KOTOR

Located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, Kotor is steeped in tradition and history with remarkable scenic views of the majestic fjords. The old city was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is filled with medieval architecture and historic monuments.

The city walls

View over the "Boka Kotorska"

KOTOR – ‘A MUST SEE PLACE’

Located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, Kotor is steeped in tradition and history with remarkable scenic views of the majestic fjords. Kotor town with its old walled city, originally built to keep foreign invaders out, now welcomes visitors from all over the world.

The entire Bay of Kotor is lined with picturesque seaside villages, each with a unique cultural history of its own. Perast being one of my favorites has its own blog under explore. Over the centuries, the area passed between Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Serbs, Bulgarians, Turks, Venetians and other conquering empires. Most recently becoming an independent country in 2006, it still maintains a raw wild beauty, with the majestic Fjords framing its shores and long may it last.

THE OLD TOWN

The town is a twisting maze of cobblestone streets, alleyways with washing neatly draped above and lined with restaurants and charming historical churches. In the evening, squares come alive with musicians and bars move into the narrow streets turning the alleys into groovy jazz and blues scene.

Eating in the old town can be pricey and a little crowded, so eating in the small eateries outside the walls is more reasonable and pleasant.
In August it can be very hot and muggy so don’t go anywhere without water in hand and plan a beach stop, afterwards to cool down.

The main attraction here in Kotor is walking the historic walls so allow 2 hrs for your trek and ensure you have a hat, sun cream and water before you start- the views at the top will make your efforts worthwhile!

Offshore lie 2 distinctive islands. St George is a Benedictine Monastery and off limits to visitors. Adjacent is the Lady of The Rock, built on a man made island. Legend has it that after a storm fisherman found an icon of Mary and Jesus and vowed they would build a church on the spot. A church was built here and dedicated to this icon, protector of sailors and fishermen. You can visit from Perast. I recommend walking along the shoreline and hiring a small boat, they will take you for a round trip approx. 5€ per person.

THE CITY WALLS

The city walls of Kotor are a UNESCO world heritage site, they form an arch over the rough cliffs of St John’s hill and are 4-5 km long and in parts just 2 meters wide – should you be thinking about walking them which I strongly recommend even if just for the incredible view.

Dating back to medieval times, St John’s fortress, towers high above the town with the city walls representing a mix if ramparts, gates, churches, cistern’s and bastions.

Most people start the walk at the Northern, entering through an archway having passed through narrow streets lined with lines of clothes drying.

First stop, after a 20 min climb, for a break and photos, at 100 m altitude, is in front of the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, built in 1518  by survivors of a plague and became a site to make a pilgrimage to.

Further on is a small crumbling  fort with shelled out rooms and crumbling walls. Beyond this is a gap in the wall that allows you to detour onto a narrow dirt path  to a clearing. You can see remnants of stone houses and a small ruined church, the door lies open so you can just make a stone altar and fragments of faded frescos on the walls and ceilings.

Back through the wall the hike to St John’s fortress continues and the view becomes more impressive. As you look down at the Old Town of Kotor with its tiny red roofed houses looking like miniatures and the view of the blue bay below, surrounded by high mountains, you really will have your breath taken away.

If you don’t walk to walk the same way down, you can also return through the ‘gap’ mentioned above, and from there follow a marked trail that leads over a grassy terraces and via a series of switch backs down the along the outer side of the city walls on the northern side of the moat. This trail is called the ‘Ladder of Kotor’, centuries old trail that was used by the Montenegrin women to go to
the market in Kotor.

The walk is not easy, especially in the heat of the summer. 1355 step need to mastered on some steep and slippery paths. Sturdy shoes and a bottle of water, hat and suntan lotion and physically fit, are a must.

It’s hard to imagine the Venetian walking and working on these walls every day especially in the hot summer. During the summer months climb the walls in the morning, as it can get very hot during the day. But in the cooler months, the best time of the day is around noon, when the sun shows the beauty of Kotor Bay in all its splendor.

The walking time is approx 2hrs ( return walk ).
Open: May – September 8 am -8 pm.
Cost: €3 per person ( no charge out of season).

Which ever way you decide to choose you will need to pass through the borders from Bosnia to Montenegro.

I would recommend that on leaving the accommodation you head towards Trebinje, and pass through the mountains, as the border there is usually quieter. As you arrive on the outskirts of Trebinje  you will see there is a large restaurant on your right hand side and a petrol station just slightly round the corner , on your left ( I mention this in case you need to fill up with petrol). Here the road forks and so bear right up the mountain, follow this road all the way towards Montenegro.

If you wish to stop for some  refreshments ‘Stara Herzegovina’ restaurant will be on your left hand side, in the village of Zubci.

Pass through the border, onto a small toll road, taking a ticket. Continue on this road until you reach Herceg Novi and a roundabout. Go round the roundabout taking the last exit and continue along this road, through the urban area, until you reach the beautiful coastline again, about 20 min drive. You will then be able to see the start of the majestic fjords.

On your right you will pass the small ferry that takes you to Tivat and that I suggest you use on your return journey.

Now relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and historic small villages, coffee and lunch stops, as you pass along the coastline to Perast and Kotor.

For your return journey back, I suggest you continue on the coast line traveling away from Kotor towards Tivat. It might not sound logical, but there is then a fabulous tunnel for you to pass through that brings you out a short way from the ferry, that I mentioned on your outward journey.

If there is a queue in the height of the season, don’t worry as they do tend to move quite fast. It also gives you a chance to get out of the car and buy the 6€ ticket necessary for the ferry ride.

You can alternatively just double back on yourself once you finished visiting Kotor.

Have a great day out!