Kotor is an old triangle-shaped, walled town on the Kotor Bay in Montenegro. Its the most well-known and well-touristed town on the Kotor Bay, and probably in all of Montenegro, despite its small size. Why you may ask, especially if you’ve never heard of Kotor (or possibly even Montenegro)? 1. Kotor, and the Kotor Bay, are totally stunning and make for a gorgeous vacation destination. 2. Kotor is now on the Adriatic cruise ship circuit and smaller (but not that small) cruise ships dock in Kotor for the day. 3. Rick Steves has written a lot about Kotor, and its an easy day trip from neighboring Dubrovnik. In sum, people know Kotor and its a busy destination. If you want off the beaten path, stay down the road in Perast, like we did! That being said, nothing beats the views from Kotor and its a terribly lovely place to spend a day.
Whether one stays in Kotor or further afield in Perast, Kotor can be seen in a half-day, especially if no cruise ship is in port. And, you want to avoid the cruise ships at all costs. Kotor is much more peaceful without them! Kotor actually posts when cruise ships will be in port on the internet, so avoiding them is certainly possible. If you can’t avoid cruise ships, go to Kotor early, before all the tourists get out!
Very similar to Dubrovnik (except much smaller), Kotor is an old walled town, and its totally and completely charming! And since its small, its also easy to navigate, much easier than Old Town Dubrovnik. Aside from walking around town and taking all of the pictures, the main site in Kotor is its town wall, which, unlike Dubrovnik, is built directly into the side of the mountain behind Kotor. Legend has it that they’ve never been breached…
In any case, climbing Kotor’s walls is super popular and totally worth it for the views! The primary means to climb the walls is to enter from the back of town, at a cost of 8 euro per person, and walking up rock steps to the top. These steps are STEEP and not easy. But people of all shapes and abilities do this hike daily. That being said, I would not recommend it to anyone with any sort of physical impairment based on personal experience.
However, there is another way to hike to the top of town, and its way better than the stair route! Meaning: is easier, less crowded, and has a stop for drinks and cheese! Perfect, right! To get started on this “scenic” tour, find the normal entrance to the walls in the back of Kotor town (above). Its not difficult to find. Facing the archway to the entrance to the walls (photo above), take a left, leave the walled-town and cross the little bridge. It will feel like you are going the wrong way.
Once you’ve crossed the bridge, turn right and walk towards the mountain – its not far. You will, however, think there is no access and,, ,again ,that you are going the wrong way. You will eventually see a red dot that kind of looks like a target or bulls eye and that marks the start of the trail!
Rather than straight up like the town walls, this “scenic” trail is a series approximately 36 switch backs (from my count, that could be wrong) that go up the mountain. Since the switch backs are not very steep, the hike is not that difficult, but you will want to wear walking shoes. About 10 minutes in, you will start seeing the views.
When you get to the rock that’s spray painted “Danger Wolves Ahead.” You are almost at the top – at least if your goal is Kotor’s town walls.
Shortly after the “Wolves” sign, you will come upon a shack that Dan dubbed the “Murder House.” Its a pretty run down shack where you can apparently stop for a drink.
We kept hiking for about 5 more minutes and came across the famous Cheese Shop, which is someone’s home on the mountainside. Off the side of the home, there is a sitting area and the homeowners serve wine, beer, cider, and cheese to hungry guests for a small cost (bring cash)! We had a rest and a Somersby Pear Cider. We also had a couple small pieces of cheese and multiple shots of Rakija liquor (a Montenegrin’s favorite liquor) from the owner’s personal, unlabeled stash. This seemed pretty standard, and he offered it to all guests stopping by. There is also a clean WC here in the form of an outhouse. The hike from start to the Cheese Shop took about 45 minutes.
The views from the Cheese Shop are the best in town!
After our drinks, access to Kotor’s town walls are a short 5 – 10 minute walk on mostly level ground via a well-worn trail from the Cheese Shop to the walls. You basically follow the trail to the town walls and then ascend an unsecured wooden ladder into the walls – not for the physically challenged or the light of heart! Once you climb through that little window, you are almost at the top of the walls. Walk up to get to the very top and head down to go back to down. Its about a 20 minute walk back to town.
Once on the walls, we decided to head down back into town. En route down, you will pass a cute little church, as well as gorgeous views of Kotor town.
Once we reached the bottom, we were hot and exhausted, but the hike was great and the views were truly unbeatable! It was definitely one of our favorite things that we did the entire trip. I recommend doing either hike early to beat the heat and the crowds, and bring water, even though you can buy it in certain places on both routes.
After our hike, we took some more pictures, did a bit of shopping, saw Kotor’s famous (?) lamp statute, and had lunch at the Old Winery Wine Bar – an excellent place to try the local wine grape, Vranac. All in all, I would allow approximately 4 – 5 hours to fit everything in, longer if you plan to do a lot of shopping or lingering. The hike up took approximately 1 hour, and the way down about 20 minutes.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Old Winery Wine Bar: Zanatsla 483, Kotor, Montenegro. Open daily until late.
Blue Line: The bus that we took between Perast and Kotor. It is very easy and inexpensive. The bus drops off right outside the entrance to the Kotor town walls (pick up is just past the market on the side of the street closest to the walls). You may need to stand.
Kotor Town walls: Officially 8 Euro a person in cash at the entrance. Via the back door, free. Bring cash for drinks and cheese at the Cheese Shop. Town Walls are officially open at 8 AM, prior thereto its free to access the walls. Bring cash for water on the walls and any souvenirs at the little church.
Montenegro uses the Euro. There are numerous ATMs in Kotor.