If you’re planning a trip to Montenegro, then you’ve made it to the right place to find out the top things to do in Kotor Bay. We’re here to help you map out your perfect vacation in this Balkan paradise, from where to go and how long, down to where to eat and swim.
We’ve got a lot to say, but first let’s cut to the chase: Montenegro and Hungary are the 2 most beautiful places in the Balkans by far, and the crown jewel of Montenegro is Kotor Bay. Nestled in one of the most gorgeous bays in the Adriatic Sea, Kotor Bay charms people with its Venetian-style architecture, Italian cuisine and fan-tas-tic scenery.
In Kotor Bay, there are several small settlements, most notably Perast, Dobrota and Kotor town. We strongly recommend that you see all three of these villages on your trip.
But wait, what about Budva?
If you’ve been researching travel in Montenegro, it’s likely you’ve read more about Budva than Kotor. But don’t be misled by Budva’s popularity, Kotor is much, much prettier. Budva is the most popular destination in the country due to its spectacular location on the coast and, though it is still wonderful, all of the ongoing construction really takes away from its idyllic potential.
People still flock to Budva, especially Russian tourists. So, don’t get us wrong – we would definitely recommend that you see Budva too, particularly Sveti Stefan and Budva Old Town. What we’re trying to say is you shouldn’t pass over the many things to do in Kotor Bay for a stop in Budva just because it’s more famous!
We recommend that you spend two days in Kotor Bay (we stayed for a week, but we found it to be a bit too much). Some tourists who are touring the Balkans pass through here without spending the night – that is just bad planning!
Orienting Yourself Around the 3 Kotors
Boka Bay is within the blue square, Kotor Bay is circled in red and Kotor old town is marked by the dropped pin.
Inside the blue square above, there’s a prominent bay. That whole bay is called Boka Bay.
You can see there are other bays within Boka. Each of these gulfs have their own names.
The inner bay circled in red is Kotor Bay.
Kotor is also the name of the old city (pin-dropped above) within the bay of the same name.
In Kotor Bay are 3 villages that we will discuss in this article: Kotor town, Perast and Dobrota. They are all in the administrative region of Kotor.
In short, Kotor is the name of the 1) administrative region, 2) bay and 3) old city.
The Boka Bay is known as the “southern fjord.” For those who may not know, a fjord is a long, narrow, deep inlet among steep cliffs. Although the Boka Bay is not technically a fjord, it does look like one. The surrounding mountains loom large amongst the clouds, lending the sea a blueish silver color, which is what gives Kotor, Perast and Dobrota their exquisite beauty.
[column size=one_half position=first ]1. Ćatovića Mlini
2. Our Lady of the Rocks
3. Pirate Bar
5. Bajova Kula
6. Stari Mlini
7. Kotor Bay Tours
8. Apartments Marilu
9. Hotel Forza Mare
10. Apartments Miramar
11. Palazzo Radomiri
12. Apartments Ponta
13. Bella di Mare[/column][column size=one_half position=last ]14. Villa Zvicer
15. Hotel Forza Terra
16. Apartments Marinovic
17. Apartment Dijana
18. Konoba Portun
19. Kotor Stari Grad
20. Apartments Popovic
21. Ribica Apartments
22. Apartments Ave R
(The last three items did not fit the above map, but you can view them online 😀 )
23. Restaurant Jezero
24. Pećina Vina Plantaže
25. Pecenjara Restaurant[/column]
1. Roaming Historic Kotor (Kotor Old Town, or Kotor Stari Grad)
As soon as you step foot in Kotor, you’ll understand why we like it so much. It is an incredibly cool town straight from the Middle Ages. Various civilizations have ruled Kotor throughout history, but the Venetians were the most influential. They were able to rule for 400 years from 1420 to 1797, and their influence is evident today.
The Venetian architecture has remained, and we have to say that the Italians know their aesthetics. Add to this Kotor’s natural beauty, and you have a destination within reach that promises to take your breath away. Roaming the streets of any city is a delight, but out of all the things to do in Kotor Bay, taking in Kotor Old Town is at the top of out list for its legacy and charm.
Tiny towns with enormous history
The villages of Kotor Bay still retain all the magic of their long histories. Life continues somehow uninterrupted. Of the 3, Kotor has the largest historical center. Unlike the other towns, Kotor is surrounded by fortified walls, which you can trek along. The walls go all the way up to the top of the mountain behind the village, and intersect with the castle there.
Inside the walls is the charming medieval old town where the rich used to live. The narrow streets, built to protect from the sun, are typically lined with Venetian constructions. Some squares have running fountains, and there are adorable cafes, restaurants and itty bitty souvenir shops that will steal your heart.
To find out more details about the history of Kotor town, places to visit and guided tours to join, head on over to our Kotor Old Town post. Click here for the location.
2. A Stop in Perast
A picturesque medieval village from the fairytales of old, Perast is one of the most charming places in the region along with Kotor Old Town. Perast was founded by soldiers to protect Kotor from invaders. When you look at the map, you see that Perast is set up across from the narrowest point of the strait. There used to be 2 castles set up on either side of the strait.
There’s much to say about this little town, so you can read our article on Perastto learn more about its history and what to do there.
Should I stay in Perast?
Why not? Perast is an excellent place for those who want to get away for a bit. It is the kind of isolated spot where you would be inspired to get started on that novel. It is small, which means you have limited options for accommodation or hanging out, but these options still manage to be some of the most charming in Montenegro. And don’t worry, while here you’re still not too far from the action to be able to experience all the things to do in Kotor Bay!
We have picked out the best ones for you in our article on Perast. 😉
How much time should I set aside for Perast?
Two hours is enough to drink a coffee by the sea, go up to the top of a hill, walk the entire coast and go to the island. But go at your own pace: You can do all this more quickly or more slowly. Click here for the location.
3. A Boat to Our Lady of the Rocks
Across from the tiny town of Perast are two even tinier islands, one natural and one with an unusual, man-made history. The natural island is closed to visitors as it has an active monastery on it. The other, called Our Lady of the Rocks (on the right in the photo above), has a church cum museum on it.
You can take a tiny boat to get to the island, which costs €5. For more details, check out our Perast guide. Click here for the location.
4. Stay in Dobrota
For a 2-3 day trip to Kotor Bay in the summer, Dobrota is our favorite place to rent a house. It is not as as picturesque as Perast, but it is still old and pretty. Its location midway between Kotor Old Town and Perast makes it quite convenient for planning your itinerary of all the things to do in Kotor Bay.
The best thing of all? It doesn’t feel touristy. Of course, tourists have spotted Dobrata too, but it remains a local hang out. Click here to see Dobrota’s location.
Renting an apartment in Dobrota
The seaside apartments are the best to rent, and there are piers and sunbeds in front of these houses for swimming and lounging. We insist on renting one directly on the seaside, as it’s just not the same staying somewhere else – even if it’s back by one row of houses. Just taking in the view from the comfort of our room was one of the most calming of things to do in Kotor Bay for us. Try for a place with a large balcony or terrace where you can enjoy the view.
Apartments can usually fit 2-5 people. If you are more than 2, then sharing a flat will be cheaper than staying at a hotel. You can find these rentals on Booking.com and Airbnb.
Something noteworthy about a country as stunning as Montenegro is that many places don’t pay particular attention to furnishings. A concern for style isn’t high on the priority list and, even in nice hotels, you might find a leopard print chair in your room. 😉
If ambiance and location are as important to you when choosing accommodation (to each their own, of course!), we’ve suggested a few down below.
What do you like about Dobrota?
Forget even finding a place to stay. Heck, just set up a chair on the pier and stay there. This is a seaside town that is full of magnificent historical houses. Locals love to come here for a summer retreat. Old folks gossip and tan on the piers, children skate along the seaside and the fishermen come out in the afternoon, ready to cast their long lines…
If it’s a beach holiday that you’re looking for, then this is the best swimming spot in the Bay of Kotor. That said, it could never compete with Budva beaches. For one thing, there aren’t even many beaches. People usually use the piers to jump into the sea.
The sea in front of Kotor town is not as clean since the bay is quite narrow there and there’s not much water circulation. That’s not a problem in Perast; however, there is a lot of boat traffic and a strong current, making it harder to swim. Concerning any water-related things to do in Kotor Bay, Dobrota is where it’s at.
Lovely restaurants line the beach.
Dobrota is practical, as it’s located right in the middle of Kotor town and Perast.
Since it stands in the shadow of Kotor mountain, Dobrota gets darker earlier. But the sunset is epic here.
Here are the houses and hotels you can reserve:
We were pleased with our stay here. The rooms are clean and spacious, and we had a balcony with a sea view! Included in the reservation are free bicycle and kayaking services. There is also a private swimming area with sunbeds. Details & Reservation
Apartments Villa Zvicer
Located 2 km away from the center of Dobrota, the Apartments Villa Zvicer are studio apartments that have sea views or balconies with sea views. There is also a private beach with sunbeds. Details & Reservation
The property of Ribica Apartments is by the sea. You can cross off multiple items on your list of things to do in Kotor Bay here! In front of your room, you’ll have a view of the sea, the mountains and the Old City of Kotor, and you can rent a bike to easily get to nearby beaches. Details & Reservation
These apartments in the old town area of Kotor offer you easy access to its central location. The prices don’t include breakfast, but there’s an area where you can make your own. The prices are quite affordable, but don’t expect luxury. Details & Reservation
Apartments Ave R
This is right on the seaside. Directly in front of the apartment building is a small private beach. Each room has its own balcony. Details & Reservation
Though the decor hurt our eyes a bit, the location and whatnot are excellent. The balconies also had a view of the sea. Details & Reservation
A solid option in the Dobrota area, Marinovic consists of apartments housed in stone buildings right on the sea. The apartment on top has a terrace that overlooks the sea. Still, don’t expect much on the higher-end. Details & Reservation
They have many options when it comes to rooms, such as a one-bedroom apartment, a two-bedroom apartment, a standard apartment, studio, as well as a studio with a sea view. The lower floors have more of a garden view, so go for the upper floor. Details & Reservation
This is an apartment building with many rooms surrounded by a garden or sea view. There is a kitchen area where you can prepare your own food and the location is nice, as it’s also quite close to the city center. Details & Reservation
Apartments Bella di Mare
This apartment building has its own beach. The rooms and studio apartments are clean and no-frills. Details & Reservation
Hotel Palazzo Radomiri
This hotel is an authentic 4-star boutique hotel. The building was once a captain’s mansion dating back to the 18th century, and it was restored and repurposed into a hotel. It has its own private swimming pool, spa and fitness center. Details & Reservation
Hotel Forza Terra
This is a 5-star spa and fitness hotel. It has an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, fitness room, sauna and spa center. There are two suites and 10 normal rooms. The view from the rooms with a terrace is magnificent. Detailed information & reservation.
Hotel Forza Mare
This is another 5-star hotel, and it’s a luxurious one located about 3 km away from the city center. It has its own spa center and beach. Details & Reservation.
5. Tour the Gulf of Kotor by Car or Scooter
Because the mountains rise up from the coast, the road that passes through them offers unique landscapes. Along the way, you’ll pass through small towns that have not yet been written about. Driving or scooting down these roads is one of the best things to do in Kotor Bay.
You’ll find plenty of photo opportunities here as well. Because of the geological formation of the region, the scenery will always change as you drive down the road.
6. Bike Tours Along the Coast
If you’re curious about bike tours (me), but you can’t spend any time riding during your vacation due to that one lazy person in your family (Bilgehan), then here’s some good news. Pedaling around the bay by bike is a smooth and beautiful ride – something even the laziest adventurer will love.
A few ways to convince that slow poke to spoke up:
The road is nearly flat, mostly because it is along the coast.
Perast is only 12 km from Kotor.
There are some lovely towns along the way. They all have restaurants, grocery stores and rooms for rent. So you don’t need to camp or bring food along the way.
You can stop wherever you are and swim.
You can do Kotor-Perast-Kotor in one day by bike, but my dream is to ride the whole of Boka Bay, not just Kotor Bay. The route is so easy that you won’t need a special type of bike to ride from one place to the other. There are plenty of shops where you can rent a bike, and the quality of the bike won’t be that important. Biking here is an unforgettable experience, and you’d be smart not to exclude it from your list of things to do in Kotor Bay 😉
Where to Rent a Bike
– In Kotor
Travelzoo Travel Agency – They don’t have a website, but it’s not far from the Old Town Youth Hostel. It’s €20 for the day for one bike, and €30 for two bikes. The place had the best price. Click here for the location.
– In Dobrota Kotor Bay Tours – You can get prices from their website. They also rent out canoes, road bikes and mountain bikes. This is where we were able to find the best-kept bikes. Click herefor the location.
* Though easy, the roads are narrow in places, so be careful.
7. Boating in the Bay
A lot of people like going out on boat tours. Since it’s one of the many common things to do in Kotor Bay, you’ll be able to find boats to rent in Dobrota, Perast and Kotor – but you’ll have the most choices in Kotor.
Boat tour options
There’s a car park right in front of Kotor Old Town. Outside the car park is where the boats leave on the boat tours. A one-hour tour goes directly from Kotor to Perast and takes a break for half an hour on Our Lady of the Rock. It costs €10 per person.
If you want to get a private boat, then you can probably get a trip for as low as €70-80 (for 3-4 people).
Because the boats in front of the parking lot are so visible, they might not be able to lower their price. In this case, if you walk in the direction of Dobrota for about 1-2 minutes, you’ll see another port where there are boats. They are more competitive in terms of price as there are fewer tourists there. You can also ask to have a swim break as part of your boat tour.
There are longer tours as well. They leave from Boka and go out to the open sea, which is better for swimming. You can arrange for them from the same ports.
8. Canoe & Paddle Board
As we mentioned, Kotor Bay is one bay in the Boka Gulf, and it’s set back a little, so the water is flat and still. This is great for anyone who wants to go canoeing or paddleboarding. Of course, the view is going to be great. In Kotor and Dobrota, you can rent equipment for canoeing and paddling boarding from Kotor Bay Tours. You’ll have to ask around in Perast to find the right rental shop. Click herefor the location.
9. Swimming & Sunbathing
You shouldn’t go to Kotor just to swim. You can do it of course, and there are great spots, but you’ll also want to take in some of its historical importance and ambiance. If you’re looking for a beach holiday, the beaches of Budva are a better choice instead of trying to shovel sand time into your plan for things to do in Kotor Bay.
No one will charge you anything to swim along the coast. But if you’re wondering where the beach clubs are for a quick dip, keep reading!
Bajova Cula – (pictured above) is on the way from Kotor to Perast and is the best beach club in the whole bay. Other people are aware of this, so if you want to go, you should book early. You’re likely to miss the entrance from the road, so look up the location in advance. They also have a restaurant and bar, with fabulous swimming and facilities. Click here for the location.
Pirates Beach Bar is a small pier located at the end of Perast. It’s an ideal option if you want to go swimming, as there’s no current or boat traffic. As you can see from the photo, it gets quite crowded. Click here for the location.
Dobrota – We wrote at-length about the town and its swimming options above, so scroll back up for a refresher.
10. Konoba Portun
“Konoba” is Montenegrin for a traditional restaurant. You absolutely must eat at a konoba. The absolute best konoba of our trip was in Kotor. Get to Konoba Portun before dusk for dinner and a beautiful “show” – the sunset.
It’s a tiny place, so make a reservation, and be sure to ask for a spot on the pier. They will give your place to someone else if you’re late, so call if you know you will be.
The truffle tuna fish carpaccio was divine. It was so good that we canceled our main entrees and ordered another! Don’t worry if you skip out on the main meal like we did – you’ll still be telling everyone that you had the seafood dish to beat all seafood dishes in Kotor. Click here for the location.
11. Catovici Mlini & Stari Mlini
There are two traditional restaurants in Kotor Bay that everyone knows about: Stari Mlini and Catovica Mlini. They’re both inside what used to be mills and are both wonderful places. Their specialty is seafood. Though the ambiance at Catovica Mlini is better, the food at Stari Mlini is nicer. There are two things we highly recommend there: white wine paired with the clams and mussels. Add a chocolate soufflé to it. We suggest making reservations for both.
Click here for the location of Catovica Mlini.
Click here for the location of Stari Mlini.
Itinerary For A Single Day In Kotor Bay
Just to repeat it for those in the back: If you’ve come this far, it would be a shame not to spend two days in the Bay. But, if you have a limited amount of time and can only spend one day, we recommend the following things to do in Kotor Bay:
Start out at Kotor Fortress at 7:30 am. Seeing everything and climbing around will take around 2 hours.
Try to catch the Kotor guided tour at 10 am.
Swim at Dobrota (the salt will stay on you, but don’t worry)
Eat lunch at Konoba Portun in Dobrota (the ideal is to eat here at sunset but since you only have a day…).
Another option is have lunch at Portun and then go swimming at Bajova Kula. But you’ll have to skip the last two items on the list.
Go to Perast and roam about the bay. Walk the streets.
Climb up the clock tower in Perast.
Go to Our Lady of the Rocks Island. (You’ll need two hours to see Perast and the island.)
In general, things to do in Kotor Bay are cheaper than Europe, but more expensive than other parts of the Balkans.
At the time of writing, 1.5 liters of water cost €0.6 (at the market).
Main courses are around €10-15 with massive portions that can feed two people.
Prices for accommodation vary. If you just want something cheap, then you can get a house for around €50. Scenic lodging starts at €100. Hotels are more expensive.
Renting a car is €18-20 per day with limited insurance. For a more comprehensive insurance plan, add about €10 per day.
In Montenegro, people speak Montenegrin, a dialect of Serbian. But the Italian influence has affected both its cuisine and language. Which means that they say “ciao” to greet someone.
The Ottomans controlled part of Montenegro for a long time. As a result, they use a lot of Turkish words, particularly for fruits and vegetables and other food products.
Everyone speaks English, though older folk only know a little and younger ones know more.
Where & How to Go to Kotor
There are two airports in the country. Tivat is the closest one.
If you fly directly to the capital, Podgorica, then you can either take a shuttle, bus or car to get to Kotor.
Other things to consider:
Those with a multi-entry Schengen visa can fly to Dubrovnik in Croatia and cross the border. It takes about 1-1.5 hours.
Tirana, Albania is 3.5 hours away, and tickets there are often cheaper.
You can enter the country by car if you’re traveling the Balkans.
Want to Eat Epic Meat?
Ok, so this doesn’t fall into our list of things to do in Kotor Bay, but it’s too good not to mention. If you’re flying to or from Podgorica, you’ll find a fantastic butcher right across from the airport. You absolutely need to eat meat at this place. It’ll be the best, most tender you’ve ever had. This is because the people of Montenegro are experts when it comes to animal husbandry.
We recommend the tandoori lamb, which is the most popular. For those of you who don’t eat lamb, there’s beef as well. The menu not so helpfully calls it “meat under the baking lid.” Click here for the location.
Other fantastic pit stops
The oddly named Vranjina Island is not quite an island, since it connects to the mainland. You can get to it via the road going to the airport. On the island, you’ll find the largest winery in the area, Plantaze. We recommend buying some wine to take home. The same wine is sold at the Duty Free, but it’s twice the price.
The restaurant opposite the winery, Jezero, serves excellent fish. Try krap, a local fish (yes, we know the name doesn’t speak well for it, but we do). Click here for the location.
You can get a line from Telenor. Next to Kotor Stari Grad is a shopping mall called Kamelija, where you’ll find a Telenor branch.
In the high season, traffic can be backed up as there is only one lane that goes around Kotor. It’s much more practical to rent a motorbike instead of a car. Or you can stay in Dobrota and go to Perast and Kotor by bike, though this might be a little difficult in warmer weather.
If I were going to open a business in Montenegro, then it would be a motorbike rental company. You can get a motorbike, but unfortunately, there’s not enough to meet demand since motorbiking is one of the popular things to do in Kotor Bay. We waited for two days.
In other words, whether or not you’ll be able to get one is down to luck. But the prices are great – they are €5 cheaper than the cheapest rental car. The Travelzoo Travel Agency, which I mentioned above, rents motorbikes. You can also ask the house or hotel where you’re staying to help you out. *You must have a motorbike license.