Visit Montenegro: Here are 14 Fantastic Things to do in Kotor, Montenegro

Steve Cummings

Things to do Kotor

You might be surprised to learn that despite its size, lovely Kotor in Montenegro is filled with many fantastic things to see and do. Historically known as Cattaro, the coastal town has a relatively small population of around 13,500 people and is administrative center of the Kotor municipality of Montenegro. This little place may not be at the top of your list, but it's ideal if you are looking for interesting places to get away from the more common destinations.

Montenegro, a relatively new Balkan country, is less well-known than other Eastern European countries, If you are unfamiliar with this fascinating place, our guide to the best and often frugal options while visiting Kotor will help you have a great experience.

1. Cathedral of Saint Tryphon

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Credit: Depositphotos

Kotor Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, as it's also known, is one of the most majestic of the dozen or so churches, monasteries, and cathedrals in the Stari Grad neighborhood of Kotor. The cathedral was built in 1166 on the same site where a church built in 809 had stood. It is one of the most regularly visited tourist spots in Kotor and one of the most famous of Montenegro's many cathedrals.

One thing that makes this building stand out is that it is one of just two Roman Catholic cathedrals found in Montenegro. The majority of the other cathedrals are Christian Orthodox. The main features of the cathedral that make it worth visiting are the Romanesque interior and its two Baroque-style bell towers. Those were a newer addition after an earthquake in 1667. The other key draw is the gilded silver bas-relief screen on the altar, considered the cathedral's most significant treasure.

2. Stroll Around Stari Grad

Motor Old Town
Credit: Depositphotos

Stari Grad, Kotor Old Town, is the starting point of any visit to Kotor. The three main gates in this town are the Sea Gate, South Gate, and River Gate. Most people take the Sea Gate, and from the moment you enter, just like many millions before you, you will discover one of the absolute best things to do in Kotor is to walk in and soak up the atmosphere and enjoy its almost fairytale look.

Walking to the town on foot rewards you with pristine cobblestone streets and many medieval edifices that dot the area. The mighty clock tower on the main square was built in 1602. You may be disoriented after wandering around the old town because of its weaving maze-like streets. However, it is tiny. So, if you go in one direction, you should find your way back, or find something else to interest you.

3. Saint John Fortress/Kotor Fortress

Kotor Fortress
Credit: Depositphotos

The Bay of Kotor, another of the best places to see, involves walking or hiking up to Saint John's Fortress, also called Castle of San Giovanni or Kotor Fortress. Be aware that there are a gigantic number of steps, 1355 to be exact, that follow a section of the walls of the Old City up the hill beside the Old Town. They provide excellent views of the Bay. When you reach the journey's halfway point, you will come to the old Church of Our Lady of Remedy.

It takes approximately 45 minutes going up and 30 minutes going back down. But remember, there will be times you stop to take photographs. Try the morning so you have the best sun and are not taking pictures directly into the sunlight.

You also need to be aware that if you go on the hike between 8 am and 8 pm from May through  October, there is a small charge of 8 euros. This can be avoided by starting the trek outside of those times or during off-peak season.

4. Explore Kotor's Old City Bastions and Walls

Many of the best things to see in Kotor offer glimpses into its checkered past. The Old City, for example, is surrounded by stunning impenetrable walls that trail up to Kotor Fortress on Mount Lovcen in the east, face Scurda River to the west, and meet the waterfront in the south. Although there are sections where you can climb the walls and walk along them, many barriers are crumbling and unsafe.

The best parts to explore are right in the Old Town, including the Valier Bastion, Korner Bastion, Gurdic Bastion, and the Kampana Tower and Citadel.

5. Farmer's Market

If you want to buy things in Kotor, the Farmer's Market is a splendid and unexpected treat. Aside from the expected fruit and vegetables, like olives and rings of tasty, dried figs, some truly excellent food options exist. For example, you can buy some locally produced fruity wines – pomegranate, blackberry, and raspberry – and some rakija, a distilled fruit liquor. There is also fish, cured meats such as  prosciutto, and many cheeses. It's known as Kotor Food Market and runs from 7 am to 1 pm, but it's best to get there early.

6. Kotor Beach

Kotor Beach is one of the best things to see in Kotor if you want that traditional European holiday vibe. The town's main beach is found a few minutes north of its Old Town; follow the road past Park Slobode and the Port of Kotor. While mostly pebble-covered, there are some paid sun loungers during summer and a free section with no fee for sitting. The swimming area of the sea has been roped off for protection against the passing boats that sail through the site regularly. This is great because it means you and your children can take a dip without worrying too much.

7. Kotor Maritime Museum

One of the top things to do in Kotor if you are interested in history and want to learn more about the area's heritage and maritime past is visiting the Kotor Maritime Museum. This may be an optional stop for other visitors to Montenegro, but as it is tiny, it's worth a visit. There are shows and information about Kotor's culture and maritime history.

Even if maritime history is not your thing, there are other great museums around the city that you can check out.

8. Stand-Up Paddle Boarding or Kayaking

If you are a thrill seeker looking for some exhilarating fun on the water, one of the best things to do in the Bay of Kotor is kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding around the water. This allows you to explore the various spots around the crystalline water at your own pace. It is a great way to learn a new skill in a beautiful area. And it’s a wonderful place for more practiced paddleboarders to stay in shape.

This activity will give you wonderful memories to share with family and friends when you head home. If you are going to Kotor with family members, this makes for a great collective experience.

9. Old City Kotor Walls at Night

Although we noted that hiking up to Kotor Fortress may be one of the best things to do for stunning views, one of the things to see in Kotor that is equally spectacular is old city walls that run up the side of the mountain at night. At dusk, the lights around the walls light up and show it in all its splendor, much better in actual fact than it looks during the daylight when the architectural aesthetics are often camouflaged.

For the best views possible, head to the waterfront part of town near the South Gate. Pass through the gate wall, walk to the parking lot across the road, and then follow the lot to the Restaurant Galion, where you can see the lit-up hill and fortress from the eatery's beautiful patio area.

10. Day Trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik Croatia
credit: depositphotos

While there are many top things to do in Kotor, some of the best involve using Kotor as a base to visit other stunning places. Dubrovnik, the site of many key Game of Thrones scenes and a tourist magnet, is a breathtaking place to stay in its own right. But you can also visit the city from Kotor for a day.

It takes around 2 to 2 ½ hours to get there on the bus by yourself, but if you want to avoid the hassle, you can always join one of the day tours that tour companies offer in the area.

11. Day Trip to Budva

credit: depositphotos

Another of the best things to do in Kotor, when using it as a base to explore more of Montenegro and neighboring countries, is a day trip to the coastal city of Budva. Beachgoers love this during summer, and it has its own Old City, which has more than 2,500 years of history. The town sits on a rocky peninsula that juts out to see at one end.

Budva is second in popularity only to Kotor for that part of Montenegro, and when you visit, you can see why.

12. White Water Rafting in Tara Canyon

One of the more unusual things to do in Kotor is white water rafting in Tara Canyon, just a 3.5-hour drive north of the city. The route usually runs from Brstnovica to Scepan Polje and covers 18km in two to three hours. This is a full-day trip adventure, and once you are done having fun winding around and being thrown into and against the rapids, you can have a delicious meal at a great restaurant that is based by the river and can spend some time admiring the stunning Piva Monastery.

13. Perast Day Trip

Perast, Montenegro
credit: depositphotos

When you have explored the many things to see in Kotor highlighted in this guide, you should look beyond the city boundaries to other Montenegro towns and cities close to Kotor. Perast is one of the prettiest villages in the Bay of Kotor and is almost as famous as Kotor. It helps that it is just 20 minutes from Kotor when you take the bus. This means you can enjoy a half-day visit to Perast.

Although tiny, it has a long and rich naval heritage, so the city has a strategically designed entrance facing the only water mouth into the Bay. You can walk from one side of the town to the other in about 10 minutes, but there are many little shops, palaces, and just awe-inspiring views to take pictures of, as well as several waterfront restaurants where a day could pass quickly.

14. Boka Cruise

According to many tourists, one of the best things to do in Kotor is to take a Boka Cruise, a cruise around the Bay of Kotor. There are many different offerings for motorboat cruises, depending on your budget and what you seek. For instance, if you have children, they are likely to enjoy the half-submarine Kotor Bay cruise. However, setting your expectations correctly is essential for you and your children. Although the glass bottom allows you to see the sea, it can be hard to see the fish there sometimes because it can be foggy.

A cruise around the Bay is a beautiful way to spend a day. Some cruises offer food and drink on board, while others provide the chance to stop at different places and get food and other purchases on shore.

Final Thoughts

They often say that the best things come in the smallest packages, and when it comes to small towns with a lot going for them, Kotor is near the top of that list. You may have never considered traveling to Montenegro before, but it has a lot of great experiences to offer the frugal traveler.

Whether you want to go to the beach, check out some exciting museums, or stroll about a fairytale setting that still has its foot delightfully in the past, then Kotor is a great place to visit.

We have tried, as always, to provide the best places to visit in this stunning location. We 

know that we sometimes miss things, so please let us know in the comments section if you know of a site of interest, a landmark, or an activity that people should try when going to Kotor.

Leave a Comment