Kotor is located in the Bay of Kotor (aka Boka Kotorska) on the Adriatic Coast of Montenegro.
Surrounded by steep limestone mountains on one side and a fjord-shaped bay on the other, Kotor is one of the most scenic destinations on this planet.
The UNESCO-listed Kotor Old Town (aka Kotor City) is enclosed in an extravagant fortification system, dating back to medieval times. The Old Town of Kotor is the beating heart of Kotor Bay and the most popular attraction in Montenegro.
This May, we planned a slow and unhurried 7-day trip to Kotor and Perast. We flew to the Dubrovnik Airport, rented a car, and drove around Boka Bay to Kotor, where we stayed five nights.
It was a perfect trip, full of delicious food and mesmerizing scenery. In this no-bullshit guide to best things to do in Kotor, we’ll share our top recommendations and insights.
13 Best Things to Do in Kotor, Bay of Kotor, Montenegro
- Closest Airports to Kotor: Dubrovnik Airport, Tivat Airport, and Podgorica Airport
- City Walking Tour: Kotor: Private Walking Tour with Wine and Food Tasting and Kotor: Private Guided Walking Tour
- Kotor Bay Boat Tour: From Kotor, Budva, Tivat or Herceg Novi: Boka Bay Day Cruise
- Kayak Tour: Bay of Kotor: 2.5-Hour Kayak Tour
- Hiking: Best Hikes in Kotor
- Recommended Itinerary: 2 Week Montenegro Road Trip
- Kotor Day Trips: Montenegro: Durmitor, Tara & Ostrog Monastery Day Trip and Montenegro: Full-Day Tour to Lovcen National Park & More
- Where to Stay in Kotor Old Town: Palazzo Sindik (apartment), Katareo Apartments (apartment), or Hotel Hippocampus (boutique luxury).
- Where to Stay in Kotor (Outside City Walls): Apartments Ana (budget), or Apartments Qualitas (budget)
- Where to Stay in Muo: Nikola Lux apartments (budget), House 44 SEAFRONT APARTMENTS (midrange), or Dekaderon Lux Apartments (midrange-luxury)
- Where to Stay in Dobrota: Apartman Castello (midrange), Solaris Lux Apartments (midrange), Corso Levante Luxury Suites (luxury), or Hotel Forza Terra.
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How to use this map | Click on each icon, or trail to display more information.
When to Visit Kotor
We’ve visited Kotor in both May and in September, purposefully avoiding high-season (June – August).
During the main season, cruise ships dock in Kotor’s harbor and anchor in Kotor Bay daily, unloading hundreds of people into the Old Town. You can find out what the cruise schedule is at cruisedig.com.
Kotor city can feel overwhelming packed in the middle of the day.
It’s best to visit Kotor during shoulder-season: May, September, October.
In early May, there were many cruise ships in Boka Bay, but it didn’t impact our trip. We strategically explored the Old Town during the early mornings and evenings.
1. Hike the Vrmac Ridge Trail
The Bay of Kotor is exceptionally beautiful, because it’s bordered by vertical limestone mountains. These mountains are part of the Lovćen mountain range, a sub-range of the Dinaric Alps.
You can best appreciate this impenetrable stony wall from Vrmac.
Vrmac is the long mountain that divides Kotor Bay into a fjord-shaped inner bay and a triangle-shaped outer bay. It’s the spine of the peninsula that rises between Tivat and Kotor.
From the Vrmac Ridge, there are sweeping views of Kotor Bay and its magnificent mountainous backdrop.
The Vrmac Ridge Trail starts at Fort Vrmac, a former fortification of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, built in the 19th century. This fort is now a ruin, filled with debris and old artifacts.
The easiest way to hike this trail is by driving up to Fort Vrmac, a 22 minute drive from Kotor. You can also hike up to Fort Vrmac from Muo, the seaside settlement to the west of Kotor.
The Vrmac Ridge Trail follows the old military road, built by the Austro-Hungarians. It’s wide, mostly level, and easy-to-follow. Simply follow the forest road north to the highest point of the ridge, Sveti Ilija (765 m).
It takes 3 hours to hike this 8.5 km out-and-back trail.
Learn More: Vrmac Ridge Trail
2. Watch the Sunset at the Kotor Old Town Viewpoint on Vrmac
Tucked away at the edge of Vrmac’s forested slope, there’s a jaw-dropping viewpoint of Kotor city.
The viewpoint is a mere 10-minute walk away from Fort Vrmac.
From the Fort Vrmac parking area, follow the forest trail in the direction of Muo and Kotor. When the trail divides, bear right. Follow this forest trail until it ends and then turn left to locate the viewpoint.
Watching the sunset here is pure magic. The mountains behind Kotor light up in fiery shades of coral and red.
Learn more about this viewpoint in our Vmrac hiking guide.
3. Visit the Old Town of Kotor
The Old Town of Kotor is enclosed in a fortification system consisting of defensive walls, bastions, towers, and gates, dating back to medieval times.
You can enter the fortified city on foot via the North Gate (aka River Gate), the Sea Gate, or the South Gate (aka Gurdić Gate).
Inside the walls, you’ll find a labyrinth of streets and squares, lined with historic Venetian buildings and crawling with cats.
The triangle-shaped town is crammed with churches, shops, hotels, museums, restaurants, wine bars, pubs, and gelaterias.
During the day, the Old Town is teeming with visitors. It can feel like a zoo. We highly recommend staying in Kotor at least 1-2 nights, so that you experience the Old Town in the early morning and evening.
We stayed five nights in Kotor and had a lovely time exploring the town outside of the midday rush.
If your time is limited, we recommend hiking up to the Kotor Fortress, walking the City Walls, visiting St. Tryphon’s Cathedral (4 EUR entrance fee), eating lunch at Konoba Scala Santa, or venturing outside the City Walls to eat lunch at BBQ Tanjga (casual eatery), or Restaurant Galion (fine dining restaurant).
4. Hike up to the Kotor Fortress and Church of Our Lady of Remedy
The most popular thing to do in Kotor is hike up the hilltop Kotor Fortress (aka San Giovanni Fortress, St. John’s Fort).
The Kotor Fortress stands on the San Giovanni Hill (St. John Hill), above the Old Town of Kotor. It’s part of the fortification system, which wraps around the Old Town and surrounding hillside.
The Kotor fortifications have a long and turbulent history, involving multiple occupations, sieges, earthquakes, and constructions. Kotor was secured, or otherwise occupied, by the Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Serbs, Venetians, Austro-Hungarians, French, and Russians, and Axis Powers of WWII.
Today, you can hike up 1350 stone steps to reach the Kotor Fortress, located 260 meters above sea level.
Along the way, you’ll pass the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, Kotor’s most photographed church.
The hilltop fortress is a ruin. The main reason to tackle the 1350 steps is to get a bird’s eye view of the Old Town and the Bay of Kotor. It’s well worth the 8 EUR entrance fee.
Learn More: Kotor Fortress Hiking Guide
5. Walk the Kotor City Walls: North Gate to South Gate
As we’ve already established, Kotor is encircled by defensive walls, built in the Venetian Period.
Part of the Kotor City Walls are accessible to the public free of charge.
The Kotor City Walls path runs along the western and northern perimeter of the Old Town: the part that borders the Scurda River and Kotor Bay.
The path does not completely circuit the city.
You can access the City Walls from the small park inside the North Gate. This is the park with the fountain and a row of cat houses. Walk up the staircase to reach the walls and follow the level path all the way to the South Gate.
Along the way, there are stellar views of the Old Town, the harbor, and the mountains.
6. Eat Breakfast on the Rooftop of Hotel Hippocampus
Kotor is brimming with cafés, each offering a light breakfast tray of coffee, orange juice, and croissants.
For a more satisfying experience, locate Hotel Hippocampus in the Old Town of Kotor. They serve a set menu breakfast on their rooftop terrace. The set menu features local specialities and it’s absolutely fabulous!!
The breakfast begins with a plate of cold cuts and cheeses, garnished with olives and cherry tomatoes, and served with freshly-made pastries (corn muffin and cheese Börek-like pastry). Coffee and orange juice are served as well. After this first course, you’ll be able to request a made-to-order egg dish (we ordered omelets).
The service was friendly, but slow. We loved our experience, but we wouldn’t recommend eating breakfast here if you’re in a hurry.
7. Take a Stroll on the Dobrota Promenade
Dobrota is the settlement to the north of Kotor.
The Dobrota Promenade is a pedestrian walkway along the Bay of Kotor. This is the best place to walk along the Bay, near Kotor Old Town.
There are a string of casual al-fresco bars and cafés along the promenade. We enjoyed dinner at Little Bay, a coffee at Bonita 99, and lunch at Platanus Kotor.
At the southern end, the promenade runs parallel to the Kotor Beach. When we visited, this pebbly beach looked like a cat litter box. Needless to say, we don’t recommend swimming here. In fact, we don’t recommend swimming in Kotor Bay. There’s a lot of algae and the water isn’t as clean as the open sea.
It’s far better to take a day trip to the Budva Riviera and enjoy the unbelievably clear waters along the open sea. For example, Mogren Beach is a gorgeous beach backed by cliffs, walking distance from the Budva Old Town.
8. Summit Pestingrad Peak
Pestingrad is the prominent crescent-shaped summit towering above Kotor.
You can admire Pestingrad, and its summit Montenegrin flag, from many different areas of Kotor.
The hike to Pestingrad starts at the Krstac Pass at Etno Selo Sveti Georgije (Sveti Đorđe), located near the village of Njeguši.
It takes 1:15 hrs to hike to the rocky summit, which overlooks the Old Town of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor. Pestingrad is often lauded as the best Kotor viewpoint.
Read our detailed Pestingrad hiking guide for information on trail difficulty and trail directions.
9. Drive the Kotor Serpentine Road
The Kotor Serpentine Road connects Kotor with Njeguši. It’s a narrow, paved road, defined by 16 hairpin turns.
Along the way, drivers and passengers are treated to sweeping views of Kotor Bay.
The roadside Horizont Bar (Google Maps) offers one of the best vistas. Buy a non-alcoholic drink and descend the terraced levels of the outdoor stone patio to the platform viewpoint.
During our first trip to Montenegro, we drove down to Kotor via this serpentine road. During our last trip, we decided to drive up (and down) this road, in order to hike to Pestingrad, eat lunch in Njeguši, and visit the Mausoleum of Njegoš in Lovćen National Park.
10. Eat Montenegrin Cuisine in Kotor
Kotor’s cuisine is predominantly Mediterranean, with an emphasis on seafood. One of the best things to do in Kotor is to eat. Ingredients are fresh and bursting with flavor (far better than what we get in Central Europe).
The finest fish and seafood restaurant in Kotor is Restaurant Galion (Google Maps), located at the harbor. This upmarket restaurant is housed in a glass building that juts out to the sea on stilts. The food is excellent and priced accordingly.
We also ate fish and seafood at Konoba Scala Santa (Google Maps) in the Old Town. Set in a beautiful square, this charming restaurant exudes summer romance. The food was very good.
Njeguški pršut, a smokey dry-cured ham, is a specialty of Njeguši village. Almost every dining establishment in and around Kotor offers a platter with Njeguški pršut and Njeguški sir (cheese from Njeguši). We ate a delicious “Montenegro platter” at Platanus Kotor (Google Maps) in Dobrota.
For Balkan-style barbeque, we recommend eating at BBQ Tanjga (Google Maps), located outside the Old Town, near the South Gate. This casual, order-at-the-counter, eatery serves platters of grilled meats and vegetables, garnished with salads. If you’re going to eat one meal in Kotor, eat here.
For ice cream, head to Moritz Eis (Google Maps).They have two locations in the fortified city, as well as in Perast and Tivat.
The Nitrox Pub & Eatery (Google Maps), located near the south gate, serves local and regional craft beer as well as over 230 types of cocktails.
We also ate at Little Bay (Google Maps), located near Kotor Beach. We can’t vouch for the whole menu, but the salads were fresh and delicious.
11. Hike the Ladder of Kotor
The Ladder of Kotor is a hiking trail that connects Kotor with Krstac Pass, near Njeguši. It’s a well-graded rocky path, which climbs up the mountainside in a series of switchbacks.
The trailhead is located on Tabačina road, close to the River Gate (North Gate), outside Kotor Old Town.
Depending on where you turn-around, the Kotor Ladder hike can take anywhere between 4 and 6 hours.
Read our guide to hiking the Ladder of Kotor for a detailed trail description and tips.
12. Take a Day Trip to Perast
Perast is an idyllic waterfront town in the Bay of Kotor.
The town is situated across from the Verige Strait, the narrow waterway that connects Kotor Bay’s inner and outer bays.
Unlike Kotor, this lovely village is not fortified. There’s no barrier between the town and the water.
Perast prospered during the Venetian Period. This is when all the palaces and churches were built, giving Perast its refined and elegant character.
The Old Town of Perast is a pedestrian zone. You can park at either end of the village and then walk into Perast. Many people choose to visit Perast on a boat tour from Kotor:
- Kotor: Our Lady of the Rocks, Mamula and Blue Cave Boat Tour
- Kotor: Perast Old Town and Our Lady of the Rocks Boat Tour
The village’s main thoroughfare is the seaside promenade, lined by a procession of Venetian palaces and stone villas, which house hotels and restaurants. We particularly loved eating pizza at Bocalibre (Google Maps) and seafood at Konoba Otok Bronza (Google Maps).
It takes only 25 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other end.
How to Visit Our Lady of the Rocks
There are two islands near Perast: Our Lady of the Rocks and St. George Island (Sveti Đorđe).
The main thing to do in Perast is to hop on a boat to the artificial island of Our Lady of the Rocks. The Dado taxi boat costs 5 EUR out-and-back. It departs at the pier (Google Maps).
In the 15th century, local fishermen allegedly saw an image of Madonna and Child on a rock in the sea. For the following decades and centuries, seamen would toss a rock at the location of the original sighting, upon returning from each successful sea voyage.
Over time, a small island emerged from the sea. They built a tiny Orthodox chapel to commemorate the apparition. In 1630, the Venetians replaced the Orthodox chapel with a Catholic chapel, which you can visit for free.
The chapel is connected to a museum, which is accessed via the chapel. The entrance fee was 2 EUR when we visited.
13. Day Trip to the Budva Riviera
The Budva Riviera is a 35-km section of the Adriatic Coast, stretching between Budva and Buljarica.
The Budva Riviera encompasses many seaside settlements, including Budva, Becici, Rafailovici, Kamenovo, Przno, Sveti Stefan, Drobni Pijesak, Rezevici, Petrovac and Buljarica.
This stretch of coast boasts a high concentration of beautiful beaches, some sandy, some rocky.
Unfortunately, crude and tasteless developments have mushroomed all around Budva. According to our Kotor walking tour guide, the former Mayor of Budva (now in jail) illegally distributed permits to Russian developers.
With all that being said, the Budva Riviera is still beautiful, south of Rafailovici. The water is crystal-clear and bluer than blue. It’s gorgeous.
Our favorite spots along the coast are Mogren beach, a short walk away from the Budva Old Town, Przno beach (tiny, but lovely), Sveti Stefan, Rijeka Reževići Beach (rocky, but a secret), and Katio Castle, the Old Venetian fortress built on a rocky promontory in Petrovac.
Where to Stay in Kotor
Read our guide to Where to Stay in Kotor to find out where you should base yourself during your trip to Kotor.
Old Town of Kotor (Inside City Walls)
There’s something so romantic about staying within the walled city of Kotor, a tangle of narrow streets lined with historic buildings, which house humming restaurants and bars.
The entire UNESCO-protected Old Town is a pedestrian zone, so naturally, accommodations do not offer on-site parking. If you’re traveling without a car, definitely consider staying in the Old Town.
If you’re traveling with a car, I wouldn’t write it off altogether. Just ask your accommodation for clear parking instructions in advance of your stay.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to carry your luggage to your accommodation, as accommodations rarely offer a bellhop service.
If you’re sensitive to noise and loud music, don’t stay in the Old Town on Friday, or Saturday nights. There’s a midnight curfew on music, but it’s not strictly enforced.
Budget | Old Town Youth Hostel is a social hostel for the young party types with raving reviews.
Apartment | Palazzo Sindik is a lovely one-bedroom apartment in the old town of Kotor.
Apartment | Katareo Apartments offers newly renovated and spotless apartments with kitchenettes. Try to book the apartment with the terrace, if it’s available.
Luxury | Hotel Hippocampus is a stylish boutique hotel set in a 17th century building with a roof terrace and restaurant. A slow, mouthwatering breakfast is served on the rooftop, featuring local cold cuts and cheeses, freshly baked Montenegrin pastries, eggs-to-order, coffee, and orange juice. All rooms are air-conditioned.
Luxury | Boutique Hotel Astoria is a luxury hotel, housed in the UNESCO-protected 13th-century Buca Palace. The hotel’s restaurant spills outside onto the square. Rooms are spacious and feature funky, love-it-or-hate-it decor.
Luxury | Hotel Vardar is a 4-star hotel with classic rooms situated on the main square in the Old Town of Kotor, a stone’s throw from the Sea Gate. Guests have access to a gym, sauna, and steam bath.
Kotor (Outside City Walls)
Budget | Apartments Ana is located just steps away from the River Gate (North Gate) of the Old Town at the Kotor Ladder trailhead. This is a great value apartment with private parking.
Budget | Apartments Qualitas offers snug apartments at the marina, very close to the South Gate.
Dobrota is the sprawling settlement to the north of Kotor, which stretches for several kilometers from the Old Town to Ljuta.
It’s hard to know where Kotor ends and Dobrota begins, as one bleeds into the other.
However, many others are 3-4 kms away (10 minute drive), including some of the finest seafront hotels in Kotor Bay.
Far from the bustling port and city, these accommodations provide private sea access, minimal traffic, and a more peaceful environment.
Stand-out seafront accommodations: Hotel Forza Terra (5-star boutique hotel) and Hotel Forza Mare (boutique hotel), Villa Maestral (apartments), Corso Levante Luxury Suites (luxury suites), and Three Dots (private villa).
Muo is the seaside settlement to the northwest of Kotor’s Old Town, along the base of Vrmac. From Muo, it’s about a 15-25 minute walk to the Old Town.
Budget | Nikola Lux apartments are two modern and clean apartments with sea-view balconies and private parking. The price is unbeatable. 2 nights minimum stay.
More accommodations in Muo: House 44 SEAFRONT APARTMENTS (midrange apartments), Residence Portofino (midrange apartment), or Dekaderon Lux Apartments (midrange-luxury apartments), and Villa Mima (4-bedroom villa)
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Montenegro Trip Planning Essentials
Use our Montenegro Travel Guide to plan an unforgettable trip.
When to Visit Montenegro
We recommend traveling to Montenegro during shoulder seasons: spring and early fall.
For coastal exploration, May, September and October are ideal months. For hiking in the mountains, it’s best to visit in summer, or early fall, when trails are mostly snow-free.
We always rent a car when visiting Montenegro, so that we can reach trailheads and visit destinations that are not accessible by transit.
Follow our 2 Week Montenegro Road Trip Itinerary for route planning.
Use the intuitive Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Places to Visit in Montenegro
Take a look at Top Places to Visit in Montenegro for a summary of the most beautiful coastal and mountainous destinations across this Balkan country, including Kotor, Lake Skadar, Durmitor National Park, and Ulcinj.
Hiking in Montenegro
Montenegro Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle