Have you seen these stunning photos of the Kotor Bay, and they convinced you to visit Montenegro? This is at least how I ended up in Montenegro. The small town of Kotor is a great destination for a day trip from Budva, Herceg Novi or Tivat.
We’ve been based in Budva twice for a couple of months, and we used the convenient location to do some day trips. Kotor is only a 30-minute bus ride away, which was perfect for spending one day in Kotor.
It doesn’t matter from which town you come, there is a very high chance that you can take the local bus. So, no need to rent a car. The bus system in Montenegro is pretty good! You can take a bus from Herceg Novi, Tivat, or Budva to get to Kotor. If you come from Herceg Novi, you can enjoy a scenic ride all the way around the Bay of Kotor. It’s amazing!
How I would spend a day in Kotor
Ok, so in this blog post I will give some more tips for things to do. In the end, everyone has a different taste in what they want to see or how they want to see. So, how would a perfect one-day itinerary for Kotor look like for me?
If I am there in summer, I’d start with a boat tour to “Our Lady of the Rock” and maybe add a 30-60 min stay in Perast. Then I’d do a walking tour of Kotor and have lunch afterwards. If I visited this medieval city in another season, I’d do the boat tour after the walking tour.
In the afternoon or evening, I’d hike to the fortress so that I could enjoy the sunset. I’d probably would bring a beer or wine with me. Then I’d either have a light dinner and drinks or take a ride back.
Kotor in one day – Things to do
Kotor isn’t a big city, but it is definitely worth visiting. The fortified town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was part of the Venetian Republic for four centuries. You can easily see it in the architecture of the old town.
1. Walking through Kotor Old Town
I already told you that I fell in love with Budva’s Old Town and Kotor is just as pretty, or even prettier. I guess I just love Montenegro itself for all the fortresses and stunning views.
When you walk through the narrow alleys of Kotor’s Old Town, you will quickly notice the street cats. Unlike other places I have visited, they actually feed the cats here. Of course, there are always problems with street cats, but that’s not the topic of this post. You’ll feel like in a cat’s town. Probably they will take over the city one day 😀
Exploring the old town maybe takes about an hour. If you like browsing through shops, have a look inside some churches, or grab a bite, you can easily spend more time.
Walking tours of Kotor
I don’t know how about you but I always enjoy walking tours. I have done them in several cities so far. Well, they are a hit or miss but I believe I enjoyed them more than I didn’t.
Montenegro Hostel offers one of those “free walking tours”. Here is the link for more details. I haven’t done it myself but I would go on one the next time I’m around. Because the issue with self-guided walks is that you don’t learn as much of the history.
If you don’t like the “free walking tours” you can also go on a small group walking tour. This 1-hour tour is highly rated on GetYourGuide (this is an affiliate link: by booking through it, you would support this free info from my website).
Self-guided walking tour
Tours aren’t everyone’s cup of chocolate, I get it. I mostly explore on my own (well, with my partner), as well. It’s not that Kotor has hundreds of monuments. If you are interested in the history, you can read up on it beforehand.
There are two gates, which you can use to enter the old town. I’d walk through the Sea Gate first. This way you can also hit the tourist information, if you wanted a map (right outside the city walls).
Here are various walking routes that you can use if you don’t want to be completely left to yourself.
2. Visit the Palace of Living History
People, who visit this museum are pleasantly surprised. The big hype was the cats museum but, honestly, why go in a museum for it if there are hundreds of cats on the streets. So, I believe stepping into medieval times is far more interesting.
3. Stroll along the coast
If you are already in the exploration mode, go down to the water and enjoy the great view of the Bay of Kotor from there. Have a coffee or drink with this panorama!
4. Go for a swim if you need to cool down
During our second visit, we jumped in the water and it really isn’t as nice as at the coast. There are more algae or seaweed and the rocks feel even sharper. But if it’s really hot outside, it’s still worth it.
What I do like about Montenegro’s public beaches, they have showers and/or changing “rooms”. It makes day trips way easier because you don’t have to wait to dry or run around in wet clothes.
5. Hiking to Kotor Fortress for stunning views of Bay of Kotor
I would suggest hiking to the fortress either in the morning or in the afternoon for the sunset. Around noon, it will be extremely hot and miserable because there isn’t much shade on the trail. However, this is only important in the warmer months of the year.
The high season is July until August, which means it is hotter and there are more crowds. In addition, you have to pay an entrance fee. I think this is only if you take the regular trail, not the Ladder of Kotor.
Kotor fortress trail
You will find at least two different entrances to the fortress trail from the old town. It is easy to find because there are signs everywhere. The hike to Sveti Ivan Fortress only takes around 1.5 hours (including time on top). It’s just 0.6 mi (1 km) one way. So, it’s really not that far. However, if you are not a hiker, it might take you some time to get uphill.
It first passes by the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which is on one of those typical Kotor photos (like below). It then follows the old road to the fort. It’s a nice trail! And you get a panoramic view the whole time!
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The Ladder of Kotor
If you don’t want to waddle with a hundred other people, you can also hike parts of the Ladder of Kotor and come to Sveti Ivan Fort this way. The trail is 1.9 mi (3 km) long and you’ll probably need about 1.5-2 hours.
The trail starts on the other side of the water, outside Kotor Old Town. You’ll zigzag your way uphill. It is actually outside the city walls. The regular trail stays inside them. You will pass by Sveti Juraj (old church), which isn’t part of the regular trail.
After the fort, you can hike down the regular trail. This way, you’re walking a loop instead of taking the same path up and down. For more details about the trail, read this article here.
6. Take a boat trip to see the Bay of Kotor
You can also take a little 2-hour boat trip to see the marvelous Bay of Kotor. This way you can soak in the great views from a different angle. You will visit Our Lady of the Rock and Perast. Click here to book the tour! I can recommend a tour for those two places, although I did a different type of tour. The view from Our Lady of the Rock is just breathtaking!
A longer boat tour (3+ hours) will bring you to Mamula and Blue Cave, as well. For this one, you should bring swimming gear because you can jump in the water at Blue Cave. However, I cannot recommend the Blue Cave. It’s a waste of time in my point of view. Have you visited any other Blue Cave before, well, then you know how it looks. They all look alike.
Pro tip for spontaneous people: Walk along the harbor/marina in Kotor. There are a bunch of boats that will bring you to Perast and Our Lady of the Rock. They’ll also do private tours because you’ll pay by boat, not per person. Off-season will be cheaper, obviously.
Check out this video from Vacaymood for the boat trip:
7. Renting a kayak or take a kayak tour
Some people might like to paddle along the shore of the the Kotor bay to soak in all this beauty. You can actually rent kayaks in Kotor and paddle on your own. Adventure Montenegro has a rental shop in the old town.
If you are afraid of all those huge cruise ships and boats, you can also book a tour with them. It’s a 2.5-hour long paddle along the other shore of the bay (Muo, Prčanj, Stoliv). Depending on the group, you’ll cover around 3.7 mi (6 km) in distance. Click here to book the kayaking tour!
Staying for longer in Kotor?
You may want to stay in Kotor for longer because you fell in love with the scenery. I can totally understand ya! In this case, you can take a bus to Perast another day. It is a cute lesser-known town around 8 miles (14 km) from Kotor. Lady of the Rock and Saint George are right in front of Perast.
There are also more hikes around Kotor and you can drive up to Lovcen National Park, which offers great views of the mountains. If you haven’t understood yet where this country has its name from, you will do so here. “Monte negro” means black mountain (it is Crna Gora translated into Spanish) and the views in this wonderful park will make you realize it.
Where to stay in Kotor
There are numerous hotels that offer fantastic views of the Bay of Kotor, but they are also sold out very quickly.
If you want traditional:
The traditionally furnished Studios Kono not just offer a wonderful view of the bay, they are very close to the old town of Kotor and only 1min from the sea.
If you want the 360° panoramic view:
If you are rather looking for a modern apartment, check out the Apartments Blue Sea. It is 3 min from the sea and around 10 min from old town.
If you want to enjoy the view from your balcony:
The Apartments Boka Heart I also provide an excellent view from the balcony. The apartments have a classy-modern design and are around 10 min from Kotor Old Town.
Quick information about Montenegro
- Montenegro is a young country
- It is NOT part of the EU
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Montenegrin (similar to Serbian and Croatian), not many people speak English
- Safety: I felt very safe everywhere, but I also traveled with my partner
- Best time to visit: April to June and August to October (mid-July to mid-August is the high season); November to March is colder and rainier
- Getting around in Montenegro: It is a small country so that you can reach each side of the border within a couple of hours. You can either rent a car or get around by bus (they have a great bus system).