17 Beautiful Things to do in Kotor, Montenegro

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The town of Kotor, Montenegro will stun you from the moment you first see it. Nestled in the Bay of Kotor and surrounded by mountains, this town has a history dating back more than 2,000 years and is achingly beautiful from every angle. And there are so many things to do in Kotor!

I first visited Kotor more than a decade ago and fell in love hard and fast. I still think it’s one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever visited, the stone town set in a fjord on the smooth green Bay of Kotor, surrounded by green mountains in every direction.

Since that first trip, I’ve returned to Montenegro a few more times and have witnessed Kotor grow from an offbeat travel destination to a major hotspot on the Adriatic Sea.

Kotor is by far the most visited place in Montenegro, thanks in part to a recent influx of cruise ship visitors. However, there’s so much to experience in Kotor and the surrounding area that a one-day visit on a cruise does not REMOTELY do it justice!

Kotor is a destination to be savored. Watching the sunrise over the Bay of Kotor after hiking to the top of San Giovanni Fortress, wandering the ancient streets of the Old Town, sampling local prosciutto and cheeses, taking a boat trip to nearby Perast and the Blue Cave, and driving the hairpin turns of the Kotor Serpentine are just a few highlights of visiting this stunning destination.

Let me show you the best things to do in Kotor, Montenegro. You’re never going to forget this trip!

This post was published in January 2024 and was co-written by Adventurous Kate and Dale Peterson.

Kate takes a selfie at sunrise in front of the Bay of Kotor
Even if you’re not a morning person, you’ll love getting up in Kotor Montenegro!

Things to Do in Kotor, Montenegro

Climb to San Giovanni Fortress

Far and away, this is my favorite thing to do in Kotor — and I recommend you make this a high priority. San Giovanni Fortress sits high above Kotor, providing stunning views of the Old Town and the Bay of Kotor.

This isn’t a technically challenging hike, but it does include more than 1,350 stairs. Give yourself at least 90 minutes to two hours for this activity, not including the time you’ll want to spend at the top snapping photos. 

The best time to do this hike is first thing in the morning for cool temperatures, no crowds, and beautiful light across the bay. And by first thing in the morning, I mean around 5:30-6:30 AM. (It’s not my usual thing to get up that early, but it’s so worth it here.)

Definitely avoid this hike in mid-day, when it’s hot and the sun is punishingly strong, and in the late afternoon, when the bay is full of shadows.

Admission to the hiking path costs 8 EUR ($8.50 USD), but here’s a tip: if you go early in the morning, there may not be anyone at the gate to collect your money. 

People walking through an old town of stone buildings with green shutters, including a big square clock tower.
Kotor’s old town is made for wandering!

Wander through Kotor’s Stari Grad (Old Town) 

One of the best things to do in Kotor is to simply wander through Stari Grad, or the Old Town. You can explore the historic buildings and quaint streets on your own, or book a Kotor walking tour to learn the historical context of this fascinating region.

This is a highly-rated group walking tour of Kotor, or you can book a private tour. Up for some local cuisine? This private walking tour of Kotor also includes a local meat and cheese tasting.

Don’t forget to visit St. Nicholas’s Church and St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, two of the prettiest churches in town.

Another one of the best things to do in Kotor is walk the city walls. While these walls aren’t as extensive as Dubrovnik’s, they don’t charge Dubrovnik prices (a wild 35 EUR)! In Kotor, it’s only 8 EUR ($8.50 USD) to walk the City Walls from 8:00 AM-8:00 PM (and you can visit for free outside of these hours).

Tourists buying fruit from a market in Kotor, Montenegro.
The market in Kotor Montenegro, via isparklinglife on Shutterstock.

Explore the Old Town Market

Kotor’s Old Town Market operates every day year-round, but it’s most active on Saturday mornings. Located right at the gates of the Old Town, this is a great place to stop and buy some local fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses.

Stop here to pick up snacks or picnic supplies for the day ahead, or grab a bottle of local Montenegrin Vranac wine. (I know, you’ve probably never had Montenegrin wine, but they make some good stuff here!)

A stone building with an awning reading Cat Museum with several black cats on it.
Kotor Cats Museum in Kotor Montenegro, via Okunin on Shutterstock.

Visit the Kotor Cats Museum

One of the quirkiest things about Kotor is the free-roaming cats you’ll see throughout the Old Town. The cats are so ubiquitous that they’ve basically become the symbol of Kotor. If you’re a cat lover like me, you’ll love this!

The Kotor Cats Museum is an eccentric little collection dedicated to cat art and memorabilia throughout history, with artwork and artifacts dating back to the 16th century.

Admission is just 1 EUR ($1 USD), and part of the ticket proceeds are used to care for Kotor’s many stray cats. If it’s within your means, I recommend making a donation to Kotor Kitties, which does a lot of good work.

Beautiful model ships behind plate glass in a maritime museum.
The Maritime Museum in Kotor Montenegro, via Elena11 on Shutterstock.

Visit the Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum is another interesting museum in Kotor that’s worth a visit. Located in a historic palace in the Old Town, the Maritime Museum offers an impressive collection of artifacts related to the Bay of Kotor’s nautical history.

You can see model ships, weapons, and exhibits on the maritime history of Kotor throughout the centuries.

Admission to the Maritime Museum is 4 EUR ($4 USD).

A boat and people swimming in the bright blue water in a cave.
The Blue Cave in Montenegro, via Mike_O on Shutterstock.

Take a boat tour to the Blue Cave

An activity you can’t miss? Going for a swim in the Blue Cave. This is a popular day trip from Kotor. The Blue Cave, also known as the Blue Grotto, is a coastal cave accessible only from the water.

When the light hits the water at a certain time of day, it illuminates it with a bright blue glow. (Note that this is different from the Blue Cave in Croatia, which is located on the island of Vis.)

This three-hour boat tour visits the Blue Cave with ample time for swimming and snorkeling. You’ll also visit several other spots in the Bay of Kotor, including Mamula Island, the submarine tunnel, and Our Lady of the Rocks.

(Keep in mind that this is weather-dependent. I missed a chance to visit the Blue Cave because the wind was too strong and waves were too high.)

If you want to visit the Blue Cave independently, you’ll need your own vehicle. You can drive to Igalo, one hour from Kotor, and catch a 5 EUR ($5 USD) boat from the beach to the Blue Cave.

A hearty plate of charcuterie, cheeses, nuts, and grapes, next to two glasses of rose wine.
Montenegrin tapas and wine — definitely worth trying!

Go on a food tour

Montenegrin cuisine is rich and hearty. It’s distinctly Balkan, but it also has influences from Italian, Greek, and Turkish cuisine. You can discover the food and drinks of Montenegro on this highly-rated Kotor food tour.

For three hours, you’ll discover the Old Town of Kotor as you sample Montenegrin cuisine, including smoky prosciutto, cheeses, fresh local seafood, Montenegrin wine, and more.

You’ll also learn about Montenegro’s history as you stop at the Old Town Market, St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, and other important places in Kotor.

A small, rocky beach on the edge of the calm, Green Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, a giant cruise ship passing by.
Kotor’s tiny beach, via Smolll on Shutterstock.

Relax at Kotor Beach

Just a 10-minute walk from Kotor’s Old Town is Kotor Beach. I’ll be honest, though — this beach is not much to look at. While it’s small and not one of the best beaches in Montenegro, it’s the closest beach to Kotor. With a small pebbled stretch of shore, this beach can get very crowded during the summer months.

It’s a good spot for swimming or sunbathing near Kotor, but you can find much better beaches along the Budva Riviera, about a 30-minute drive from Kotor. From Budva heading south, there are plenty of far more stunning beaches.

At least that IS a beach, though. Head down the road to Perast and the “beaches” are cement platforms!

Two people kayaking in the calm Bay of Kotor, white stone buildings with orange roofs on the shore behind them, and mountains rising up in the distance.
The Bay of Kotor is a stunning backdrop for kayaking.

Go kayaking or paddleboarding

Kotor Bay, also known as Boka Kotorska in Montenegrin, is perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding. Since it’s a sheltered bay with only a small opening from the Adriatic Sea, the water here is usually calm and still.

This three-hour kayaking tour will allow you to explore the beauty of the bay by kayak, while this paddleboarding tour includes a lesson that will have you standing up and paddling your board through the bay like a pro in no time.

A view of Perast, a small town of small buildings with orange roofs, one bell tower sticking up, set on a peaceful calm bay and surrounded by mountains.
How can you not fall in love with Perast?

Visit Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks

One of the most charming towns in Montenegro is the tiny village of Perast. I recently spent four days based in Perast, but this town also makes the perfect day trip from Kotor.

Perast is very small — you can walk the town from end to end in about 20 minutes. The waterfront is lined with cafes, restaurants, and ice cream shops. From the harbor, you can see two tiny nearby islands — Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George.

The most popular activity in Perast is visiting Our Lady of the Rocks, a tiny artificial island in the Bay of Kotor that’s home to a blue-domed church. You can join a tour from Kotor (this boat tour stops in Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks, while this boat tour also includes the Blue Cave), or visit Perast independently.

Numerous tour operators offer boat rides to the island from Perast for 5-10 EUR ($5-11 USD.) You’ll have time to stop and visit Our Lady of the Rocks and pass by Saint George (it’s a private monastery and not open to the public).

To get to Perast from Kotor, you can take the Blue Line bus, which runs hourly (and every two hours on Sundays). It’s about a 30-minute ride, and tickets are 1.50 EUR ($1.60 USD).

If you have your own vehicle, you can drive to Perast. Most of the parking lots will give you free parking if you buy a ticket to Our Lady of the Rocks through them, though know that in the summer the parking lots are often full. I met some travelers who parked for free far down the main road and walked.

Read More: A Detailed Guide to Perast, Montenegro

A bright pink and yellow sunset over the island of Sveti Stefan, just off the coast of Montenegro.
Sveti Stefan at sunset

Visit Budva and Sveti Stefan

If you’re looking for the best beaches near Kotor, head to Budva. This lively town on the Adriatic Sea has some Miami vibes with its long beaches, tall apartment buildings, and big nightlife scene.

Budva has some of the best beaches in Montenegro, with sandy shores and crystal-clear turquoise waters. And Budva’s medieval old town is worth a visit as well. It’s a bit of a “baby Dubrovnik” with a walled city and orange-roofed buildings — very beautiful, but on a smaller scale than the popular Croatian destination.

If you have time, Sveti Stefan is worth visiting, if only to enjoy the view of the gorgeous island in the sea! (The island is actually a resort that is closed to outsiders, and is being renovated at the time of publication.) There are beaches in town to enjoy, but avoid the expensive beaches owned by the hotel.

You can visit these towns by tour, this is a great tour option from Kotor that brings you to both Budva and Sveti Stefan.

To get to Budva from Kotor, bus tickets are 4 EUR ($4 USD) and take about 40 minutes. Sveti Stefan is just a bit further. Budva is a 30-minute drive from Kotor, though keep in mind that traffic can be bumper-to-bumper in the busy summer months.

Kate standing on a wooden dock on a still lake reflecting mountains, surrounded by wooden boats and bright kayaks.
I loved getting to visit Black Lake at Durmitor National Park!

Visit Durmitor National Park

While Montenegro is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, it’s not all about the Bay of Kotor — there’s also Durmitor National Park. If you have time to visit only one of Montenegro’s five national parks, this should be it.

Located in the northwestern part of the country, about 3.5 hours from Kotor, it’s possible to visit Durmitor National Park on a day trip. (That said, I think that if you have the time, you should spend two nights in the main town of Žabljak so you can enjoy a full day in the park.)

The best thing to do in Durmitor National Park? Rafting in Tara Canyon! You’ll pass the kind of scenery that makes you gasp in wonder. This is the second-deepest in the world after the Grand Canyon. Rafting is at its wildest in late spring and early summer; trips are much calmer towards August and beyond.

This tour from Kotor includes much of Durmitor National Park, including Black Lake, Tara Canyon, and even a stop by the very cool Ostrog Monastery — though no rafting.

Want to go rafting? This rafting tour takes you directly from Kotor and includes breakfast and lunch.

You can also do this trip by rental car. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive, but keep in mind that the roads up in the mountains are small and winding. It’s not like Croatia where you have wide, smooth highways. And unfortunately there is not a day-trippable journey by public transportation.

A mausoleum perched on top of a mountain in Montenegro.
The famous mausoleum in Lovcen National Park, via nadtochiy on Shutterstock.

Go Off the Beaten Path on the Great Montenegro Tour

The Great Montenegro Tour is an activity I highly recommend because it includes a LOT of cool spots most tours don’t get to in a single day. If you have limited time in Kotor, the Great Montenegro Tour is an excellent way to get an overview of this compact and beautiful country.

Beginning in Kotor, this full-day tour will take you to Lovcen National Park, the historic village of Njegusi (famous for its prosciutto), the old capital of Cetinje, scenic Lake Skadar, and picture-perfect Sveti Stefan.

Although it’s a long day (the tour lasts 11 hours), I think this tour is excellent value for money, especially if you’re short on time. You’ll be able to visit several lesser-visited parts of Montenegro in one fell swoop.

You can book the tour here.

A wooden dock on a calm teal lake surrounded by mountains and forest.
An incredibly calm day in Biogradska Gora, Montenegro.

Visit Skadar Lake and Biogradska Gora

Skadar Lake and Biogradska Gora are two of the most beautiful places in Montenegro — yet they receive only a fraction of the tourists of the Bay of Kotor or Durmitor National Park. Located in the southern and eastern parts of the country, these two captivating areas of natural beauty make a great day trip from Kotor.

This full-day tour visits scenic Skadar Lake, situated on the border between Montenegro and Albania, and Biogradska Gora, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the last remaining virgin forest in Europe.

You can book the tour here. If visiting independently, Biogradska Gore is a three-hour drive from Kotor, and Skadar Lake is a slight detour on the way back.

A luxurious pool protruding out above the ocean in Montenegro.
A fun day at Buddha-Bar Beach in Tivat! Via Shutterstock.

Visit Tivat

Tivat is more than just the airport — this is where you can experience the ultra-glitzy side of travel in Montenegro. The waterfront area of Porto Montenegro in Tivat is where you’ll find high-end shopping, chic restaurants and bars, luxury resorts, and sleek yachts docked in the harbor.

Stop at Buddha-Bar Beach, a trendy restaurant and beach club near the marina, or go window shopping at Bvlgari, Dior, Rolex, and other luxury boutiques.

Tivat is a 20-minute drive from Kotor, or you can take the Blue Line bus, which runs hourly (and every two hours on Sundays). Tickets are 1.50 EUR ($1.60 USD).

A long, squiggly road inching up a steep mountain.
The switchbackey Kotor Serpentine near Kotor Montenegro, via Shutterstock.

Drive or Bike the Kotor Serpentine

There’s no better way to take in views of the Bay of Kotor than by driving or biking the Kotor Serpentine. This winding, scenic road made up of 25 switchbacks offers breathtaking views looking down over the bay.

Driving from Kotor, it takes about 40 minutes to reach the top viewpoint of the Kotor Serpentine. While the hairpin turns can be harrowing, the road is in good condition. Expect heavier traffic during the summer months.

If you’re up for an adventure, this panoramic downhill cycling tour is another way to experience the Kotor Serpentine. Now that’s an adventure!

A dark green jeep parked on the side of the road in Montenegro.
Jeep in Tivat near Kotor Montenegro, via Dmitrii Pridannikov on Shutterstock.

Go on a Jeep tour 

Take an exhilarating off-path drive to experience some of the best scenery near Kotor on this three-hour Jeep tour. It’s a great way to explore the area around Kotor if you don’t have your own vehicle. You’ll drive on a coastal track to the stone village of Gornji Stoliv.

In the village, you’ll take a walking tour and meet some of the locals before enjoying delicious local fare, including prosciutto, cheese, olives, and homemade bread.

Orange roofs of Kotor against a gray-green mountain backdrop at dawn.

How much time to spend in Kotor

How much time do you need in Kotor? If you’re just visiting to see the sights, you can see them all in one to two days. But you can easily use Kotor as a base for visiting other parts of Montenegro, and for that reason, you can stay here for a few days or even a week!

A lot of people visit Kotor as a day trip to Montenegro from Dubrovnik, but I advise against doing this, unless you really want to do this and don’t have more than a day free. Traffic from Dubrovnik to Kotor is awful in the busy summer months, and you will probably spend a lot of time waiting in line at immigration — twice.

Spending a few days in Kotor is the best way to really soak in this lovely destination. Trust me, you won’t regret spending extra time here.

An enormous cruise ship docking near the old town of Kotor.
Whatever you do, PLEASE don’t come to Kotor by cruise ship.

How to get to Kotor

How do you get to Kotor, Montenegro? It depends on where you’re coming from. The closest airport to Kotor is in Tivat, a 20-minute drive away. From here a taxi to Kotor will cost around 20 EUR ($21.25 USD).

Another option is to fly into the capital of Podgorica, Montenegro, which is 1 hour and 40 minutes from Kotor. (No need to linger in Podgorica — other places in Montenegro are much better.) From here you can get a taxi to Kotor (it should be around 75 EUR, or $80 USD), or a taxi to the bus station and a bus to Kotor (2 hours, 8 EUR or $8.50 USD).

Many travelers also arrive in Kotor via Dubrovnik, Croatia. Montenegro is often a coda to a longer Croatia trip. If you’re coming from Dubrovnik by car, it’s about 2-hour drive, though. You can book a private transfer starting at around 130 EUR ($138 USD), or take the bus with Croatia Bus (two hours, 25 EUR or $27 USD).

Unfortunately, there are no ride-hailing or ride-sharing apps in Montenegro, so your only options are rental cars, taxis, private transfers, and buses. What’s worse is that taxis can and do jack up their rates during the busy summer months.

The Blue Line Bus runs from Kotor in both directions. There is also the hop-on-hop-off bus in Montenegro, which runs from Kotor to Risan via Perast. It costs 25 EUR ($27) for 24 hours, which I think is a bit excessive, but might be worth it if you want to avoid both taxis and public buses.

A narrow alleyway in the old town of Kotor, buildings and ground made of stone, with a line of white laundry hanging overhead.
Stay in the old town of Kotor and this might be what you see when you walk outside!

Where to Stay in Kotor, Montenegro

Staying in the old town or a short walk from it will give you the best experience in Kotor. While Kotor is one of the most expensive places to stay in Montenegro, it’s worth the extra cost to base yourself here for the convenience.

Like many destinations in the Balkans, apartments and guesthouses tend to be the norm in Montenegro rather than hotels. However, since Kotor is such a popular destination, you’ll find a variety of hotels too.

Here are the top-rated places to stay in Kotor’s old town:

Kotor's twin church towers against a mountainous backdrop.

Best Time to Visit Kotor

You might be surprised by the best time of year to visit Kotor. While I feel like the Bay of Kotor and Montenegro as a whole are a quintessential summer destination, the peak months of July and August are incredibly hot and crowded. Higher prices, summer traffic, and hordes of cruise ship tourists descending on Kotor are what you’ll encounter in July and August.

If you want to visit Kotor during the summer, early to mid-June and mid-September to early October are the best times to target. This is still peak season, but it’s not as crowded or expensive as July and August. Keep in mind that if you want to swim in the Bay of Kotor or the Adriatic Sea, the water will be warmer at the end of summer.

If warm summer weather isn’t as important to you, I recommend visiting Kotor in the shoulder season. April, May, and October are great months for visiting Kotor with few crowds, lower prices, and mild, cool weather.

During late March and April, you can experience Camellia Days, a spring festival in Kotor. Searock Festival is a low-key music festival held in the Old Town during the last weekend of July. In nearby Perast, the International Klapa Festival is an acapella festival held every September.

Morning at the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro, orange roofs and a bright blue sky

Is Kotor Worth It?

Not only is Kotor worth it, Kotor is worth much more time than most people give it! So yes, my dear readers, you should go to Kotor, Montenegro.

But don’t just go for a day trip from Dubrovnik. Stay in Kotor for a few days, at least. Hike up to San Giovanni at sunrise. Stroll along the bay. Try the Montenegrin wines. Give love to the kitties.

And don’t forget to marvel at the scintillating landscape, asking yourself how you ever got so lucky to visit a place like this.

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Have you been to Kotor Montenegro? Any tips? Share away!