Practical guide to visiting Kotor

Kotor is a town located at the south end of the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, known for its walled structure, seaport, resort and rich history. The town is situated on the Adriatic coastline and is surrounded by the cliffs of Orjen and Lovcen mountains, creating a picturesque view. Kotor, the oldest town in Montenegro, was founded by the ancient Romans and ruled by various powers, including the Venetians, Hungarians, French and Austrians. In 2006, Kotor was incorporated into the newly established Montenegro after being part of Yugoslavia for many decades. Despite being seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1979, much of the town has been restored.104 hotel kotor thesanetravel.comP1407938

Double UNESCO Heritage Site

The old town of Kotor holds a dual UNESCO Heritage Site status, recognised as part of both the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor and the Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th centuries. The latter designation includes six defensive components in Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, spanning over 1,000 kilometres along the Adriatic Coast. The fortifications of Kotor in Montenegro are part of this UNESCO site.23 walls kotor thesanetravel.comP1397750

Intrigued? Check out my practical guide to visiting Kotor!

City walls

Many of the medieval fortifications in Kotor are still intact, with the city walls spanning approximately 4.5 kilometres, varying in thickness from 2 to 15 metres and reaching about 20 metres in height. The city walls were constructed sometime between the 9th and 18th centuries. Visitors have the opportunity to walk along most sections of the city walls and admire the views of the old town from above.24 walls= 103kotor thesanetravel.comP139777424 city walls kotor thesanetravel.comP1407910 The city walls of Kotor are equipped with three gates.

Sea Gate

The Sea Gate in the old town of Kotor, rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1555, is a significant entrance representing the town's history. Originally adorned with the Venetian winged lion, it now features a quote from former Yugoslav president Tito: ''What belongs to others we don’t want, what is ours we will never surrender."25 sea gate kotor thesanetravel.com20240529 192009 Inside the gate, visitors can admire a 15th-century relief depicting the Virgin Mary with Christ, St Tryphon and St Bernard.26 sea gate kotor thesanetravel.com20240529 192255

River Gate

The River Gate, also called the North Gate, constructed in the 16th century as a tribute to the unsuccessful Ottoman assault in 1539, stands on the northern outskirts of the town overlooking the River Skurda.32 river gate 103kotor thesanetravel.comP139780230 river gate 103kotor thesanetravel.comP1397794 Surrounding the gate are historic stone walls and a quaint bridge that spans the river, making it an ideal spot to capture images of the fortifications of Kotor.

Gurdic Gate

The Gurdic Gate, also known as the South Gate, is unique in that it consists of three passages constructed during different periods. It was once connected to the mainland by a drawbridge that could be lowered over the River Gurdic.

One can fully enjoy the attractions of Kotor by exploring the old town without a map and wandering through its maze-like streets. Your journey will likely begin by passing through the Sea Gate and arriving at the main square, Trg od Oruzja.

Main square

The main square, also known as the Square of Arms, was historically used for storing arms and artillery for Kotor's defence, hence the name. 41 main square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 08243644 main square walls kotor thesanetravel.comP1407919This picturesque square is bustling with cafes, gelato stands, historic structures, a 17th-century clock tower (tilted due to an earthquake in the 1600s) and a medieval pillory used for public shaming and punishment.

Old town

The historic district of Kotor is widely recognised as the most prominent area in the city, where the rich history, culture and traditions of Kotor are carefully maintained. This area boasts numerous well-preserved monuments of medieval architecture, including churches, cathedrals, palaces and museums.48 old town103kotor thesanetravel.comP139780349 old town103kotor thesanetravel.comP1397815 The charming atmosphere is further enhanced by the maze of narrow streets, squares and markets. The old town of Kotor is widely regarded as the most well-preserved medieval urban area in the Mediterranean region.

Cats of Kotor

In Kotor, one of the first things you may notice is the cats that roam the streets. As you navigate through the historic old town filled with museums, shops, bars and restaurants, you may come across bowls of biscuits left out on street corners for the well-fed felines. These cats have been a part of Kotor for centuries, helping to protect the town from pests like rats and mice. Over time, the cats have become a symbol of good luck, prosperity and resilience.113 cats walls kotor thesanetravel.comP1407929 The first cat-themed souvenir shop opened in 2012, and since then, many more shops dedicated to cats have emerged, along with a cat museum that supports the feline population with its profits.112 cats kotor thesanetravel.comP1407838115 cats kotor thesanetravel.comP1407961

Churches of Kotor

St Tryphon Cathedral

Kotor is home to numerous historic churches, the most prominent being St Tryphon Cathedral, built in 1166 in honour of the town's protector, St Tryphon. The cathedral features a collection of frescoes and a treasury of jewels.54 st tryphon kotor thesanetravel.comP1407885

St Nicholas’ Church

The Orthodox Church of St Nicholas was constructed between 1902 and 1909, replacing an abandoned Dominican monastery from the late 18th century.55 st nicholas kotor thesanetravel.comP1397777

St Luke’s Church

Located next to St Tryphon Cathedral and St Nicholas’ Church, St Luke’s (Sveti Luka) may appear modest in comparison, but it holds significant importance in Kotor. Constructed in 1195, the church features original frescoes dating back to its inception. Initially a Catholic church, St Luke’s converted to Orthodox in 1657.60 st luke kotor thesanetravel.comP140797061 st luke kotor thesanetravel.comP1407972 Remarkably, it remained intact during the devastating 1979 earthquake that ravaged buildings along Montenegro’s south coast, from Dubrovnik to Bar.

St Claire Church

St Claire Church, constructed in the 17th century, showcases a stunning marble altar dating back to the 18th century, a remarkable artwork by Francesco Cabianca. 122 st claire kotor thesanetravel.comP1407957120 st claire kotor thesanetravel.comP1407945Next to the church is St Claire's Convent. The church is now separated from the convent and Franciscan monastery, which includes a well-equipped library containing thousands of books, including 100 incunabula.

Karampana Well

In the past, Kotor received its fresh water supply from the River Skurda and the Gurdic Spring. Wealthy families had their own wells, while the Karampana Well was the main public water source until 1917 when the Austrians installed modern plumbing. Besides providing water, the well also served as a social gathering place where locals, particularly women, would meet and chat.65 karampana kotor thesanetravel.comP1407976


The Kotor Market, located just across the waterfront and harbour in the old town, has historically been a place for exchanging and trading various goods. Today, the market primarily sells fruits, vegetables and fish, as well as costume jewellery and other miscellaneous items.70 market kotor thesanetravel.com20240529 115723

Take a cable car to Lovcen

The Kotor Cable Car began operations in July 2023, offering an 11-minute scenic ride above the Bay of Kotor and up Mount Lovcen to a height of 1,348 metres. The Lower Dub Station is about 4 kilometres from the old town of Kotor, while the Upper Kuk Station is 18 kilometres from Cetinje, Montenegro's historic Old Royal Capital. 82 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 11411075 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 093333The cooler climate at the top provides a pleasant escape from the coastal heat, with a restaurant at the upper station serving gourmet dishes on a spacious terrace with a panoramic view of the bay. 77 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 095209From the upper station, visitors can explore Lovcen National Park, with hiking trails, excellent viewpoints for taking pictures and cycling routes available for adventure seekers. 79 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 11014281 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 113256The Njegos Mausoleum and Lovcen National Park, two major Montenegrin attractions, are a 10-minute drive from the upper station and can be reached by transfer or taxi.78 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 104151

Practical tips for a cable car ride

If your schedule is flexible, try to visit Mount Lovcen on a clear day when the view is not obstructed by clouds. It is recommended to check the weather forecast and cloud coverage on the mountain before heading there. Remember that the weather conditions in Kotor may differ from those at the mountain's summit. 76 cable square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 094103To reach the Lower Dub Station from Kotor, you will need to take a taxi. The word is that a bus service may be available in a few months, so you can inquire about it at the bus station during your visit. Be aware that the tunnel between Kotor and Dub can experience heavy traffic, so it is advisable to allow extra time for your journey.

Take a boat trip to Perast

Perast town, a small and elegant coastal town located at the foot of St Elijah Hill, is easily accessible by boat from Kotor, which is just 12 kilometres away. Situated opposite Verige, where the innermost bays of Risan and Kotor converge, Perast is known for its maritime trade history and Baroque architecture. 86 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 18383489 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 18511391 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 190745The town's wealth was built through maritime trade, and it is home to numerous lavish palaces and houses. There are two islands off the coast of Perast, the island of St George and Our Lady of the Rocks, with the latter housing a church. 93 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 193019 A short boat ride will take you to this man-made island, where you can explore the church.94 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 19303998 perast kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 194116

Where to eat in Kotor

I recommend two quite different places that I tried myself.

Pepe Nero

Experience the delights of Mediterranean cuisine in a sophisticated setting at Pepe Nero, located in Milk Square, right in the heart of the old town of Kotor. Treat yourself to a variety of local and international dishes while selecting from a wide range of prestigious local and foreign wines from their cellar. Enhance your dining experience by enjoying some cocktails from their extensive cocktail menu.130 pepe kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 145841132 pepe kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 142717

Pier65 Gastrobar

Pier65 Gastrobar in the old town features a variety of dishes from Turkish cuisine and serves a range of meals throughout the day. The restaurant offers a selection of authentic Turkish flavours through its unique recipes.121 pier65 kotor thesanetravel.com20240531 161856120 pier65 kotor thesanetravel.com20240531 154049

Where to stay

Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro is situated in the main square of the old town and features uniquely decorated rooms. The hotel is part of the Cattaro Complex, which includes Restaurant Citadel, Maximus nightclub and Pub AS. Several historic monuments of Kotor are incorporated into the hotel complex, such as the Town Guard Tower, Rector's Palace and the Old Town Hall - Napoleon Theatre. These buildings were renovated and transformed into the hotel in 2006, with an interior design inspired by the early 18th century. 101 hotel kotor thesanetravel.com20240529 135248The hotel is adorned with pictures of famous ships and naval battles and portraits of captains and admirals. 102 hotel square kotor thesanetravel.com20240530 082537Surrounding the hotel are various shops, beach bars, cafés, restaurants and lounges.

Practical information

Kotor is a popular destination that is worth visiting. The best time to visit Kotor is the shoulder season, like, May and September, when you will get the perfect mix of nice weather, fewer people and good deals on hotels around the Bay of Kotor. Kotor attracts many visitors, particularly those arriving on cruise ships, which can make the old town quite crowded.108 practical kotor thesanetravel.comP1397749

People travelling by bus to Kotor from other Montenegrin cities like Herceg Novi, Budva, Cetinje, Podgorica, and Tivat usually disembark at the Kotor bus station, which is a short walk away from the old town.
105 practical kotor thesanetravel.com20240527 104716Traffic jams are the main challenge in getting to Kotor by land, so be prepared and allocate additional time.
107 practical kotor thesanetravel.com20240531 171323

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What did you think? Have you visited Kotor? I would love to hear from you, so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on June 28, 2024
  • Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Very informative. I have not been and it was not high on my bucklist, but now I am rethinking the list. Thanks for this info.
    Kotor looks quite beautiful. We've visited many countries in the area but not Montenegro yet. Looking forward to a visit.
    I've never been to Montenegro, and Kotor and the surrounding places you suggest visiting looks absolutely lovely. The double UNESCO designation makes it especially appealing!
    We visited Kotor as a cruise port stop. But it has been on our list for a return visit. Your post brings back all the memories of why Kotor intrigued us. But I never did forget it was known for the Cats of Kotor. We would definitely not want to miss the cable car to Lovcen. New since we were there last.
    This looks beautiful! Also, Kotor has a really nice cat rescue that does a lot of work sterilizing cats and rehoming cats - you can even adopt from them!

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