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The Bay of Kotor is one of the most beautiful places in Montenegro. This Mediterranean idyll offers quaint seaside villages, a relaxed atmosphere and calm beaches of crystal clear water.
These are some of the words commonly used to describe the Bay of Kotor.
When you visit this part of Montenegro, you'll join a centuries-old club of people who have been seduced by its natural beauty and romantic architecture.
The Bay of Kotor is everything you dream of when you think of a holiday in Montenegro:
It's for these reasons, and more, that Boka Kotorska is such a popular destination in Montenegro.
The bay is often called Europe's southern-most fjord, but it's not a fjord. It's a ria, a collapsed river bed, that opens into the Adriatic Sea. In Montenegro you'll often hear it it just called 'Boka' or 'The Bay'... there's no need to say which bay, around here there's only one.
People have been living in the Bay of Kotor since around 229 BC when the Illyrian queen Teuta ruled from today's Risan. More recently the bay was a powerful naval area, with a fleet of around 300 ships in the 18th century. The best place to find out about the history of the bay is in the museums in Kotor and Perast, which show the mainly naval history of the area.
There are three main towns in the bay:
The great thing about the bay is it's so compact, whichever one of these you choose to stay near, you can reach any of the others within an hour. In fact, Kotor and Tivat are only 10-15 minutes apart by car.
In between each of the main towns, and running all along the coast of the bay, are small villages. Choosing one of these to stay in will give you a quieter atmosphere than in a town center, and there are still lots of nice accommodation options to choose from.
In general, you’ll have sea views, will be not far from at least one restaurant (usually within 2km/a mile), will be close to small beaches and will have access to taxis and local buses.
The Bay of Kotor is one of the most popular places to stay in Montenegro. The villages dotted around the Bay of Kotor offer you an authentic experience and have all the charm you’d expect when choosing to holiday in Montenegro.
They’re also never far from a town, so you have the peace and atmosphere of a quaint Montenegrin fishing village combined with the convenience of being close to sights and amenities.
The other great thing about choosing to stay in one of the seaside villages is that if you rent a villa or apartment from a local family, you will generally get treated to some famous Montenegrin hospitality.
They’ll welcome you with some produce from their garden and more than likely a glass of their home-made rakija or wine. They’re also the perfect people to ask for advice on the best local restaurants, the local history and the local sights.
The bay is roughly a butterfly shape, as you see here.
It's divided up into:
The areas are quite different so I'll go over each of them to help you choose a place to stay.
The Herceg Novi Riviera is newer and doesn't have the stone fishing villages along the coast that you'll find closer to Kotor. There are a lot of holiday apartments along this part of the coast and you'll find prices are cheaper than the more sought-after areas like Kotor, Muo and Dobrota.
The riviera extends from Herceg Novi through to Morinj. Here's a short description of each:
Njivice – Njivice has some nice beaches. It’s also known for the nudist beach here, so take care! It's right on the slope of a west-facing hill, so you get morning sun here but not afternoon sun. This is great in the heat of summer, but not good from October to April when it's cooler.
Kumbor, Djenovici and Baosici – These three villages have plenty of little shops, cafes and restaurants all along the seafront. There are little beaches where you can hire loungers and paddleboats (€3-5 per hour) and the promenade is busy all summer.
There are two small trains that travel the length of the promenade between Kumbor and Bijela in summer. Kids love these rides and you can get on and off wherever you like. It takes 2 hours to do a full return trip and costs €3 per person with children under 8 going free. Trains depart Kumbor and Bijela on the hour from 6pm.
You'll find the exclusive marina and residence development Portonovi in Kumbor. You can walk around the complex and there are several cafes, restaurants and a very good ice cream parlour called Godo.
Bijela – Bijela has a large shipyard, so take care that you’re choosing somewhere to stay at least 200m from the shipyard to avoid having your view blocked. Bijela is less popular than the other Herceg Novi Riviera villages and has similar beaches, but less restaurants and shops.
Kamenari – this is where the ferry crosses over to Lepetane and Tivat. It's a small village with beaches and basic amenities. Hotel Casa Del Mare Capitano and Hotel Casa Del Mare Mediterraneo are very nice here and have a lovely beach for guests well away from the ferry.
Kostanjica – there’s not a lot in Kostanjica apart from beaches and one of our favourite restaurants, Ribar. It's perfect if you want a quiet getaway and quieter beaches. Kostanjica and Morinj (below) suffer from a lack of sun in the winter months, so avoid these if you're coming anywhere between November and April.
Morinj – Morinj has a small mini market, a sandy beach and two restaurants. Tramontana is a casual beach bar with pizzas and sandwiches while Catovica Mlini is one of the top restaurants in Montenegro.
The best place to stay in Morinj is in one of these Lavender Bay apartments:
Read More: Best Hotels in Herceg Novi
The villages around Kotor will offer you beautiful architecture and atmosphere with the convenience of being close to key attractions. This is the most popular place to stay and accommodation prices are highest here.
Risan – this is a small, historic village which is home
to a set of preserved Roman mosaics. The town is dominated by a rundown hotel and some abandoned factory buildings, so it's not an ideal place to stay.
Perast – the star of the bay. The UNESCO Heritage protected town is all stone and looks as though it hasn't changed in centuries. There are some lovely hotels to stay in, like Iberostar Grand Perast, Hotel Conte and Per Astra. And the cherry on the top are the two islands - Our Lady of the Rocks and St George - that you can see from anywhere in the village.
Read More: Perast
Orahovac – Orahovac is pretty, close to Kotor and is a quiet village with a single restaurant.
Ljuta – you’ll find Stari Mlini, a beautiful waterfront restaurant here in Ljuta. You’ll also a find a large fish market called Cogi. The seafront road has lots of stone ruins and it's a very pretty place.
Dobrota – Dobrota is next to Kotor, so you’ll find lots of restaurants, cafes and beaches here. It’s a good place to stay that’s outside of but still within walking distance of Kotor old town.
Muo – Muo has fewer restaurants and beaches than Dobrota, but is also generally within walking distance of Kotor. This is a really popular place to stay and there are lots of apartments available. Since it lies across the water from Kotor, you'll get great views of Kotor old town from here.
Prcanj – Prcanj is very pretty, has a number of nice little restaurants and is only about 15 minutes by car from both Kotor and Tivat. It doesn't get the sun in winter so you wouldn't want to stay then, but it's great for summer.
Stoliv – Stoliv also has local restaurants and beaches. You can walk up to the old abandoned village of Gornji (Upper) Stoliv. It's also about 10 minutes from Tivat and 15 from Kotor.
Read More: Best Hotels in Kotor Old Town
Read More: Best Hotels in the Bay of Kotor
These Bay of Kotor villages are all within a short drive from Tivat:
Seljanovo – Seljanovo is next to Tivat and borders Porto Montenegro. The few beaches in Tivat are here. It's quiet and relaxed, but just a 10 minute walk to Tivat town.
Donja Lastva – Donja Lastva is a cute village with some old stone houses and a nice hotel, Hotel Carrubba. This quiet village is just a 10-15 minute walk from Porto Montenegro.
Lepetane – Lepetane is where the ferry coming from Kamenari docks. It’s only a five minute trip to the other side. It's a 10 minute drive to Tivat from Lepetane.
Stoliv – Stoliv also has a few local restaurants and beaches. You can walk up to the old abandoned village of Gornji (Upper) Stoliv. It's a 10-15 minute drive to Tivat from here.
Prcanj - Prcanj has a number of nice little restaurants and is a 15 minute drive from both Kotor in Tivat. It's a popular place to stay and has a nice, village feel.
Solila – Solila is around on the Lustica Peninsula side of the Bay of Kotor and is home to a small wetland reserve. Movida Beach, where you can hire catamarans, loungers and party into the wee hours is here.
Krasici – Krasici is also on the Lustica Peninsula side of the bay. There are lots of holiday accommodation options and it's a short drive to Kotor and Tivat. You'll need a rental car to get around here.
Read More: Best Hotels in Tivat
Read More: Best Accommodation on Lustica Peninsula
Wherever you stay in the Bay of Kotor you’ll find accommmodation with stunning views and have at least a few beaches and restaurants close by. The landscape goes from the sea straight up into mountain so all the villages and towns are centred right on the waterfront.
Apart from the old stone houses down on the shore, most accommodation is located up the hill a little which means you'll get fantastic sea views. And wherever you find a restaurant on the waterfront you’ll get amazing views of the bay and mountains on all sides.
Here in Montenegro we love a tragic love story.
The legend of the Tri Sorele tells the tale of three sisters who were in love with the same sailor. When he went to sea, they would each sit at one of the windows in their house waiting for him to come back.
When the first sister died, the other two sisters boarded up her window.
When the second sister dies, the remaining sister boarded up her window.
But when the third sister died, there was no one to board up her window and it's remained open to this day.
Their sailor never returned from his voyage.
You can see the house of the Tri Sorele along the seaside in Prcanj. It's an unmarked ruin but all the locals know this tragic love story.
Risan has been a settlement since Queen Teuta ruled from here from 231 - 229 BC, when she was defeated by Rome.
In 1930 archaeologists from Cetinje discovered the ruins of Villa Urbana, a Roman villa that covered about 700 sqm. The mosaics you can see on display today were part of the villa which was built sometime between 96 and 192 AD. They've been covered and for a small fee you can take a walk around the display. A visit here shouldn't take more than about 15 minutes.
The mosaics are signposted on the main road that goes around the bay.
Read More: Risan Mosaics
Kotor old town is a must-see in the Bay of Kotor. It's a must-see for anyone visiting Montenegro!
You can get lost in the rabbit warren of alleyways, explore art galleries, visit the maritime museum, eat gelato and climb the 1,300+ steps to the top of the fortress walls.
Read More: What To Do In Kotor
Perast is another must-see in the bay. The pretty stone town looks right down the centre of the Verige Strait and was the heart of the bay. The wealthiest pirates and rulers lived here and the seafront is full of old palaces and churches.
I recommend a visit to the maritime museum and Our Lady of the Rocks, but you can also just sit in one of the seaside restaurants with a plate of calamari and glass of cold Chardonnay and watch village life go on as it has for hundreds of years.
Read More: Perast
When you drive along around the Bay of Kotor, you'll see signs for the Lipci prehistoric drawings. The drawings have been dated to the 8th century BC.
Although they're signposted on the main road, there aren't any signs telling you where to turn off the main road, making them impossible to find for most. Here are detailed instructions!
When coming from Herceg Novi, drive past Morinj and continue along the seaside road through the roundabout. The uphill road from the roundabout leads to Niksic. Take the first left after the roundabout into a narrow street leading uphill. If you're coming from Kotor, just go right around the roundabout and then look for the first left. There are no signs for this road.
Keep heading uphill up this narrow road. You'll pass some stone houses and a small church. At the top you'll come to a clearing and a wooden sign for the drawings. You can park here and follow the rough path up on foot.
Walk up the path for about 10 minutes and you'll see the drawings high on a rock cliff on your right. Again, there's no sign so you'll have to keep a look out!
Some of the best restaurants in Montenegro are found in the bay. The best ones specialise in local-style seafood, but you can find Balkan grill and fresh salads too. The really special thing about restaurants here is the surroundings.
Sit waterside overlooking Our Lady of the Rocks.
Or dine in a transformed watermill while ducks roam freely at Catovica Mlini.
Try 5 star dining among super yachts at Porto Montenegro.
Or watch the Kotor fortress lights twinkle over sea bass at Galion.
I know you won't be disappointed with the Bay of Kotor's choice of stunning restaurants.
Read More: Bay of Kotor Restaurants
The easiest way to get around the Bay of Kotor is with a rental car. If you're planning to go without one, there are regular buses connecting the towns.
The best place to find bus timetables and buy tickets is on Busticket4.me. A ticket from Herceg Novi to Kotor costs around €3.50 one way. These buses stop at the main stops in each village along the way so you could catch a bus from Herceg Novi to Kotor and get out in Perast.
Taxis are available in all towns. Although prices are relatively inexpensive, they double to triple between June and September. A 30 minute taxi ride in summer will cost around €75. If you don't want to hire a car, book a transfer in advance to avoid paying high fares to get to your accommodation.
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