Exploring Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor in a Day

posted in: Europe, Montenegro, Travel | 24

As our cruise ship slowly glided through the narrow passageway of calm waters on the Adriatic Sea, we were welcomed to the area with steep mountainous ridges protruding out behind tiny villages. The white buildings with salmon-colored tile roofs looked miniscule in size against the towering mountainous backdrop. As we drift passed the imposing slopes, I spot a lone structure nestled among the trees. It looks like an ancient abbey hidden away in the forest for spiritual seclusion overlooking the mesmerizing waters. It is obvious why the area has been seducing visitors since antiquity.

And so was the beginning of our fabulous day in Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor.

Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor

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Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
The gorgeous towns we saw coming into the bay

The town of Kotor is cradled between coastal waters and abrupt mountains with 15th century stone walls laced along the hill of St. John. The UNESCO World Heritage Site describes:

“The Outstanding Universal Value of the Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is embodied in the quality of the architecture in its fortified and open cities, settlements, palaces and monastic ensembles, and their harmonious integration to the cultivated terraced landscape on the slopes of high rocky hills.”

Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
1,400 steps up. Would you walk up there?

Hiking to the Castle of St. John

If you are arriving by cruise ship make sure to wake up early and get outside to see the magnificent views as you float in. It also allows you to get an early start which is important if you would like to see all the wonderful things Kotor has to offer.

As soon as we were able to hop off the boat, we did in order to get an early start climbing up to the Castle of St. John for the best views of the bay. We had four hours before our boat ride at 11:45 a.m. to Our Lady of Rocks Island and the town of Perast. It was plenty of time to hike up and back with time to eat lunch before our boat ride. The memory of the spectacular views at the top of the city walls will last a lifetime. Read here for more details and gorgeous pictures of the hike.

 Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day

Our Lady of the Rocks

The first stop on our afternoon boat ride was the tiny Lady of the Rocks Island. It is one of two islands smack dab in the middle of the bay. It is a man-made island built by fishermen from the town of Perast. According to legend, a picture of the Holy Mother of God was found on a sea rock after a shipwreck and they vowed to build a church in that very spot. As fishermen would return from sea after a successful voyage, they would lay a rock in the bay. These rocks eventually emerged from the sea forming an island. The tradition of throwing rocks in the water near the island still continues today.

The church, a museum, bathrooms and a gift shop are the only things on the small island. After touring inside the church we sat and ate a snack while watching sailboats whiz by.

Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
It’s the one on the left – told you it was small
Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
Our Lady of the Rock Church

Coastal Town of Perast

After our island stop we were dropped off at the sleepy town of Perast. Its main street is a pedestrian only pathway with gorgeous views. It is a quiet and charming town with a few churches, ice cream carts, a museum and a tower that can be climbed – there was no way I was walking up any more steps after the hike in the morning though. There’s not much else to do here except have a drink or a meal at one of the restaurants that have primo seating overlooking the water.

Montenegro Bay of Kotor Day
Still a fishing village
Montenegro's Bay of Kotor Day
Told you it is a perfect setting for a meal. Look at that view!
Montenegro's Bay of Kotor in a Day
Perast from the water

The Old Town of Kotor

We ended our day roaming around the well-preserved medieval town of Kotor. Narrow walkways lined with shops, restaurants and churches open up into large squares. For strategic purposes the town was built like a maze and noticeably so. It’s real easy to get lost in the small area even with a map.

Green shutters, beautiful archways, decorative doors and surprisingly tall stone buildings are all part of the fascinating architecture throughout the town. Wandering through the cobblestone streets, imagining what it was like to live in this enchanting village hundreds of years ago is a fantastic way to end the day.

Montenegro's Bay of Kotor in a Day
Sea Gate of 1555 – Main entrance to Old Town
Montenegro's Bay of Kotor in a Day
Love seeing mountains directly behind the buildings
Montenegro's Bay of Kotor
Red-headed doll fishing on the city walls… nothing strange about this
Montenegro's Bay of Kotor
Built in the 11th century and reconstructed after earthquakes

Montenegro's Bay of Kotor

Have you been to Montenegro? What did you think?

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Montenegro's Bay of Kotor Day

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Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

24 Responses

  1. Chris Travels

    Been there, done that…loved it! Your post and awesome pictures made my wonderful memories come flooding back to me. Thanks Dang!

    • Dang Travelers

      Kotor is stunning. Not surprised it’s Lonely Planet’s top destination for 2016. Glad we could stir up the memory pot for you.

  2. Laura

    I spent a day in Kotor once too, but I was driving through instead of cruising. I bet that is an insanely beautiful passage to sail through. I love that Kotor is nestled inside those dramatic mountain ranges.

    • Dang Travelers

      The bay is unbelievable. We had friends tell us not to miss it no matter what time of the day it was. Glad we listened 🙂

  3. Crystal

    That is honestly breathtakingly beautiful. Is cruise ship the best way to get there? I wanna go now!

    • Dang Travelers

      The bay was incredible. I don’t think it’s necessarily the best way to get there since I would have loved to stay more than a day. If you do ever get to the area just make sure you get on the water for a boat tour of the bay at least.

    • Sheila

      You can fly to Podgorica or Tivat in Montenegro or to Dubrovnik and drive over the border. There are boat trips around the bay, stopping at Herzi Novi, and Our Lady of the Rocks, Perast, ending with a visit to Kotor.

      • Dang Travelers

        Hopefully we will find ourselves back in beautiful Montenegro soon and look forward to exploring the area more.

        • Daniel

          You should do a tour up the coast of Slovenia( taking in Ljubljana, Postojna Caves & Bled- not coast but not far and can’t be missed )then going from Piran to Porec in Croatia to Rovinj, to Pula to Opatija to ( Plitvice Lakes-little inland but can’t be missed) back down to Zadar to Sibenik (visit Krka Falls)to Split( From here visit two islands by ferry “can take cars but I’d leave it in Split” ie Hvar & Korcula or Hvar & Vis islands -spend at least five days as beautiful-day trip to Golden Horn beach from Hvar) then continue from Split to Makarska to Dubrovnik to Montenegro and Kotor and Budva. I have travelled Europe 8 times now from Australia and this is undoubtedly the most beautiful stretch of Europe and the most beautiful coastline and yes I mean more beautiful than French & Italian Riviera and the Greek islands. It has the cute Tascan like villages of Piran, Rovinj and Istria to the Venetian/Roman cities of Croatia and it’s 1200 islands all very close to the coast and then the Dramatic coast and beaches of Makarska Croatia to Dubrovnik and Montenegro. Anybody doing this route will have time of their lives. Best road trip in tbe world in my opinion . Just google image these places and you will be booking your flights

          • Dang Travelers

            Dan, I think you just planned our next big trip! LOL This sounds awesome!! We have most of our 2017 plans figured out (sort of) so maybe we can do something like this in 2018. We’ve only been to Montenegro and Dubrovnik and would absolutely love to get back to that part of the world. Thanks so much for sharing the info.

  4. Svet Dimitrov

    Oh, my God! I absolutely adore the combination of water and mountains and this is one of the best I have seen (only on pictures so far, unfortunately). It is drop dead gorgeous. So majestic and I am sure the air was so crisp and fresh.

    How are the prices? 🙂

    • Dang Travelers

      We were on a Mediterranean cruise so we were only in Kotor for the day. The prices were reasonable for food and shopping. We did not have to pay for lodging so I’m not sure about that.

  5. Travelog with Jem

    Wow you awakened a desire in me, that is to visit every island in the world. Lovely photos. I am pretty sure I will love this place base on your story.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Jem. What a coincidence… we have the desire to visit every island in the world too!

  6. Jessica

    Hiking to St. Peter castle and exploring the old town interest me most! this part of the world looks uniquely attractive and dictates me to see it myself soon. 😉

  7. Frank

    I love Kotor, actually much more so than nearby Dubrovnik. Ended up spending a few more days than we had planned. Just beautiful!
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Dang Travelers

      We visited both cities in September and I think they were the top two contenders for our favorite of that trip. I loved that Kotor was more intimate and the bay was unbelievably gorgeous. Sounds like you had a great trip!

  8. Cindy

    We are going next month. Thank you for all of your tips! I can’t wait to experience it.

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