Located on the Adriatic Sea, this Venetian-style city in the country of Montenegro is a destination for tourists from around the world. With a history dating back to the Roman era and breathtaking natural beauty, it’s no wonder that it has become such an attraction. When planning your own travels to this Mediterranean coastal city, be sure to read this article about the top things to do in Kotor so you don’t miss anything this magical city has to offer!
While most people visit during the summer months, Kotor is a fantastic place for a winter city break in Europe.
Things to do in Kotor
Hike Mount Lovćen to the Mausoleum of Njegoš
Located in the Alpine mountains, this national park is an easy distance from the city, making it one of the top things to do in Kotor. Vast and sweeping views of almost the entire country can be seen from the top, where the Maesoleum of Njegoš stands as one of the highest mausoleums in Europe! Petrović Njegoš was a poet, priest and king over 200 years ago and his final wish was to be buried at the top of Mount Lovćen, and for good reason! Stepping through the mausoleum, you’ll find a stone walkway along the rocky peak of the mountain leading to a guvno, also known as a threshing floor. These circular stone structures can be found all around this area of Europe and were created long ago as communal gathering spots for leaders, community members and visitors to sit and discuss any number of topics together, including politics, economy and even marriage proposals. Today, the guvno is an attraction of its own for the breathtaking views if provides of the country of Montenegro.
Visit the island of Our Lady of the Rocks in the Bay of Kotor
This tiny island is entirely man-made, starting with a sailor’s tradition dating back to 1452! Legend claims that an icon of Madonna and Child was found on a rock there on July 22, 1452 and ever since then, sailors would throw stones into the water there after every successful voyage. The addition of sunken ships and an annual tradition of throwing rocks into the sea on July 22nd over the centuries has resulted in the artificial island that now houses the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. This Roman Catholic Church was built around 1630 and today contains a large iconic painting of the Lady of the Rocks as well as a museum containing Baroque period paintings, artifacts and a tapestry woven with silver and gold thread in addition to human hair! One of the most unique structures in the area, a visit to this iconic island ranks as one of the top things to do in Kotor.
Spend some time at the Square of the Arms in Kotor’s Old Town
As one of the most well-preserved medieval towns, Kotor’s Old Town is overflowing with medieval gothic architecture as well as a large amount of Venetian era structures. In fact, the entire area is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site for its vast proliferance of history. The Square of the Arms is the main square and largest in the city, now filled with shops, cafes, bakeries and several cultural and historic monuments. The popular Hotel Cattaro, located in the square, is housed in both a 17th century palace and Napoleon’s Theater, also dating from around the 17th century. Even if you aren’t staying in the square, visiting is one of the things to do in Kotor that can’t be missed, if only for the sensation of stepping back in time!
Help the feral cats of Kotor at the Cats Museum
By far one of the most unexpected things to do in Kotor is a visit to a museum dedicated to cats! Kotor has a very high population of feral cats but the city takes very good care of these famed felines, aided in part by the efforts of the Cats Museum. This small and quirky collection of cat memorabilia is located off a side street within the city’s Old Town and the incredibly affordable entrance fee is used to fund programs that help feed the cat population. If you have a few hours to lose and are interested in helping, a visit to this museum is sure to be an interesting addition to your vacation memories, even if you aren’t a cat lover!
Experience the arts at Pima Palace
Though it might not look like a palace at first glance, this building dating back to the 1660s housed one of the wealthiest and most well-loved families of Kotor. The unique green shutters add color to the crumbling facade that takes up a large portion of space on the square and is now a private residence and home to a small contemporary art gallery on the ground level. For a true example of how old meets new in the historic center of the city, a visit to the Pima Palace and it’s small art gallery is one of the things to do in Kotor during your explorations of the Old Town area.
Climb to the top of Kotor’s Old Town City Walls
For a different perspective of Kotor’s historic Old Town, don your walking shoes and climb the approximately 1300-1500 steps to the top of the centuries old city walls. With narrow twists and turns, remarkable vistas and a bird’s eye view of the city below, the trek up to the top is well worth the effort! Climbing down on the opposite side provides access to markets, shops and sites clustered around the exterior of the city walls, but be sure to stop along the way to take in the sweeping views of the Adriatic Sea. While one of the more strenuous of things to do in Kotor, the trek is sure to provide many memorable moments to take home from your visit to this small Mediterranean coastal town.
Explore history at St. Tryphon Cathedral
Located on one of the main squares in Kotor’s Old Town, St. Tryphon Cathedral is over 900 years old and has the architectural splendor to prove it. Stepping into this religious landmark is like stepping back in time and the sensation continues when you climb the steps to the ecclesiastical museum located on the second floor. Filled with icons, art, artifacts and examples of the older architecture, this site gives a comprehensive picture of the history of the city. Additionally, you can step out onto the balcony for a bird’s eye view of the square below, making a visit to this cathedral an absolute must on any list of things to do in Kotor.
Take a boat to Kotor’s famed Blue Cave
A short trip from the city center of Kotor is the Blue Cave, one of the absolute musts of any list of things to do in Kotor! A scenic drive along the winding roads of this Adriatic coastal town brings you to a small beach. From there, it’s a mere 30 minute boat ride before entering a breathtaking sea cave that glows an eerie turquoise blue color. Most tours also allow unlimited time to swim within the crystal clear waters of this cave, so be sure to bring a swimsuit along for this adventure! This stop should absolutely be on your European Bucket list!
Test your limits with a hike to the Castle Of San Giovanni
Referred to by different names, this landmark is one of the more challenging of sites to visit in Kotor but comes highly recommended by all who have attempted it as one of the top things to do in Kotor. The hike up the side of the rocky mountain contains some 1300 steps that zig-zag back and forth over the terrain, but the views during your trek make it well worth the effort. At the top, ruins are all that remain of the ancient fortress and castle complex, a perfect backdrop to the experience of gazing down at the city of Kotor far below!
Find the secret entrance to Saint George Church
During the long and strenuous hike to the Castle of San Giovanni, well-researched travelers can detour to the hidden gem that is Saint George Church. As the hike winds in a switch-back formation through ramparts and walls, a window can be found at a fork in the trail. Climbing through the window reveals a seen unlike any you’ve probably seen before, making this one of the most special of things to do in Kotor. On the other side of the wall is a series of ruinous walls and buildings in the center of which stands a 1000 year old church. Step inside the crumbling building to see remnants of frescoes and paintings dating back hundreds and hundreds of years. It’s like having a small piece of history all to yourself! Also note that there is a marked trail found near this site that provides a much easier trail back down the mountain through grassy fields and hills.
Kotor is a mesmerizing and fascinating city filled with historical sites around just about every corner. With stunning views, rich culture and landmarks of every type, there are so many things to do in Kotor that give the impression of stepping back in time to the opulence of the Venetian era. Visiting this breathtaking coastal city on the edge of the Adriatic is a must for European travelers looking to experience the history up-close and personal.
Additional Information about Kotor:
- You can easily visit Kotor on many Mediterranean cruises offered or visit on your own.
- Best time to visit is said to be in the early fall during shoulder season. Crowds have mostly dissipated and prices for hotels are lower.
- Kotor is uses the Euro as currency – however they are not part of the EU and cannot mint or print the currency.
- The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- The language spoken is Serbian
- About 60% of the country is over 3,000 feet high
- Montenegro is one of the newest countries in the world and they gained their freedom in 2006!
- Average weather in Kotor is in the 50’s-80’s range – making it great weather year round to visit
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