Perched on the corner of the Bay of Kotor, the small, romantic town of Kotor is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved old towns in Montenegro. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and calm waters, Kotor has an undeniably peaceful atmosphere, which soothes the soul. The town has its charm, maybe from the small streets of the walled old town, or the friendly locals. Either way, it makes even the most well-traveled visitors fall in love with Kotor.
Despite Montenegro being on our list for some time, we weren’t expecting much from this small, unassuming country, but Kotor completely blew us away.
While spending longer in Kotor is easy, a one-day visit still leaves enough time to see the main sights and sounds of the town and the Bay of Kotor, and even an opportunity to taste some local delights.
So, if you’re wondering how to spend one day in Kotor, Montenegro, then look no further, our Kotor one-day itinerary includes how to get to Kotor, the best things to do in Kotor, where to eat, and where to stay.
How to get into Kotor
There are multiple ways to get to Kotor and Montenegro, but the two most common are from nearby Tivat airport or Dubrovnik in neighboring Croatia.
Tivat airport is the easiest option, being a mere 10-15 minutes away by car, which should cost no more than €25 in a taxi. Depending on whether you are arriving at Kotor from Dubrovnik city center or Dubrovnik airport, a transfer will cost between €80 and €120 and will take 1 hour 30 minutes – 2 hours 30 minutes, entirely dependent on queues at the border.
Alternatively, you can get the bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor for around €15 per person. The bus will take 2-2 half hours.
Early breakfast in Kotor
Start your day in Kotor with breakfast at Mon Bistro Cafétéria. This small, local cafe is open from 8 am and serves up a selection of pastries, muffins, and sandwiches.
Situated down a small street in the heart of Kotor Old Town, grabbing a seat outside and tucking into a freshly made pastry here is a great introduction to Kotor.
Early Morning sightseeing in Kotor
To get the most out of one day in Kotor, dive straight into one of the best things to do in Kotor and climb up the 1350 steps on the hill behind the Old Town to St John’s Fortress.
The climb up and back down takes around 2 to 2 and a half hours, so we recommend starting the climb by 09.30 at the earliest, if possible.
Entry to the walking path usually requires an entrance fee, although the payment gate is sometimes open and the fee changes regularly.
Although the uphill climb can be steep in places, there are plenty of rest stops on the way and stunning views to reward you throughout the journey.
There is an observation point after around 5-10 minutes on the way up, as well as the Church of Our Lady of Remedy shortly after. We recommend aiming to turn around at the church if you start later, have limited time, or aren’t keen on the full climb up.
The most rewarding views can be found from St John’s fortress at the top. A little rugged nowadays, the fortress was built between the 9th and 15th centuries to protect Kotor from invaders.
Things to do in Kotor
After trekking to St John’s Fortress and back – worth a stop in any Montenegro road trip out there – Forza Cafe is the perfect spot for a pick me up. Alongside great coffee, Forza has an impressive selection of cakes and sweet treats, if you need a well-deserved sugar hit.
Its outdoor seating on the larger streets of the Old Town makes for a leisurely rest point too.
Explore the old town
Kotor’s old town is the real attraction to this picturesque corner of the Bay, so exploring the many cobbled streets is a must when visiting.
The town and surrounding areas were designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. As one of the best-preserved medieval towns on the Adriatic, the town was designated due to its historical importance within the region and the Venetian defense works that were carried out between the 16th and 17th centuries.
We’ve listed some of the best things to do in Kotor Old Town below, but among the landmarks, there are many beautiful squares and small alleys that can be found by exploring the town on foot and getting lost in its many streets.
Make sure to walk outside the walls too, where you can see the gates and appreciate the scale of the walls built to protect the town.
St Tryphon Cathedral
One of the most iconic buildings within Kotor’s Old Town is St Tryphon Cathedral. Consecrated in 1166, the Cathedral was built to honor Saint Tryphon.
Like many buildings in Kotor, the Cathedral suffered damage after the 1667 Dubrovnik earthquake and underwent a major reconstruction. The fine exterior holds an equally impressive interior, which has many examples of Romanesque architecture.
A small fee is required to go inside the cathedral.
Sitting on the Square of the Boka Fleet, in the heart of Kotor’s Old Town, the Maritime Museum was founded by the seamen of Kotor.
The beautiful building that the museum is housed within has 3 floors displaying artifacts, portraits of the seamen, and displays depicting the maritime history of Kotor. The highlight is the model ships and weapons that are also on display.
A small entrance fee is required for the museum.
Lunch in Kotor
For a hearty lunch, we recommend heading to a local favorite, Bastion.
Located in the corner of the old town, Bastion specializes in seafood and Montenegrin dishes. With reasonable prices and tasty food served in healthy portions, it’s easy to see why Bastion has become popular with locals.
If you’re not sure what to try, ask for the daily specials or the stuffed squid is truly delicious.
Bay of Kotor Boat Cruise
The day is far from over yet and exploring the Bay of Kotor by boat is next on the list.
Boats from the Kotor marina leave regularly throughout the day in the summer months on sightseeing cruises across the bay. We booked a boat cruise which leaves the marina at 3 pm every day. The journey takes around 2 hours 30 minutes and stops at some of the best attractions on the Bay of Kotor.
As well as being able to see some of the top things to do in Kotor on the boat trip, it is also a great opportunity to see more of the bay and the incredible scenery on offer.
Our Lady Of The Rocks
The first stop on the boat trip, around 20 minutes in, is Our Lady of the Rocks. This is a small man-made island on the Bay of Kotor which houses a Catholic Church.
Dropped rocks and ships loaded with rocks are what led to the creation of this small island. Most boat trips, including the one we did, allow visitors 30 minutes on the island, which is more than enough time to walk around it, see the church, go into the church museum and even buy a souvenir.
Explore Perast Town
The second, and final stop, on the boat trip, is Perast.
It is just 5 minutes from Our Lady of the Rocks by boat and is a small historical town lining the Bay of Kotor. With 30-40 minutes to explore the town, there are several attractions to see, such as the Church of Saint Nicholas and the Perast Museum.
However, taking a stroll along the seafront and sitting down for a drink in one of the many upmarket bars and restaurants which overlook the bay is equally as enjoyable!
Perast is considered a luxury resort to some extent and the quality of restaurants and hotels along the seafront highlights this.
Related read: The most picturesque Montenegro cities and towns
Early evening drinks on the Bay of Kotor
Arriving back into Kotor Marina around 5.30 pm means there is just enough time for a stroll along Kotor’s promenade and a drink to wash down a busy day.
Walking for just 10 minutes along the bay from the Old Town brings you to Dobrota, where a selection of bars and restaurants line the calm waters.
Dinner in Kotor
Montenegrin cuisine is a mix of Balkan and Mediterranean food and is largely inspired by the merging landscapes of the black mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
We were pleasantly surprised to find delicate local foods such as Njeguški Pršut, similar to prosciutto, alongside heartier lamb stews and fresh fish dishes. There is a great variety of dishes across Montenegro to choose from, making it easy to dine out.
Try Konoba Scala Santa, in Kotor’s Old Town, for a selection of traditional Montenegro dishes as well as more modern takes on Montenegrin cuisine.
We highly recommend ordering the sharing plate of Njeguški Pršut, which is served with local cheese, olives, and walnuts, and the mixed fish plate, which includes fresh fish and shellfish with delicious sides.
Late Night Drinks In Kotor Old Town
While Kotor is beautifully peaceful in the day, the Old Town becomes a beacon for nightlife in the evening.
There are lots of little bars all over the town, catering to thirsty locals and tourists, but we loved Evergreen Jazz Club, for its live music and great atmosphere. The club has live bands outside most evenings and draws a large crowd.
It’s the perfect place to grab a drink and take in the sights from one day in Kotor.
Things to do in Kotor for a longer stay
If you’re planning to stay in Kotor for more than a day, why wouldn’t you? There is still plenty to do and see to keep even the most restless traveler entertained.
Here are a few extra things to do in Kotor and the surrounding area for longer trips:
Visit Nearby Budva
A 30-minute drive away, Budva is where to go in Montenegro for some of the best beaches and water-based activities. There is also a small old town and a large marina area and seafront area, which is nice for taking a walk along. The easiest way to get to Budva is by taxi, but there are also buses from Kotor to Budva.
You can check out our Budva travel guide for more information on what to see and do in Budva, Montenegro.
Explore More Of The Bay Of Kotor On Boat Cruises
So you’ve already done one boat trip on the Bay of Kotor, but there is much more to see on the Bay of Kotor and surrounding areas, so another trip is more than justified.
Some of the other highlights to see in the area are the Blue Cave, Mamula Island, and the Submarine Tunnel. Boat trips heading to these attractions usually take at least 3 hours.
Live Your Best Life In Porto Montenegro
Have you heard of Tivat?
Neither had we until we stumbled across it.
This small town in Montenegro, around a 20-30 minutes drive from Kotor, is home to one a new marina development for superyachts called Porto Montenegro. Surrounding the marina are designer shops, restaurants and bars, and a new modern complex development. The new luxury development has become popular with wealthy yacht owners and is fast becoming a destination.
Take a few hours to wander the area, admire the yachts and have a drink in one of the upscale bars.
Where to stay in Kotor, Montenegro
Hostel – Old Town Youth Hostel
Well regarded as one of the best hostels in Kotor, the Old Town Youth Hostel is housed within an old, beautiful building in Kotor’s Old Town. Simple, traditional rooms are comfortable and offer everything the budget traveler needs.
There is a shared lounge as well as a selection of rooms from dormitories to private double rooms.
Mid-Range Hotel – Palazzo Drusko Deluxe Rooms
Palazzo Drusko is a solid mid-range hotel option for anyone visiting Kotor. Conveniently located in the heart of the old town, everything is close by. Rooms are spacious and traditionally decorated, giving the hotel a boutique touch.
Breakfast is not available but a shared kitchen allows guests the facilities to prepare their breakfast.
Luxury Hotel – Boutique Hotel Astoria
For a spot of luxury when visiting Kotor, look no further than the Boutique Hotel Astoria. Housed within one of the fine buildings of Kotor’s Old Town, Hotel Astoria offers guests beautifully decorated rooms with a luxurious feel.
The hotel also has an excellent restaurant on-site and a delicious breakfast offering.
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Gemma and Stefan made their blog, Gremlin Travels, to share their travel experiences and knowledge with others. After traveling in any spare time they had over the last 10 years, they have recently made life changes to travel more often and for longer. With a passion for all things travel-related, they are keen to make travel easier for everyone through their compact travel guides, detailed travel articles, Instagram account, and a growing library of walking tour videos on Youtube.