was just busy enough to have a fun summer vibe, while still having your own space to swim and lay out.
There are a few small beaches, but more commonly you’ll find concrete docks. Some of private, and some are public. They made a great place to lay out and enjoy the bay.
There is nothing quite like swimming in the Bay of Kotor, surrounded by mountains and picturesque buildings in every direction. It really is something special.
Rent a kayak or SUP on Kotor Bay
Another great way to experience the bay is by renting a kayak or SUP board. There are several shops that rent options along the coast. Kayak rentals typically start at 10 euro per hour or 16 euro for 3 hours.
Or, if you’d rather not go out on your own, you can join a kayak tour with a group for a few hours.
Try traditional Montenegrin food at Dobrotski Dvori
A great way to appreciate Kotor and Montenegrin culture is by trying the delicious traditional Montenegrin food. Dobrotski Dvori is a great place to do just that! It gets super busy, even during the week, so I recommend making a reservation.
The menu is super meat-heavy and portions are huge, so plan accordingly.
Visit the cat museum (and the feeding area in the park)
The cat museum (Museo del Gatto di Cattaro), which collects and shares vintage cat items, is located in the heart of the Kotor Old Town. If you are a cat lover, then this place is for you! The place is small but well worth a visit. Plus, it only costs 1 euro to enter!
Take a day trip to the beaches of Budva and Sveti Stefan
If you have enough days in Kotor, you may want to consider taking a day trip to visit the nearby beaches of Budva and Sveti Stefan. These popular beach towns are located about an hour from Kotor, and are known for their long, sandy beaches.
If you are planning to visit in August, prepare for large crowds and expensive beach chairs. Personally I would recommend visiting during the shoulder seasons. You can even hike from one town to the other (Budva to Sveti Stefan) and stop at beaches along the way, if the weather isn’t too hot.
Restaurants and bars in Kotor and Dobrota
- Restoran – Uzgajalište ostriIf: if you eat at one place in Kotor, make it this one. This tiny waterfront restaurant is located on a mussel farm. They offer only three items on the menu: mussels, whole fish, and raw oysters. Everything is affordably priced and so so delicious. This was not only the best meal that we had in Montenegro, but one of the best that we had in Europe. It is also family-run!
- Dobrotski Dvori: This is a great option if you want to try traditional Montenegrin cuisine (think lots of meat). The portions here are huge so be mindful when ordering. We had enough leftovers for another entire meal the next day.
- Konoba Portun: Upscale seafood restaurant along the water, with a view of the Bay of Kotor. Perfect for a fancier night out.
- Ponta Caffe: Waterfront cafe, the perfect place to hang out and alternate between a coffee or glass of beer and swimming in the cold water. Super laid back.
- Pier65 Restaurant: Delicious, affordable dining option with the Old City Walls.
- Konoba Scala Santa: Seafood restaurant within the Old City Walls. Entrees hover around 20 eur per dish, making it relatively affordable for the tourist center.
Where to next?
If you’re planning to continue traveling in Europe, I recommend hopping on a bus over to Albania, which borders Montenegro. Although it is quickly becoming a popular destination of European tourists, it is still relatively undiscovered for American tourists. We recently did a 2-week road trip, including a week in the Albanian Alps, and it was truly magical.
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