15 Best Things To Do In Kotor

The small Balkan nation of Montenegro, on the Adriatic coast, may only have a population of just over 600,000 and it may only take 3 hours to drive from north to south – but it punches far above its weight in the world of tourism.

The jewel in the crown of this beautiful country is the Bay of Kotor. Think Norwegian fjord, meets Croatian weather, with fortified towns and endless natural beauty.

The narrow bay is surrounded by enormous mountains on all sides, with the historic port town of Kotor nestled into its south-western corner – now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Built initially by the Romans and fortified by the Venetians, it’s one of the most impressive, and still complete, fortified towns in the whole of Europe.

The beautiful town is shrouded by huge mountains, with hiking paths winding their way straight out its rear and straight up into the high peaks.

The Old Town’s network of tight alley ways are lined by beautiful sandstone buildings, churches, tasty local restaurants and craft shops. It’s a postcard perfect setting and a place we’re very fond of.

So join us as we explore the best things to do in Kotor….

Best Things To Do In Kotor 

#1. Wander the Old Town streets

The Old Town of Kotor is a densely packed, historic neighbourhood, which is surrounded by water on three sides and has steep mountains to its rear.

It still has its complete set of walled fortifications, which wrap around three sides of the Venetian masterpiece, with three original gated entrances – earning it UNESCO World Heritage status.

Walk inside and you’re treated to one of most impressive fortified towns in Europe, with a number of gorgeous squares and a large network of narrow streets and alleyways.

We recommend getting lost in the labyrinth of passageways and taking in a stunning piece of living history, complete with tasty restaurants, craft shops, bars and cafes.

Many historic walled towns have hollowed out as locals have been priced out due to mass tourism, but not Kotor.

The town is very much still a living, breathing and working town, which still has a great deal of authenticity. Our first port of call would be to frequent yourself with this beautiful part of the region.

#2. Hike up above Kotor Old Town

One of Kotor’s, and the surrounding bay’s, biggest draws is the area’s stunning natural beauty.

The whole region is defined by its mountainous landscape, with dramatic, Alpine style, peaks falling sharply down to the sea.

The scenery is utterly breath taking and it rivals any southern-European coastal setting.

The vast number of high peaks makes it perfect hiking territory and the area is certainly geared up for it, with many hundreds of kilometres of hiking paths weaving up the mountains straight from the centre of Kotor.

There are routes for many different abilities, from all day or multi-day adventures, to short family hikes.

No matter which you go for you’ll be treated to jaw-dropping views over the town, the bay and around the surrounding mountains.

One of the most popular is called “the ladder of Kotor”, which leads up the mountain to the left of a river, by the northern entrance to the Old Town.

The path snakes up the mountain side and there are various stopping points or places to turn back, including a small mountain hut where an elderly local couple sell drinks and food, in a location which provides panoramic views across the bay.

You can turn back here if you want to or continue on, snaking higher and higher up the mountain side and off into the forests and national parks behind.

Which ever option you go for it will be a truly memorable day.

 #3. Visit the towns fortress

Sitting high up above the Old Town is Kotor’s imposing fortress, called San Giovanni – an astonishing feat of engineering, with fortifications weaving their way up the mountain, at impossible angles.

The site has been fortified since the 6th century and has been adapted, added to and renovated many times over the proceeding centuries.

It’s a magical place to explore and an incredible lasting of example of the turbulent times the region has gone through.

It costs around $10 to visit the fortress through the official main gate and then you weave your way up the mountain from inside the castle’s walls.

However, many people enjoy walking up the mountain side on the “ladder of Kotor” path, which we have already mentioned, and then climbing in through the castle’s rear – one for the adventurous souls amongst us.

Which ever route you choose, you’ll be treated to beautiful views across the Old Town and the Bay of Kotor.

 #4. Rent a boat

The people of Kotor live and breathe both mountains and the sea. It’s not only ingrained in the population’s history, but both are very much part of daily life today too.

The waters in the Bay of Kotor are a hive of activity every day, with fishermen going out to catch beautiful local produce, along with people commuting to different parts of the bay by boat and pleasure crafts taking tourists out for the day

That’s coupled with the arrival of cruise liners in recent years and bigger super yachts in the summer. Why not get a different perspective of the bay, and its surroundings, and head out on the water by boat.

There are many rental companies offering guided tours around the stunning bay, with prices (particularly outside the high summer season) still very reasonable.

#5. Kayak or paddleboard in the bay

If you prefer moving at a more leisurely pace, then head out into the bay on a paddleboard or kayak.

It’s a wonderful way to get properly acquainted with the area and get a real feel for the imposing mountains all around the bay.

The bay’s waters are largely flat, due to the sheltered and protected nature of it, apart from the wake of passing boats.

It creates a nice and safe environment out on the water, which is also family friendly. There are many companies offering kayak and paddleboard rental on Kotor’s beach.

#6. Visit a local mussel farm

Montenegro’s warm climate and the shallow waters in the Bay of Kotor create perfect conditions for growing and rearing all sorts of seafood.

Among many local specialities are incredibly tasty mussels.

The shell fish are for sale all over the region, in beautiful local seafood restaurants, so you don’t have to go far without having a taste of these beauties.

However, you can go one further and visit one of the many local mussel farms, which surround the bay – where you can dine right by the waterside.

Here local fisherman go out on small boats and drag up pots, covered in mussels, before cooking them in front of you and serving local wine.

A very special culinary experience, which we highly recommend.

#7. Go to a jazz gig

This is one of our hidden favourites in Kotor. In the centre of the Old Town, hidden down a few small alleyways, you’ll come to an open-air jazz club.

Throughout the year Jazz Club Evergreen hosts openair concerts at weekends, in a beautiful square which is surrounded by historic buildings.

Even in the chillier months music fans turn out to sit under heaters with blankets and watch local jazz musicians ply their trade.

It’s a firm Kotor favourite of ours.

#8. Dance the night away

If jazz is a little slow paced for you, don’t worry. Under the Old Town there is an enormous nightclub called Maximus, which hosts large DJ events throughout the year.

These run almost every night during the peak summer season, with big names in the Balkan electronic music scene taking to the decks.

The raves aren’t quite as frequent during winter, but there are still events at least every other week.

In this quaint Old Town you wouldn’t know the venue even existed, but under the historic streets, while many are sleeping, ravers are dancing through the night.

#9. Head to the top of Mount Lovćen

Sitting high up in the mountains behind Kotor is Mount Lovćen, one of the tallest mountains in the whole of Montenegro.

It’s a popular place to visit, with many people choosing to take guided bus trips to its peak or visiting by car.

Meanwhile, the fitter tourists can hike from Kotor’s Old Town right up to the top of the 1,749m high mountain.

As long as the weather is on your side you’ll be treated to incredible panoramic views across a large swath of Montenegro and on a very clear day you can even see the coast of Italy across the Adriatic.

Another truly memorable place in this beautiful region.

#10. Eat the local seafood

We’ve already touched upon the delicious mussels you can eat in Kotor, but it’s far from just mussels which are worth sampling.

The area has a rich fishing heritage and still to this day the Bay of Kotor is full of fishermen taking to the sea to catch tasty local produce.

There are also a number of large local fish farms, along with the mussel farms we’ve already mentioned.

From squid and lobster, to white fish and mussels – there are a lot of tasty delights which absolutely need to be tried. A good job then that there are many fantastic local seafood restaurants in the area.

#11. Swim & hit the beach

It can get really rather toasty in Kotor over the summer months, very toasty in fact. Even in spring and autumn it can reach the mid-20s, so cooling off is a must. Luckily Kotor and the bay have many lovely swimming spots.

You don’t have to go far from Kotor Old Town to have a dip – the town has a small beach, which is lined by cafes, restaurants and bars.

Here you can cool off while surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides.

#12. Cycle to Porto Montenegro

With such natural beauty in this area, it would be a shame to spend your time travelling around by car. One of our top tips is to cycle around the western side of the bay and around a headland to Porto Montenegro.

The trip is around 20km in one direction, along a fairly quiet road lined by historic little villages and tiny ports.

At the end you’ll reach Montenegro’s showcase port, called Porto Montenegro. The area used to be a former Yugoslav military base, but has been completed transformed.

Now it’s a playground for the rich and famous, with superyachts lining its harbour, high end restaurants and designer shops, along with boutique hotels and fancy apartments.

Although very different to Kotor and its historic Old Town, you can pick up a very nice meal in the area – just what you need after a long cycle.

#13. Visit a legendry meat restaurant

Kotor is home to a legendry BBQ restaurant and meat shop called BBQ Tanjga. It’s a no thrills destination, but you will be treated to one of the tastiest and most affordable meals in Kotor.

The small shop and restaurant specialises in tasty local meat produce, with locals flocking to the store to pick up meat to cook at home or for a lunch-time sandwich.

You can also dine at a small number of tables inside, where you can eat beastly, gluttonous feasts. The food is not only incredibly tasty, but it’s very good value too, which isn’t always the case around this popular region.

The staff are also super friendly and it makes for a brilliant, local, dining experience.

 #14. Get up into the forests

There are a lot of exposed mountains around Kotor, but there are also dense forests. Getting up into the forests is an absolute must while in the area.

Not only is it brilliant to be amongst the trees, but the forests are also a haven for wildlife.

Our favourite time to visit the forests is in Autumn, as the colours begin to change. There are many hiking routes, which lead through local forests, but our favourite is on the opposite side of the bay to Kotor Old Town.

The route leads from the water’s edge up to Vrmac Fort, which is hidden among the trees. Here you can get beautiful views across to Tivat and the Adriatic, as well as down towards Kotor Bay.

#15. Walk the citys Old Town walls

Although the city’s Old Town is a majestic place to wander around at ground level, it’s even more impressive when walking along the fortified walls.

There is a complete walkway, which loops around three sides of the Old Town, on the top of the walls themselves. It’s a great way to see the town, while also looking out towards the sea.

It also gives you a further appreciation of the immense feat of engineering, which Kotor definitely is.

You can begin the Old Town walls walk from either the northern or southern gateway to the town and even better – it’s completely free.

Final Thoughts

Kotor is a town steeped in history and shaped by its rugged natural beauty.

Not only does it have an Old Town to rival the most famous historic and fortified towns around Europe, but it also has Alpine style scenery and Croatian’esque seaside beauty.

It’s a truly magical place, which is captivating and awe inspiring. The area is shaped by its dramatic mountains and the sea, with many locals retaining their passion for both.

There aren’t many places in Europe where you can get a taste of rural mountain life and a small fishing community at the same time, while also soaking up aspects of Mediterranean high-life.

It’s a truly diverse place, which has something for everyone.

We absolutely love this beautiful part of Montenegro and believe it will take your breath away, just as it has for us.

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best things to do in Kotor – all you need to do now is visit.

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