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.
One nice thing about Kotor is that you don’t need very long to see what makes it special. In fact, one day is enough time to hit 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
As with 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 April, May, September, or October. If you visit during these months, you’ll get comfortable weather without the challenges that can come with high season. Going in shoulder season means you don’t have to contend with large crowds, face high seasonal rates on accommodation, or find that tours are sold out.
Unfortunately, the low season from November through March isn’t a good idea, as you run the risk of wet and cold weather, with lots of attractions closed.
How to Get Around Kotor
The good news for when you’re visiting Kotor is that it’s not a hard place 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 that visit Perast and the nearby islands. Blue Line buses leave for Perast from Kotor every 30 minutes and cost €1. Just make sure to hail the bus down to ensure it stops.
The nearest airport is Tivat Airport, which is 8 kilometers away from Kotor. Taxis are the only transport option to and from the airport; luckily, they’re not too expensive.
Where to Stay in Kotor
Since the town is quite small, deciding where to stay in Kotor isn’t too difficult. The best places to stay in Kotor are in its fortified Old Town or along the nearby waterfront. It could also be a good option to stay in one of the nearby towns, such as Perast or Tivat – 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 in Kotor’s Old Town Square. Set inside a historic building, this four-star hotel combines modern comforts with vintage styling.
For a nice mix of home comforts and convenience, Villa Ivana Apartments is a great place to stay. At this apartment complex, located just inside the town walls, you’ll get air conditioning, a kitchen, and even a terrace with views of the bay.
Another option for accommodation is Airbnb. You can even get up to $55 off your next Airbnb booking when you use our link.
Among Kotor’s various budget options, one of the best is Hostel Pupa. This hostel just outside the town walls benefits from great staff and clean common areas, including 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, as 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 time. To make the most of your time, it’s best to follow our guide so that you don’t miss any of the best things to do in Kotor.
However, before we get to our Kotor itinerary, we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and, trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it.
SafetyWing offers travel insurance for only about $10 a week, making it a no-brainer to get. You can get a quick, non-binding quote below:
SafetyWing is, of course, not the only option available. Two other popular alternatives are World Nomads and Heymondo.
With that important note covered, it’s time to dig into all the interesting attractions 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. There’s no mistaking where the Old Town begins: It’s surrounded by huge medieval bastions and walls. Entering through one of its gates, you’re immediately met with grand Venetian architecture, all made from stone.
Take some time to wander the narrow streets and alleyways, and you’ll soon understand why Kotor Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s hard to believe how well preserved so many of its 17th-century buildings are, dating back to its time as a Venetian city.
Old Town Square
After exploring the Old Town of Kotor for a while, you’ll 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 being the noticeably older Kotor 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, so it makes sense that its major historic museum is the Maritime Museum. You can learn about the town’s deep maritime traditions from its 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 in Kotor Old Town, the most significant is Kotor Cathedral. Also called the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, this impressive building was built in 1166 and is one of only two Roman Catholic cathedrals in Montenegro. The cathedral has undergone various additions and repairs over the centuries, most notably 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 ribbonlike walls, is a rite of passage for Kotor visitors.
Also known as the Castle of San Giovanni or St. John’s Fortress, this landmark provides the perfect view of the town and bay below. To reach it, though, you’ll need to conquer the 1,355 steps in the staircase to the top, passing the lovely Church of Our Lady of Remedy along the way. It’s hard work, but you won’t want to miss out on this experience.
Our Lady of the Rocks
Leaving Kotor for a while, head north up the coast to the twin islets of Our Lady of the Rocks and the Island of St. 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 St. George is home to a Serbian Orthodox monastery and closed to tourists, but that’s not the case with Our Lady of the Rocks. You can take a boat ride over to this man-made island and visit the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. The church is quite a pretty spot and lets you see the Bay of Kotor from a whole 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 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 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 pretty villages to visit.
One we’ve already mentioned is the picturesque town of Perast, which is full of history and lovely 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 Tivat being draped in history, its draw is the upscale marina of Porto Montenegro and its many luxury yachts. You can dream of the good life and go shopping there before following the coast north to Plaža Ponta, a small and peaceful beach.
The Adriatic coast is home to plenty of stunning destinations, including Dubrovnik, which is just across the border in Croatia. While you could easily spend 3 days in Dubrovnik seeing the sights, you can make a day trip from Kotor work if you’re pressed for time.
Begin your visit by passing through the immense fortifications that surround its treasured Old Town. Once inside, you can walk down Stradun, the beautiful main street lined with limestone. Passing elegant Venetian buildings, you’ll reach Luža Square and its many grand landmarks – including the Rector’s Palace, which is stunning inside and out. A short walk away lies the Dubrovnik Cathedral (also known as the Assumption Cathedral), home to works 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 defenses. 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 Srđ for terrific views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding Adriatic islands below.
Another fantastic historic destination in a neighboring country is Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thanks to its eye-catching scenery, this southern Bosnia city is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
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, Stari Most, a bridge that spans the Neretva River. It’s from this bridge that brave locals 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, home to one of the best panoramic views in the city.
If you have more time, consider stopping at the Blagaj Tekija – a wonderful Dervish monastery floating in the river Buna’s spring at the base of a majestic cliff – or the castle at Počitelj on your way back. For more details, take a look at our full 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 on Mount Lovćen, its two peaks, and the rocky countryside covered in forest that surrounds it. To reach the park from Kotor, you can actually climb up past Kotor Fortress and continue over the ridgeline. Alternatively, you can drive up into the park and go hiking from there.
Along with its phenomenal views of the Bay of Kotor and the rugged countryside, this park offers some more sightseeing to enjoy. Atop the Jezerski Vrh peak stands the Mausoleum of Njegoš, where poet Petar II Petrović-Njegoš is interred. This impressive mausoleum is set at the top of a long staircase and features an observation deck with unparalleled views of the Montenegro coast.
Book a day tour from Kotor to Lovcen National Park here!
As you can see, 1 day in Kotor lets you comfortably see the main attractions in town – though staying longer has its perks too!
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