Montenegro has quickly established itself as one of the hottest new destinations in Europe. Tourism has returned here since the sharp decline during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. And with its prime location, nestled between Croatia and Greece on the Adriatic Coast, it was only a matter of time before tourists ventured here and away from its more popular neighbours. A perfect way to explore the highlights of Montenegro if you’re short on time is to visit Kotor and enjoy the country from the ancient and coastal town. Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Bay of Kotor and is beautifully surrounded by deep blue waters and spectacular mountains. It’s the perfect city to base yourself in if you want to explore Montenegro and have an active few days full of magnificent hiking and medieval history. With that being said, here’s what to do in Kotor for three action-packed days!
Day 1 – Hike to Krstac (via the City Walls)
If you’re unsure what to do in Kotor then it’s best to start by climbing the City Walls to get breathtaking views of the whole city. The main entrance is near the North Gate where you go through an archway to start your hike. During the peak tourist season between April and September, you will be required to pay 3 euros entrance fee, however, the guard monitoring the entrance on the day I went couldn’t change a 20 euro note and was happy to let me in for free!
The first part of the walk will see you zig-zagging along the City Walls until you reach the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, a Roman Catholic church built in 1518, which can only be reached by foot along the path you’ve just taken. Afterwards, continue your climb to St John’s Fortress, which is the final stop for the majority of people climbing the city walls. The fortress is marked by a large Montenegrin flag and offers spectacular views across the Bay of Kotor.
The walk up to this point will take between 1-1.5 hours depending on your level of fitness and how often you stop to gaze at and take photos of the amazing views. Most tourists take the same path back however if you love hiking I suggest that you keep going to Krstac.
As you walk down from St John’s Fortress, you will encounter a small dilapidated church known as St George’s Church. Look out for a small window entrance which will lead you to a marked trail across large open grass plains.
Follow the trail to Krstac before descending back down to Kotor where the trail will take you to the southern part of the Old Town, about a 20-minute walk from where you initially started the hike. Along the route, keep an eye out for small shops selling rakija and cheese if you need a bit of energy to keep going!
This a full day hike and I suggest starting early in summer to both avoid the crowds and the heat. This hike is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Montenegro!
Day 2 – Explore the Old Town and Hit the Beach
No doubt your muscles will be needing a bit of relaxing after the first day’s hike so if you’re unsure what to do in Kotor on your second day then I suggest exploring the compact Old Town.
You can see most of the highlights of the Old Town in about half a day of walking around, which includes St Nicolas Church, Kampana Tower and Church of Sveti Luka. The real highlight of the Old Town, however, is simply strolling through the narrow cobbled streets, exploring random alleyways and having a leisurely coffee in one of the many squares you’ll stumble across.
If you’re a fan of quirky museums, check out the Cat Museum which contains hundreds of photos of cats in a charming small house. There is an entrance fee of one euro, however, the proceeds go to taking care of the plethora of stray cats that you find all over Kotor.
In the summer months, there are a couple of pebble beaches located just outside the Old Town where you can have a dip in the Bay of Kotor. These definitely aren’t the best beaches you’ll find in Montenegro however they’re a nice way to spend an afternoon if you don’t feel like venturing too far away from Kotor.
Day 3 – Hike to Fort Vrmac
If you want another spectacular hike when you visit Kotor, you don’t need to walk far. Located on the other side of Kotor Bay, the hike to Fort Vrmac offers amazing views without the crowds that you find on the City Walls.
To get to the start of the trail, exit the Old Town near the North Gate and walk along the bay towards the P22 Highway. The highway forms a U shape near a series of houses which is where the trail starts. There are a few markers near the area however if you can’t find them, just climb up on the rocks away from the highway until you reach a zig-zagging trail. From there it’s about a 1.5 hour hike until you reach Fort Vrmac, however, expect to take several stops both to catch your breath and admire the beauty of Kotor with few people around you!
Fort Vrmac is an abandoned fortress which you’ll need to climb through a window to enter. As you explore the rooms of the fortress, you get the feeling that you’re in a horror movie and someone could jump out at you at any moment! It’s a really cool building to explore but is extremely dark in some places so make sure you have a flashlight on your phone that you can use as there are several holes in the floor that you’ll want to avoid.
From the fortress, take the same path back down to Kotor or if you’re feeling particularly active there are a number of additional trails that start from the fort including a walk to Prcanj, a small village located opposite to Kotor.
- The best time to visit Kotor is in the shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October where you get great weather but avoid peak tourist season.
- Montenegro uses the Euro despite not being part of the European Union
- If you have some extra days and are unsure what to do in Kotor, there a number of very popular day trips you can take including a visit to Perast where you can take a boat to the famous Gospa od Škrpjela and St.George Island
- I stayed at Old Town Kotor Hostel which is located in the heart of the Old Town near the North Gate and offers a very affordable breakfast and dinner for 4 euros every night. The sociable staff will also take you out on the town in the evenings if you feel like sampling the nightlife.
- If you want a good value Balkan meal head to Grill Tanjga which can be found by exiting the Old Town near the North Gate, turning right and walking for a few minutes along the main road. You’ll pay about 10 euros for a delicious platter of meats, grilled vegetables and potatoes that can easily feed two people. The friendly owner will undoubtedly keep piling potatoes on your plate as you eat there.
Have you visited Kotor? What is your favourite thing to do there? Add a comment below!