This dramatically beautiful coastal town lies wedged between brooding mountains and a moody corner of Kotor Bay. Ancient, sturdy walls climb steeply up the slopes behind the town and contain the maze of marbled lanes where churches, shops, bars and restaurants surprise you at every corner.
People pour into Kotor in July and August. Cruise ships glide in and glittering super-yachts fill the marina, but Kotor never gets too touristy, largely because it lacks the beaches you can find further down Montenegro’s coast. This secluded and sheltered town attracts those with romantic hearts and a discerning appreciation of natural beauty, living history and architecture.
Marvel at maritime beauty
Awe-inspiring beauty hits you as you enter this old Mediterranean port, resplendent with its fortifications erected during the Venetian period. Kotor lies on one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic coast and is often referred to as the southern-most fjord in Europe. It’s not actually a fjord as glacial activity has not caused the inlet, but rather river water carving its way from the interior to the Adriatic Sea. Limestone cliffs at Orjen and Lovćen contribute to the overall beauty of Kotor’s Mediterranean landscape.
If you’re arriving by sea, you will be rewarded by magnificent sights of the Bay of Kotor as you cut through the waters for an hour or so, through the mountains along the 27 kilometre long waterway. Cruise ships often begin the journey down the bay as early as 6am as the early morning views are truly memorable.
Explore the Old Town
The Old Town’s fortified threshold to the sea has earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Kotor is Montenegro’s most famous town. The pedestrianised Old Town is great for wandering along and taking in the atmosphere.
Within the walls of the Old Town, there’s a wealth of well-preserved churches, squares and stone streets, all dating back to the Middle Ages. Don’t miss the atmospheric Kotor Cathedral of Saint Tryphon and the ancient walls which stretch for 4.5 kilometres above the city.
Admire the views
Kotor is packed with interesting shops and unique restaurants. Simply pick a square, order a drink, people watch and gaze at centuries old churches.
If you looking for more views and you’re feeling energetic, pull on your walking shoes and follow the city walls which lead you up 1,200 metres and behind the town. It’s about a 90 minute walk up 1,350 steps to the top and back.
Enjoy festivals galore
It’s often a good idea to time your stay with one of Kotor’s many lively festivals and mingle with the locals at their happiest. July seems to be the busiest month for festivals.
For fifteen years, KotorArt has played an important role in Montenegrin cultural identity, bringing life and beauty to the town from the beginning of July to mid-August. The streets and squares of the Old Town and other venues along the Bay become flooded with works of art, displaying the works of over 1,000 great artists from around the world.
Kotor Carnival takes over the town in February and during the months running up to the event, carnival masks are being crafted ready for the processions throughout town. Kotor turns into one big party for all the family, putting on plenty of concerts and theatre productions, along with the best in local Kotor cuisine.
The International Fashion Festival arrives in July for several days, gathering together fashion designers from Montenegro and neighbouring countries and you’ll find works by leading Italian designers too. The festival is the ideal opportunity to dress up and rub shoulders with businessman, actors, fashion industry gurus and other glamorous personalities from the jet-set world.
Fasinada is another July event and takes place in the old town of Perast. Decorated boats and barges travel around the artificially-built island of Gospa od Skrpjela. The tradition is to decant stones brought to the island by the barges, throwing them around the shore. This is followed by folk music and at night everyone enjoys a festive fish dinner on the island.
July’s Children’s Festival features children’s authors, poets, play directors and others who glorify children with their work. Kotor becomes packed with children and their parents happily walking around, singing child compositions and attending all kinds of child-orientated events. The Old Town fills with stages where children perform and stories are recited, not just from Montenegro authors but also from overseas too.