7 things to do around the Bay of Kotor. A guide to exploring Montenegro’s famous bay and its spectacular surrounding sights.
For a small country, Montenegro is full of surprises. It’s one of those places that is full of natural beauty every corner you turn. If you’re heading to Montenegro, Kotor is inevitably on your bucket list. There’s actually a lot to see and do around the Bay of Kotor. So it’s worth allowing at least a few days to get a little off track and really explore this beautiful bay and beyond. You could easily to fill a week or two here, it truly is that picturesque.
1. Check out Sveti Stefan island
Head along the coast and check out Sveti Stefan, Montenegro’s most exclusive island. A hotel or restaurant reservation is required in order to step foot on the island, which will of course cost you a pretty penny. If visiting Sveti Stefan isn’t in your budget (as it wasn’t in ours), there are some beautiful viewpoints nearby. You can get a good view from the highway, however the best views are from higher up. The Adrovic Hotel is just on the side of the main road above Sveti Stefan. It has a rooftop bar with views over Sveti Stefan and the coast. But our favourite viewpoint was from St Sava Church. You will need to negotiate some tight, narrow, unpaved roads, but the view makes it worth the effort.
Distance from Kotor: 35.5kms via E65/E80
2. Drive the ’25 Serpentine road’
For an elevated view of the bay of Kotor, take the P-1 and the ’25 serpentine road’, right up to Kotor’s observation platform. This particular section of road has 25 switchbacks, of which the view of the bay gets better with each turn. The road isn’t particularly wide, which makes negotiating corners with oncoming traffic a little scary at times. There are a few small viewpoints where you can stop for photos. The downside of being so high up is the that the wind can be strong!
Distance from Kotor: 19.2KM via P1 & P22
3. Visit Locve National Park & Njegos Mausoleum
Continuing on from the 25 Serpentine Rd, is the beautiful Locve National Park. The windy roads (some of which were being rebuilt when we visited) make for a slow and sometimes hair raising journey.
The dramatic rugged mountain ranges, forms the perfect backdrop for hiking. There many hiking and walking trails and visitors have access to the information centre. Here you can obtain information about the park, hiking maps, or hire professional guides.
Not interested in hiking? Then climb the 461 stairs to visit Njegos Mausoleum. Peter II (Petrovic Njegos) was purportedly the greatest Montenegrin ruler, a poet and philosopher. His Mausoleum lies at the top of the second highest mountain in Montenegro – Jezerski. The views from here are breathtaking and you’ll quickly forget about the stair climb up! There is a restaurant at the base of the stairs, near the very small car park. Be prepared to park down the road and walk up!
Distance from Kotor: 32.5 kms to visitor information centre. 35.1kms to Njegos Mausoleum. Both via the P1
Fees: €2 park entry. €3 Njegos Mausoleum entry
4. Visit Lake Skadar & The Pavlova Strana viewpoint
Lake Skadar (also known as Lake Shkodër) is the largest lake in Southern Europe and forms the border between Albania and Montenegro. Two thirds of the lake sit inside the Montenegrin border, surrounded by mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful places we visited in Montenegro. It’s possible to explore some of the lakes 20 monastery’s, churches, fortresses and villages, or take a boat out on the lake. But the most popular place to visit is the Pavlova Strana viewpoint.
From Lovcen NP, via Cetinje, you will need to take the M2.3 and turn right onto an unnamed road near Meterizi. Don’t worry, google maps knows where it’s taking you! From there, you will pass a couple of small vineyards as the road becomes just wide enough for one car. Be careful, as this same road the turns into a series of switchbacks with sheer cliff drops! The most hair raising of all roads we drove in Montenegro (of which there were many!). But this same road takes you straight to the horseshoe bend. And if you don’t fancy driving back the same way, you don’t have to!
Distance from Kotor: 65.3km via P1/M2.3
Tip: If time permits, stop off at the nearby small but beautiful riverside village of Rijeka Crnojevica.
5. Explore the towns around the Bay of Kotor
The beautiful bay of Kotor has beautiful towns scattered all along its edges. So it’s definitely worth exploring these. Heading out of the old town, drive north along the bay. Pretty little Perast is only 12km from Kotors old town and is a must-see. 2km beyond Perast, just off the coast is a small island steeped in legend – Our Lady of the Rocks. The picturesque islet houses a Roman Catholic Church by the same name. Its definitely worth a stop and if time permits you can take a local boat out to the island.
Just over 30km further east past Perast, near the entrance to the bay, sits the historic Herceg Novi. Popular with the locals, this beachside town is a great spot for swim or stroll along its promenade and through its old town. Sitting at the base of Mount Orjen, there’s plenty of hiking trails too.
6. Explore Kotors Old Town
Kotor’s Old Town (Stari Grad) is the most famous part of Kotor and of course, a must see. This medieval fortress is rich in history and culture, which has been beautifully preserved. Stepping inside city gates, is like stepping back in time. The narrow cobbled stone laneways enter-twine like a rabbits warren, making it easy to get lost. There are several squares, churches and beautiful buildings which are now used as cafes, restaurants, hotels etc. It’s worth allowing a bit of time to look around.
Hot Tip: Visit the Old Town early in the morning before the cruise ship passengers take over!
7. Climb Kotors City Walls
Climbing Kotors City Walls offer beautiful views over the Bay of Kotor. It’s definitely worth the effort, especially if you don’t have time to visit the above areas. Check out our guide on Climbing Kotors City Walls HERE for more information.
Getting to/from and around
The closest airport is located in Tivat, which is 10.5km from Kotor’s old town. Alternatively, Dubrovnik airport in Croatia is only 70km from Kotor.
International buses operate between Kotor and Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Albania and Kosovo and bus stations are located in both Kotor and Tivat, 2km from the airport.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an extensive public transport network in Montenegro. It is possible to get between cities and towns via public bus, however you will need to hire a car to get around freely and see all the sights.
Hiring a car is pretty cheap in Montenegro. We found the cheapest place to book a car was through skyscanner, costing €30 a day + fuel and insurance. Rental cars can be picked up from the airport which is walking distance from the Tivat bus station. Its worth noting that off-peak prices drop dramatically.
Where to stay
When it comes to accommodation, there are loads of options around Kotor. The most expensive and busiest area is within the Old Town. If you have a car, then you can base yourself anywhere! We stayed in a guesthouse in Dobrota, which is right next to Kotor. Accommodation prices were affordable and it was reasonably centrally located.
Tip: If you’re travelling on a budget, try to find accommodation with kitchen facilities as eating out in Kotor can add up!
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Don’t miss: Climbing Kotor’s City Walls