Kotor is a small wonderful secret along the Mediterranean. Kotor is famous for its Old Town which is surrounded by a city wall that extends up the mountain behind the city. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the walk up the fortifications has some beautiful views of the Kotor Bay and the Old Town. Kotor Bay itself spans a number of small towns each have their own character and highlights. Kotor is also famous for its large number of stray cats that inhabit the city.
Our travel experience from Budapest to Kotor has been one of the toughest of our trip. For the overnight train from Budapest to Belgrade, Serbia, passport control woke us up twice, once at 1 AM and then again at 2 AM. We arrived in Belgrade around 7 AM and our train left for Podriga, Montenegro at 9:10 AM. The train attendant didn’t speak much English and didn’t like that we had the Eurail Pass which was first class and didn’t require a reserved seat. He was going to make us sit in 2nd Class but luckily a guy walking by translated for us and spoke to a couple different train employees and got us on. The attendant actually came on the train as the ticket check guy and he really didn’t like us. We got into Podriga, Montenegro at 8 and had to run to catch the last bus to Kotor. This “bus” was just a 10 seater van that they crammed about 16 people into. For the first part of the trip we had to sit in the middle aisle of the van until some people got out about an hour later. We finally got into Kotor around 11 PM found our hotel and went to bed. It was a long couple days of travel so we just rested and went to bed.
Our first day we got a rude awaking at 7 AM because our room was right next to church bells that rang loud and woke us up. After relaxing for a bit we walked to have lunch at Konoba Portun. It was a bit of a walk from the apartment but it was pretty good and we had a table right at the water’s edge. After, we took the bus to Perast where the Our Lady on the Rock Church was. The bus cost 2 euro per person and the ferry from Perast to the island was 5 euro round trip. The church is pretty beautiful and we paid 2 euro per person for a guided tour of the church. The tour was pretty interesting and took about 45 minutes. They told us of the history of the building which was built around some rocks where some sailors found a painting of the Virgin Mary. The sailors saw the painting as a sign to build the church so they started bring rocks and materials to build the church on the tiny island. The interior of the church is also lined with silver plates which were gifts to the Virgin Mary to protect the sailors on their journey and each plate was meant to symbolize a life saved. The interior of the church also has paintings on the ceilings and walls from a single local artist Tripo Kokolja. The rest of the building has other paintings and gifts given to the church including a piece of art that was done over a span of 25 years by a woman using only needlework. The piece is so well done that it actually looks like a painting but it is actually all done with threads and even pieces of the woman’s hair. We toured the island for about 45 minutes and then made our way back to Perast. Unfortunately, buses only come every hour so we had to wait about 45 minutes before we caught the bus back to Kotor.
The next day we walked up to the top of the fortress in the morning. The entrance fee is 3 euro per person but you can avoid that by going up the mountain from the entrance near the River gate. We actually took the path to the River gate down the mountain. The hike up isn’t all that bad, it’s a pretty wide path but some of the rocks are slippery. We wanted to do the hike in the morning so the sun wouldn’t be beating down on us as we went up. Toward the end of the hike it was getting pretty hot and sunny so we probably should have gone out earlier but it wasn’t too bad. Along the way there are some beautiful views of Old Town and the Kotor Bay. We came back down and had lunch at Casa De Mare along the water. We got the fish platter which was pretty disappointing and then went back to the apartment.
After a little break, we decided to take a bus to Sveti Stefan which is a small town along the water which has a small hotel/island jetting out from the coast. We didn’t get there until about 4:30 PM and we couldn’t get really good pictures of the island so we went down to the beach area and walked around for a while. We ended up sitting down and eating some snacks on the beach and then going back up to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful sunset and we took a lot of pictures but they don’t really do it justice. Afterwards we took a taxi back and had dinner at Cesarica. Diem got the mussels and I got a red risotto dish but it was really more like paella than risotto but it was really good so I didn’t mind.
The last main site we wanted to see in Kotor bay was the Blue Cave off of Zandije Beach. We read that you can take ferries to the blue cave from a nearby town called Hercig Novi which is about an hour bus ride from Kotor. We thought the tours stopped at 1 PM so we wanted to get there early to beat the crowds. On our last full day we didn’t end up getting to Hercig Novi until about 11 AM but found out that since it’s not peak season (summer) they only do the ferries at 10 AM and we would have to do a private charter boat if we wanted to see the blue cave. The boat would cost $50 euro so we just did a beach day at the town which was nice and relaxing. We went back and had dinner at Ladovina. Diem had the mussels and I had a minced meat dish with a salad.
On our last day, check out time was at 10 AM but our bus to Dubrovnik wasn’t leaving until 3 PM so we had some time to check out some more parts of Kotor. We decided to go get an early lunch at a spot near the bus station where you pick out your own raw cut of meat and they grill it for you there. I got some chicken leg and Diem got a nice rib-eye steak. We also got some veggies and a salad. The food was delicious but we it too fast and we were done with lunch before noon and still had almost 3 hours to kill. We had seen a couple of spots in Old Town Kotor that had 1 euro coffee so we thought we would go there and chill for a while. We picked a spot and got a couple cups of coffee but we still had some time to kill after finishing them. The only logical solution was to start drinking beer. We had a couple of half liters of the local draft, grabbed our bags, and went to the bus station.
Kotor is a beautiful city and there are many other beautiful towns and sites along the Kotor bay. It is actually a good deal cheaper than Croatia, it is just as beautiful, and it is definitely quieter and more low-key. It’s a little less well-known but really worth the trip.
See the full gallery of our trip to Kotor here: Kotor, Montenegro.