Travel guide to visiting Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

A wonderful bay on the Adriatic coast


Direct contact


Kotor, Montenegro

GPS: 42.427653633957, 18.770355832583

Plan my route

Situated between the sea and mountains in the south-west of Montenegro, the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska) is also incorrectly named “Europe’s southernmost fjord” due to its appearance submerged by water. From the Adriatic Sea, this underground canyon extends some 30 km deep inland. With the brilliance of its maritime gulfs and the splendour of its natural harbours, Montenegro’s Bay of Kotor which is a Unesco World Heritage site is amongst one of the most beautiful bays in the world.

The Bay of Kotor Montenegro or Kotor bay has a fascinating human history and a great maritime past. Under various external influences, it developed into an important port and a trade hub in the Mediterranean. In the Middle Ages, this region was controlled for four centuries (from 1420 to 1797) by the Republic of Venice and suffered several attacks from the Ottoman Empire. To protect themselves, the Venetians developed a system of fortifications consisting of ramparts, towers, citadels, bastions and defensive castles. After the fall of Venice in 1797 against Napoleon’s troops and the signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio, the territory of the Bay of Kotor passed into the hands of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy. Coveted for its direct access to the sea, the site of Kotor became an important military and merchant base in the 19th and 20th centuries. The area around the bay still preserves a superb architectural heritage and many cultural monuments, churches, cathedrals, monasteries, museums, palaces and villages from the Middle Ages despite several earthquakes. Kotor is one of the best preserved medieval cities in the Mediterranean and one of the most picturesque places in the Balkans. The beauty of Kotor surrounding this city in Montenegro includes top things to do like the Ladder of Kotor, a historic path with amazing views from the mountainside, and the Church of our Lady of the Rocks, an island created out of submerged rocks in the bay with a church that is accessible by boat tour, which is one of the best things about a boat ride from Kotor. A good travel tip is to grab some lunch at a cafe and perhaps engage in some people watching right in the middle of a popular route located in the heart of this cultural and historical city of Kotor in this part of Montenegro. The walls of Kotor are the extensive city walls that surround Kotor which were originally built for defensive purposes with a main entrance known as Sea Gate.

Protected from the wind by a range of mountains in the Dinaric Alps, the Bay of Kotor also benefits from a favourable microclimate for most of the year. You’ll also find it contains charming little villages, all worthy of interest, which are scattered around a breathtaking coastline made up of creeks, beaches and natural caves. These gems are now threatened by the unbridled process of concretization of the Montenegrin coastline. From the sculpted heights of the mountains, the coastal destination of the Bay of Kotor hides its most amazing viewpoints. When you reach Sveti Ivan’s Fortress after a long climb of 1,350 steps, you will be rewarded for your efforts with one of the most remarkable panoramas of the bay after one of the best ways to get near the top . You’ll find Kotor’s old town, Kotor old town or the old town of Kotor also creates a first impression during your stay in Kotor in one of the best hotels in Kotor or an old town youth hostel. There are many things to do in Kotor when you get to Kotor or visit Kotor where you can spend time in Kotor as a tourist and a Montenegro travel guide will provide you everything you need to see the sights around Kotor or make a day trip from Kotor if you don’t feel like spending your entire time in the city and the surrounding area. Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is a 15 kilometer distance from where Kotor lies.

Read more

  • The bay, creeks, beaches, caves, steep cliffs and wonderful inner gulfs of the Boka Kotorska; a Venetian outpost that has undergone various influences (Roman, Byzantine, Serbian, Ottoman, Austrian, Italian and French) whose history is reflected in its architecture
  • The almost thousand-year-old Romanesque Kotor Cathedral (Sveti Tripun or Cathedral of Saint Tryphon), the walls and medieval fortifications, the cobbled streets, the shaded squares, the elegant stone buildings, the historical centre and the lively nightlife (corso) of the town; the charming village of Perast (350 inhabitants) including St Nicholas church (great view from the bell tower); the fishermen’s hamlet of Bjelila (consisting of about 20 families); the little town of Herceg Novi (nicknamed the “garden city”, this place of 5,000 inhabitants is appreciated for its fort and its Austrian clock tower); the chic seaside resort of Tivat; fishing boats at Prčanj; Porto Montenegro Marina (luxury marina)
  • The Maritime Museum of Montenegro in Kotor; the ancient town of Risan with its collection of 2nd century mosaics (villa Urbana); the fortresses Sveti Ivan or St John (completed in the 15th century overlooking Kotor, it offers a fantastic panorama of the bay) and Kanli Kula (built in 1539 and then transformed into an open-air amphitheatre in Herceg Novi); the churches and old monasteries scattered around the bay; the stone buildings of the tiny village of Gornji Stoliv; the history, art and architecture of the many small villages in the Bay of Kotor
  • The 2 islets Sveti Đorđe (natural island hosting an old cemetery and Saint George Benedictine monastery) and Gospa od Škrpjela (artificial island with a chapel built by seafarers in the 16th century called Our Lady of the Rocks); the Luštica peninsula and the small uninhabited island of Mamula (located at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor)
  • Walks around the beautifully preserved fortified town of Kotor; the Kotor Serpentine road linking the village of Njeguši with Kotor over a distance of 38 kilometres (superb views and numerous hairpin bends); the coastal road between the towns of Herceg Novi and Kotor (43 kilometres of route); the blue cave Plava Špilja on the Luštica peninsula (reachable by boat or kayak); the rock paintings at Lipci Rock near Risan
  • Excursions by boat, bicycle or kayak; the many possibilities for swimming in the Adriatic Sea; diving and speleology activities
  • Sporty hikes leading to the Lovćen and Vrmac mountains (beautiful views of the bay)
  • The radiance of nature and the variety of the Mediterranean flora
  • Further south, the peninsula of Sveti Stefan and the town of Budva nestled on the Adriatic Sea
  • The Bay of Kotor has not been carved out by a glacier (as is the case with the fjords of Northern Europe). This former river valley in the Balkans was flooded after the sea level rose. In geomorphological terms, this natural phenomenon is called ria or aber.
  • Built from the 9th century onwards, the fortifications of the city of Kotor form a massive defensive wall 4.5 kilometres long. Some parts of the walls are up to 20 metres high and can be more than 15 metres thick.
  • It is the Canadian businessman Peter Munk who is behind the recent international fame of the Bay of Kotor. After having made a fortune in the gold industry (gold mining), he acquired a former Yugoslavian shipyard in Tivat in 2007 on the Bay of Kotor. The story goes that he fell in love at first sight with this hitherto little-known site on the Adriatic Sea after waiting a long time for a location for his yacht in Monaco. Munk transformed the former disused shipyard into a chic seaside resort and built a gigantic marina for luxury boats called Porto Montenegro.
  • The Roman Church of Our Lady of the Rocks and a Benedictine monastery were erected opposite the baroque town of Perast on a tiny islet to watch over the many fishermen, sailors and navigators in the Kotor region. Accessible by boat, this small artificial piece of land is nestled in the middle of the bay. Two fishermen brothers were responsible for the formation of the archipelago in the middle of the 15th century after they discovered an icon of Our Lady of the Rocks. According to legend, they brought the icon home and their third brother was suddenly cured of a serious illness. The inhabitants of the village decided to found an island around the famous rock from stones of all sizes to build a small Catholic chapel and then a Byzantine-style church. On July 22nd of each year, fishing boats from the Bay of Kotor mobilize to participate in the restoration of the island. They transport and lay stones to consolidate the island’s foundations as part of the fašinada event.
  • The geological activity that formed the surrounding mountains continues to shape the Bay of Kotor and can present certain dangers. This place was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes in the 16th and 17th centuries. The last major earthquake, of magnitude 7, happened in 1979 (the year when the site was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It killed 150 people and damaged several hundred historical monuments, including the walls of Kotor, which were rehabilitated.
  • The fortress situated on the uninhabited island of Mamula was used as a concentration camp under Mussolini from 1942. For several years now, the local authorities have been considering the possibility of transforming the site into a tourist attraction.
  • Today a victim of its success, the Bay of Kotor welcomes more than 500,000 cruise passengers and 400 cruise ships a year. This mass tourism generates pollution of the bay’s waters and a production of waste that is more and more difficult to manage. To counter this phenomenon and reduce road traffic in high season, solar powered ferries serving as public passenger transport have appeared in the bay (within the framework of the Bella Boka project). They allow travel between the municipalities of Kotor and Herceg Novi and serve the localities of Perast and Tivat. In recent years, UNESCO has threatened the Montenegrin authorities to remove the Bay of Kotor from the World Heritage List if efforts are not made to control tourism development in the region and limit real estate development on the coast.
  • The Bay of Kotor benefits from a nearby airport in Tivat (8 kilometers from the town of Kotor). Cruise passengers regularly stop in the bay.
  • The towns of Herceg Novi (in the west) and Dobrota (in the east) offer a more peaceful setting than Kotor in the high season.
  • A small ferry provides a daily link between the towns of Kamenari and Lepetani in the Verige strait (which connects the gulfs of Tivat, Risan and Kotor).
  • Take advantage of your stay on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro to visit the Croatian city of Dubrovnik, located only 1.5 hours drive from Kotor (bus journey possible).

Where to eat

  • Sandrela Fast Food
    (fast and cheap)
  • Tanjga
    (atypical and authentic)
  • Konoba Boka Bay
    (at the water's edge)

Where to go

  • Maximus
    (nightclub with grandiose decor)
  • Lake Skadar
    (largest lake in the country)
  • Budva Citadel
    (old medieval city)

Where to stay

  • Hotel Porto IN
    (in the heart of Kotor)
  • Vila Panonija
    (well-located family hotel)
  • Palazzo Radomiri Hotel
    (ancient Venetian palace)