st. john the fortress kotor

One of the Balkans’ hidden gems that’s slowly but surely gaining attention from travelers and those into picturesque history-rich old cities, Kotor in Montenegro is a small town that definitely packs a punch.

st. john the fortress is one of the best things to do in kotor

Situated by the coast and with a well preserved Old Town, Kotor has so much to offer. From fortresses perched on hills to stunning bays to a quirky museum or an islet steeped in legend — Kotor will surely make any visit worthwhile.

I learned about Kotor from one of the travel groups I was in and since I was visiting Croatia, I decided to take a couple of days and traveled to Montenegro from Dubrovnik. And it didn’t disappoint. Kotor is still one of my favorite places on earth. 

So if you are also planning to visit Kotor, here are some of the best things to do in Kotor that should be in your itinerary. 

11 Things To Do in Kotor, Montenegro

1. Explore the Old Town

kotor old town

There’s no better place to start exploring any new place you visit than its Old Town. In a locale as small as Kotor, it seems like you can easily navigate your way around, but don’t be fooled by the size.

Sure, you won’t get lost here but with the many beautiful and interesting discoveries you’d stumble upon with each turn, you’d find yourself wanting to see and know more.

old town in kotor

Those who have been to Kotor often compare it to Dubrovnik, and it’s easy to see why. This medieval town boasts of brilliantly preserved structures, cobbled streets, stone houses with charming doorways, that appealing old-world vibe like the Croatian city, only less expensive.

Walking around the Old Town is a fantastic way to start your visit, and among the best things to do in Kotor, Montenegro.

2. Visit the Old Town Market in Kotor

kotor marketApart from exploring its Old Town, the market is one of the more interesting places to visit in Kotor or any city or town for that matter. It’s a fun way to experience local culture, interact with the people, and sample local products.

The Old Town market in Kotor is also where you can find unique souvenirs to bring back home.

Located just outside the town walls, the lively Old Town market of Kotor is where you can get fresh local produce as well as some of their top products like cheeses, olives, spices, and wines.

Local cuisine is also a part of the Old Town Market, and even fresh flowers. 

3. Check Out the Cat Museum

Check Out the Cat Museum

The Balkans has a number of quirky museums and one of them is found in Kotor. Welcome to the Cat Museum, where you’ll find arts and crafts on an exhibit inspired by cats, as well as other things that celebrate the love that cats stir in people.

This is one of the warmest places to see in Kotor as it pays tribute to the town’s friendly cat residents. 

4. Take a trip to Our Lady of the Rocks

Take a trip to Our Lady of the Rocks

A visit that can be done any time of the year, the Our Lady of the Rocks is one of the must-sees in Montenegro and it’s a quick trip from Kotor. It is located on an islet in the middle of the Bay of Kotor, and accessible via a quick boat ride.

This place offers stunning views of the bay plus a peek into local history and legend. It is said that the islet was formed by local fishermen who placed a rock at the bottom after every bountiful voyage.

This tradition is kept every July of each year with a festival to celebrate the fishermen and this gorgeous islet that a must-see when you’re in Kotor. 

5. Hike Up the St. John’s Fortress

st. john the fortress kotor

If you want stunning panoramic views over Kotor, the best place to visit is the St. John’s Fortress.

Situated on a hill that’s reachable by a 45-minute hike, this place is recommended by locals as it offers unparalleled views of their gorgeous town. The hike has rest stops and is said to take around 350 steps to reach the top.

On the way, you’ll come across a 15th-century church, ruins of military buildings and then the fortress, where a castle once stood.

It’s a worthy climb and something that you really must experience when in Kotor and it must be included in your itinerary for Montenegro

6. Experience a Kotor Bay cruise

kotor bay

Want a completely different view of Kotor’s coast, right on the water? There are many boat cruises on offer, so make sure you book one. 

Said to be one of the most beautiful bays in this part of Europe, the cruise lets you see and explore parts of Kotor that you normally wouldn’t experience when seeing it on foot.

Check out fishing villages tucked into pockets along the coastline, as well as pretty stone houses are hidden among the lush mountainsides.

The cruise also visits interesting places such as the Blue Cave, Lustica peninsula, Mamula island, and some boat-access only beaches. 

7. White River Rafting in the Tara River Canyon

White River Rafting in the Tara River Canyon

Said to be one of the most memorable things to do in Kotor, a day trip to the Tara River Canyon is a must.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Kotor during late spring or summer, then a visit to the Tara River Canyon should be on your itinerary.

Be sure to book a whitewater rafting tour, as it’s recommended by locals and tourists alike, and said to be one of the most memorable Kotor, Montenegro experience. 

8. Visit the Maritime Museum

Visit the Maritime Museum

As most part of the town is surrounded by water, the sea is an integral part of Kotor’s local culture and its people’s lifestyle.

There are even opulent palaces lining the coasts of Dobrota, Ljuta, and Perast — proof of the riches that the sea brings to this area. With its impressive collections and exhibits from the Bay of Kotor, the Maritime Museum offers more than maritime pieces.

There are also coins, furniture, traditional dresses and weapons on display. Audio tours are also available in this museum, which is also Kotor’s top attractions. 

9. Day Trip to Perast

Day Trip to Perast

Recommended by locals and tourists alike, a day trip to the picturesque town of Perast is one of the best day trips to do in Kotor. It is only five kilometers from Kotor, this stunning locale boasts of 16 churches and 15 Italian style mansions.

The magnificent architecture of these structures was influenced by Venice’s rule over Petrast that lasted for 350 years.

Up to this day, the Venetian mark is still evident not just in the architecture but also in the people’s culture and lifestyle. Sometimes referred to as  “Montenegro’s Venice”, Perast also has a gorgeous promenade lined with quaint cafes, restaurants, and shops.

Perast is only 30 minutes by bus from Kotor, but if you want to try something different, you can also avail of the boat transfer from the Old Town harbor.

10. Eat at Tanjga Family Restaurant

balkan food

They offer a variety of dishes but the meat comes highly recommended, and one of those you should try are the cevapi or Balkan-style beef sausage. 

11. Hike Up the Ladder of Kotor

ladder of kotor

If you’re up for another challenging activity and a different perspective of Kotor, then you must try climbing the mountain behind town via the Ladder of Kotor.

Close to the North Gate of the Old Town, the hike takes 940 meters up so bring enough drinking water. Getting to the top takes a few hours, as it is recommended to take a few rest stops.

Apart from scenic views over the Old Town and the rest of Kotor, the top of the ladder is also one of the best places to watch the sunset so make sure to time your visit. 

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