Bay of Kotor in Montenegro: sights & our tips

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Deep blue water, spectacular mountain ranges and beautiful old towns – welcome to the unique Bay of Kotor, one of the most beautiful and most visited destinations in Montenegro. We are not surprised that the Bay of Kotor magically attracts travelers. The panorama is simply amazing.

The most famous and also name-giving town in the bay is Kotor. Kotor has a particularly beautiful location in the innermost corner of the bay, at the foot of steep mountain slopes.

In this blog article we will show you what you can do in the Bay of Kotor (especially in and around the city Kotor) expected. We introduce you to the most beautiful sights and excursion destinations and reveal our personal tips for your trip.

1. The Bay of Kotor at a glance: FAQs and first travel tips Exciting facts & things worth knowing The Bay of Kotor is a gigantic, almost 30 kilometers long sea bay in Montenegro. It is lined by majestic mountain ranges and is therefore really spectacular to look at. It is not without reason that the Bay of Kotor is called the southernmost fjord in Europe . A bit of Norway feeling in Southern Europe. The most famous (and undoubtedly the most touristy) town in the bay is also called Kotor. Other cities are Perast (our personal favourite), Risan, Herceg Novi and Tivat. Kotor = cruise Mecca, unfortunately! Almost all cruises that pass here in the south head for the Bay of Kotor. Mooring is in Kotor, so there is at least one gigantic colossus at anchor almost every day. The inner bays (here are among others Perast and Kotor) are the heart of the bay and belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This has the great advantage that the building boom, which is unabated elsewhere in Montenegro, is limited here. Where in the Bay of Kotor where to stay? In the Bay of Kotor there are several places to stay overnight. Because the bay is quite wide and we wanted to see several corners in peace, we decided to split our stay.

First, at the beginning of our road trip through Montenegro, we stayed in Perast for two nights. This magical place is significantly quieter than Kotor and we personally really liked it. You can find our detailed blog article here: Perast sights and tips.

In order to be able to explore the town of Kotor extensively, we stayed two more nights in Kotor at the end of our trip. Kotor itself is very touristy, but also in an incredibly spectacular location. From here you can also take a trip to the Lovćen National Park, which is well worth seeing.

Is Kotor really that touristy? Short answer: Yes! Long answer: It depends – namely on the season and the time of day. Countless cruise ships head for the Bay of Kotor, which comes as no surprise given the breathtaking landscape.

All passengers go ashore in Kotor . This is where the port is located and many stay here for reasons of time. In the high season, three or four cruise ships often dock a day. If you now imagine how thousands of people flood the old town at the same time, then it becomes understandable why, especially before the Covid pandemic, people often spoke of “overtourism”.

Of course, there are also overnight guests, who are also quite a few in Kotor in the high season. Nevertheless, the most important tip: Try to avoid the cruise tourists as much as possible.

Here is a schedule: Arrivals & departures cruise ships in Kotor. Often the best time to visit the old town is in the morning or evening – especially since it’s not that hot then.

2. Sights in Kotor: Our tips Kotor Old Town Behind the mighty city walls, located directly on the water, hides the car-free, Picturesque old town of Kotor. You can expect a really beautiful, spruced up town with narrow streets, pretty squares and impressive buildings.

Here are a few specific tips for sights in Kotor:

Trg od Oružja: Kotor’s main square can be reached directly by entering the old town through the main city gate (“Sea Gate”). Here the pretty, three-storey clock tower in the Renaissance style draws everyone’s attention. There are a few cafés and bars on the edge of the square. In general, there is something going on here at almost any time of the day.

Saint Tryphon Cathedral: A little further inside the old town you will reach Kotor’s most important church and one of the most important sights of the city: to the imposing Saint Tryphon Cathedral. A small entrance fee is charged to visit the cathedral inside.

City Wall & Kampana Tower: One of the most important bastions along the historic city wall is the so-called Kampana Tower. A somewhat hidden staircase takes you to the city wall and you can stroll along the north side of the old town of Kotor.

Trg od Drva: At this pretty, somewhat hidden place there is a great drinking water fountain (Lifesaver in the heat!). Perhaps you have already read that there are a particularly large number of cats at home in Kotor? Here at the southern end of the square, the cats usually make themselves comfortable in the shade of the trees.

Fortress of Kotor High above the old town of Kotor towers the Fortress of San Giovanni . If you’re looking up from below, you’re probably wondering: How on earth are you supposed to make it to the top in this heat? But believe us: it can be done. Sweaty, but doable.

To be more precise, there are two ways to reach the fortress. Spoilers: Both lead up on foot and both in switchbacks.

Variant number 1 is the standard route, that most people take. It starts behind the Church of St. Mary Collegiate. There is a ticket booth where you have to pay the entrance fee of 8 euros. From here it goes up steeply in narrow serpentines over steps. Supposedly it should be 1. 500 Being steps – phew!

Variant number 2 is more like a hiking trail. It leads up, so to speak, on the back of the mountain over a gravel path. We have marked the starting point of the hike on the map at the end of the article. After a while you will pass a cheese dairy (recognizable by the free-roaming goats), where you can also take a break with cool drinks. Important to know: With this variant, no entrance fee is due (as of autumn 2022), but at the end you have to climb through a small stone hatch onto the area of ​​the fortress. (Again: no guarantee – it’s best if you read a few current Google reviews!)

As spectacular as the view from the fortress down to Kotor is – the biggest disappointment is unfortunately then the castle itself. During our visit, it made a very unkempt impression. In other words: When climbing up to the fortress, the focus is clearly on the gigantic panorama .

By the way: Unlike the standard route, you only get to enjoy the typical postcard motif relatively late on the hike at the back of the mountain. (Only after you’ve climbed through the hatch, to be more precise.) So if you don’t even know if you want to go all the way to the top, it’s better to choose the standard route. We ourselves went up the hiking trail and down the standard path. A little tip: Be sure to take enough water with you!

Default way (stairs) to Fortress Cheese dairy on the hiking trail Hiking trail at the back of the mountain 3. Swimming & Beaches in Bay of Kotor If you are in Bay Arriving from Kotor, you will immediately notice one thing: You can swim everywhere where there is access to the sea. In any case, you should not expect the most beautiful beaches in Montenegro in the Bay of Kotor.

In general, a large part of the shore is concreted or bricked. (After all, the coastal road “Jadranska Magistrala” always runs directly along the shore, with a few exceptions.) Many hotels have small, private beach sections that are reserved for their guests and are sometimes equipped with loungers/umbrellas. Stone footbridges often lead a bit out into the sea.

The cosiest option for a relaxing bathing day in the Bay of Kotor is clearly: book a hotel with a private beach section. If that’s not possible, you’re sure to find a place to jump into the refreshing water.

There are also a few public beaches (mostly rocky or pebble beaches). You can often rent loungers and an umbrella here for a fee:

Bajova Kula Beach: Near Perast, pretty little pebble beach with beach bar, you should definitely reserve loungers/umbrellas in the high season . Morinjska Plaža (Morinj Beach): Half an hour’s drive from Kotor, known for its cooler but mostly clean water (a spring flows into the sea here), there is a cafe for refreshments. Remember that along the coast road is not There is currently little traffic and parking spaces are often scarce in the high season (depending on the location).

4. Excursion from Kotor to Lovćen National Park One of the most famous sights Things to do around Kotor is the Njegoš Mausoleum in Lovćen National Park. It is not so much the mausoleum that is so impressive, but above all its breathtaking location in the Dinaric mountains.

From Kotor, the famous serpentine road meanders upwards in tight hairpin bends. On the approximately one-hour drive you overcome approximately 1.461 Altitude gain. The road is relatively narrow in some places, but we were always able to avoid it without any problems. It’s worth stopping every now and then – the view down on Kotor is simply spectacular.

Arrived at the mausoleum you still have to 461 climb steps before you reach the tomb of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, a prince-bishop of Montenegro, reach. The real highlight is waiting for you at the back of the mausoleum: There the stone viewing platform opens up to you – one of the most famous photo motifs in Montenegro.

Important to know: The mausoleum and the viewing platform are only accessible during opening hours. We ourselves were relatively late (approx. 01 o’clock in midsummer) on site and were able to capture a little of the sunset mood before the mausoleum finally closed its doors. It was perfect for us because we were lucky enough to have the viewing platform all to ourselves for a brief moment.

Overview of information on visiting the Lovćen National Park Travel time from Kotor: approx. 1 hour (definitely longer with photo breaks)

Entry: 5 euros for the mausoleum, 2 euros for the national park
Mausoleum opening hours: Unfortunately not so easy to verify because many websites contradict each other. During our visit in July you could until 12 o’clock in the mausoleum, was open until 30 Watch.

5. Excursion from Kotor to Perast Our tip: It is best to plan in Perast made an overnight stop at all. This charming little town with its relaxed waterfront promenade was our personal favorite place in the Bay of Kotor.

Of course it is also possible (and quite common) to visit Perast “only” as part of a day trip from Kotor. Either you book a boat tour or you drive by car to Perast (approx. 20 Minutes from Kotor).

One of the most famous sights of the Bay of Kotor is located in Perast: the offshore island Maria vom Felsen (“Gospa od Škrpjela”) with her church. You can reach them by boat from the promenade in Perast in a few minutes.

Speaking of Waterfront promenade: This runs directly on the water. And best of all: It is (just like the rest of the old town of Perast) almost car-free. The coastal road leads past the village above Perast.

We can only warmly recommend staying until the evening and capturing the beautiful lighting here. You can then enjoy Montenegrin cuisine in numerous restaurants right on the water.

You can find even more tips in our detailed blog article: Perast Sights

6. Tips for restaurants and cafes There are countless in and around Kotor Restaurants suitable for lunch, dinner or a snack in between. Here are our favourites:

Pizzeria Pronto: Quite inconspicuous, but very popular pizzeria in the middle of the narrow streets of the old town of Kotor. We got a pizza to go here and then ate it at the port.

Konoba Boka Bay: A few kilometers outside of Kotor you can sit here on a terrace right by the water with a fabulous view. A lot of meat and fish is served – but excellent vegetarian dishes were prepared for us on request. The restaurant was just around the corner from our wonderful accommodation, which is why we came here twice.

Ladovina Kitchen and Wine Bar: Very nice, modern bar near the old town of Kotor. Mediterranean cuisine is served, including pizza, pasta, fish, meat and salads. Reservations are recommended in the evening.

Marshall’s Gelato: Probably the best, but probably also the most expensive ice cream in the old town of Kotor. All varieties are made from very fresh ingredients and with a lot of love. Our favorite was “Salty Pistachio” – simply delicious. We paid 5.5 euros for the ice cream in the photo (two scoops).

Konoba Boka Bay Marshall’s Gelato 7. Our hotel tip for Kotor We’ve been looking for the perfect place to stay for a long time Researched time in Kotor. Ultimately, we chose the beautiful Palazzo Sbutega, which we highly recommend.

As the name suggests, you spend the night here in one historic house, renovated with incredible attention to detail and incredibly tastefully furnished. The Palazzo Sbutega is located a few kilometers outside of the old town of Kotor. (But you can be in the old town in a few minutes by taxi.) There are a few cafés and restaurants all around – the great Konoba Boka Bay is just around the corner.

The Palazzo Sbutega not only has a quiet, green courtyard with a pool, but also a private beach section with a wonderful view of the mountains. This is concreted, as is usually the case in the Bay of Kotor. (Note: the coastal road runs between the beach and the hotel, which is also common in the Bay of Kotor.)

The breakfast is served outside served on the courtyard terrace. Host Nigel and his team are very concerned about the physical well-being of the guests. For example, there is homemade muesli (made from the very best ingredients) and very good cheese.

Our conclusion: A special boutique hotel that will be remembered. We had a wonderful time here. The price level is a bit high, but you can save a lot of money, especially outside of the high season.

You can book the hotel here: Palazzo Sbutega

8th. Map: All sights and tips at a glance So that you can get over If you can get a better overview of the individual sights and highlights in and around Kotor, we have included all our tips on this map. Our restaurant tips are also listed here. We wish you a wonderful holiday!

Transparency: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever visited the Bay of Kotor? How did you like the old town of Kotor with its sights? Do you have any questions or maybe you want to share your travel tips with us? We look forward to your comment!