Set in one of the most spectacular spots imaginable, the old Mediterranean port of Kotor is the crown jewel of Montenegro. Absolute musts for any Kotor itinerary include exploring its alluring alleys and hiking up to its amazing medieval fortress. Whether you have 1, 2, or 3 days in Kotor, you won’t tire of its stunning scenery and charming squares!
Hemmed in by majestic mountains, its atmospheric old town lies at the end of the brilliantly blue Bay of Kotor. One of the best places to visit in the Balkans, it also has some lovely boat trips to enjoy and nearby islands, towns, and beaches to explore.
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How Many Days in Kotor?
While you can just about see all of Kotor in one day, staying longer enables you to really get a feel for the place. You can also then take some day trips and explore more of the beautiful bay. Just how many days to spend in Kotor really depends on how you travel and what you like to see!
If you only have one day in Kotor, you can amble about the Old Town and hike to its fortress. As well as checking out its pretty palaces, squares, and churches, you can enjoy fine views over the bay and mountains.
2 days in Kotor allows you to experience its now romantic and relaxing Old Town in the evening when all the daytrippers and cruise ships have left. Most people take a trip to nearby Perast and a scenic boat ride out to Our Lady of the Rocks.
As there is so much to see along the coast, spending 3 days means you can venture a bit further into Montenegro including places such as Budva, Sveti Stefan or Cetinje – the country’s former capital.
Getting To & Around Kotor
Most travellers arrive at Podgorica Airport and then take either a bus or private car to the idyllic town. Private transfers and taxis are another option, though these are more expensive. This trip takes roughly an hour and a half, passing some spellbinding scenery and viewpoints on the way.
If you opt for the cheaper public transport option, you must first get to the main bus station. Just ten minutes’ walk from the airport is a small, unlikely-looking train station (more of a stop really) with the train journey only taking about seven minutes. You can also get a taxi here. From the bus station, it takes two hours to reach Kotor.
Renting a car at the airport is another option if you want to explore some more of the coast and country. Although it is pretty affordable, parking can be a bit of a hassle around Kotor in peak season when every space is occupied. You can view car rental options here.
Much closer by is the tiny Tivat Airport which has regular flights to Dubai, London, and Istanbul among others. Private transfers or taxis can then whisk you to Kotor’s adorable Old Town in 10 to 15 minutes. Some also fly into Dubrovnik Airport, a two-hour drive to the northwest.
Once you arrive in Kotor, everything should be within easy walking distance. Expect an arduous hike though if you’re heading up to the fortress! For the nearby towns and islands, it is very easy to hop on a bus or boat or take a short taxi ride to wherever you want to go.
1, 2 or 3-Day Kotor Itinerary
Just arriving at Kotor and seeing its breathtaking setting and views is already going to leave you super excited to explore! Quite compact, its defensive walls are laid out in a triangular shape between the bay, mountains, and Scurda River.
Don’t be worried if it’s very busy when you arrive. The hordes of tourists on cruise ships usually head off around 4PM. After this, a peaceful calm falls over everything.
Let’s take a look at how you can make the most of your trip to Kotor!
Day 1 – Hike to the Fortress & Explore the Old Town
Even if you only have only one day to spend in Kotor, you can still see most of its main sights. These are the fortress, its walls and waterfront, and of course the Old Town. Lovely architecture, views of the bay, and scenery are guaranteed wherever you go!
Hike to Kotor Fortress
For the most memorable start to your trip, head straight to St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, next to the North Gate. This is where the steep, scenic, zigzagging trail up to the stunning Saint John’s Fortress starts.
Setting off early in the summer means you avoid the heat and get its 1350+ steps out of the way early on!
The hike usually takes an hour and a half to two hours, there and back. This depends on how often you stop for breaks or to snap photos and enjoy the view. There is an entry fee, so keep this in mind. Regardless, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Kotor.
About halfway up, you’ll arrive at the incredibly picturesque Church of Our Lady of Remedy. You can already take some phenomenal photos of its bell tower in front of the bay, mountains, and red rooftops of the Old Town.
The crumbling ruins of the old fort are also fun to explore, providing yet more epic panoramas and photo opportunities. If you love the hike, you can always continue on upwards to Krstac – you will have to clamber all the way back down later though! Note that if you do head to Krstac, this will be a full-day hike.
Once you’re back down from the fortress, consider heading to BBQ Tanjga to fill up on a hearty plate of typical Balkan food such as grilled meats and vegetables!
Explore the Old Town
Once you’re finally back at the bottom, it’s time to get lost amidst the Old Town’s enticing streets and squares! One of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Adriatic, it has a wonderful look and feel to it. You can either explore independently or go on a walking tour.
While just strolling about and taking in its architecture and ambience is already a treat, there are of course some specific spots to head to. As it is not particularly big, take your time and stop off at any of the cute, cosy restaurants and cafes that take your fancy.
Completely pedestrianised, its main hub of life is the large, open Square of the Arms. Bordered by countless colourful old buildings, souvenir shops, and tourist trap restaurants, it also has the town’s charming clock tower to check out, dating to the early 17th Century.
Another of Kotor’s main symbols and sights is St. Tryphon’s Cathedral. Its two tall Baroque bell towers create some fantastic photos with the marvellous mountains rearing up behind them. As well as its incredible architecture, the church also contains some fine paintings and sculptures.
While seeing the churches of both Saint Nicholas and Saint Luke is also very nice, just exploring random, romantic-looking alleys is the highlight of most people’s time in town.
Walk by its Waterfront and Admire its Formidable Fortifications
Just outside of the Old Town is of course the glimmering Kotor Bay. Along its palm tree-lined promenade, you can gaze out over its waters or ogle up at sleek cruise ships towering over the dock.
From here, you can also enjoy some great views of the defensive walls of Kotor encircling the Old Town. Stretching 4.5 kilometres in length, they are actually much longer than the more famous ones in Dubrovnik.
You can admire Kotor’s fortifications from outside, inside, or even atop parts of them and amble through their sturdy gates. The ornate Sea Gate is its most impressive and important entrance though the imposing Gurdic Bastion also looks very cool.
Visit some Museums
As Kotor isn’t very large, you’ll also definitely have time to visit a museum or two. Offering up an interesting look at the port’s history, art and heritage is the Maritime Museum. Its two floors are full of maps, models, artworks, and exhibits.
Although well done, many people prefer instead to head to the much cuter Kotor Cats Museum! A symbol of good luck in Montenegro, cats can be found all around the town’s little streets and squares. Here you can see hundreds of photos and artworks of them and even meet its friendly local residents!
As neither of them takes long to go around, you’ll have the evening to wander about its historical centre and enjoy the quiet atmosphere without any crowds.
Day 2 – Visit Perast, Vrmac Hike and Enjoy the Sea
Although walking around its narrow streets is always very pleasant, you will have exhausted its main tourist sites on day two. There are, however, Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks to see and the whole Bay of Kotor to explore!
You can also hike some more or relax on pristine pebble beaches if you feel like it. In any case, spending 2 days here is definitely not a waste of time!
Just a fifteen-minute drive, bus ride, or taxi along the bay from Kotor is the picture-perfect village of Perast. Its jumble of old buildings look amazing, sandwiched in between the turquoise waters and towering mountains.
Other than wandering about its streets and waterfront, you can snap photos of its elegant villas and churches. There are also some excellent seafood restaurants to try out and an even smaller maritime museum to stop by.
Once you’ve had your fill of all its endearing Venetian architecture, views, and vibe, just hop on a boat to Our Lady of the Rocks! You will see plenty of them leaving from a small dock at the centre of the town.
Take a Trip out to Our Lady of the Rocks
After just five minutes, you’ll alight at the small isle which is said to have been formed over the centuries by fishermen throwing rocks in the sea. This was to honour an ancient oath after one of them found an icon of the Madonna and Child perched upon an outcrop in the bay.
A quaint church was also erected upon the islet in the seventeenth century. Packed with pretty paintings and shiny silver votive tablets, it is quite atmospheric to amble around. Cool and quiet inside, it also has an ornately decorated ceiling and organ to admire.
From outside, you can take some fabulous pics of the church with the bay and mountains about it. Delightful views can also be had of Perast and the nearby island of Saint George. Off-limits to visitors, its small confines are home to a Benedictine monastery and cemetery with tall cypress trees rising up all around its twelfth-century buildings.
Lounge on its Beaches
Once you’re back on firm ground, you can spend the rest of the day sunbathing or swimming. A number of small beaches lie on either side of Perast, all of which boast divine views over the bay.
While some have thin strips of sand, others are instead concrete terraces with piers and access points to the crystal-clear water. Some cafes and restaurants can usually be found next to them.
Just ten minutes’ walk north of Kotor Old Town is another lovely beach to lie on. Very convenient to reach but quite rocky, it has sun loungers and parasols for you to rent. The views are also out of this world!
Hike up to Fort Vrmac
If you’re planning to hit up one of Montenegro’s beach towns on day three, you may want to skip the sunbathing and go on another hike.
Opposite the Old Town on the other side of the bay is a great option – the eerie, abandoned but hugely interesting Fort Vrmac! Aside from exploring the old Austro-Hungarian fortifications, you can enjoy some wonderful nature and views on the way.
From the start point at a bend in the P22 Highway (check Google Maps before heading off!), it is roughly an hour and a half up to the fort.
After panting your way up the snaking Franz Joseph Steps through the forest, you’re rewarded with great views over Kotor. These only get better the higher up you go!
Still very well-preserved but in a state of disrepair, the reinforced stone and concrete fort dates to 1897. After clambering through one of its windows (very easy we promise!), you can wander about its dark corridors, rooms, and up to the roof. This has yet more awesome views to enjoy.
Perfectly safe but definitely one for more adventurous travellers, the fortress is lots of fun to see – just watch out for a few holes in the floor and some bats overhead!
Day 3 – Day Trip from Kotor
On your final day, you can venture a bit further away and see some of the many other incredible towns dotting the Montenegrin coast.
Much closer by, Budva lies about half an hour south of Kotor by the sea. Its Old Town is also unbelievably beautiful as its centuries-old Venetian buildings are clustered on a peninsula, surrounded by twinkling turquoise waters. It’s easily reached via bus from Kotor and is one of the highlights of Montenegro.
Besides looking spectacular, it is known for its sandy beaches and vibrant nightlife when compared to Kotor. Getting lost amidst its narrow streets is also great fun as outdoor cafes, restaurants, and boutiques line their paving stones.
Whether you want to chill on the beach or explore its medieval centre, ‘Montenegrin Miami’ has you covered! There are also some awe-inspiring cliffs and views to enjoy nearby.
Just fifteen minutes further down the coast is the adorable little islet of Sveti Stefan which is now connected to the mainland by a narrow tombolo. You can reach here via taxi from Budva. A bit similar in aesthetic to Budva’s Old Town, its tightly-packed buildings make for some fantastic photos and viewing.
As it was turned into a private five-star resort, you can sadly only enter if you stay in one of their luxury cottages or take a tour which can be relatively expensive – especially if you’re travelling on a budget.
The beaches by it though are perfect for relaxing on while taking in sublime views over the sea and islet. Some bars and cafes are dotted about should you get hungry at any point.
If you’ve had enough of beaches or old walled towns, Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro makes for a nice change. Located about 1.5 hours from Kotor via bus, the small town has a peaceful, laid-back feel. It should only take a couple of hours to see most of its sights.
Tucked away in a small valley, it has long been an important centre of culture in the country. As well as several stately theatres, museums, and libraries, the town contains Cetinje Monastery – an architectural gem and important sacred site.
Rebuilt in the 18th Century, its complex is fascinating to stroll about and houses some remarkable frescoes and ancient relics.
On the way back to Kotor from Cetinje, you can always stop (if you have time) and explore the magnificent landscapes, scenery, and nature of the Lovcen National Park – that is, if you’ve hired a car. A hiker’s paradise, it also encompasses the majestic mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos – the Montenegrin leader and poet.
Just before you get back to Kotor, you’re greeted with some of the finest views of the town, far, far below. Snaking your way down the Kotor Serpentine road, you’ll be amazed at all you’ve managed to pack into your visit to Kotor!
Where to Stay in Kotor
Hotel Monte Cristo – Located in the Old Town of Kotor, this 4-star hotel is great for those looking for a plush and romantic escape in the town. There are plenty of rooms to choose from with breakfast available in the mornings.
HealthyStudio512 – Centrally located, this property offers both double rooms and apartments – perfect for those looking for a comfortable, self-catering option while visiting Kotor.
Old Town Kotor Hostel – This hostel is a great budget option and good for those looking for a social atmosphere. They have a great location in the old town and plenty of room types to choose from.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Kotor hotels!
One of the most beautiful places in the Balkans, Kotor looks stunning, has a lovely feel, and loads to see nearby. Don’t miss out on the Montenegrin gem’s epic views and atmospheric Old Town!
Are you planning to visit Kotor? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!