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At the mouth of the Bay of Kotor is the fortified port town by the same name. Kotor is nestled between the Adriatic Sea to the west and the limestone-covered mountain range of Mt. Lovćen to the east. On a cruise to Kotor, Montenegro, you’ll find that this town has the same romance and excitement as neighboring Dubrovnik. Kotor presents a unique challenge for visitors pressed for time: how can you choose between coast and mountains, between natural excursions or the city’s fortified walls? Luckily, on your Kotor, Montenegro cruise, you just might be able to see it all.
This stop on your Mediterranean cruise won’t disappoint—Kotor isn’t a cookie-cutter place, and it’s one of Montenegro’s quirkier destinations. There’s even an entire museum dedicated to cats. Old Town Kotor is the hub for restaurants, cafes, and shopping. A cruise to Kotor, Montenegro is the perfect chance to try traditional Montenegrin foods, too. A heavy Christian Orthodox influence is evident at St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, and the architecture of the city is a mix of Venetian, French, and Austrian. If you’re looking to escape the walled city for Montenegro’s natural attractions, take a day trip to climb and hike the limestone-covered mountains at Lovćen National Park.
On your cruise to Kotor, Montenegro, take a tour of the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, whose imposing Romanesque structure both contrast and complement the rocky cliff sides just beyond it. Built in 1166, take a climb to the top of the church for views of Kotor, or check out the museum in the upper floor which features religious artifacts from the 12th century.
Head to this artificial island—fashioned from sunken ships and rock formations—is a short boat ride from Kotor. See the church Our Lady of the Rocks, which, according to local legend, is where locals found an icon of Madonna and Child on a rock. For a euro, you can take a guided tour of the church and museum to experience the legend for yourself. Every year on one July evening, locals drop rocks into the Bay of Kotor to widen the surface of the island.
Explore the Maritime Museum of Montenegro to understand Kotor’s power as a strategic naval base. An audio tour is a must. The collection of rare naval memorabilia, weapons, and models is a history buff’s dream.
These impressively-preserved fortifications will make you think you’re in a movie, especially when they’re lit up at night. Ascend to the top of the walls for a view of Kotor, or simply crane your neck upward and take in the walls from ground level. Either way, they’re an impressive, must-see landmark while you’re in Kotor.
Kotor’s Cats Museum in Old Town is chock full of cat-related artwork and trinkets celebrating cats. You probably won’t ever go to a museum quite as unique, and admission is only €1. Plus, there are resident cats living in the museum.
Walk around the Old Town of Kotor for a while and you’ll get a sense of its postcard-level beauty. Cafes, shops, and restaurants line every square. If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir to commemorate your time in Montenegro, this is the place to find them.
This natural island is a quick boat ride from the pier. It’s home to a Benedictine monastery and a cemetery. It’s rumored the island is cursed. You can walk the small island, surrounded by cypress trees, rather quickly, then head back to Old Town for lunch.
Take an hour’s drive or a bus ride outside Kotor to Lovćen National Park, which is in the rocky Dinara Alps in Montenegro. Climbing and hiking are two primary activities at the park, with unsurpassed views of Albania and Croatia from the summit. A few restaurants and hotels dot the foothills of the park. Save a full day (or more!) for this off-the-beaten path treasure.
If you’re looking for a night out, head to nearby Budva, which is a beach town known for its parties. Budva is 30 minutes south of Kotor via car, or an easy bus ride. Come to Budva for the stunning Adriatic beaches or for more exploring of its historic Old Town.
Address: Šuranj bb, Kotor 85330, Montenegro
Glass windows at Galion overlook the harbor, only adding to the restaurant’s charm. Ships pass by and mountains loom in the near distance as you enjoy your meal. Galion is the place for an ambient, sophisticated night out. Seafood dishes dominate the menu, like sea bass, mussels, or ceviche, but you’ll also find a variety of pasta dishes as well.
Tanjga’s Family Restaurant
Address: E65, Kotor, Montenegro
If you get the itch to try traditional Montenegrin cuisine, head to Tanjga’s. They’ll give you sizable portions of expertly-prepared meats of your choice, including sides like roasted potatoes and fresh salads. They’re a restaurant and a butcher shop, serving locals in a casual, inexpensive deli-style experience.
Address: Ulica 2, Kotor Municipality 85330, Montenegro
When you need a break from shopping and sightseeing, walk over to O’Clock Coffee for a coffee, a green tea scone, or iced drink. It’s tucked away in a stone building on a stretch of historic Old Town.
Address: Kriva ulica, 85330 Kotor
The Forza Mare Hotel contains this upscale restaurant, and it’s a good spot for dessert, specifically. Dinner here is made of luxe seafood dishes like lobster and sea bass, while the desserts range from classic ice cream sundaes to traditional baklava.
Address: Put I Bokeljske Brigade, Dobrota, Montenegro
Sit on the Dobrata Bay at Che Nova and enjoy casual Italian dishes like thin-crust pizza, pasta, and simple fish entrees. Che Nova is relaxed and ideal for people watching, plus its price range is very affordable for groups or families.
This coastal town borders the Adriatic Sea and is tucked away inside the Gulf of Kotor. The town is also located within a river canyon, surrounded by looming limestone cliffs that are classically Montenegrin. The geography of Kotor is important because of its careful fortifications, built as early as the Middle Ages when Roman emperor Justinian built a fortress within the town. Kotor’s classically Venetian architecture and influence is a result of Venetian occupation from the 15th to the 16th centuries. Kotor had passed hands to the French during Napoleonic rule and back to Italy, and then to Austria by the time of World War I.
More recently, Kotor was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, and cruise traffic has caused an uptick in tourism for the town. The town’s expert preservation is unlike many other Mediterranean destinations. The majority of the population of the Kotor area identify as Orthodox Christians, and the city’s landmarks and churches reflect a strong Orthodox influence.
The Port of Kotor mostly services smaller boats, so when you’re on your Kotor Montenegro cruise, your cruise ship will likely anchor in the bay and tender you on a small boat into the Old Town. Luckily, this part of the town is right inside the city walls, and then you can walk around and explore from there. Leave plenty of time to get back to the ship since you’ll have to be ferried back to your cruise ship.
On a Kotor, Montenegro cruise, you’ll find taxis lined outside the port gate to pick you up and take you into the center of town. Local buses are available too to get to from point A to point B. Ridesharing isn’t yet big in Croatia, so you won’t see Uber or Lyft on the ground here. Most transportation is already included in any guided tours or shore excursions you book, taking you directly from the cruise port to your destination.
The Port of Kotor isn’t as heavily built up as other Adriatic ports, so your best bet for shopping is once you’re in Kotor’s Old Town, where hole-in-the-wall shops and boutiques are plentiful. Note that shops tend to be closed on Sundays. Antique shops and jewelry stores are Kotor’s bread-and-butter, and the morning bazaar is a great place to grab local goods, fresh bread, and produce.
The Euro is widely accepted in Kotor. The main square has ATMs available for you to get some extra cash once you stop on your cruise to Kotor, Montenegro. Credit cards aren’t uncommon since the area attracts so many tourists, but you’re better off using a credit card for larger purchases. Know that service charges aren’t generally already stipulated on your bill at bars and restaurants. Leaving a 10% tip for your server or bartender is polite. Taxi drivers don’t expect a tip, but leaving one for excellent or above-and-beyond service is appreciated.