Kotor is a small town on the coast of Montenegro, known for its “bold Italian style” – from the cuisine to the architecture, even with the majority of the residents speaking Italian. This is so because during the heyday of the Republic of Venice, the coast of Yugoslavia (that is, all the way down from Croatia) was under the ruling of Venice. So a little tip, if you want to see Italy’s ancient towns and villages but Italy is too expensive to come, just go to this region. The pictures taken here can “diddle” a lot of people, including Italians (I tried). So, is Kotor Montenegro worth visiting, what to do in Kotor and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Kotor for the first-time? Let’s check out our Kotor blog with the fullest Kotor travel guide (Kotor guide, Kotor tourist guide, Kotor Montenegro travel guide) from how to get to Kotor, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and top things to do in Kotor to find out the answer!
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In this post, I will guide you through how to get to Kotor, what’s good to do, and other fun activities.
Kotor guide: How to get to Kotor?
Getting to Kotor is as easy as going to other European cities, only the number of routes is a bit limited, because Montenegro is not a very popular destination anyway. To get to Kotor, you can only take a bus, no train (Kotor itself does not have a train station), or drive. I don’t drive, so in this section, I only guide on how to come by bus.
From within Montenegro
I came to Kotor from Podgorica, very easy. You just need to go to the bus station (not the train station), take a bus to Kotor. Ticket price under 5 euros. The ride is about two hours.
If you arrive at Podgorica airport and have an itinerary to go directly to Kotor, you still have to go to Podgorica central bus station. There is no public transport from Podgorica airport.
In addition, I also know for sure that there is a bus going from Budva to Kotor and vice versa (because I went to Budva from Kotor). There is a trip from Tivat, but not directly from Tivat airport.
From Croatia to Kotor and Budva are also the most popular ways. Thanks to the weird geography of Croatia, from the famous spots of Croatia, you can easily find a bus or tour to Kotor or Budva.
The main points of transport from Croatia to Montenegro include Zagreb (the capital), Dubrovnik and Split. From Dubrovnik it is even possible to go during the day (2 hours away).
From other cities in Europe
Unfortunately, there are not many buses from famous European cities to Kotor in particular and Montenegro in general. Or maybe only from Vienna. These bus routes go through small towns, with many stops, but they are all considered unknown places. Except for Sajarevo, it seems to have a bit of a reputation.
So, in summary:
- By bus, you can go from Croatia or Vienna, Austria. If you want to go from other points, you have to go to these two transit points first.
- If you want to go from any point in Montenegro, you also need to take a bus.
- It is possible to fly to Tivat near Kotor from Belgrade.
- The main international transport company that runs to Montenegro is Autoboka.
- Kotor bus station is about 10, 15 minutes walk from Kotor town itself. Just follow the road downhill. When you see a town with a wall, it’s itself. From here, it’s much easier, just look, you will know it’s a tourist town.
Kotor blog: Where to stay in Kotor?
As always, you go to Airbnb, Agoda or Booking to choose – the three most popular ways to find a room. However, I personally recommend Montenegro Hostel B&B Kotor (Agoda, Booking). This chain of hostels is extremely clean and tidy, even if it is a dormitory room, it still has a sense of privacy due to the curtain (especially the lower bed). The toilets are clean and nice, the dining room is also full equipment. Very good price. Book as early as 1 month like me, only 9 euros per night. The most important thing is that this hostel is literally right in the center, right across from the biggest church in town. From here to my favorite restaurant Scala Santa is only a few minutes walk. Highly recommended. This place is also famous for its young and friendly staff. That time, I went to be friends with the receptionist, the two of us were so match, it was so much fun!
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Hotel Vardar (Agoda, Booking)
- Villa Duomo (Agoda, Booking)
- Boutique Hotel Hippocampus (Agoda, Booking)
- Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Monte Cristo (Agoda, Booking)
- Apartments Doncic (Agoda, Booking)
Kotor travel guide: Where to go, what to do in Kotor & things to do in Kotor?
After the section above of sharing basic information about Kotor town, in this part, I will share where to go and activities to do here.
Since the trip to Budapest, I focused on experiencing more than visiting it all. So most of the activities I do are aimed at feeling a lot. In the list below, I will introduce some of my favorite things to do in this small town to inspire you to make a plan for your trip.
Stroll around the “Italian” cobblestoned streets of Kotor
The town of Kotor looks almost exactly like the small towns of Italy’s ancient towns, citadels, once ruled by Venice. The roads here are easy to go, small but quiet. Moreover, in a way it feels more nostalgic than in Italy due to the locality of the town. Italy itself has almost turned into a giant museum. Here, visitors still feel the breath of life. Especially the stairs leading up to the houses on the cliff, hidden behind the old houses on the streets.
This small town has no cars, very nice! There is also no market, supermarket. If you want to go to the market, you have to go outside the city gate. Cheap and delicious food should also go to the outside area. In the city, there are mainly tourist shops. Delicious but very cheap fruit, remember to try as much as possible!. If you want to go to the supermarket, you have to go further.
View the Bay of Kotor from the top of the wall of St. John’s Fortress
I highly recommend this hike. St John’s fortress curves along the cliff, to the top of the hill overlooking the bay of Kotor. Usually for the strong people, the hike takes less than an hour. If you’re not feeling well, it’s not take even more two hours. Besides, there are many stops to rest.
But I warn you in advance that hiking along the hill steps is more tiring than climbing the mountain. It’s not very high, but climbing up is very tiring. I remember when I used to climb mountains for 5, 6 hours without breathing “like a cow” like climbing a church or climbing a mountain stone steps.
In the hot season, you must have a hat, water, and sunscreen. Remember to bring some sweets or fruit. The heat of the Mediterranean region is no joke!
How to climb? Admission is 8 euros, purchased at the entrance gate. If you climb, it’s best before 8 am, or as late as after 5, 6 pm, it is free, because there is no one to guard the gate. Climbing at night here is only dangerous in that it is dark and the stairs is (slightly) dangerous. But I climbed late, and then returned down at 8 or 9pm, so it’s entirely possible. Those who are strong and healthy can climb in the dark for cool, watching the bay under the lights at night for romance. Remember to bring a flashlight!
There are many points to climb to the top, because there are many stairs. The easiest point to find is the North Gate in the old town (ie Sjeverna Vrata in Stari Grad). There are signs that are easy to find.
This is the gate I recommend because it’s easy to find. Because of cheap (back door, only 3 euros), so I went out completely, strolled around outside the wall of the old town to enter the residential area and then climbed from there. Hiking from there is not difficult, the difficult thing is to find the climbing gate… If I didn’t ask while walking, it would take a long time for me to find it, because not many locals love to climb this route…
Drink Montenegro wine and hanging out at night with… cats
Montenegro in general, Kotor and Budva town in particular are the paradise of cats. I remember Budva and Kotor both have cat museums. But in summary is at night when all the shops are closed, the tourists of the day have all boarded yachts, and Kotor becomes unusually calm and quiet. This is a great time to have on hand a small bottle of good wine, favorite music, slow walk around the town. Kotor town is very safe, few people, small and pretty. Walking at night without meeting people feels like going back in time to the Middle Ages.
A little more about cute cats. I love all four-legged and furry animals. I especially love dogs, but I also love cats. Coming here is like falling into a small paradise, cats everywhere. They are all very nice, they are not friendly with people, but they are not particularly afraid of people. If you slowly approach, they will not notice anything, let you caress freely. I like it very much! For cat lovers, I especially recommend Montenegro.
Breakfast, lunch and… dinner at Konoba Santa Scala restaurant
Coming to a coastal country you definitely try seafood. With Tripadvisor in hand, the place to eat is not an issue. But I especially like this small restaurant recommended by the receptionist at the hostel where I rented. Fresh food, reasonably priced, good service, rarely overcrowded even though it’s located right in the center of the old town. It’s a bit hidden, not stand out in the dining streets near the town’s big churches.
Lunch? Also great, fish, squid are all fresh! I like fish, but highly recommend squid! In this region, squid is especially tasty. I haven’t eaten it in Kotor town but in Budva I have tried once, it’s sweet and crunchy.
Dinner, even better! Because they often screen movies right on the wall next to the restaurant, right on the Jazz bar. Usually the menu here is very rich. But I strongly not recommend you to order any kind of pasta in Montenegro. Although heavily influenced by Italian culture, the way they eat pasta is totally different, very strange. At least I don’t like it. I see in town, it’s just seafood.
And why do I like this restaurant so much? The fish soup here is so delicious, and it served with bread. Basically, my capacity is only needs soup and bread to be full. I think that’s what Asians have in common. And the soup is cheap… only 4, 5 euros …
Relaxing leisurely breakfast overlooking the bay of Kotor
I remember there was this very big cafe on the wall overlooking the Kotor boat dock. The view from the restaurant down is very chill. I can’t remember its name, nor can I find it online. But I remember how to get there. You just need to go to the entrance of the old town (right at the entrance), go in, go straight to the left until you see the stairs, then climb. Climb up and you will see a huge balcony full of tables and chairs. That’s it.
The food, I have not tried, but it’s quite expensive. Acceptable prices for drinks. The classic breakfast is not local food. But it owns a beautiful scenery. I tried both breakfast and sundowners, always great. If sunny, just ask them erect umbrellas.
Enjoy the local barbecue
This grilled shop is very famous. I judge by myself, it must be said that it is very fresh and delicious, highly recommended! They have seats in the back so don’t worry if you see a small area in front. I recommend coming here to avoid peak meal times (ie 11:30am to 1:30pm. Come a little early at around 11am or a little late, like 2 or 3pm, so you don’t have to wait).
A very large serving. Don’t expect to eat it all, order slowly. Pre-payment. The restaurant called BBQ Tanjga (Address: E65, Kotor, Montenegro/Hours: 10AM–10PM/Phone: +382 69 863 836). If you do a google search, it will show up right away because it’s very well-known. It’s located outside the old town, just a 5-7 minute walk. Highly recommended!!!
(Haha, I seem to eat all the time when I come to Kotor. I met a Taiwanese friend here who has a good taste and we ate all the time together).
Last thing to do, still related to food but a little different
Except for the old town, there is a small beach outside Kotor town. Get out of the old town, go to the right (opposite of the boat dock) for a bit, you will see a pebble beach. This beach can be bathed, quite deserted, especially in the evening onwards. The atmosphere is very pleasant. There’s nothing like chasing sunset here. There’s a restaurant right by the sea. In the photo I took the corner of the restaurant. But I think going in that direction will see it right away because it seems to be the only restaurant with a balcony overlooking the sea like that. It was a good place to eat. Seafood or other foods are a bit expensive, but wine and meat (barbecue in general) are reasonably priced. I love the grilled food here, full!
Take a day trip to Perast
Kotor is where the office of 360 Great Montenegro is located. This company does a very responsible tour. Small tours, many different categories, relaxed pace, not rushed. Although I only tried the classic tour around the famous spots in Montenegro, they also offer other very popular tours. Especially the cruise tour on the Tara river. If you like outdoor activities, you should give it a try.
So you know what I did here! Although its focus is a bit on eating and drinking but, wow, eating is also a cultural experience, right? Of course, in addition things to do above you also visit Kotor churches, strolling around its charming old town, bathing in the sea…
In this section, I will introduce the village of Perast right near Kotor. Although Kotor is very pretty, it’s so small, and it takes two days to explore all. I was lucky to have an interesting companion. But on the third day, I had have to find a way to change the atmosphere right away. So I turned my attention to the small town of Perast. Near Perast there is a small island called Our Lady on the Rocks, on the island there is a very beautiful little church. In general, when traveling in such small places, pay attention to the atmosphere and enjoy yourself, because there is nothing special do to there.
How to get to Perast?
Perast is very close, by car it takes about 20, 30 minutes depending on traffic situation. In Kotor, there is a Blue Line bus company that operating routes to Perast and vice versa. There are two starting points: You can go back to the bus station, or wait right outside the old town of Kotor, next to the small market. You can ask where it is parked at the information counter at the entrance of the Old Town. When you get to the parking lot, there will be a sign so you will definitely find it.
Bus departs every half hour. Blue Line has many trips to many different destinations, so ask the driver first if you are going to Perast. So ask them to tell you where to get off is suitable. Tickets can be purchased directly from the driver.
When you turn back, the stop is directly opposite Perast’s cathedral, next to the beach. Very easy to find. However, it seems that the return bus going through this point with one trip every hour, not as much as the bus from Kotor. Or they pick up at other bus stops. In general, it is impossible to get lost.
What to do in Perast?
After arriving in Perast they will drop you off at a corner right… in the middle of the road. This seems to be the custom of Montenegro or something like that. This reflects the inadequate infrastructure of Montenegro. At that time, go a little further and you will see a place to go down. Do not get down right at the stairs opposite the bus drop you off because it seems that there is a staircase in private land.
Perast is a small town, very peaceful, and few people. You can go around to take pictures. Every corner is as beautiful as the small towns of Western Europe, especially in the summer the flowers bloom in vibrant colors.
In addition, you can climb up the church tower to enjoy the sea view. From here, you can see the tiny Lady on the Rock Island nearby. The tower is not very high, I don’t remember if it need to buy a ticket but even if any, it would be very cheap, well worth it. Standing in the top floor, looking at the sea, looking at the sky and looking at the earth, relaxing is not bad.
I don’t like the Church of Our Lady on the Rocks, it’s tiny with only a church. But if you want to visit, there are countless boat services along the sea. Each person is about 7 euros/two-way. Visiting the island for 1 or 2 hours is too enough.
There are two small islands there. One is Our Lady on the Rocks, the other is the Abbey of St. George. Both of these islands are artificial islands. The one with the overgrown trees is St.George. The one that can be visited is Our Lady on the Rocks.
After exploring, back to find a restaurant by the sea to eat or sip a drink is also very relaxing. The price is also moderate, but you should check the menu first, if you like, please find a seat. Because although Montenegro is small and poor, the coastal areas are still touristic, easy to make money from tourists.
But in general, eating and drinking should come back to Kotor for a lot of delicious dishes. There, the restaurant is diverse and good services, more convenient to choose than in Perast. Going to Perast for picnic is ok, bringing some food is fun. Very suitable for those who like quiet and few people.
Happy traveling guys!
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Montenegro you can refer to
- Bay of Kotor Whole Day Tour in Montenegro from Dubrovnik
- The Best of Montenegro Day Tour from Dubrovnik
- Montenegro Day Tour from Dubrovnik
Read more Montenegro guide here.