What to do in Kotor, Montenegro in 2023: the insider's guide to having the best trip.
Discover the things to do in Kotor with my guide, organized by day trips, longer stays, and water adventures, so you can match your itinerary perfectly! My insider's tips, visuals, and detailed information offer unique insights and will help you have the best time in Kotor.
Overview of Kotor.
Kotor, an incredibly picturesque town in Montenegro, is fast becoming the new hot travel destination in Europe, and for a good reason(s):
Its charming Venetian-era old town
Kotor Bay (Boka Kotorska) and water activities
City walls and Kotor Fortress hike
Despite its small size, Kotor offers a great number of fun things to do and see during any season.
Because most visitors come on a cruise, they won't be able to experience all those things. So, in this post, I organized the top things to do in Kotor into 3 categories.
Is Kotor good for nightlife?
How much time do you need in Kotor?
Can you walk around Kotor?
Where is Kotor? Kotor, the town in Montenegro, is located at the end of Kotor Bay, called Boka Katorska. And because Kotor Bay is a bay on the Adriatic Sea, this enables cruise ships to enter Kotor Bay and dock in the Kotor town marina.
BTW, cruise ships are so huge! Look at this one!:)
According to many cruisers Kotor, Montenegro is the best place to have an in-port day! That is because both Kotor and Kotor Bay have a great number of fun things to offer! Let's see all the popular options.
Cruise Ship Day Trips
The most popular thing to do in Kotor is to explore the Old Town of Kotor. As one of the best-preserved medieval towns, Old Town of Kotor Montenegro was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is filled with historical sites and stunning architecture.
Start your visit by entering old walls covered space through one of the few entrances. You can enter through this 'Sea Gate'.
You can either wonder about the Old town of Kotor with no purpose, or you can take a more organized approach by joining a guided tour. Let's see what you can explore without a tour first.
Explore Old town Kotor
Explore the maze of narrow cobblestone alleys.
Old town Kotor is a special place because it was built over many centuries from the Mediaeval times to the 18th century. This means that the buildings in the streets are from different times and in different conditions. Some buildings are very well kept, while others are not so much. You'll see a mix of different styles that are all beautiful in their own way.
You can see a modern, cozy restaurant lined up by a medieval building without the windows. And it looks perfectly natural!:)
Some parts of the Old town are older than the rest, and they are really fun parts of the town!
Admire beautiful pink cobblestone pavement
The cobblestones you will walk on are uneven and beautiful! So, don't forget to look down!
All the beauty around will make you wonder about Kotor's history.
Kotor's brief history
Kotor has a long and fascinating history. It's too lengthy to explain in here (and impossible in a few words!), so check out my post on Kotor's history.
You will also pass many churches. You would want to visit them!
Links to some of my other posts
Index European Destinations
Visit unique churches of the Old town of Kotor
There are many unique churches in old town Kotor, both Catholic and Orthodox. Don’t miss them! Below are the four better known churches.
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Saint Tryphon's Cathedral, also called Kotor Cathedral. Built in 1166 by Byzantine monks, it is one of the oldest and most recognizable landmarks in Kotor, Montenegro. The cathedral is dedicated to Saint Tryphon, the patron saint of the city.
It features a mix of Romanesque and Byzantine architectural styles. Worth noting - there is a €4 entrance fee to visit inside.
Frescoes in St. Nicola' church
St. Nicola' Church is a Serbian Orthodox church. The church is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors, and is an active place of worship for the Serbian Orthodox community in Kotor.
The frescoes in the church are one of the major draw to visitors. The cupola ceiling is pretty spectacular as well. But there is more to this church. Read about it in my guide to Kotor churches for more information
Don't miss checking out Saint Luke's church from the back!
St. Luke's church, a Baroque-style building near the city walls, has a unique history, which starts in the 12th century. This church has some original walls at the back; don't miss the pretty round tower there!
Read more about it in my post about the Saint Luke's Church
Our Lady of Health Church
Our Lady of Health Church was built in 1484, so it's one of Kotor's oldest churches and contains a collection of religious artifacts from as far back as the 9th century.
This church is located high up, and you will see it only if you choose to go up to the castle.
Each church has its own unique charm, architecture and history and is worth visiting.
To explore the old town in greater details, with lots of pictures and videos, visit my blog about Kotor old town.
The Old town of Kotor truly is a special place and you wouldn't want to leave it!
Even if you only visit the old town of Kotor, you already have an answer to the question you had on your mind before you came: 'Is Kotor worth visiting?'
Is Kotor worth visiting?
Yes, Kotor is absolutely worth visiting, even if you only have time for the old town of Kotor part! But don't stop exploring yet, as there are plenty of interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore, food to savor, and boat tours to take!
Shop for Souvenirs at Old Town Markets
Stroll through the narrow streets of Kotor's old town and visit the many souvenir markets to pick up some unique keepsakes. From locally made arts and crafts to traditional Montenegrin clothing, you will find something special here to bring back home.
You will find many shops like this in the picture! You will also find a cat (or 5-10!:), sitting by the shop, waiting to be fed. They're quite spoiled and VERY FRIENDLY in Kotor.
You know what will make them ever friendlier? Read my next insider's tip!;)
Bring some cat treats
If you are a cat lover - you are in for a very special treat in Kotor! :) Let's just say you will have PLENTY of chances to give away your cat treats! :)
Read (and see) more about the cats in the old town of Kotor in my other post! But for now, you should get hungry by all the outdoor activities! Time to eat some delicious meal (cats will approve!.. as long as you share some afterwards! 😉
Cats in this hand made Cats shop look very REALISTIC;)
Enjoy local dishes in picturesque and cozy restaurants
You won't have to search for a restaurant in Kotor. Restaurants are everywhere and their cute setups are a huge part of the town's charm. Even if you are not hungry, you would still want to sit at some picturesque outdoor table, enjoying a cup of coffee or a sample of some local wine.
Or you can sample the local food—with a rich Mediterranean cuisine and plenty of fresh seafood, Kotor offers an exciting mix of delicious flavors.
Try some traditional dishes such as Njeguški pršut (smoked ham) or savory cheese pies.
Visit seafood restaurants, for example - Konoba Trpeza, local cafes Karampana Caffe bar and many others. I don't know what you will like most-the food itself, or the setting: both are wonderful!
So, now that you got the fresh energy from all the food, there is still have more activities to take part in!
Walk the city walls
One of the most iconic and memorable experiences you can have in Kotor, Montenegro, is walking around the city walls. The impressive structures we see today in Kotor were constructed by the local inhabitants during the 9th century in the Medieval Ages. Their purpose was to safeguard the city from external aggressors. Subsequently, several additions were made to these buildings over time.. The walls are almost 5 km long.
Insider tip. It is important to understand is that there are 2 parts to the city wall walks: the lower city walls walk, and the upper city wall walk. This is rarely explained anywhere else.
The lower city wall walk.
The lower city wall walk is an easy, enjoyable and free part. It will take you about 20-30 minutes to finish this walk, and you will see plenty of beautiful sights along the walk. This is a must-do activity, and you can learn more about your future experience from my post on The Kotor's city wall walk .
The upper city walk.
The upper city walk is a rather steep hike described below.
Choose between hiking or a relaxing.
Now, depending on how much time is left on your day trip, you might need to make a choice; either to take time to hike up the cliff, following the upper city walls to St. John's Castle, or take a relaxing 2-4 hours boat trip.
If you choose to hike to St. John's Castle
Practical tip. The hike up the city walls to the St. John's Castle is a moderate to strenuous trail that takes about 1-2 hours depending on how fast you go. You need to take time for the breaks, so it's closer to 2 hours. That's to answer the question: how long does it take to walk Kotor Wall?
It is possible to do it on a day trip, but it might be better to return to Kotor for another longer trip to explore this hike. If you want to explore the old town and also go boating in Kotor Bay, there will be no time for a hike.
But if you still want to go hiking, you can climb the walls through a staircase on the northern side of the old town.
The entrance to the wall is next to the upper historic gate.
Take a boat tour of Kotor Bay.
There are two boat tours available in Kotor Bay (more during the summer), allowing you to take in the spectacular views of the bay and its islands. You can find people booking the tours by the waterfront pedestrian walkway. Book and hour or so in advance.
Boat tours during the off-season:
2 hours tour to our Lady of the Rocks and Perast.
3-4 hours tour to the Blue Cave + the Lady of the Rocks and Perast.
Since we're planning a day trip right now, I recommend the 2-hour trip, and will describe the 3-4 hours boat trip in details under the multi days itinerary to Kotor.
Boat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks church island and Perast town.
This is a very fun boat tour. I highly recommend taking it!
The island could be seen from afar because of the church's lovely white with blue cupola buildings.
Insider tip. The cost of the tour used to be €15, but it's €20 now. It is still worth it! The tour is listed as 1.5 hours, but in reality, it takes 2 hours. Keep this in mind, planning your day.
Check out my blog post with a video about a boat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks church island.
To book a private boat trip on Viator, click here.
Leisure time on the Bay of Kotor
You can head to the Kotor waterfront for some leisurely enjoyment
Sit on the beach
The beach is pebble. There will be no sand getting everywhere, so it's quite pleasant to sit and enjoy the water.
Eat at an outdoor restaurant by the beach
There is a long line of restaurants to choose from located right on the waterfront.
Is it about time to go back to your cruise or the bus stop to head home? You can squeeze in one more adventure on the way.
Shopping at Kotor Outdoor Markets
Depending on the season, it might be open. You can get snacks, fruits and more souvenirs there. It's right outside the city walls, you don't need to enter the old town again.
I am sure you enjoyed your day in Kotor tremendously and you will bring home lasting memories and a desire to visit for longer!
Now, for those of you who could plan a longer visit, let's see what other things to do in Kotor you might enjoy!
So, we have just finished talking about all the fun things to do on a day trip in the section above.
Now, since you could stay in Kotor for a few days longer, you will have more time to do more top-rated things in Kotor.
For those looking for something lower key, there are plenty of opportunities to relax. Or, if you want to mix it up, and have some adventure, there is a long list to choose from as well. Go to my section for adventure seekers in Kotor of this post. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, Kotor has something for everyone!
What to do on multi-days laid-back trip to Kotor
The best low-key activities in Kotor on a multi-day trip
Here is a list of top activities. Do them besides the day-trip activities listed above.
Visit Perast Town. Although you may have taken the two-hour boat ride to Our Lady of the Rocks, I advice to revisit and spend more time to explore Perast; the 30-minutes visit on the tour didn't leave enough time to explore this town. You can visit other nearby islands that were not part of the first boat tour. Take a bus ride to Perast this time.
Boat trip to The Monastery of Saint George Perast from Perast town. Monastery of Saint George Perast (built in 1630), is on an island just off the coast of Perast town. You can rent a boat (with a driver) from Perast town ($8) for a short ride. This is about the only way to get to that island.
Boat trip to the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is a very cool spot on the Lustica Peninsula where a mesmerizing turquoise light shines through an underwater cave entrance.
You can jump from your boat to swim for a little. The boat trip to Blue Cave is the 4-hour boat trip you couldn't take on the day-trip to Kotor. You can take it now. The price is 40 euro from Kotor and includes the visit to the Blue Lagoon. Here is a link to the boat tour to there from Viator. If you prefer even longer tour with beach time included, you can take this one.
Spend an evening at Kotor's Old Town Square! This lively spot is packed with restaurants, bars, and cafes. It's the perfect place for a relaxing stroll. Treat yourself to a tasty meal or drink at one of the many dining spots and soak up the cozy atmosphere.
Visit the Maritime Museum. Learn more about Kotor's maritime history at this small museum within the old town walls. You will find displays of maritime artifacts and exhibits on local seafaring traditions.
Visit many Orthodox Churches of the area (some are outside the Old town of Kotor). To get familiar with Orthodox churches of Kotor, read my post on Churches of Kotor.
Take a stroll through the Municipal Museum and admire its rich collection of artwork and artifacts spanning the Middle Ages to modern times. You will find sculptures and paintings, furniture and icons there.
Visit Risan Archaeological Site. Discover Montenegro's rich history at the archaeological site of Risan, located just outside Kotor. Here you'll find the ruins of an ancient Roman settlement and museum dedicated to the culture and history of Montenegro.
Take a private walking tour with wine and food tasting through Viator. Avoid feeling rushed as you explore Kotor with your personal group. This tour was recommended by Rick Steves.
Visit the Kotor Art Museum. Home to a wide range of artwork spanning several centuries.
Explore the Municipal Museum and discover centuries-old paintings, sculptures, and religious artifacts.
Soak Up the Sun at Mamula Island. Make your way to Mamula Island for a day of sun, swimming and relaxation. This tiny island is home to crystal-clear waters and stunning views of the bay from its beachfront. You can even plan to spend a couple of your last days there and stay for 2 nights in the luxury hotel, being pampered and cared for. Here is a link to book your Mamula Island luxury stay.
Restaurants not to be overlooked:
Sample more of the Local Cuisine. With a rich and varied culinary tradition, Montenegro's traditional dishes will sure please the foodies.
So many fun things to do, right? Even if you were aiming for a relaxing holiday, all these listed above activities will keep you pretty busy and very excited! If you're still looking for more activities after all the above, there are plenty of other adventurous options to choose from!
Adventure, hiking and water-sports activities
If you're seeking adventure in Kotor, try outdoor activities like hiking up Mount Lovcen, hiking the upper city walls, or taking a boat ride around the bay. In summer months, Kotor Bay offers swimming, sunbathing, white-river rafting, sailing and other water activities.
Check out the top day-trip & multi day activities explained above in this blog. Here are 9 more top activities not to be missed!
Top adventure and sport activities in Kotor
Below are 9 popular adventure and sport activities in Kotor.
Visit Kotor marina.
Visit the Monastery of Our Lady of Remedy (built in 1571). It's located on the cliff above Old town Kotor and is a fascinating sight.
3. Walk up along the City Walls to Kotor Fortress. Kotor has well-preserved city walls that stretch 4.5 kilometers long and offer spectacular views of churches, towers, gates, and the area below. If you have already explored the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, you were halfway to reaching Kotor Fortress and St. John's Castle.
4. Take a Hike Up the Ladder of Kotor. A popular activity is to hike up the 'Ladder of Kotor' - a steep path that winds up the mountain for 2 kilometers with spectacular views along the way. If you go all the way, you will end up in the Kotor fortress again. This a strenuous hike on a loose gravel, keep this in mind and don't hike on a rainy day – the gravel will be even more slippery!
5. Visit Lovcen National Park. Drive on a winding mountain road to reach Lovcen National Park. Enjoy breathtaking views, and visit the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš (the famous Montenegrin poet). The road leading to there is not for the people who are afraid of heights. The road is narrow and very steep. But the views will be unforgettable!
6. Stop by at Kotor Horizont Bar. Let's just say it's called Horizont bar not for noting. You will be clinking your wine glasses high above the Kotorska Bay and Kotor, almost floating at the horizon. It's a miracle that the bars functions and the bartender serves you, considering how it's hanging on a cliff! But it's something you will remember for a long time! Especially if you go there for the sunset. Besides, almost no-one knows about this bar, so you will have a very rare photo opportunity!
7. Sea kayaking in the Bay. One of the best ways to explore Kotor and its surroundings is by sea kayaking around the Bay of Kotor. From the deck of a sea kayak, you can get an up-close and personal experience with some of Kotor's most beautiful scenery and wildlife. Sea kayaking allows you to explore hidden coves, spot wild dolphins, and take in stunning views of the bay. You can either rent your kayak, or go on a private guided kayaking tour, suitable for the beginners.
8. Stand up paddle boarding. Take a stand-up-puddle boarding tour, with a pick up from Kotor or Tivat. You will be taken to Solila Beach, a 15-minutes trip from your starting point for 3.5 hours of stand-up paddle boarding with Viator tour.
9. White river rafting. Go on a full-day rafting supervised adventure on the Tara River with Viator. If you think 1 day is not enough, you can take a 2-days Tara Canyon rafting tour. It's even cheaper, than the price for the 1-day tour!
Well, since I don't know what activity could be even more adventurous than the white river rafting, I will wrap up my list for adventurous activities in Kotor.
In short, Kotor is a great destination for adventure seekers. It will keep you happy and actively enjoying yourself with its many fun activities. It's just waiting for you to show up!:
You can see Kotor Fortress on the top of this white cliff.
If you decide to explore things outside Kotor, there are plenty of places to go and things to do.
A list of Top things to do nearby:
Take a Trip to Skadar Lake—Located just a short drive away, Skadar Lake is the largest lake in the Balkans and home to many species of birds, fish and other wildlife. Enjoy a boat trip around the lake or take a hike through the surrounding mountains.
Tour Stari Bar—Located just 25 kilometers away, Stari Bar is an ancient fortified city with a rich history. Explore the old ruins and wander through the cobblestone streets as you learn about Montenegro's past.
Take a Trip to Budva – Enjoy spectacular views of the Adriatic Sea and explore Montenegro's most popular tourist destination, Budva. Wander through the old town (tiny), soak up the Mediterranean atmosphere and enjoy some of the best restaurants and nightlife in the country. Ideally, stay in Budva for a few days.
Take a trip to Dubrovnik. It's about 3-4 hours' ride away and it's hard to have a bad time in Dubrovnik.