Perched along the Adriatic Sea, Kotor, Montenegro, is a charming town within a fairy tale setting. First settled during Ancient Roman times, Kotor boasts an impressive landscape with fortified walls built during the middle ages.
When embarking on a cruise to Kotor, visitors will marvel at the variety of historical architecture as they traverse the cobblestoned streets of this Mediterranean port town. Be sure to check out these top things to do in Kotor when visiting this port city during your European cruise.
1. Explore the Highlights of Montenegro
Discover what makes Montenegro so special by taking a guided motor coach tour of the area. Stop along the way to take memorable photos of the mountainous scenery and expanse of natural beauty overlooking Kotor Bay.
In the tiny village of Njeguši, you’ll step back in time as you walk amid the traditional folk architecture and taste local delicacies of smoked prosciutto ham, homemade cheese and Njeguši-brewed brandy and wine.
A walk through Cetinje, Montenegro’s Old Royal Capital city, is a stroll through history and culture, and includes a visit to the palace, which is now the National Museum.
Any tour of Montenegro’s highlights must include a visit to Budva, as well as Kotor, to discover the depth of religious, historical and pastoral qualities of Montenegro.
In Kotor, also consider taking in a service at St. Luke’s Orthodox Church. St. Luke’s is often overshadowed by the larger churches in the area, yet is an important part of Kotor’s culture. Built in the 12th century as a Catholic church, it was converted to an Orthodox place of worship nearly 500 years later.
Today it hosts services for both faiths and represents the unity of the people.
2. Stroll the Streets of the Old Town
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kotor’s Old Town is a stunning example of a medieval city. Built between the 12th and 14th centuries, the charming buildings and winding, narrow streets transport visitors back in time. You can easily spend a few hours here wandering and admiring the limestone buildings that are adorned with Gothic architectural details.
3. Take in the Montenegrin Riviera
A scenic, 30-minute drive from Kotor on a motor coach will bring you to the enchanting town of Budva, considered the Montenegrin Miami for its vibrant tourist culture. Guests can visit the walled city of Budva via a Carnival shore excursion. You’ll explore buildings dating back to the 1400s and stroll mazes of delightful streets filled with local restaurants and shops.
After taking in the sights, you’ll board a motor coach for a drive along the Adriatic coastline to Kotor. Enjoy a guided tour through the city and visit the Maritime Museum, the Orthodox Church of St. Luke and more. Inside St. Tryphone’s Cathedral, discover religious relics, paintings and vestments that date back to the 13th century, along with local artifacts.
4. Climb to the Top of San Giovanni Fortress
During the reign of Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, Romans started construction of the fortresses surrounding the city of Kotor. After its completion, this impressive wall earned a reputation as one of the most power fortifications built within Adriatic lands.
Today, visitors who choose to hike along the ancient stone paths that wind up the hill enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding towns and bay.
5. Sample Traditional Montenegrin Food and Wine
If you like seafood, bring your appetite because sampling the local cuisine is a popular thing to do in Kotor. The Mediterranean-flavored cuisine features traditional favorites like hearty fish soup, squid ink risotto, octopus salad and fresh prawns. Other options include smoked ham, cheese and olives.
Pair your meal with a sample of Montenegrin wine made from Krstač and Vranac grapes. Vranac wine is a Montenegro specialty and is produced only in the area. Enjoy this dry, deep red wine with flavor tones that range from sour cherry and blackcurrant to mint, chocolate and vanilla.
Montenegrin wines are an integral part of its culture, so a tour of a vineyard promises to be enlightening.
6. Tour Boka Bay
When the cruise ship pulls into port, one of the first features you notice is the serene waters of Boka Bay that create a stunning background for Kotor. This series of bays and gorges is similar to the fjords that line the coast of Norway.
If you want to learn more about this body of water and its relationship with Kotor, check out a guided tour on a speed boat or glass-bottomed boat. For a closer look at the environment, go exploring on a kayak so you can see the vegetation and wildlife that call the area home.
7. Spend Time on the Water and at the Beach
There’s no way to separate the history and culture of Kotor from the sea that forms its boundary. Taking a speed boat tour along the Adriatic Coast gives you a visual history lesson of the area as you sightsee the contrasting settlements and landscapes of the area.
Stop at Blue Cave for a swim in the clean, clear waters that create a natural reflection within the cave of a magnificent blue hue. Continue on for a relaxing jaunt on Žanjice Beach along the Luštica Peninsula. Here you can swim, take a leisurely stroll or just enjoy the sun in this natural oasis.
8. Ride a Boat to Our Lady of the Rocks
In the 15th century, two brothers decided to build a church on a rock near St. George and dedicate it to the Virgin Mary. This rock island, now called Our Lady of the Rocks, is just off the coast of Perast, and a short drive from Kotor.
Guided tours through the church take less than an hour and visitors can see impressive artwork by local artists and ancient artifacts of the people who once lived here.
9. Become One with the Land and Climate
What better way to discover the natural landscape, seaside air and different climates of the area than on an off-road safari excursion? Drive along the serpentine road above Boka Bay, and let the wind blow your cares away, as you navigate its 25 curves.
You’ll discover the beauty of the Lovćen National Park, the culture of Kotor and the authentic charm of Dolovi Village. The tour continues with a drive through the folk architecture of Njeguši and a stop to enjoy the local cuisine. Along the way, you’ll go both on- and off-road to get an up-close and intimate look at the beauty of the area.
10. Explore Budva
If you’re in the port of Kotor at any time of year, make sure Budva is on your list of places to visit, perhaps during a shore excursion. Budva is situated within the 22 miles of the Adriatic coastline and is appropriately referred to as the Montenegrin Riviera, with its beautiful beaches and rich, historical architecture. Visitors will also get to experience Budva’s lively culture whether it’s visual art, music, drama, or literature. There is so much to see in this quaint town, where you can also enjoy shopping the local wares and eating traditional foods from Montenegro.
11. Visit Lovćen National Park
A visit to the National Park in the Lovćen Mountains is an experience in natural beauty as you take in the magnificent vistas. On your way there, you’ll drive along winding roads up the steep slopes of the mountains. When you reach your destination, look to one side to see the towering, snow-capped mountains and look to the other side to see the peaceful, majestic beauty of Kotor Bay. Then take an adventure to this park also makes a stop in Njeguši, a must-see area of Kotor, with traditional architecture and Montenegrin foods.
12. Hike the Ladder of Kotor
The Ladder of Kotor is an old military trail constructed by the Austrians to connect Kotor with the country’s royal capital in Cetinje. This path contains several U-turns and switchbacks as it passes through villages and fortresses built into the mountainous terrain. It’s not a hike for the faint of heart. The views of the bay and glimpses of wildlife make it worth the effort.
European Carnival cruises are a fun way to explore the cities that line the continent’s coastline. Kotor, Montenegro shore excursions take you right into the middle of the action so you can make the most of your time in port. You get to see the best parts of the city before heading back to the cruise ship for the next stop on your adventure.