The Best of Montenegro: Kotor

This is how I fell in love with Kotor, Montenegro — on a summer voyage cruising the Adriatic Sea. What’s the difference between a voyage and a trip? It’s subtle. A trip is practical, as in a quick trip to the grocery store. A voyage has the allure of discovery via land, sea, and air.

Medieval, but in a Good Way

The walled city of Kotor originated in Medieval times and was built from the 12th Century through the 14th.

It was love at first sight. Kotor sits high on limestone cliffs commanding wide open views of the azure Adriatic at every turn. The walled city of Kotor originated in Medieval times and was built from the 12th Century through the 14th. Today it holds the distinction of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I love the twisting narrow streets, Roman-style influenced churches, and the town squares.

Climbing Kotor’s City Walls

The moment we entered the Bay of Kotor, I was ready for exploring. This is notable because it can be difficult for me to leave the lap of a ship’s luxury. More of a hiker than a looker, I opted to climb the 1,350 stairs to reach Castle of San Giovanni, also known as Castle of St. John, where the promise of an unbelievable view of the Bay of Kotor and the red-roofed skyline awaited.

Kotor is a popular destination for cruise ships

Kotor’s Summer Heat Had Me Beat

Take it from me — Montenegro is HOT in August. There was no way I could have climbed all 1,350 stairs. I made it about one-third of the way there and acknowledged defeat, not an easy thing for a competitive soul such as myself. Yes, I had plenty of water. Good walking shoes, check. Proper clothing, of course. It was the heat! I want you to make it to the top. And to tell us about it. Send a picture. Caveat emptor: Bring lots of water. The higher you climb the stairs, the more expensive the H20 price tag becomes.

Unbelievable view of the Bay of Kotor.

Insider Tips for the Best of Kotor

The stairs to Castle of San Giovanni are accessible from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The admission is €3, though you can enter for free before or after the 8 o’clock opening and closing. Plan on two hours of hiking from Kotor’s North Gate to the castle and back.

Not much of a hiker? You will be delighted with Kotor’s Old Town. Situated across the street from the city’s cruise ship dock, Old Town offers so much to see within its walls. Not only is there the never-ending view, there are churches, Venetian architecture, cafes, and shops. Old Town is car free, too. Perfect for meandering.

Understandably so, Kotor is a popular destination for cruise ships. You will have a more intimate visit if you visit when the ships are at sea.

Another Adriatic Wonder

Want a deeper dive into the beauty of the Adriatic Sea and surrounding region? Here’s a snapshot of Croatia, another destination waiting for my return trip. Travel between bordering Montenegro and Croatia is easy. You can fly, take a bus, ride a ferry, or rent a car. Or walk for that matter. If renting a car, watch the details. Some agencies don’t allow leaving the country while others do, and prices vary greatly. I was surprised at the cost to drive in Croatia for a one-way rental. It was worth it, but I advise researching before booking. Sometimes, though, the spontaneity and adventure of travel doesn’t allow for that.

What is on your must-return-trip list? Tell us why?

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