Montenegro, and its beautiful Bay of Kotor, is one of the hidden treasures of the Dalmatian Coast. Nestled in mountainous terrain between Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, Montenegro is incredibly scenic and shockingly affordable. Although I would have jumped at the chance to spend a whole vacation in this Adriatic gem of a country, we unfortunately only allotted a half-day to spend in Kotor. Check out how we spent these precious hours below!
How to get there (from Dubrovnik)
Getting from Dubrovnik to the Bay of Kotor is a relatively easy trip. Although buses run back and forth all-day, we decided to rent a car and drive ourselves. There are many rental car options in Dubrovnik, but we decided to go through M.A.C.K. rentals (more about M.A.C.K. in my article Discover Dubrovnik). I would not suggest waiting until the morning of to arrange a car rental, as sometimes it can be a lengthy process and will definitely cut into the time you’ll have in Kotor. Instead, stop by the night before and get everything arranged and paid for ahead of time!
Mapping a route from Dubrovnik to Kotor is simple and pretty much a straight-shot. If you’re going off-season like we did, border control should be a breeze. It only took us 5-10 min each way. However, if you plan to go during the on-season be prepared for wait times to be anywhere from 20 min to 2 hours. Make sure to bring your passport!
In total, the drive from Dubrovnik to Kotor took us about an hour and a half. However, we were able to cut off a good 40 minutes on the way back by taking the Lepetani-Kamenari Ferry across the bay. The ferry costs only 4.50 EURO per vehicle and takes four minutes. Although I would definitely taking the long route one way, the scenery is fantastic!
The whole Dalmatian Coast is a bit of a fiasco when it comes to currency. Croatia, although it is part of the EU, takes the Croatian Kuna, while Montenegro, which isn’t part of the EU, takes the Euro. Although the Euro is still, unfortunately for us, kicking the dollar’s ass, Montenegro is still one of the most affordable countries in Europe.
Even in the tiny Old Town, there’s no shortage of delicious restaurants in Kotor. Restaurant City, located next to the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, serves delicious seafood and refreshing beverages under a nice, shady awning. We stopped here for lunch and feasted on delicious seafood risotto and stuffed squid washed down with ice cold Točeno Nik beer and Crnogorski Krstač wine.
This little market located along Ulica 2 Sjever-jug (next to the restaurant Konoba Scala Santa) served the best cappuccino I’ve ever had, no exaggeration. They also sell delicious bottles of local wine at an incredibly cheap price. Definitely one of Old Town’s hidden treasures.
Hike the City Walls
The city walls are instantly visible upon arrival in Kotor. Nicknamed “The Great Wall of Kotor,” the walls climb up the steep side of the cliff after circling the old city. Entry costs 3 EURO from May-October, but the walls are free the rest of the year. Although walking along the portion of the walls around the city is well-worth a visit, the real excitement lies in climbing up the cliff to the Fortress of St. John. If you plan to walk all the way to the Fortress, expect the hike to take roughly 1.5 hours round-trip. Comfortable hiking shoes are a must-have and don’t forget to pack plenty of water in the hot season!
About halfway to the Fortress, you’ll reach the Church of Our Lady of Health, which some people believe has special healing powers. A short walk up the hill from the church, you’ll find the best views of the Bay of Kotor. Pictures below!
*Fair warning, this hike is not recommended for those afraid of heights. The walls, started in the 9th century, are a bit run-down and there are a few stretches where you are, quite literally, walking the side of a cliff.
Cathedral of St. Tryphon
Probably the most recognizable monument in Old Town, the Cathedral is the resting place of St. Tryphon, a third century martyr and the patron saint of gardeners. Entrance is 2.50 EURO and definitely worth a visit. Although be warned, the inside is FREEZING. The Cathedral has withstood four major earthquakes, including the quake that almost leveled Dubrovnik in 1667.
Wander the Old Town
Kotor is full of twisted alleyways, ancient architecture and hidden gems. Spend some time strolling around and exploring the old city, maybe grabbing an ice cold Točeno Nik or an ice cream along the way!
Kotor’s Bell Tower, pictured below, is located directly through the Main Town Gate. Like the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, the Bell Tower is among the most recognized symbols of Kotor. The triangle in front of the Bell Tower was once the site where the city’s criminals and wrongdoers would be tied up for public harassment.
There’s loads more to do in Kotor than listed here, but keep in mind we only had six hours. If you plan to spend more than a few hours there, I would strongly suggest checking out Rick Steves’ guide “Croatia & Slovenia.” He dedicates a chapter to the Bay of Kotor and includes detailed driving directions, plenty of attractions and restaurant suggestions, and a list of picturesque coastal towns to check out along the drive!
Happy traveling and thanks for reading!