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Kotor

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The town of Kotor and Kotor Bay from the Upper Town Wall

Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro with a population of about 13,500. It is well-known for its World heritage medieval structures (including churches and fortifications) and its stunning natural setting at the very edge of the mountain-rimmed Kotor Bay.

Understand[edit]

Kotor is situated in a most secluded tip of Boka Kotorska bay, in the northern part of the Montenegro coast on the Adriatic Sea. Kotor has developed around Stari Grad (local language for "old town"), the city's old town and best known landmark, which is listed with UNESCO World heritage sites. Kotor Bay is the deepest natural fjord-like bay in the Mediterranean Sea, and the scenery around it (including the steep mountains which come almost straight down to the waters edge) is spectacular[1].

Kotor is also unique because it is the only town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea to be located by name in historic and strategic maps. Old Kotor was built like a maze for protective purposes and it is very easy to get lost here. In fact, even the locals get lost. Take a wrong turn and you will wind up far from your destination. This can happen even with a town map in hand. However, looking for landmarks, such as the 12th century St. Tryphon Cathedral, will help—and these landmarks are listed on nearly every tourist map.

The population of Kotor is multiethnic: less than half are Montenegrins, less than a third are Serbians, and a tenth are Croatians. Kotor is still the seat of the Catholic Bishopric of Kotor, which covers the entire area surrounding the gulf of Kotor.

Get in[edit]

Kotor, Montenegro

By plane[edit]

Tivat Airport [2] is 8km away. The following airlines operate to/from Tivat Airport: Air Moldova (Chiṣinǎu, seasonal), Jat Airways (Belgrade), KrasAir (Moscow-Domodedovo), Montenegro Airlines (Belgrade, Copenhagen, London-Gatwick, Moscow-Domodedovo, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Pristina, Rome-Fiumicino, Skopje, St Petersburg), Moskovia Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo) Rossiya (St Petersburg), S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo), Transaero Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo) There are also Charter flights to Moscow, Helsinki and other cities.Taxi drive from Kotor to Tivat Airport will cost around €7.

Podgorica airport [3] is 90km away, and has flights throughout the year to Belgrade, Istanbul, Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Vienna and , London-Gatwick. Buses run from Podgorica to Kotor year round.

Dubrovnik airport [4] in Croatia is 73 km away from Kotor, and maintains flights to many European destinations throughout the year, providing a good alternative to the Montenegrin airports. A taxi to Kotor will cost €80, when you arrange the transfer at least a day before [5]. Taxi drivers at the airport use a approximately price of 100 euros. There is a large border crossing and a small border crossing, the small crossing is a 7 km detour but less busy and may prevent waiting up to two hours. Taxi drivers might ask for more money (e.g. 10 euros extra) to go via the small border, even though it is in their interest to do so.

By bus[edit]

Kotor is fairly well connected with neighboring countries by bus. The main bus station is about a 10-minute walk south of the Old Town, along the road towards Budva (look for the old tall chimney!).

Bus times and frequency varies greatly seasonally. As of summer 2009 there is no accurate source of the varying schedule available online. Kotor bus station telphone number: +382 32 325 809

From Budva, during the summer 2009, buses run to Herceg Novi, stopping in Kotor (trip costs around 3€), almost every 30 minutes from 7:00 to 23:00. Buses also run between Kotor and the following cities: Podgorica (hourly), Bar (6-8 per day), Dubrovnik and Mostar (leaving at 14:30), Split (3 times a week, 7 hours), Sarajevo (1x daily), Belgrade (10 hours), Skopje (night bus, 12 hours, twice a week on Friday and Saturday at 7 pm). During the week you can go to Skopje via Nis, Serbia (bus from Kotor to Tivat at 3.50 pm, fromt Tivat to Nis 5.30 pm).

By car[edit]

All roads in Montenegro are two-lanes only, and mostly are curvy mountainous roads, so speeds over 70 km/h (43 mph) are rarely legal, and rarely safe.

The Vrmac tunnel has recently been completed, which significantly shortens the journey from Budva to Kotor. Road traffic was formerly diverted to alternative road over Trojica hill above Kotor. It is still possible to travel via this very curvy mountain road, so you might travel from Budva to Kotor a bit longer. From this hill you can enjoy beautiful views not only of the tiny countryside villages, but also of Podgorica (when approaching from Cetinje), and also Kotor bay.

Be aware that when driving in Montenegro that the locals drive a bit aggressively (although not as much as Italian drivers) and think nothing of overtaking across white lines on steep bends. Be careful. There is also a great deal of road building underway and the safety considerations are a little less onerous than those in more developed countries.

  • Car rental in Kotor [6] , Car Hire and airport transfer shuttle service from Kotor to Airports Tivat, Podgorica and Dubrovnik.

By boat[edit]

Cruise ships (right) at the pier at Kotor

There aren't any scheduled ferries traveling to Kotor but there are services between Bar and Bari, Italy most days.

Cruise ships plying the Adriatic Sea call regularly on the port of Kotor during the tourist season, with a total of about 350,000 passengers in 2014. Both the sail in and sail away offers not-to-be-missed views of the spectacular Bay of Kotor. The ships either dock at or tender to the long pier that juts out directly in front of the Old Town. Passengers are funneled out of the same port gate, with the Old Town just five minutes away. There is an ATM in a freestanding orange kiosk to the left of the port gate as you leave, and the official taxi stand to the right. After you cross the busy harborfront road (watch for the brown Kotor sign and use the crosswalk), it is a short walk to the area in front of the Sea Gate of 1555 (the main entrance to the Old Town), where you will find a TI kiosk with free wifi.

Get around[edit]

Sea Gate of 1555, main entrance to Old Town

The medieval walled Old Town is shaped roughly like a triangle. The side facing Kotor Bay and the north side fronting the Skurda River are both heavily fortified with a thick wall. The third (east) side backs into the cliff face with a meandering defensive upper town wall (a short version of the Great Wall) climbing the mountainside. There are three entrances to the Old Town, including the western Sea Gate of 1555, which serves as the main door. The southern gate is at the south apex of the triangle, on the road to Budva. The northern gate leads to a bridge that crosses the Skurda River.

The main TI is in the area outside the Sea Gate of 1555 (facing Kotor Bay) to the Old Town. This should be one of your first stops. Open daily 8:00 - 17:00. Pick up a free map. Free wifi hot spot TOKOTOR.

The best way to get around is on foot inside the compact old town, especially since cars cannot get into the old town. There are some golfcarts that are used as taxis and/or city tour.

If you are cycling, there is a bicycle shop which has a few basic spare parts and equipment: STIHL Moto Shop, Dobrota bb., tel. 032 332 065, on the main road a bit after the old city of Kotor towards Perast {GPS 42°26'11.5"N, 018°46'02.0"E} [Aug 2013]

See[edit][add listing]

Triphon cathedral
Serbian orthodox church of St Nicolas
  • Old Town. The Old Town is the most famous part of Kotor, where the Kotor history, culture, and tradition are being preserved. The old town of Kotor has a great number of monuments of the medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, palaces, and museums. They are complemented with the multitude of narrow streets, squares, and markets. The main and the biggest square is Trg od oruzja (Square of arms). That square was and remained the main place for gathering. In addition, there are some significant cultural monuments like: Tower watch (VIII century), Cathedral of Sveti Tripun (XII century), Church of Sveti Luka (XII century), Prince’s palace (XVII century), Church of Sveta Marija (XII century), Church of Our Lady of Health (XV century), and Napoleon’s Theater (XIX century). Old Kotor has also numerous palaces like: Bizanti, Buca, Pima, and Grgurin (which houses the Maritime museum). The old town of Kotor today is considered to be the best preserved medieval urban entity in the Mediterranean. There are three entrances to the Old Town, the main one is the Sea Gate of 1555. Free.
  • St Tryphon's Cathedral, (Old Town). First built in the 11th century, reconstructed after earthquakes. Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Chapel holds the remains of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor. €2.
  • St Nicolas Church. The biggest Orthodox church in the Old Town.
  • Maritime Museum, (Old Town), 304720. M-Sa: 8am-8pm; Sundays: 9am-1pm. The memories on those long gone sailing days and years, the successes of the famous Kotor seaman, artists, ship builders, crafts man, states man, and diplomats, intermediaries between west and east, are kept in the Maritime museum, which is housed in the baroque palace Grgurin. In the museum, one can find three floors of portraits of the famous captains, models of old galleys and sail boats, navigational instruments, photographs, uniforms, weapons, paintings, and model ships. €4.
  • The Island Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rock). The Island Gospa od Skrpjela is one of two gorgeous islands in Kotor Bay, which are situated in the bay across from Perast (in the Kotor municipality). The other island, which also should be visited, is the Island Sveti Djordje (St. George). That island is also called "the island of the dead captains", because according to a legend one French soldier, by shooting from cannon towards Perast, hit a house of his beloved girl and killed her. That legend was a motive for the master piece "The Island of the Dead" by the Switzerland painter Beklin. The Island Gospa od Skrpjela is an artificial island, made by seaman from Perast and Kotor, who on their big sail boats brought in large boulders. According to stories, fisherman from Perast, after a shipwreck near the island, found an icon of the Holy Mother of God with the Christ on a sea rock, so they vowed to build a church on the island. They built the church in 1630. As the island had to be maintained, seaman continued to bring in stones, so that tradition is alive even today. It is called Fasinada from Perast (July 22).

Do[edit][add listing]

San Giovanni Fort
Kotor Bay (left), Church of Our Lady of Health (right)
  • Climb up the Upper Town Walls. daily 8:00-20:00. Stretching some 4.5 km directly above and east of the Old Town, on almost vertical cliffs, is the meandering upper town walls. It looks a little like a short version of the Great Wall. Climbing up the 1350 steps will be rewarded by an excellent view of Kotor and the bay from the Church of Our Lady of Health (half way up) and the St John's fortress on top. Only advisable for physically fit people, furthermore on some sections the steps are broken up. Choose your footware wisely (sturdy shoes preferable over sneakers and definitely no flipflops). If you walk early in the morning (e.g. between 7:30 and 9:30), the steps and Fortress is less crowded and you will be walking in the shadow (which is advisable in the summer). The 1200ft ascent may take an hour. There are two access points to the Upper Town Walls, one near the northern gate by St. Mary's Church, and one closer to the southern gate to the Old Town. €3 May-Oct, otherwise free.
  • Boat Trips. In the middle of the bay there are two islands, Sveti Djordje and Gospa od Skrpijela, which are very worth seeing. You can get there with tourist boats.
  • Paragliding from the top of the high surrounding cliffs. An amazing experience with a stunning view!
  • Hike to Krstac. Leave from the north gate of the old city and walk right until you see the path. If you continue straight, the path takes you to a small waterfall with crystal-clear water. (Note: In the summer the waterfall runs dry, but the sturdy rocks make for some nice mountaineering!) If you veer right, the path takes you past mountain goats and up rocky switchbacks with commanding views over the old fort and the bay. After you reach the top (in about 2 hours), the hike takes you through dense forest where you eventually reach Krstac (total time 3.5 hours). There is a restaurant here where you can refuel for the trip back.
  • Visit the Austro-Hungarian Fortresses. There are many stunning old fortresses lying abandoned in the hills and mountains within a few kms of the Bay of Kotor. Each one is worth visiting and makes a wonderful hike.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There is a wide choice of places to eat in Kotor. In old town you can find almost anything - from classy restaurants offering fresh seafood and national cuisine to fast food offering pizzas, barbecue, etc. There is a large produce market outside the city walls. Hamburgers there cost €1. There are also a few restaurants offering fresh, authentic food outside the city walls that cost less than those in the tourist center (see Restoran FK Boljel and Restoran Erak below).

  • Bastion Restaurant, (Near St. Mary's church, at the harbor), 322116. Busy lunchtime venue. Great fish. A bit more expensive than most restaurants, but definitly worth it. According to our accomodation owner, the primeminister eats here when he is in town. You might need a reservation if you want to sit outside on the deck. €6 to €30.
  • Cesarica, (close to Hotel Marja in the Old Town). Serves excellent and cheap Dalmatian food. Try the cuttlefish risotto, it's amazing! main dishes from €5 to €15.
  • Restoran Erak, (Make a left out of old town walls, instead of turning left to bus station, keep on going straight (towards the ruins of Hotel Fjord) and restaurant is on the left). It's worth venturing a few minutes outside of old town to sit in the garden of this local restaurant for authentic food, including excellent fish and calamari, for prices much less than in the old town.
    Note: Don't agree with this recommendation as the atmosphere was hostile and the food was awful. Perhaps the fish is good but do NOT order the 'steak'.
    Dishes from €3.
  • La Pasteria, (directly opposite St Tryphons Cathedral). You'll find great sandwiches and fine pizzas with original prosciutto from the nearby village of Njeguši. Probably the best Italian food in Kotor!
  • Rendez Vous, (In the old town). Friendly waiters, great pizza and free wifi. They don't mind if you use the terrace as an internet cafe, as long as you order something
  • Forza, (near the clock tower). The most popular pastry shop in Kotor
  • Pronto Pizza, (In Old Town; around the corner from Montenegro Hostel). The pizza here is sold by the slice and are usually fresh and hot. There are a lot of fast-food Pizza places available around Old Town that don't look nearly as fresh. Usually only one topping available: ham and mushroom combos. 2 EUR.
  • Forza Mare, Dobrota. Sea side restaurant and hotel,very popular in area out of town in Kotor
  • Babilon. restaurant and hotel,location:Dobrota. Affordable prices,on perfect location.This is must visit restaurant with first class sea food menu

Drink[edit][add listing]

Again, old town is the hotspot for relaxed drinking espresso in the shade of the medieval walls. There are many cafes in the old town, but still it's hard to find a place to sit in the sunny day.

Espresso will cost from €1.00. Coke and other soft drinks and juices will cost from €1.00 up to €2.00.

You should also try out famous Montenegrin wines, "Vranac", "Pro Corde", "Krstac", "Cabernet", "Chardonnay" and "Nikšićko" beer. Montenegrin brandy, called "rakija" is good choice to "warm up" before going out in the evening, especially grape brandy "Montenegrin loza", "Prvijenac" or "Kruna".

Nightlife[edit]

A night out in Kotor usually begins in some of the many open bars within the walls of old town. As they are not allowed to play music after 1:00AM - the action then moves to some of the night clubs. The best club, without a doubt, is Maximus, located in the old town.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Accommodation is cheap and plentiful in Kotor. A lot of the cheaper hostel rooms and guest houses have a shared bathroom. Since most buildings in the old town are narrow, shared bathrooms are often not on the same floor.

Private Rooms[edit]

During summer you can expect to pay about €10 per person for accommodation at a private residence in the old town, and €7-15 outside the old town and closer to beaches.If you are walking from the bus station to the center you will see one right after Roda Market and next to archeological site.This is a yellow building with "rooms" plate on the wall.Shared bathroom but good city view and a kitchenette.50 meters to one of the old town gates.

  • Villa Dragan, Novo Naselje E-20 (10 minute walk from old town, 5 minutes from bus station), +382 67 65 65 14, [7]. Range of clean and comfortable options including single room or self-contained apartment with en-suite and kitchen facilities. Friendly family (lots of free coffee and home-made lemonade!) and Dragan can collect you from bus station. €10.

Hostels[edit]

  • Old Town Kotor Hostel, Stari Grad 284 (Near Cultural Center), + 382 32 325 317, [8]. Once owned by a local noble family Bisanti, now redecorated as Old Town Hostel Kotor. By careful restoration and design the owners have managed to offer the feeling of Kotor as it once was. Dorm bed: €10.
  • Montenegro Hostel Kotor, (Old Town). checkout: 11:00. 6-bed dorms; small kitchen with a lot of small appliances (like a sandwich maker), although the workers there seem to always be cooking something themselves. Tiny balcony overlooking the cobblestone street and nice view of the Fortress up on the mountain. Dorm bed: €9.
  • Youth Hostel Spasic-Masera, Dobrota bb (1km away from the centre and 20m off the main road).
  • Suranj Hostel. Private owned hostel near the bus station. Own room with small kitchen, TV and shower. Double: 33e/night.
  • Montenegro Hostel 4 U, Dobrota Donji put bb, Kotor, Kotor, Montenegro 85339, +382 67 67 50 70 (). checkout: 10.00am. A great little hostel located just in front of the beach, a few minutes walk of the old town. Kitchen and common room, WiFi and public computer. The hostel has its own jet ski, canoes, kayaks, bicycle renting for €6 etc. A/C, fridges and lockers in all dorms. The staff is very friendly and helpful. {GPS 42°25'49.3"N, 018°46'03.6"E} [Aug 2013] Dorm bed: €8-10, room for 3 people: €30.
  • Hostel Centrum, Stari Grad, 459. checkout: 11.00am. A nice, small hostel located in the old town, steps away from the St. Luca Church. Friendly staff, and a fantastic view from the 2nd floor bathroom window! [July 2014] Dorm beds: €11-14.

Hotels[edit]

  • Hotel Amfora Kotor (Kotor Bay Orahovac), (Located 6 km from Perast), +382 (0) 32 305 857 (fax: +382 (0) 32 305 852), [9]. checkin: 24h; checkout: 12h. Hotel has 4 Stars, with a private beach, sauna and fish restaurant. Open 24 hours and all 365 days a year. The hotel is located directly at the beach in Orahovac. Very quiet rooms with seaview overlooking the bay €30 to €99.
  • Cattaro Hotel, [10]. 4 star hotel. €90 to €150.
  • Forza Mare, [11]. A small 5-star hotel in Dobrota.
  • Hotel Marija, (Old City), 325062. Boutique hotel. Single: €44; Double: €63.
  • Hotel Vardar, [12]. Old Yugoslavian design. Recently upgraded and very expensive. Single: €100; Double: €200.

Contact[edit]

Wifi is available in the town center. Most restaurants and terraces in old town have free wifi, you will get the password on request if you order something.

News[edit]

Get out[edit]

Taxi scam: When taking a taxi to Podgorica, some taxi drivers may not drive by the meter, instead preferring to settle for a fixed fee. Although relatively inexpensive by neighbouring Croatia's standards, you will still end up paying much more than the metered fee. Furthermore, one taxi driver brought this writer all the way till the outskirts of Podgorica and dropped me there, claiming that there are taxi cartels in the city that prohibit outside taxis from entering the capital. This was not informed beforehand! The taxi driver rang his peers in the city and asked me to wait for a taxi from a certain company to drive by and flag it. He insisted that it would not cost more than 5 euros to travel anywhere into the capital, and disappeared thereafter. Inflated fees were paid yet did not get what was promised. Take the bus from Kotor bus terminal instead, it's cheaper and guaranteed.

Be aware that traffic in the high season can be devastating. Calculate an extra hour or more for all bus journeys along the coast.

Perast, on Kotor Bay, Montenegro
  • Prčanj - A small hamlet (4km away by bus) across the gulf of Kotor with a view of Kotor.
  • Take day trip to some of the small magical towns on the bay, like Perast (18km away) or Risan.
  • Go to some of the beaches in half hour's drive from Kotor (Jaz, Trsteno, Plavi horizonti).
  • Budva - a beach town on the Adriatic Sea
  • Bar
  • Herceg Novi
  • Cetinje






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