At the farthest end of the Bay of Kotor lies one of the perfectly charming towns in Montenegro. Of course, we’re talking about Kotor, the town which holds the spot on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, not only because it boasts spectacular scenery and amazing monuments, but also because it’s one of the most treasured gems in Europe.
If this is your next travel destination, make sure not to skip the best things to do in Kotor this summer, or any other season you choose to visit. Frankly speaking, Kotor is superb all year round, simply because its climate is mild and pleasant. While you might not be able to take a dip in the middle of winter as the sea could get chilly, you will still have the chance to enjoy the town in all its glory and beauty.
1. Piazza of the Arms
Piazza of the Arms is the first square you will come across as soon as you enter the Old Town of Kotor. This is the largest square in town and it got its name by once being the place where artillery used to be stored and repaired. The square’s shape resembles the letter “L” and today, it is home to a great variety of shops, bars, and restaurants. Of course, Piazza of the Arms is a great place to start exploring the rest Kotor, especially the buildings in the close proximity of the square.
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2. The Sea Gate
The Sea Gate is the town’s main gate and it was built in the 16th century, during the rule of the Venetian proveditor Bernard Renier. The Sea Gate owes its name to the fact that the sea used to be just inches from the town’s entrance so the locals could literally step into town right from the sea.
3. River Gate
This is the third gate of Kotor and it was built following the Renaissance style. This gate represents the symbol of victory over the Turkish fleet led by general Barbarosa who attacked the town in 1539. There is a scripture over the gate describing how the notorious general sieged the town with his 200 ships and 30 000 men but was successfully repelled.
4. Gurdich Gate
The town of Kotor has three gates and the southern gate is the Gurdich Gate. This gate used to be the most significant of the three as it led directly toward the road connecting Kotor to Budva and Cetinje.
5. Kampana Tower
Kotor is one of the great places where you can marvel at the medieval fortifications and architecture in general. When it comes to medieval architecture, Kampana Tower is one of its finest examples. It was built between the 13th and 14th century on the exact spot where the river Scurda flows into the Bay of Kotor. From the top of the tower, the view sprawls across the bay and beyond, giving you a clear field of vision on the surrounding mountainous landscape.
6. Church of Blazena Ozana
This 13th-century church celebrates one of Kotor’s most praised anchoresses Blessed Osanna, who was known to have lived a life of asceticism, devoted to religion, and charity. In the church, there is a glass coffin which holds the anchoress’s incorrupt body, miraculously well-preserved which only testifies of her pureness and immaculacy.
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7. St.Luke’s Church
St. Luke’s Church is located on Piazza Greca square in the Old Town of Kotor. It was built during the reign of the Nemanjic dynasty at the end of the 12th century. Until the first half of the 12th century, it was a catholic shrine but after the war with the Turks had ended, it was transformed into an orthodox church. This makes St. Luke’s Church a unique building that once held both catholic and orthodox altar. On top of that, it is one of the remaining five buildings which were constructed by the rules of Romantic architecture.
8. St.Tryphon Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon was built in 1166 which means that it is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe – older than Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica or St. Paul’s Church in London. Not only does it represent one of the most significant buildings in Montenegro but it’s also one of the buildings to have the most elaborate exterior combining several architectural styles.
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9. Castle Of San Giovanni
Large walls wind around the hill above Kotor, leading you to one of its biggest highlights – the Castle of San Giovanni. The walls were built over the span of 10 centuries, from the 9th to the 19th century. The steep path will lead you all the way up until you reach the castle where you will be thrilled to discover the amazing view of the Bay of Kotor and the formidable backdrop of mount Lovcen.
10. Church of Our Lady of Health
On the way to the Castle of San Giovanni, you will also come across yet another beautiful church – the Church of Our Lady of Health. It will take you around 500 steps uphill to reach it. It was built in the 14th century and it still holds a great number of well-preserved frescoes and holy relics.
11. Bizanti Palace
Bizanti Palace was built in the 14th century but after the earthquake, its appearance changed dramatically. The yard within the building connects the two wings of the palace through the set of stairs, giving the palace a renaissance charm. The passageways, windows, and staircases were built in Baroque style, making the palace a perfect mixture of different architectural techniques.
12. The Clock Tower
The Clock Tower is a three-story edifice, comprising large stones which were used for its construction. The building of the tower started in 1602 during the rule of Antonio Grimaldi and the spot chosen for the construction is the exact location where torture chambers existed in Medieval times. There is a pyramid pillar still visible next to the tower, resembling the one used as a pillory in the Medieval era.
13. The Prince’s Palace
This historically significant building was erected in the 17th century and it was used as a gathering place for the Venetian proveditors. Together with the Tower of the City Guard, it is connected with, the Prince’s Palace almost entirely occupies the eastern facade of the town’s walls. Both buildings sustained damage in the 1979 earthquake but fortunately, it was restored back to its former appearance.
14. Our Lady of the Rocks
The tiny islet situated just off the shore of Perast, a small town near Kotor, is one of Montenegro’s biggest attractions. The petite island looks as if it’s floating on the water surface and together with its neighboring island of St. George, it really makes a remarkable sight. According to the legend, seafarers came across a picture of Virgin Mary stranded on a rock in the middle of the sea. Every sailor who came back home from a voyage laid a stone at the bottom of the sea beneath the island to celebrate this holy place. Even today, the locals honor the tradition by bringing stones and laying them at beneath the island.
15. Napoleon Theater
This 3 centuries-old building was transformed into the first theater in the Balkans, back in 1820. As such, it existed until the end of the 19th century before it was transformed into the Town Hall. Today, the building’s interior is being renovated in order to remodel it into a modern hotel.
16. Saint George Island
Saint George Island is the second of the two islands between Kotor and Perast, situated just a few minutes from the Our Lady of the Rocks. Surrounded by a stone wall and rows of cypress, it hides a somewhat tragic background. No one ever lived on the island, except for a few monks, and the island was mostly used as a burial ground. Apart from the small 12-century monastery and the tall cypress, life doesn’t exist here which is why the islet is often dubbed “the island of the dead”.
17. Fort Vrmac
Located on Vrmac Hill just outside Kotor, this fort represents one of the buildings built during the Austro-Hungarian rule. The initial fort was erected in the middle of the 19th century and its finishing stages were completed in 1907. It has been over a century since anyone took care of the fort and it is largely dilapidated and overgrown in vines but still makes a unique sight to behold.
18. The Ladder of Kotor
The locals sometimes refer to it as the Ladder of Cattaro and it represents one of the best outdoor attractions and hiking trails on the Montenegrin coast. It climbs 940 meters up the pass of Krstac, leading you through winding paths and serpentines until you reach the top where all of Kotor sprawls into view, together with neighboring landscapes and breathtaking nature.
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19. Viewing Point at the Road Kotor-Lovcen
Speaking of working up a sweat, there is one other Kotor walking trail you shouldn’t miss if you feel up for outdoor activities. Luckily, you don’t have to walk all the way up but instead, you can take a 5-hour car trip from Kotor to Mount Lovcen. The vistas along the way are splendid and it gets even more breathtaking once you reach the top, where half of Montenegro comes in view.
20. Cat Museum of Kotor
We may freely say that felines have been one of Kotor’s trademarks for decades. It was only a matter of time before someone came up with an idea to pay the furry friends some respect and give them their very own museum. Pierro Pazzi, a Venetian jeweler and art history expert, undertook the project of creating this feline treasury which now hosts extensive collections of photographs, artworks, illustrations, stamps, postcards, and many other items centered around cats.
Once your inner history buff is satisfied, it’s time to get a taste of the more urban side of Kotor. Needless to say, this town has amusement opportunities aplenty so make sure you check out some of these highlights Kotor has to offer. If you haven’t figured it out by now, you can never run out of ideas on what to do in Kotor!
21. Take a Boat Tour
You can admire Kotor from a distance and catch a glimpse of the city walls in all their might by hopping on a boat tour. Not only can you visit some boat-only accessible beaches but you can also see the coastline from afar which will give you an even better understanding of the beauty of Kotor. On top of that, a lot of boat tours are customizable so you can create your own itinerary.
22. Visit the Blue Cave
The cruise around the Kotor Bay may also include a visit to the Blue Cave – one of Montenegro’s biggest attractions. It is located on the Lustica Peninsula, just an hour’s drive from Kotor. This cave is simply magical due to its almost surreal blue color of the sea you can bathe in. The water in the cave is only 5 meters deep but the ceiling reaches 9 meters in height so the boats and kayaks can easily slide in. Apart from the cave tour, the underwater tunnel system is also available for exploration on diving tours which is an unforgettable experience.
23. Ladovina Wine Bar
This stylishly hip and chic bar is located in the heart of town, offering an unforgettable dining experience. They serve a wide range of local beers and wines as well as some local specialties, including vegan and gluten-free dishes.
24. Konoba Bonaca Restaurant
This lovely seaside restaurant is one of the best in Kotor if you want to treat your palate with some delectable seafood dishes. You can enjoy a tasty meal right on the patio at the seafront while the hospitable staff makes sure you are well-served.
25. Caffe bar Letrika
This authentic cafe is cozily tucked within Kotor’s Old Town, providing thirsty visitors with a great variety of cocktails and beverages in atmospheric surroundings. Many locals come to this cafe to enjoy a round of dancing and singing so you are guaranteed to have a blast in this popular cafe.
History dominates Kotor more than any other town in the Mediterranean. If you want to find and explore all of Kotor’s attractions, you will definitely need several days to get to see all the sites. With so many things to do in Kotor, you won’t have a hard time discovering its diverse culture and amazing locals who will welcome you like you’re one of their own. After all, visiting Kotor for the first time is a remarkable experience and it will leave you wondering why you haven’t thought of putting it on your bucket list earlier.