Kotor is, without a doubt, the most beautiful city in Montenegro, if not the Balkans.
Sheltered from the Adriatic winds by a natural harbour, the UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in what is often thought to be the world’s southern-most fjord, but it’s actually a submerged river canyon.
The 500-year-old port dates back to Kotor’s period of Venetian rule and was once an important trading hub — these days it’s a stop-off for cruise ships and backpackers seeking a few days of relaxation and beautiful architecture.
1. The location is unlike any other
Squeezed between imposing mountains and cobalt waters, Kotor couldn’t fit more perfectly into its surroundings. The city walls define its outline, and within lies a maze of marble paved streets with squares made for sipping coffee and watching the world go by.
2. It’s like stepping into a medieval world
Since the city walls were built in the 9th century, not a great deal has changed inside them. Kotor is a living, working, thriving museum to its past. Cruise ships dock alongside the main entrance to the city, bringing with them gaggles of excited explorers. To see the city at its best, get up early and explore the streets before breakfast — it’s more than worth the early alarm.
3. The city has barely outgrown its ancient walls
Terracotta rooftops and glistening marble streets are the calling card of Kotor. Secret squares and tucked away staircases provide opportunities for endless exploring. Akin to most ports along the Adriatic sea, the city has been under control by empires from across the continent — the Venetians, Napoleonic Italy, and the Habsburg Kingdom have all flown their flag on the hill above the city at some point in history.
4. You can feel like a millionaire on any budget
Tourism hasn’t been so kind to all of Montenegro’s resorts. Budva, a few miles to the south, is a playground for the über-wealthy and has turned into a contest of bling.
Kotor has had a lucky escape. The sheltered waters are perfect for mooring luxury yachts, bringing with them the rich and famous — including the Rothschilds. Swanning along the waterfront past the boats and exotic cars is sure to make anyone feel like they’re in a dream.
5. It has one of the best hostels in the region
Imagine waking up and stepping out into twisting streets steeped in history before your first coffee of the day.
Nestled in between the main square and the southern city gate is Old Town Hostel. Stripped back walls and a sociable atmosphere have secured this resting place one of the best Hostel World ratings in Montenegro. Comfy beds and warm hospitality are stones throw from the waterfront and a short trek from the medieval castle which crowns the hill behind the town.
Prices start from £12 per night – booking ahead is highly recommended.
6. The locals are friendly
Kotor has a population of just over 13,000 people and the locals are friendly and accommodating, they recognise the benefits tourism brings to their city. You can be sure of a warm welcome in Montenegrin fjords.
The feline residents are pretty friendly too. Kotor has an art gallery and shop dedicated to cats. It’s so popular Trip Advisor rates it as the 16th best thing to do in the city.
Ryanair fly from London Stansted to the Montenegrin capital Podgorica twice a week. Seats start from as low as £25 for the three-hour flight. Kotor is about two hours on a bus through beautiful coastal and mountainous scenery from the capital.
A more expensive but faster option is to fly to Tivat Airport, around 5 miles outside the city. Easyjet offer seasonal flights to Tivat from Manchester and London-Gatwick.