View from Kotor Fortress down to the town of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

One Day in Kotor: How to Explore Kotor in a Single Day

January 10, 2024

Kotor is a small coastal town in Montenegro, surrounded by the beautiful natural environment of the Bay of Kotor.

When you visit Kotor, you’ll quickly understand why it’s a must-see attraction in the Balkans and why it’s becoming increasingly popular among tourists. Kotor is a unique destination in Europe, there is nowhere else like it.

The medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fascinates visitors with its narrow streets and historic buildings. Within the old walls of Kotor, small shops and restaurants can be found alongside the old churches and fortresses, giving the town a pleasant atmosphere.

Kotor is a great place for history and nature lovers. The town walls and the steep staircase leading up to the Kotor Fortress offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and sea. You can also take a boat trip in the Bay of Kotor, which gives you the opportunity to explore the surrounding small villages and natural beauty.

So Kotor is a real gem in the Balkans, worth experiencing at least once!

Therefore, we would like to give you an idea of what to see and do in Kotor in a day.

As most people only spend a day or a few days in the town, we have tailored our article for a short sightseeing visit.

Kotor is a very popular destination for cruise ships, which brings many tourists to the city for brief stays.

Others see it as a stopover on a Balkan or Montenegro road trip, and this article can be helpful for them as well.

Also, many people make a day trip from Dubrovnik, which is just a few hours away, to Kotor, and this guide is intended for them too.

So, our article primarily covers a one-day visit to Kotor, but with our additional tips and suggestions, you can easily spend several days in the area if you’re planning a longer trip.

Now let’s look at the most important questions that come up when traveling to Kotor.

Is Kotor worth a visit?

We think absolutely yes, and we have no doubt about it. Kotor is a real gem in the Balkans, one of the most interesting destinations in the area, rivaling almost any popular European destination.

How to get to Kotor

Kotor is a small town at the innermost tip of the Bay of Kotor, located along the E65 road.

There are several ways to get to Kotor:

  • by car
  • through guided tours from Dubrovnik, Podgorica or Tirana
  • by cruise ship that stops in Kotor
  • by plane to the nearest airport in Tivat or the capital Podgorica, and from there by public transport or car.

By car

Getting to Kotor is simple. There are only a few roads in the area and no highways.

But you have to be aware that traffic is very slow and there are many traffic jams. Basically, around the Bay of Kotor, the average speed you can expect is about 50 km/h (30 mph).

If you’re arriving from Dubrovnik or Mostar, you’ll reach Kotor after bypassing much of the Bay of Kotor, passing by Herceg Novi and Perast. (We’d like to note that we do not recommend the “Vraćenovići” border crossing from Bosnia and Herzegovina, so it’s better to approach from the southern border crossings.)

Alternatively, you could take the ferry from Kamenari to Lepetane, but we wouldn’t miss the scenic route along the way for a shortcut.

If you’re coming from Podgorica or Albania, you’ll also arrive in Kotor via the E65, passing through Budva.

If you want to get to Kotor from Tivat Airport, follow the Jadranska Magistrala road next to the airport, and at the first roundabout, take the left exit towards the E65 road in the direction of Kotor. After a few minutes, you’ll arrive in Kotor.

Best time to visit Kotor

Kotor is a good destination all year round, with a relatively pleasant climate. One thing to watch out for, however, is that it rains relatively often.

We generally recommend May, June, September and October for visiting Kotor. During this time, temperatures are pleasant for sightseeing and hiking.

On the other hand, if you travel to Montenegro in the summer months for a beach holiday, it can be a bit hot for sightseeing, but it’s doable if you plan ahead.

How many days to spend in Kotor

You can see the main sights of Kotor in one day. But if you prefer to travel more slowly and enjoy the atmosphere, we recommend a minimum of 2–3 days.

If you plan to stay for 4 days or more, you’ll have plenty of time to see Montenegro’s other sights.

Best things to do in Kotor in a day

In one day in Kotor, you can enjoy a range of unique and memorable activities that will allow you to discover the best of the city. Whether it’s exploring the medieval old town, enjoying the stunning views from the historic ruins, or experiencing the local culture and gastronomy, Kotor has something special for every visitor.

Here are some suggestions of the top things to do in Kotor if you only have one day.

Climb up to the Kotor Fortress

Kotor’s main attraction is the Kotor Fortress, also known as St. John Fortress, San Giovanni Fortress, or Sveti Ivan Fortress.

The fort is located on the mountainside of Kotor. From below, the limestone cliffs themselves are truly spectacular, but from the top, the view of the Bay of Kotor is simply mind-blowing.

The road to the fortress consists of about 1,350 steps, so the hike up is a bit challenging, but very rewarding.

Along the way, don’t forget to stop to see the Church of Our Lady of Remedy and the few ruins you come across.

Besides, you can enjoy breathtaking views of Kotor and the bay all the way if you walk up to this iconic fortress.

Walk around the Old Town

If you are in Kotor, another place not to miss is the Old Town. This part of town, although small, is spectacular and worth a thorough walking tour, as there is something interesting at almost every corner.

Kotor’s Old Town is full of historic buildings, churches, narrow streets, cute cats, and tempting souvenir shops.

But let’s take a look at some of the must-sees in the Old Town of Kotor:

  • Kotor City Walls
  • River Gate
  • Kampana Tower
  • Sea Gate
  • Gurdić Bastion and Gurdić Gate
  • Clock Tower
  • Saint Luke’s Church
  • Saint Nicholas’ Church
  • Palace of Drago Family
  • St. Tryphon’s Cathedral

Browse among the wonderful souvenirs

Admittedly, we’re not big souvenir shoppers, but the shops in Kotor captivated even us. You can buy wonderful glassware and handmade products in the local shops, which are not to be missed.

Visit the Maritime Museum and/or the Kotor Cats Museum

Learn about Kotor’s naval history or the town’s love for cats in these unique and interesting museums.

Go boating in the Bay of Kotor

There are plenty of boat tours available and, depending on the time available, you can even visit the two islets off the coast of Perast (Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George) or the Blue Cave further away. If you only have a shorter time, choose one of the shorter boat trips.

Swimming at Kotor Beach

If you visit the Bay of Kotor in the summer, you probably also want to go to the beach. The Bay of Kotor has a few beaches for this, although the best are undoubtedly in the Radovici area a little further away and Budva even further afield. Nevertheless, there is a beach in Kotor, called Kotor Beach.

Drive the Kotor Serpentine

Not far from Kotor, you will find a mountain serpentine (road P1) leading to the town of Cetinje. This is called Kotor Serpentine. The road consists of several hairpin bends, steeply following the mountainside, offering spectacular views of the Bay of Kotor and the surrounding area in many places.

It is a favorite spot for motorcyclists, but unfortunately it is also very popular with buses. This is a problem because the road is quite narrow and can become a real mess on the serpentine road, with buses and cars barely able to fit side by side.

For this reason, it is only recommended for experienced drivers and only if you have enough time.

Take the Kotor-Lovćen cable car up to Mount Lovćen

Another option, instead of the Kotor Serpentine, is to take the Kotor-Lovćen Cable Car. Not far from Tivat Airport is the cable car’s departure station, from where the cable car will take you up to Mount Lovćen. From there, you can enjoy the same fantastic views as those from the serpentine.

These are the activities to consider when planning a shorter visit to Kotor. Whether you’re more interested in history, want to go hiking, learn more about the local culture, or just want to relax near the sea, you can choose according to your preferences.

After a list of the best things to do in Kotor, here’s what else you need to know before you travel to Kotor.

Where to stay in Kotor

There are plenty of hotels in and around Kotor, so it won’t be easy to choose. To help you decide, we recommend some of the best:

Hyatt Regency Kotor Bay Resort: perhaps best of all, a wonderful five-star hotel a little further from Kotor, a short drive away, with stunning interiors, private beach, bay views, parking and available off-season at a good price

MAISON W: a small, five-star hotel a few kilometers from the sights in Kotor at a very good price

Boutique Hotel R Palazzo: a beautiful and modern 4-star hotel in Dobrota, close to Kotor. It has a magnificent view of the bay

Hotel Monte Cristo: an old-style four-star hotel in the old town. Recommended for those who arrive without a car and want to stay close to the main attractions

D & Sons Apartments: very affordable apartments in the old town, ideal for families, especially those arriving without a car

Restaurants in Kotor

In terms of gastronomy, Kotor offers typical Balkan cuisine, such as fresh seafood and local wines. There are many restaurants in town where you can sample these dishes and enjoy the local hospitality.

In Kotor, we recommend the following restaurants:

  • Konoba Scala Santa: konoba (local restaurant) serving traditional Montenegrin dishes
  • La Catedral Pasta Bar: restaurant serving Italian cuisine in a narrow street in the old town, with a cozy outdoor area
  • Restaurant Galion: an elegant restaurant by the sea, with a wonderful view of the bay

Where to park in Kotor

Parking in Kotor is not as difficult as it first seems.

If you’re traveling out of high season, you’ll probably have no problem finding a parking space.

The closest car parks to the old town are Паркинг Рива Котор (in Cyrillic letters), the Paid Parking Kotor and the parking spaces next to the Scurda bridge.

Alternatively, if you can’t find a space closer, you can try the parking lot at Shopping Centre Kamelija and the parking lot next to Idea supermarket.

When parking and buying tickets, make sure you always have at least a few euros in cash. Although you can pay with a credit card in many places, when parking in the Balkans you often have to pay at a booth (no machines), where only cash is accepted.

In summary, Kotor is a small but exciting place where you can immerse yourself in history, enjoy the beauty of nature and discover Montenegrin culture.

These characteristics make Kotor an ideal destination for those planning a unique and exciting trip. The city’s unique atmosphere and rich heritage guarantee an unforgettable experience whether it is a historic walk, a culinary discovery or simply enjoying the stunning scenery.

So do not miss Kotor if you have the chance to visit.

Other destinations near Kotor

If you have more than one day in Kotor, we recommend you also visit the following:

Herceg Novi

The charming town of Hereg Novi is also located on the shores of Kotor Bay.

In Herceg Novi, you can explore the winding streets of the Old Town, lined with colorful houses and historic buildings, and discover the Fort Mare and Savina Monastery.

For fun things to do in Herceg Novi, relax on the city’s idyllic beaches, including Boka Beach, Topla Beach, and Rafaello Beach, and immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife scene. Herceg Novi offers a perfect blend of relaxation, exploration, and cultural experiences.


Perast, the pearl of the Bay of Kotor, is a charming little seaside town in Montenegro. It’s just a 20-minute drive from Kotor, so it’s well worth a visit.

Perast is home to historic buildings such as the Muzej grada Perasta (Perast City Museum) and churches like the iconic Church of Saint Nicholas.

The town’s other main attractions are the two islands, Our Lady of the Rocks and Saint George, which are easily accessible by boat from the town center.

Perast is the perfect place for a relaxing day out, where you can soak up the atmosphere of the Bay of Kotor.


Budva, one of Montenegro’s most popular seaside towns, is located on the Adriatic coast. It’s just a half-hour drive from Kotor, so if you have more time in the area, don’t miss Budva.

The city offers the perfect blend of modern tourism and historical heritage.

The Old Town of Budva is a labyrinthine medieval quarter, full of historical monuments and charming little streets.

In addition, Budva is famous for its sandy beaches, such as Mogren, Jaz and Bečići, which are ideal locations for sunbathing and water sports.

Budva’s nightlife is also vibrant, with numerous bars, clubs and restaurants offering a variety of entertainment options.

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan is a unique and picturesque destination in Montenegro, a peninsula that was once a fishing village, now mainly a holiday resort.

This charming peninsula is connected to the mainland by a narrow road (or isthmus), which also features a beautiful beach.

If you are in the area, make sure not to miss Sveti Stefan, along with the many spectacular viewpoints it offers. These spots provide stunning photo opportunities of the peninsula, making it a real must-visit for photographers traveling to Montenegro. The scenic beauty of this location is almost guaranteed to impress.

With these places, we’ve given you just a taste of what else to see on a trip to Montenegro. In reality, Montenegro has much more to offer, and you can find enough to see and do for several days or even a week. So it’s worth exploring more deeply, because Kotor and Montenegro as a whole offer a tourist experience that few other places in Europe can match.

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