KOTOR is the perfect destination for a city break in Montenegro with its magnificent old town and many things to do – during your Balkan road trip or a cruise shore excursion on your own. With this travel guide you will learn how to experience all the sights and highlights in one day in Kotor, even if you are short on time. You will receive valuable travel tips, a map with all the sights and recommendations for unforgettable vacation pictures. The Bay of Kotor surprises with a dreamlike landscape, a cozy historical old town, an unprecedented panorama from the Venetian fortress San Giovanni and great daytrip destinations such as the picturesque village of Perast.
What do you learn in this article?
A perfect day in Kotor 🇲🇪 – here is your highlights overview:
Best suited for screenshots 📷📝
Your morning in Kotor
- Start the ascent to the fortress via the secret serpentines
- Break: drink stop at Radovan’s farm
- Climb the fortress of San Giovanni
- Enjoy the view over the Bay of Kotor
Your afternoon in Kotor
- Visit to the city walls of Kotor
- Stroll through the alleys of the Stari Grad (old town)
Your evening in Kotor
- Sunset on the bay (e.g. in Slobode Park)
- Hearty Montenegrin dinner (e.g. Konoba Scala Santa)
In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Kotor and the circular route for you in an overview map:
Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!
BIG5 Things to do in Kotor / Montenegro
You don’t want to miss any attraction? Find your checklists, travel guide & tips for the Kotor city trip here:
BIG5 Kotor – Speed Date
Leaning against a tree above the fortress, enjoy the view of the bay
When 2-3 cruise ships have docked, the crowded old town reminds you of Dubrovnik
Stop at one of the courtyards while hiking up the mountain – nice people and a cool / hot drink with a great view
At the same time as the cruise groups visit the cozy old town – better wait until the afternoon!
Don’t tell your mother:
Driving the serpentine route by car is really not without – always nice and slow!
BIG5 Kotor – Rapid Fire Q&A
- Phew, after Dubrovnik another old town with walls. For real? – YES, Kotor not only has the picturesque old town, but is located in the beautiful bay and offers a variety of options: go there!
- How many days should you plan for Kotor? – One day is enough for San Giovanni and sightseeing in the old town, but plan at least two with the activities in the bay
- My budget suffered hard in Dubrovnik, how can I save something in Kotor? – Kotor is also not the cheapest address as a cruise port. Tip: Use the “secret climb” instead of entry for San Giovanni and take provisions for the day tour from the Idea supermarket
- I am not the most enduring hiker, should I still go up to San Giovanni? – Admittedly, the way up is not the easiest. The switchbacks on the secret path make it easier
- From Kotor I want to continue with the rental car, where can I get a cheap one? – Tivat Airport with all well-known car rental companies is easy and cheap to reach by local bus
BIG5 Kotor – Orga
Best travel time
You can expect the best weather and pleasant temperatures from April to October, with the most rain in January and February as well as November and December
Arrival & Departure
Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for Montenegro with your passport
- Flight: Tivat Airport (Aerodrom) (IATA: TIV) is only 25 minutes away
- Flight: Alternatives are the airports of Podgorica (IATA: TGD) and Dubrovnik (DBV)
- Bus: From / to Dubrovnik (several times a day; ~ 2:00 hours, 10-18 euros)
- Bus: From / to Podgorica (3x daily; ~ 2:00 hours; 4-7 euros)
Are you interested in a Balkan road trip? Have a look here: Balkans Road trip – Incredibly versatile adventure
- Recommended location: Book accommodation in the old town, everything is easily accessible on foot from here
- Budget: Montenegro Hostel B&B Kotor (Stari Grad 333, 85330 Kotor; ~ 10 € dormitory, 30 € double room), nice hostel in the middle of the old town – there was also a welcome rakija!
- Medium: Kotor Nest (444 Stari Grad, 85330 Kotor; ~ 50 €), apartment in a great location
- Noble: Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro (Stari grad 433, 85330 Kotor; ~ 120 €), extremely good location, well-equipped rooms and a terrace with a wonderful view
Withdraw money: ATMs are located near the sea gate (Врата мора)
Beer indicator: 0.5 liters: 1.20 – 2.00 euros in a normal restaurant
Taxi costs: 1 kilometer ~ 0.50 euros
- BBQ Tanjga (E65, Kotor) – cheap Balkan grill outside the city walls
- Restaurant Galion (Šuranj bb, Kotor 85330) – outdoor terrace with a great view over the bay
- Konoba Scala Santa (Trg od Salate, Old Town 295, Kotor, 85330) – rustic restaurant in the Stari Grad with moderate prices
BIG5 Kotor – Activities
- Climb the Venetian fortress of San Giovanni – these views over the bay, wow, wow, wow!
- Discover the cozy places of the old town and hike on the city wall – cheaper than in Dubrovnik
- Dare to take the challenging serpentine route over Kotor
- Take a boat trip through the “Boka Kotorska”, e.g. to the island of Sveti Đorđe (St. Georg)
- Visit Perast – a picturesque village in the Bay of Kotor
BIG5 Kotor – Photo spots
- From the fortress of San Giovanni to the bay – with or without the flag of Montenegro
- The city with fortress or Perast from a boat – perspective at sea level
- From the “Good Mood” souvenir shop: The two towers of St. Tryphon’s Cathedral with a great mountain panorama in the background
- From the serpentine route down to the bay, town – even the San Giovanni fortress appears small from here
- From Fort Vrmac hiking trail on the other side of the bay with a view of the city, fortress and mountains
BIG5 Kotor – Attractions off the beaten track
- Enjoy the alleys and pijacas (like the Italian piazza) of the old town – e.g. around St. Michael’s Church (Crkva Svetog Mihaila) – please outside the typical cruise ship times
- “Secret climb” to San Giovanni – just down the official stairs
- Hike to Fort Vrmac – an overgrown Austro-Hungarian fort on the other side of the bay
- Visit a local market and try the regional delicacies – e.g. in front of the city wall towards the bus station
- Take an adventurous trip to the “Blue Caves” on the Adriatic coast
BIG5 Kotor – Culinary Journey
- Rakija Shots – Whether in the city, in a hostel or with locals: a must for visitors to Montenegro
- Grill plates of the local Balkan kitchen – for example in the Marenda Grill House just outside the old town
- Local fish / seafood – freshly caught feast, e.g. B. “Buzara” (fish stew)
- Pasticada – delicious beef stew
- Sirnica – a typical cheesecake for dessert
BIG5 Kotor – Communication
- thank you – zahvaliti
- yes- da
- no – ne
- hello – Zdravo / Dobar dan
- good bye – Zdravo / Zbogom
BIG5 Kotor – Helpful Websites / Links
- Official Website of Kotor
BIG5 Kotor – Overview Map of the things to do
Norway and Dubrovnik in one day – Bay of Kotor
“What impressed you the most during your trip to the Balkans?” The question comes up frequently. Honest answer: there were many unexpectedly great places, but Kotor was special. Before I started researching the big Balkan road trip, I hadn’t actually heard of this city.
After a relaxed drive from Dubrovnik, we arrive at the Kotor bus station. This is located just outside the old town, but can still be reached on foot despite the backpack.
Depending on the arrival time, it is advisable to stop and refresh yourself in a local restaurant. If you also walk from the bus station towards the old town, the BBQ grill “BBQ Tanjga” (E65, Kotor) is recommended – a cheap alternative to the sometimes very touristy restaurants within the city walls.
It is particularly rustic in the Konoba Scala Santa, another reasonably priced alternative in the old town. But the (cruise) tourist-oriented restaurants also offer fair menu options with lunch, dessert and drinks, especially around lunchtime.
But now to the essentials:
A perfect day in Kotor – explore the best things to do
Climb the Venetian fortress of San Giovanni
The weather is suitable for a short hike? Let’s go to the highlight of Kotor, the San Giovanni fortress. The best way to visit Kotor is counter-cyclical to the many cruise tourists who can clog the small old town even worse than Dubrovnik. So, get out of the city and up to lofty heights!
You can get cheap food for the way in the large “Idea” supermarket, just a short walk away from the city walls.
Admission to the fortress costs an impressive 8 euros, a lot of money for Balkan conditions. But there is also a “secret” climb to save the money – without missing anything. Even better: there are even additional highlights to experience! As the? Watch out!
You walk out of the “river gate” and then keep to the right. A winding path leads up the mountain in serpentines. Always beautiful along the left side of the fortress walls, which, like the path, meanders up the mountain. The scenery is reminiscent of the Great Wall at Badaling … Again and again one ponders where this entrance to the fortress is supposed to be. Climbing the wall does not seem to be a suitable alternative.
Sights of Kotor: Small farms really big
The landscape is a dream. High mountains, green meadows and in the back the picturesque Bay of Kotor, which is strongly reminiscent of a Norwegian fjord. On the way you will pass two small farms that offer small refreshments to hikers. I can’t resist: A delicious coffee served by a Montenegrin farming family, plus an outstanding view of the bay. Every hiker’s dream. Leaning against a tree, coffee in one hand, binoculars in the other.
And here comes … not Batman, not Alex, it comes Radovan!
The owner of the farm has developed his own successful type of “Customer Relationship Management“. He sits down with us with a bottle of clear, self-made “rakija“. He doesn’t speak English, but a shot glass filled to the maximum for everyone is an internationally understandable announcement.
We drink together, we laugh together. Well then “Schjivili” so “welcome”, broadcast something like cheers! He refills. Still leaning against the tree, still the magnificent bay right below us. Feels like heaven.
One of my personal highlights of the whole trip and definitely not bookable in the catalog!
From Radovan’s farm there is hardly any uphill and the first foothills of the fortress are within reach. Past ruins and the Sveti Jovan chapel. Finally, the secret of the secret entry is also clarified: a hole in the wall enables Indiana Jones-like entry. And in no time we are in there – without the 8 euro entry.
Hightlights of Kotor: Enjoy the view from San Giovanni
But now quickly to the very top, on the roof of the fortress! Over the walls, over the chapel on the steep slope and over the old town of Kotor you have a wonderful view. The red flag of Montenegro is waving in the wind, of course there are many tourists up here, but everything is far from “crowded”. Without an escalator or cable car, the high mountain still offers natural protection from the cruise groups, which are undoubtedly clogging the small streets of the old town.
Over countless steps the way down is quite relaxed. One can only imagine how difficult the ascent must have been. The switchbacks outside are more suitable for ascent. You arrive at the official entrance like any other tourist – only you didn’t pay the entrance fee.
Things to do in Kotor: city walls & old town
It continues with the city exploration. City wall and Stari Grad? Sounds like “Copy / Paste” from the Dubrovnik article. Yes, Kotor has that too! The next step is a tour of the thick city walls. Not quite as tall and long as that in Dubrovnik, but still absolutely worth seeing with a view of the bay and old town.
Now you can explore the “Stari Grad“, the old town at will. Depending on the time, many cruise tourists are already gone and you can calmly look at the cozy squares and alleys, search for souvenirs or stop for a glass of wine.
For the sunset you can walk out of the walls to Park Slobode and enjoy the panorama over the bay from the quay wall.
The culmination of a great day in Kotor is a hearty meal in one of the city’s many restaurants.
Are you in Kotor for more than a day?
Great, the region has a lot to offer!
How about a trip to Lovćen National Park? Magnificent views over the bay are guaranteed – and a good dose of thrill, because you drive there and back via the old serpentine route!
Take a trip to the picturesque village of Perast in the Bay of Kotor. Here is also a great place for boat tours, e.g. B. to the island of Sveti Đorđe (St. Georg).
Would you prefer to stay nearby, not have to rely on a rental car and still see Kotor from a different perspective? Then there is a hike to the old Austro-Hungarian Fort Vrmac on the other side of the bay.
Now you know the best sights & things to do in KOTOR in one day and see what a great travel destination the small town in Montenegro is during your Balkan road trip or a cruise shore excursion on your own. Is the Bay of Kotor now on your bucket list too? 🇲🇪
What are your personal BIG5 after visiting the bay?
Are you interested in a Balkan road trip? Have a look here: Balkans Road trip – Incredibly versatile adventure
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