As Croatia’s popularity soars, so does the price tag. Croatia is not cheap, but the good news is neighbouring Montenegro is – and it’s just as easy to reach.
Montenegro is best known for the Old Town of Kotor. Arriving in the compact walled town of Kotor, you’ll find romantic cobblestoned streets, soaring mountains, and an impressive fortress.
You can reach Kotor by bus from Bosnia, Montenegro or Kosovo, cruise ship, or by flying into nearby Tivat Airport.
The first stop on your visit to Kotor should be the fortress sitting high above the Old Town.
The St John Fortress was built between the 9th and 19th centuries, with walls and ramparts added as the years went by to protect Kotor against attack. The city walls extend a total of 4.5km, winding up the hill above the Old Town.
The climb up to the fortress begins from the Old Town. It costs AUD$4.30 (€3) to enter.
It’s a steep climb up to the fortress from the Old Town. Up 1,350 stairs to be exact. It’s definitely leg day when you decide to climb up here, looking down on the clusters of tiled terracotta coloured roofs in the Old Town as you clamber up the stairs.
But the views make that arduous climb worth it. Head up there about an hour before sunset for a great view of the sun setting over the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding mountains.
As you walk up the hill, take the time to enjoy the Church of our Lady of Remedy about halfway up, and then the ramparts, gates, and chapels scattered across the historic landscape. It will take you about 30 minutes to reach the highest point and get that breathtaking view.
Back down at the bay, spend some time wandering the maze of narrow cobblestoned Old Town streets. It’s a very small town so you can’t get lost.
Make sure you climb up to the top of the Old Town walls near the port and the entrance to the town, and then dine at one of the many restaurants in the Old Town.
The best time to explore the Old Town is in the morning before the crowds from the cruise ships come in.
Seafood is one of the specialities of Kotor and there’s many restaurants to choose from ranging from budget to fine dining. Before or after dinner – depending on the season – don’t forget to look up as the walls of the fortress are illuminated after dark, yellow light bouncing off the fortifications. You’ll be impressed how far you climbed for a view.
And don’t forget the cats of Kotor. Actually you probably can’t miss them. There are lots of stray cats in Kotor – you’ll find them in doorways, lounging on restaurant benches, or milling about your feet. The souvenir shops all sell cat related paraphernalia and there’s even a museum dedicated to the cats of Kotor in the town.
The unique aspect about the stray cats of Kotor is that they all look healthy. They’re clean, with fluffy and soft hair. That’s because the residents of Kotor Old Town look after the cats. There’s feeding stations scattered around town and Kotor is known to be very feline friendly.
The story goes that Kotor was once a busy trading port. Cats came in on the ships, and many were left behind – and Kotor’s famous stray cat population began.
Things You Should Know:
- The currency is easy to navigate in Montengero as the country uses the Euro.
- You can reach Kotor by bus via Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia or Croatia.
- Wear sturdy shoes to hike up to the top of St John Fortress as some of the steps are uneven and slippery.
- Kotor is a seasonal town and is on the cruise ship circuit. Peak season is June to August and the compact Old Town can get very crowded once the cruise ships roll in mid morning. To avoid some of the crowds, it’s recommended to visit in the shoulder months of May and September.
- Kotor remains open to tourists in October but the season is starting to wind down. Be aware it also rains a lot in the Balkans in October, but you will still have warm days.
- There’s a range of accommodation options in the Old Town, including a number of hostels. If you’re pinching pennies, check out Old Town Kotor Hostel or Hostel Cent. Prices start from €7 for a dorm bed.