The glistening water of Kotor Bay is shouldered by limestone cliffs of Lovcen National Park which jut around charming medieval towns. The mountains are dotted with tiny villages and monasteries with peaceful verdant trails between them reflecting in the tranquil water of the bay. Kotor Bay is a national treasure. A true jewel of the Balkans that is pure magic! Read on and find out what there is to see and do in and around Kotor.
Driving into Kotor from Budva took us almost 2 hours (the distance is only 23 km). There is just one road which stretches from Albania’s south all the way up the Adriatic. Even though it can be a slow approach, the exquisite charm of Kotor Bay is well worth it. It reminded us of the Amalfi coast. For many of you who have traveled through that area, the roads are very similar.
Kotor being a fortified town in a secluded bay makes for a historian and nature lover destination that draws many tourists including 1 to 5 cruise ships per day. That can be a major drawback. However the tourists seem to concentrate solely in the old town and show up between 10 am and 5 pm. For planning purposes, here is the schedule for cruise ships visiting Kotor in 2019. Be assured that during peak times, there is so much more to see and do in Kotor Bay.
My favorite thing to do in Kotor was all the hiking! Especially hiking up to the Top of the Old Kotor Fort Trail. Finding the trail into the Fortress (which is a legal and free way to get in) was also a lot of fun. Here is the link to the post about these hikes.
Kotor itself is the main attraction of Kotor Bay and the number one place to see. First ruled by the Illyrians in 3rd century BC, Kotor has had many rulers evidenced by it’s diverse architecture from the Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. It is one of the best preserved towns in south-east Europe!
Getting a guide is a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours immersing yourself in the story of this historic and beautiful old town. Right outside of the gates, there is an information kiosk which offers a handy map listing all of the attractions within.
Dobrota is high on the list of things to see and do in Kotor Bay. It is a 5 minute walk north on the boardwalk from the old town of Kotor and continues for 5 km along the shoreline of the stunning Kotor Bay. The residential yet palatial feel of this town, gazing over the shimmering water is quite majestic.
Many of the pallazos have been renovated by foreigners and converted into hotels or opulent residences. This residential town has a much more relaxed feel than hectic Kotor. In the evening one of my favorite things to do was to walk along the boardwalk, tracing the water’s edge and taking in the scents of the fragrant jasmine.
Our airbnb apartment was in this town and I am very grateful for that. We felt part of thecommunity for our stay. Running to the market for veggies to roast in our own oven was truly delightful for me.
Just north is a good spot to stop to admire the view. Stari Mlini restaurant allows visitors to come in and explore the grounds. As you enter the cobblestone street there is plenty of parking out front. The restaurant’s name means old mill. And it is a 16th century old mill. The dock overlooking the bay is stunning making it another good thing to see and do in Kotor Bay.
Perast is a must stop on the tour of things to see and do in Kotor Bay. Located just 12 km north of Kotor, this iconic town is a miniature version of Venice. We left at 8:30 am to beat the flock of cruise ship and bus tourists. The boat ride was necessary to see two interesting and peculiar tiny islands in this area. Hence the importance to beat the traffic.
The most famous of the two islands of Perast is Our Lady of the Rocks. Legend has it that the island was built in the 15th century by devout sailors on a spot in the water where they found a “healing” icon. Prior to any sailing, the sailors would throw rocks in that specific place. And after 32 years the island was established with a church on it.
Next to Our Lady of the Rocks there is a second equally tiny island which is known as the ‘Islet of the Dead.’ A 7th century Benedictine monastery stands on the island as well as a small cemetery, where many prominent people from Perast have been buried. The island is not open to the public but is easily seen from a boat or from Our Lady of the Rocks.
The Bay of Kotor has so many things to see and do, making it one of the Balkans most beautiful areas. It has all the elements that I look for in a destination: Great trails, phenomenal history, old world charm and stunning waterways. The time to visit the Bay of Kotor is now, before even more tourists descend on this Balkan jewel.
Have you been to Kotor Bay? Did we leave anything out? Please let us know by commenting below or emailing us!