View of Kotor from St. John's Fortress, Montenegro
Kotor isn't your average beautiful - it looks like a Disney film set of straight out of a fairytale. The majestic place is surrounded by daunting peaks, rippling gulfs and the shiniest streams. In short, Crna Gora (Black Mountain) is truly unmissable.
Want to conquer this bucket list haven on a budget? I've got you covered!
Kotor is easily accessible from Montenegro's two airport carriers; Podgorica and Tivat. There are no trains in this region so buses are the best way to travel - also the cheapest. A single 3 hour bus journey from Podgorica costs €7, and even cheaper; only €1.5, from Tivat. The latter lies only twenty minutes outside the Bay of Kotor.
Kotor Bus Station, Montenegro
Accommodation in Kotor is expensive, however; there are some amazing hostels and budget accommodation located in Old Town and its surrounding areas. Old Town Hostel is a beautiful little space nestled within Montenegro's rich history. Dorms start from as little as £14 per night, extra £3 for breakfast. It also comes with a swimming pool, pub crawls, self-catering and plenty of activities to keep guests entertained. Another fantastic option and my personal favourite is Montenegro Hostel and B&B Kotor. It's situated right in the middle of Old Town Kotor and overlooks the region's intimidating fortifications. The hostel offers mixed dorms (£12 per night), female-only dorms (£15 per night) and private rooms (£27 per night). It also offers tours to nearby places within the region on discounted prices.
If hostels aren't your cup of tea, Kotor Bay has many AirBnBs scattered throughout the region. Prices start from as low as £37 per night. Hotels are the priciest option, starting from £100 per night.
Montenegro Hostel and B&B, Kotor
1) Tangja: if you're a fellow halalitarian like yours truly then Tangja is the perfect spot for your rumbling stomach. Its tender steaks, juicy bbq and cheeseburgers come freshly cooked and cheaply priced.
2) Caffe Bandiera: great for quick lunches with the friendliest service. Their tomato bruschetta and caprese salata are delectable for tastebuds, and great for broke pockets.
3) O'Clock Coffee: If you fancy a taste of the Balkans in Montenegro, O'Clock Coffee does the best iced lattes. They're reasonably priced, brilliant after a long day of exploring in heat and paired together with their chocolate brownies, taste even better.
4) Outdoor picnics: There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a picnic in the old town, or along the water front. Pop into little bakeries and patisseries (Forza Bakery does the best Montenegrin treats), get some burek (fried pastries full of vegetables such as spinach, potatoes, cheese and meat) and Kacamak (cornmeal with potatoes and cream cheese), and enjoy the sun go down with a sparkling glass of elderflower.
5) Piazza: a lovely restaurant with tables outside the square opposite Montenegro Hostel and B&B Kotor. Their delectable crepes are a beautiful mix of savoury and sweet served in a terracotta pot. Their special pancakes with mushrooms, ham, cheese, olives not only taste great, but also only cost €4.
6) Papalada Burgers: straight out of hipster land with plenty of options for meat-lovers, vegetarians and vegans. Papalada sells burgers for just €2, and their caravan is located outside the walls of the Old Town to the left of the main gate (opposite the water-front parking).
Traditional Montenegrin burek
Places to visit:
1) Kotor City Walls: Kotor's strongholds began to head up St John's Hill in the 9th century. Between the waterfront and attractions, the city dividers are an great way to begin the bay's tour.
2) St. John's Fortress: Adventure seekers can climb up the fortifications to a height of 260m on top of water level. The views from St John's Fortress are completely glorious! Entry points are close to the River Gate and behind Trg od Salate. Guests can hike for free throughout October to April, whereas from May-September, it'll only make them €3 poorer.
3) St Tryphon’s Cathedral: The cathedral’s interior is atmospherically lit - a real masterpiece. Pillars alternate with columns, supporting a series of arched roofs. Look around for the remains of Byzantine-style frescoes; they are free to explore.
4) Sea Gate: Under Venetian rule, this beautiful gate was constructed in 1555. Keep an eye out for the winged lion of St Mark, Venice’s symbol, which features prominently on the walls. An enormous bench outside the entrance makes for Insta-worthy snaps.
5) Maritime Museum of Montenegro: Kotor's proud history as a naval power is represented at the Maritime Museum of Montenegro. It is spread across three floors in an early 18th Century palace. A descriptive audio guide explains the collection of photographs, paintings, weaponry and ship models. The museum is also free to explore.
6) St. Nicholas' Church: Visitors: A beautiful 1909 landmark, the silence, the filtered light through the dome and the simple stained glass combine to create a mystical atmosphere. And the smell of incense and beeswax only enhances the experience.
7) Cats Museum: Kotor is infamous for its cats - legends say they saved Montenegro during World War II. Avid cat lovers and vintage art aficionados will adore this charming museum. It is home to thousands of postcards, prints, pieces of jewellery and beautiful antique adverts. The small admission fee (€2) goes towards taking care of Kotor's famous felines.
8) Gurdić Gate: Few tourists make it to the other end of town, where the houses zigzag into a slim corridor leading to this gate. Parts of it date from the 13th Century and the bridge crosses the Gurdić Spring. It's easy to imagine yourself transported in time as you walk along the passageways.
Kotor's infamous cats
Activities in Kotor:
1) Standup Paddling/Sup Yoga:
The calm waters of the bay are perfect for stand up paddling. It's such an easy sport to master, even for complete beginners. With plenty of sup tours in Kotor Bay, visitors are able to explore the ancient coastlines and gorgeous islands of Tivat Bay. A rented paddle board starts from as little €5.
2) Boat Tours:
Appreciating the stunning coastline from a boat is even better than on foot! For a small price of €10 per person, the Adriatic Coast has never looked more magical.
Travellers can hire kayaks and take tours from Herceg Novi along the coast, and across the bay to Lustica Peninsula. Stop anywhere you like for a quick dip or find your own private beach - the coast is yours to discover! Prices start from €12.