The old town of Kotor is tiny and therefore has only a few inhabitants. If you visit when there is a cruise ship in town it can be incredibly packed. For this reason you should visit overnight so you have the town to yourself. I stayed in the Astoria Boutique Hotel which is a former palace in the center of the old town as well as offering views over the beautiful Kotor harbor. If you are only visiting during the day the hotel has a good restaurant with outdoor seating in the plaza.
As you walk through the old town you’ll pass several churches, the most important being the Kotor Cathedral. In addition to the cathedral, there is also a beautiful Serbian Orthodox church located within the city walls. As well as these religious monuments, there are lots of souvenir shops, restaurants and bars. Furthermore, there are several buildings of Venetian architecture.
Bay of Kotor
One of the most beautiful boat rides you’ll ever take is around the bay of Kotor. In my opinion, on a clear day with the mountains and houses reflecting in the water, this could be one of the most beautiful places on earth. A worthwhile boat trip on the bay is to the Our Lady of the Rocks as well as Sveti Dorde. Our Lady of the Rocks is a beautiful church on a small island and Sveti Dorde is another island located nearby. If you do not go for a boat ride, then a drive around the bay is just as rewarding.
Some Instagram worthy locations are of course, the gates to the city. The gates are mainly of Venetian architecture and the Sea Gate is the most photographed. They’re not quite as grand as those of Dubrovnik or Split, but worth photographing nonetheless. Located outside the River Gate (above) is a modern shopping mall.
It’s worth taking the trail up to the fortress, if not to see the fortress itself but for a stunning panoramic view. As well as being able to see old town from above, you’ll also see the huge bay with boats, houses and mountains reflecting it it. Even if you’re not fit enough to make the whole walk it’s worth walking up a little to witness this majestic view.
Old Town Road
Old Town Road is a steep climb from the old town up to the fortress. Along the way you’ll pass a church but most importantly you’ll have the panoramic view over Kotor. As I mentioned, the best view is not from the top, but from about half way up. For this reason, unfit travellers should make an effort to get at least part of the way up.
Most travelers make the old town road walk as far as the ramparts of Kotor Fortress. However, if you have more time you can continue all the way to Lovcen National Park. From the national park, there are views over the mountains as far as the Adriatic Sea. Furthermore you could even continue the walk all the way to the town of Cetinje and get the bus back to Kotor. Motivation to visit Cetinje would be to see the ‘hand of St John the Baptist’. In fact the hill you climb up is called St John’s hill.
Lovcen National Park
Lovcen national park is accessible from Kotor, Cetinje as well as Budva. It’s actually part of the Alps mountain range (Dinara Alps). Known as the black mountain, this is how the country got its name, Montenegro. For this reason, Lovcen National Park is an important part of the country. A notable point of interest of the national park is the Mausoleum of Njegos. This is dedicated to the former Montenegrin ruler Petar II Petrovic Njegos.
How to get from Kotor to Budva
There are regular buses between Kotor and Budva. The journey time is short and costs only a few Euros. It’s likely you can arrive at the bus station unplanned and you won’t have long to wait for the next bus.