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Europe > Balkans > Montenegro > Bay of Kotor > Kotor

Kotor

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Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro with a population of 23,500. It is known for its beautiful architecture and natural setting in the deepest part of a breathtaking bay.

The Bay of Kotor

Understand[edit]

Kotor is situated in the secluded Boka Kotorska bay, on Montenegro's northern coast. It has developed around Stari Grad (local language for "old town"), the city's old town and best known landmark, which is listed with UNESCO World heritage sites, and the city walls are even separately listed together with five other Venetian city walls along the Adriatic and in Italy. The bay is the deepest natural fjord in the Mediterranean Sea, and the scenery around it (including the steep mountains which come almost to the waterfront) is spectacular.

The Stari Grad is fully walled (the mountain functions as a rear wall). Four gates offer access to the town: The Main Gate, along the Bay, the North Gate, the South Gate, and a smaller New Gate. There are no cars allowed in the Stari Grad, nor are there standard road names in the Stari Grad. Although all buildings are numbered, it is best to use landmarks for directions. Generally, the squares are named for the church in their center, and directions either relate to the closest square or the closest gate. The most obvious landmark is the clock tower, just inside the main gate, in the main square.

There are abundant banks and ATMs throughout the Stari Grad. ATMs often dispense as few bills as possible. For example, a withdrawal of €150 will probably produce 3 €50 bills. Many people refuse to make change from large bills, so it is advised to withdraw an even amount, to avoid €50 bills, or small amounts at a time. Banks are closed on Sunday or Holidays. Travellers cheques are generally not accepted, not even by banks. Note that not all restaurants or shops accept credit cards, either.

Kotor and the entire Kotor Bay have long been a vacation and second-home destination for many Europeans and British. After Serbian, English is the common language, and most waitstaff and hotel staff speak English.

Get in[edit]

Saint Luke Church

By plane[edit]

Tivat Airport is 8km away. The following airlines operate to/from Tivat Airport: Air Moldova (Chiṣinǎu, seasonal), Montenegro Airlines (Belgrade, Copenhagen, London-Gatwick, Moscow-Domodedovo, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Pristina, Rome-Fiumicino, Skopje, St Petersburg), Moskovia Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo), Rossiya (St Petersburg) and S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo). There are charter flights to Moscow, Helsinki and elsewhere, but many of these are not available for booking on online consolidation sites, so it is best the check the individual airline's websites.

Podgorica airport [1] is 90km away, and has flights throughout the year to Belgrade, Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Vienna and, London-Gatwick. Buses run from Podgorica to Kotor year round.

Dubrovnik airport in Croatia is 73km away from Kotor, and maintains flights to many European destinations throughout the year, providing an alternative to the Montenegrin airports. A taxi to Kotor costs €80.[2].

By bus[edit]

Kotor is fairly well connected with neighboring countries by bus.

  • 1 Bus station (Autobuska stanica) (5 minute walk from the old town, on the road towards Budva (look for the old tall chimney!)), +382 32 325 809, . every day 06:00 - 22:00. Bus times and frequency varies greatly seasonally. Check the schedule online.

From Budva buses run to Herceg Novi, stopping in Kotor, almost every 30 minutes from 7:00 to 23:00 (2€50). Buses also run between Kotor and the following cities: Podgorica (hourly, €7 (August 2014), Bar and Ulcinj (6-8 daily, approximately €5), Dubrovnik and Mostar (3 daily, 3 hours, about 20€), Split (3 times a week, 7 hours), Sarajevo (1x daily), Belgrade (10 hours), Skopje (night bus, 12 hours, twice a week on Friday and Saturday at 7PM). During the week you can go to Skopje via Nis, Serbia (bus from Kotor to Tivat at 3:50PM, from Tivat to Nis 5:30PM). The 11AM bus to Mostar costs €26 plus a euro per bag and takes 9 hours, as it visits almost every major town in Montenegro and southern Respublika Srpska before finally arriving in Mostar.

There are also small public buses (colored in white with blue sign "Blue line") that run through the city connecting nearby villages and towns. You can stop them at any bus stop inside Kotor. They also go to Tivat along the coast line passing Muo, Prcanj, and they also reach the beautiful Perast. Fixed price: 1€ (2017).

By car[edit]

All roads in Montenegro are two-lanes only, and mostly are curvy mountainous roads, so speeds over 70 km/h (43 mph) are rarely legal or safe.

The Vrmac tunnel has recently been completed, which significantly shortens the journey from Budva to Kotor. Road traffic was formerly diverted to alternative road over Trojica hill above Kotor. It is still possible to travel via this winding mountain road. From this hill you can enjoy beautiful views not only of the tiny countryside villages, but also of Podgorica (when approaching from Cetinje), and Kotor Bay.

When driving in Montenegro, be aware that the locals drive aggressively and think nothing of overtaking across white lines on steep bends. Be careful. There is also a great deal of road building underway and the safety considerations are a less onerous than those in more-developed countries. Don't panic.

As in many places, taxis may or may not have a meter. Be warned that un-metered taxi fares can range widely, especially for English speakers. Taxi drivers often try to cheat tourists. The real taxi price within Kotor and Muo should be below €3. You should discuss the price before entering the taxi.

  • Transfer service, Kralja Nikole 122 Podgorica, +382 69949197, . minivan transfers, airport transfers comfort sedan vehicles Dubrovnik €85, Mostar €120, Sarajevo €160, Split €200, Podgorica €40, Tirana €140.

By boat[edit]

There aren't any scheduled ferries travelling to Kotor but there are services between Bar and Bari, Italy except during winter.

Get around[edit]

The city walls and mountains beyond

Kotor is small, so everything is within walking distance. Enter the old town via any of the three gates, then explore the maze of narrow lanes between the stone houses.

Parking space in the city center is hard to find, so use your car only when you have to. Be careful where you park, sketchy tow operators target tourists around the old city. Find a free parking space away from the old city and then walk.

There are no sandy beaches in Kotor, and water is not of premium quality for swimming. Consider driving to the beautiful Jaz or Trsteno beaches on the Budva Riviera, some 20km from Kotor.

See[edit]

Old Town
Triphon cathedral
  • 1 St Tryphon's Cathedral (Old Town). First built in the 11th century, reconstructed after earthquakes. Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Chapel holds the remains of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor. €2
  • St Nicolas Church. The biggest Orthodox church in the Old Town.
  • Maritime Museum (Old Town), +382 32 304720. M-Sa: 8AM-8PM; Sundays: 9AM-1PM. 3 floors of photographs, uniforms, weapons, paintings, and model ships. €4.

Do[edit]

  • Climb up to the Fortifications. Stretching some 4.5 km directly above the city, on almost vertical cliffs. Climbing up the 1350 steps will be rewarded by a view of Kotor and the bay from St John's fortress. Only advisable for relatively physically fit people. Some of the steps are broken but the path is in relatively good shape. The 1200ft ascent may take 30mn to 1h depending on your condition. 8€ (high-season only; it may be free during the low season).
  • Boat Trips. In the middle of the bay there are two islands, Sveti Djordje and Gospa od Skrpijela, which are worth seeing and accessible by tourist boats (15€) which leave from outside the old town main gate. It is however much cheaper to first go by bus to Perast (1€) and then use a water taxi (5€) to get to the islands.

Buy[edit]

Old town has many boutiques. There is an open market just outside the old town; there you can buy fresh vegetables, sunglasses and many other things.

Eat[edit]

At the market, try to sample local smoked ham (njeguški pršut) and cheese (njeguški sir) from the nearby village of Njeguši, which are two of the Montenegrin cuisine's most famous products.

Kotor offers a variety ranging from classy restaurants offering fresh seafood and national cuisine to fast food offering pizzas, barbecue, etc. There is a large produce market outside the city walls. Hamburgers there cost €1. Cafes and restaurants line the bay-side promenade, which stretches north through Dobrota.

Budget[edit]

  • Forza (near the clock tower). The most popular pastry shop in Kotor
  • La Pasteria (directly opposite St Tryphon Cathedral). Great sandwiches and fine pizzas with original prosciutto from the nearby village of Njeguši. Probably the best Italian food in Kotor!

Mid-range[edit]

  • Tanjga (At the roundabout, halfway between the bus station and old town). Family-run butcher/restaurant, massive amounts of grilled meats and great service 4-15€.
  • Bastion Restaurant (Near St. Mary's church), +382 32 322116. Busy lunchtime venue. Great fish. €6-30.
  • Cesarica (close to Hotel Marja in the Old Town). Serves excellent and cheap Dalmatian food. Try the cuttlefish risotto. main dishes from €5-15.
  • Forza Mare, Dobrota. Seaside restaurant and hotel, outside of Kotor
  • Babilon restaurant and hotel, Dobrota. Affordable prices, good location and a first-class seafood menu

Drink[edit]

Again, old town is the hotspot for relaxed drinking espresso in the shade of the medieval walls. There are many cafes in the old town, but still it's hard to find a place to sit in the sunny day. Tipping is not necessary although you may leave your change by simply rounding up. Befriending the waitstaff can get you quite far.

Espresso costs €1+. Soft drinks and juice cost €1-2.

Sample the Montenegrin wines, "Vranac", "Pro Corde", "Krstac", "Cabernet", "Chardonnay" and "Nikšićko" beer. Montenegrin brandy, called "rakija" is good choice to "warm up" before going out in the evening, especially grape brandy "Montenegrin loza", "Prvijenac" or "Kruna". Litre bottles of wine are available in the supermarkets outside of the Stari Grad for under €5.

Nightlife[edit]

A night out in Kotor usually begins in the open bars in the old town. Pubs in the old town are only open until 1AM.

The best club is Maximus, which is located in the old town, and closes at 5AM.

Sleep[edit]

Accommodation during low season is cheap and plentiful in Kotor.

Private Rooms[edit]

Many of the homes in the Stari Grad have been turned into for-rent apartments. For groups of two or more, these are often the most affordable options. Their quality (and prices) range from luxurious to modest. Most can be reserved online, although wire-transfer down payments are expected. Most are either owned or managed by English-speaking expats foreign visitors.

During summer, expect to pay about €10 per person for accommodation at a private residences in the old town, and €7-15 outside the old town and closer to beaches.

Hostels[edit]

  • Old Town Kotor Hostel, Stari Grad 284 (Near Cultural Center), +382 32 325 317. Once owned by a local noble family, Bisanti, the Old Town Hostel Kotor's careful restoration and design offer historic Kotor's rustic atmosphere. Dorm bed: €20.
  • Youth Hostel Spasic-Masera, Dobrota bb (1km away from the centre and 20m off the main road).
  • Suranj Hostel. Privately owned hostel near the bus station. Own room with small kitchen, TV and shower. Double: €33.

Hotels[edit]

  • Hotel Amfora Kotor (Kotor Bay Orahovac) (Located 6 km from Perast), +382 32 305 857, fax: +382 32 305 852. Check-in: 24h, check-out: 12h. Hotel has 4 Stars, with a private beach, sauna and fish restaurant. Open 24 hours and all 365 days a year. The hotel is located directly at the beach in Orahovac. Quiet rooms with seaview overlooking the bay €30-99.
  • Cattaro Hotel. 4 star hotel. €90-150.
  • Forza Mare. A small 5-star hotel in Dobrota.
  • Hotel Marija (Old City), +382 32 325062. Boutique hotel. Single: €44; Double: €63.
  • Hotel Vardar. Old Yugoslavian design. Recently upgraded and expensive. Single: €100; Double: €200.

Connect[edit]

Wifi is available in the town center, and at many cafes. Cafe wifi often requires pass codes given only to paying customers.

Nearby[edit]

  • Prčanj - a hamlet 4km away.
  • Budva - a popular tourist destination
  • Bar - a city and biggest port of Montenegro
  • Tivat - home to a marina for the elite's yachts
  • Herceg Novi
  • Cetinje, interior old capital of Montenegro
  • Lovćen National Park
  • Daytrip to bay-side towns, like Perast (18km away) or Risan.
  • Visit beaches a half hour's drive from Kotor (Jaz, Trsteno, Plavi hori).
This city travel guide to Kotor is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.