Although the small Balkan nation of Montenegro may not be the most popular spot in Europe, there’s little doubt that the most popular destination within the country is the historic town of Kotor. Sitting on a gorgeous bay and boasting an enchanting old town, Kotor is definitely one of the best places to visit in the region.
What’s nice about Kotor is that you don’t need very long to see what makes it special. In fact, even just one day is enough time to include all the best places to visit in Kotor. As with most quick trips, it helps if you have an idea of what to expect while there, which is why looking over this Kotor itinerary is such a good idea. WIth it in hand, you’ll have no problem exploring Kotor in 1 day.
Best Time to Visit Kotor
Like a lot of places on the Adriatic coast, crowds and weather in Kotor fluctuate throughout the year and can have a big impact on your visit. Kotor can get quite busy and incredibly hot during summer.
Rather than sweating it out, the best time to visit Kotor is either side of the high season in the months of April, May, September, or October. During these months you’ll still get comfortable weather, but won’t have the challenges that can come with high season. Choosing to go in shoulder season means not having to contend with large crowds, not being faced with high season rates on accommodation, or finding that tours are booked out.
Unfortunately, the low season from November through March isn’t a good idea, as you run the risk of things being wet and cold, with lots of attractions closed.
How to Get Around Kotor
The good news when visiting Kotor is that it’s not a place that’s hard to get around. You’ll be spending most of your time around its Old Town, which is compact and easy to get around on foot. The rest of Kotor is also within walking distance.
That being said, you’ll want to know about the local buses which visit Perast and the nearby islands. Blue Line buses travel from Kotor towards Perast every 30 minutes and cost €1. Just make sure to hail the bus down to ensure it stops.
The nearest airport to Kotor is Tivat Airport, which is 8km away from the town. Taxis are the only transport option to get too and from the airport, luckily they are not too expensive.
Where to Stay in Kotor
Since the town is quite small, deciding where to stay in Kotor really isn’t too difficult. To make the most of your visit, the best places to stay in Kotor are within its fortified Old Town or along the nearby waterfront. Another option worth considering is one of the nearby towns like Perast or Tivat as they’re nice, only a short drive away, and likely to be quieter.
If you’re looking to surround yourself in luxury and refinement, stay at Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro on Kotor’s Old Town Square. This fantastic four-star hotel is set inside a historic building and combines modern comforts with vintage styling.
For a nice mix of home comforts and convenience, Villa Ivana Apartments is a great place to call home. This apartment, located just inside the town walls, has everything from air-conditioning to a kitchen, as well as a terrace with views of the bay.
Among Kotor’s various budget options, one of the best is Hostel Pupa. This hostel just outside the walls benefits from great staff and clean common areas, which include a lounge and terrace.
For more accommodation options in Kotor check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 1-Day Kotor Itinerary
One day to look around Kotor is the ideal amount of time, because that way you won’t feel like you’re letting your time go to waste. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see in town, just that the best of Kotor can be covered in a short amount of time. To really make the most of your trip, it’s best to follow our guide, so that you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Kotor.
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With that important note covered, it’s time to dig into all the interesting attractions included in this Kotor travel itinerary. Following our guide, you’ll know exactly what to do in Kotor in 1 day.
The natural starting point for your visit to Kotor is the town’s historic center. Surrounded by huge medieval bastions and walls, there’s no mistaking where the Old Town begins. Entering one of its gates, you’re immediately met by grand Venetian architecture all of which is made from stone. Take some time to wander the narrow streets and alleyways, and you’ll soon understand why Kotor Old Town was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s hard to believe how well-preserved so many of its 17th-century buildings are, dating from it’s time as a Venetian city.
Old Town Square
After exploring the Old Town of Kotor for a while, you’ll sooner or later find your way to the Old Town Square. Located just inside the Sea Gate, this is one of the rare open areas within the Old Town walls. Restaurants and cafes spill out into the square, taking up much of its space, with the main landmark the noticeably older Clock Tower.
Meandering down a nearby side street, you’ll soon reach the most curious attraction in Kotor, the Cats Museum. Created because of Kotor’s large population of cats, this museum is dedicated to the love owners have for their cats. Inside you’ll find exhibits and collections that revolve around people’s feline friends, from postcards and posters to coins and writings. It’s not an especially large museum, but if you’re a cat lover it’s hard to resist.
Life in Kotor has long revolved around the sea and sailing, it makes sense that its major historic museum is the Maritime Museum. Inside you can learn about the town’s deep maritime traditions with exhibits on navigation, model ships, warfare, and local life. It’s really the best way to get a greater understanding of Kotor as a whole.
While there are plenty of churches crammed into Kotor Old Town, the most significant is Kotor Cathedral. Also called the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, this impressive building was built in 1166 and is one of only two Roman Catholic cathedrals in the country. The building has undergone additions and repairs over the centuries, most notable in 2016 to repair damage from an earthquake in 1979.
Kotor Fortress Climb
For many visitors, the highlight of their trip to Kotor is the journey up the mountainside to Kotor Fortress. Climbing up to the fortress, which sits at the end of ribbon-like walls, is a rite of passage each visitor should undertake. Also known as the Castle of San Giovanni or Saint John’s Fortress, the landmark makes for the perfect view of the town and bay below. To reach it though, you’ll need to conquer the 1,355 steps it takes to reach the top, passing the lovely Church of Our Lady of Remedy along the way. It’s hard work, but something you won’t want to miss out on.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Leaving Kotor for a while, head north up the coast to the twin islands of Our Lady of the Rocks and the Island of Saint George. These tiny islands sit out in the Bay of Kotor off the shore of Perast and couldn’t be more picturesque. The island of Saint George is home to a Serb Orthodox monastery and can not be visited by tourists.
But that’s not the case with Our Lady of the Rocks. Tourists can take a boat ride over to this man-made island and visit the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. Not only is the church quite a pretty spot, it lets you see the Bay of Kotor from a wholly new perspective. And who doesn’t love a gentle boat cruise in a sheltered bay? To reach the island you can take a boat tour from Kotor, which also takes you to the Blue Cave and several islands out of the bay.
Have More Than 24 Hours in Kotor?
Just because you’ve made your way around Kotor’s sights doesn’t mean you need to move on. Following your 24 hours in Kotor you can instead use the town as a base to explore the many great destinations nearby. Here are just a few of your options for easily accessible places to visit while staying in Kotor.
1. Bay of Kotor
Kotor may be the best known destination around the Bay of Kotor, but it’s certainly not the only one. Follow the lake’s shore in either direction and you’ll soon find other perfectly pretty villages to visit.
One that we’ve already mentioned is the picturesque town of Perast, that’s full of history and scenery. Among its old-fashioned stone houses you’ll come across several palaces, churches and a monastery. Just up from Perast is the village of Risan, where you can see ancient Roman mosaics.
To the west of Kotor you’ll find the town of Tivat. Rather than being draped in history, the focus there is the upscale Porto Montenegro marina and its many luxury yachts. There you can dream of the good life and go shopping, before following the coast north to the peaceful Plaža Ponta beach.
The Adriatic Coast is home to plenty of stunning destinations, one of which is Dubrovnik – just across the border in Croatia. While you could easily spend 3 days in Dubrovnik seeing the sights, you can make just a day trip work if you’re pressed for time.
Begin your visit by passing through the immense fortifications that surround it’s treasured Old Town. Once inside you can walk down the Stradun, the beautiful main street which is lined with limestone. Passing elegant Venetian buildings, you’ll reach Luza Square with many grand landmarks on it including the Rector’s Palace which is stunning inside and out. A short walk away lies the Dubrovnik Cathedral, home to artwork by renowned Croatian and Italian artists.
A trip to Dubrovnik isn’t complete without taking to the City Walls for a lap of the impressive defences. The views of Dubrovnik’s rooftops and the coast are well worth the walk. It’s then time to take the Dubrovnik Cable Car to the top of Mount Srdj for the terrific views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding Adriatic islands below.
Another fantastic historic destination in a neighboring country is Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This city in the country’s south is one of Bosnia’s most popular tourist destinations thanks to its eye-catching scenery.
Visits to Mostar focus on its picturesque Old Town, so start out with a wander through its stone streets. You’ll soon enough reach the city’s most famous landmark, the Stari Most bridge which spans the Neretva River. It’s from this bridge that brave local men are known to dive into the river below – this is worth seeing if you can.
Crossing the bridge will bring you to Mostar’s Old Bazaar which is full of shops and stalls. Making your way through you’ll soon reach the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque which boasts one of the best panoramic views in the city. If you have more time, consider stopping in at the wonderful Blagaj Monastery or castle at Počitelj on your way back. For more details, take a look at our detailed Mostar itinerary.
4. Lovcen National Park
Lovcen National Park sits in the hinterland beyond the mountain ridge that overlooks Kotor and is good for both hiking and sightseeing.
The park centers around Mount Lovćen, its two peaks and the rocky countryside covered in forest that surrounds it. To reach the park from Kotor it’s possible to actually climb up past Kotor Fortress and continue over the ridgeline. Otherwise you can drive up into the park and go hiking from there.
Besides its phenomenal views of the Bay of Kotor and the rugged countryside, there is some sightseeing to enjoy here as well. Atop the Jezerski Vrh peak stands the Mausoleum of Njegoš dedicated to Petar II Petrović-Njegoš. This impressive mausoleum is set at the top of a long staircase and features an observation deck with unparalleled views of the Montenegrin coast.
As you can see, 1 day in Kotor lets you comfortably see the main attractions in town, while staying longer has its perks too.