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Discover the top Kotor attractions to see on your visit to Montenegro’s walled Venetian town and download a free guide to take with you when you visit.
Kotor is a must-see on your travels in Montenegro. It’s beautiful, historic and there are lots of attractions to see in and around the old town.
But with 60 locations marked on the free tourist map it’s hard to know which Kotor attractions you should see and what you should look for while you're there.
Here, you’ll find a list of the top Kotor attractions inside the old town, plus a few others nearby. With this list you can plan how much time you need to spend in Kotor, or what to see in the time you have if you only have a few hours.
This page will also help you plan what to bring with you in advance. For example, trainers for walking up San Giovanni Fortress or a swimsuit for going on a boat tour.
Kotor attractions are all in or close to the old town, so you can easily get around on foot. Depending on how much time you have, you can also visit more attractions nearby on a tour.
If you're visiting Kotor on a cruise, you'll disembark directly opposite the old town so you don't need to take a taxi to get there.
Here are the top Kotor Attractions:
Find out more about each of the main attractions in Kotor old town below. At the bottom of this page you can download a free PDF book to take with you.
The Sea Gate (Main Gate) was built by the Venetians, who ruled Kotor from 1420 to 1797, in 1555. The BR above the columns are the initials of Prince Bernadine Renier, the Venetian magistrate at the time.
Originally the gate was also decorated with the Venetian winged lion. In 1897 the Austrians also added a plate that included an Austrian coat of arms, but both the Venetian and Austrian reliefs were destroyed after Kotor's liberation from Nazi occupation.
You’ll now see the date 21-XI-1944 where the Venetian winged lion was. This commemorates the date Kotor was freed.
A Yugoslav coat of arms was added where the Austrian coat of arms was. And a quote by Yugoslav president, Josip Broz Tito, was added where the Austrian quote about justice was. It says ‘Tuđe nećemo, svoje ne damo’ – ‘What belongs to others we don’t want, what is ours we will never surrender’. Unfortunately this inscription has visible mistakes (pay attention to the part that says ‘ne damo’).
Before you walk through the gate look to your right and you’ll see the winged Lion of Saint Mark, the symbol of Venice, holding an open book. The book says ‘PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEVS’ – ‘Peace be upon you, Mark, my Evangelist’.
As you walk through the gate pay attention to the Gothic relief on your right. The relief is from the 15th century and shows the Virgin Mary with Christ. On her right is Saint Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor, and to her left is Saint Bernard.
The River Gate (North Gate) was built in 1540 in memory of the attack in 1539 led by Heyreddin Barbarosa, a Turkish Ottoman Empire admiral who had already conquered Herceg Novi and was responsible for much of the empire’s domination of the Mediterranean.
The Renaissance-style gate has a tympanum (triangular shape above the gate) with a relief of a fortress and the Venetian winged lion holding a closed book.
Below that are three now-erased blazons (coat of arms) and the initials of the Venetian rulers in 1540: prince Gian Mateo Bembo (GMB), commander in chief of the Venetian fleet, Gerolamo Loredan (GL) and the doge (elected lord in Italian city-states) Antonio Gritti (AG).
The gate and north side of the town were protected by the Škurda River, which flows along the north walls of Kotor. Originally part of the bridge over the Škurda River was a drawbridge that could be raised and lowered by sentries. This is the gate Montenegrins from the interior would use to come into Kotor on market day. They’d bring their produce, like smoked ham and cheese, to sell at the Montenegrin Market and the sentries at the gate were tasked with taking their weapons as they came through the gate.
The Gurdić Gate (South Gate) is a set of three gates.
The outermost gate is the youngest and was built in the 18th century by the Venetians. You’ll see it has two massive pillars with slots which held iron wheels for the chains which lifted and lowered the drawbridge over the spring.
The middle gate was built in the 12th and 13th centuries in the shape of a sickle, which is typical of the Romanesque architecture of the time.
The innermost gate was built in the 16th century and was built in the style of Venetian architect, Michele Sammichelli, who designed many of the Venetian fortresses in the Adriatic in the first half of the 16th century.
On the inside of the outer gate you’ll see the old mechanism used to raise and lower the drawbridge over the spring.
If you’re entering the town through this gate you’ll cross the wooden drawbridge over Gurdić Spring. Fewer tourists make it to the Gurdić Gate, so you’ll find it’s one of the more peaceful parts of Kotor old town.
Kampana Tower and the citadel were built from the 8th to the 19th centuries and controlled access to Kotor from the sea.
Climb the stairs up here and walk along the walls in both directions. You’ll get great views and there’s a café where you can grab a drink overlooking the town.
Time needed: 5 to 15 minutes
Saint Tryphon's Cathedral (Katedrala Svetog Tripuna) is the most iconic building in Kotor and is unmistakable with its two bell-towers and backdrop of San Giovanni Fortress snaking up the mountain behind it.
The cathedral was built on the site of an older church, which was consecrated on 13th January 809 to house the remains of Saint Tryphon, which were brought from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul). St Tryphon is revered by both Catholic and Orthodox faiths and is the protector saint of Kotor.
You can visit St Tryphon's Cathedral and the treasury joining it. In the treasury you'll see local and foreign works of art, traditional dress, jewellery and historic artefacts from Kotor.
Highlights of St Tryphon's Cathedral and treasury:
Entrance: €2.50 per person
Time needed: 10 to 30 minutes
St Nicholas’ Church (Sveti Nikola) is a Serbian Orthodox church that dominates St Luke’s Square (Trg Svetog Luka). You’ll recognise it by the twin domed towers and the flag that hangs down the centre. It’s a relatively new building, completed in 1909 after a fire ruined the original church that was built in 1810.
Highlights of St Nicholas' Church:
Time needed: 5 to 10 minutes
Next to Saint Tryphon’s and Saint Nicholas’, Saint Luke’s (Sveti Luka) is a relatively unimposing building, but it’s one of the most important in Kotor.
It's so important because it served both Kotor's Catholic and Orthodox citizens.
Originally Saint Luke’s was a Catholic church, but became Orthodox in 1657, when it was given to Kotor’s Orthodox citizens, particularly those who had fled the Muslim Turk invasion in Grbalj the year before. It still kept a Catholic altar until 1812 and both Catholic and Orthodox masses were performed here. Bokelji (Bay of Kotor residents) still hold Saint Luke’s dear as an example of the bay’s traditional religious freedom and tolerance.
Highlights of Saint Luke’s Church:
Time needed: 5 minutes
Pima Palace is one of the most regal and beautiful palaces in Kotor. It was built by the Pima family, who were among Kotor’s nobility between the 14th and 18th centuries. There were several renowned Pimas, including poets and a professor, but the family died out in the 18th century.
The palace was built in the 17th century after the 1667 earthquake that badly damaged many of Kotor’s buildings. It has Baroque features, like the consoles which support the second-floor balcony and the ornate window frames. There are also Renaissance details, like the interior courtyard and the coat of arms with angels above the main entrance. The second-floor balcony has a large balcony with wrought iron fence, made by Kotor’s renowned blacksmiths.
Today Pima Palace is the home of the Gallery of Solidarity. The art on display is relatively modern, coming mostly from Yugoslav artists during the 1970’s.
Hours: 9am to 2pm and 5pm to 9pm daily
Time needed: 20 minutes
You'll see quite a few fountains as you explore Kotor. Yes, you can drink the water so go ahead and fill your drink bottle as you explore the town!
At one time Karampana Fountain was the only public well in Kotor and it was where people, especially the women of the town who worked as laundresses or water-carriers, would gather to get water and the latest gossip.
No one knows exactly how Karampana Fountain got its name, but there are a couple of theories. The first is that the name comes from a word meaning something that’s old and doesn’t work very well.
The other theory is a bit more sordid...
In 14th century Venice there was a chain of brothels, one of them was in a derelict palace that used to belong to the Rampani family. It was known as Ca’Rampani and the word was used to refer to brothels in general. There’s no confirmation that the Ca’Rampani brand spread to Kotor, but stranger things have happened!
Hours: 24 hours
Time needed: 2 minutes
There has always been a market in Kotor. Farmers from inland would bring their produce down the Ladder of Kotor to sell it to locals in the town.
Just outside the town walls, (between numbers 10 and 11 on the map you get from the information centre by the Sea Gate) you’ll find vibrant arrays of local produce. This is one of the best place to taste Montenegro.
If you want to try traditional fare pick up some olives marinated in garlic and parsley, round cheeses, olive oil, pomegranate juice, prosciutto, fresh-caught fish, figs, honey, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicums and potatoes. Anything labelled domači is locally grown.
Hours: 8am to 2pm daily
Time need: 10 to 20 minutes
The Grgurina family came to Kotor from Kopar in Istria (Croatia) in the 17th century and Count Marko Grgurina built Grgurina Palace in 1732. In 1813 Bishop Marko Grgurina bequeathed the palace to the government and it was turned into the Kotor Maritime Museum at the end of World War II.
Kotor gained its wealth and power as a trading port that connected the Serbian Nemanjić Dynasty with the rest of Europe and its history and culture are inextricably intertwined with the sea. The maritime museum’s three floors are filled with beautiful examples of the area’s history including clothing, weapons, and furniture.
15th April - 30th June: 8am - 6pm Monday - Saturday, 9am - 1pm Sundays and public holidays
1st July - 31st August: 8am - 11pm Monday Saturday, 10am - 4pm Sundays and public holidays
1st September - 15th October: 8am - 6pm Monday Saturday, 9am - 1pm Sundays and public holidays
15th October - 14th April: 9am - 5pm Monday Saturday, 9am - 12pm Sundays and public holidays
Entrance: €4 per person with audio guide
Time needed: 1 hour
Kotor’s fortifications are one of its most remarkable features. You’ll see the fortifications encircle the whole old town and a part of the mountain above.
In fact, Kotor is one of few towns in the Mediterranean to have completely kept its fortification system.
The Illyrians built hill forts throughout the Bay of Kotor during their reign which went from the 3rd century B.C and ended in 168 B.C., when they were conquered by the Romans. The fort atop Mount Saint John (also known as Sveti Ivan and San Giovanni) was built 280m above sea level and transformed into a castle as the fortifications developed.
From a hill fort, the fortifications were gradually built over centuries and successive empires. The building was most intense during the 13th and 14th centuries, and by the end of the 14th century they completely encircled Kotor town and the castle above. With advancements in fire arms and the threat of Turkish invasion looming, the walls had to be strengthened and thickened throughout the 15th century. The walls are an incredible 4.5km (2.7mi) in length and reach up to 20m (65ft) high and 16m (52ft) thick.
The Kotor fortress walk is one of Kotor’s top attractions and you’ll get incredible views of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor all the way up. However, it’s not an easy walk, especially if you’re doing it in summer heat.
There are 1355, sometimes crumbling, steps to the top and in many places you’ll be forced to walk on the gravel slope because the steps are single file. Coming prepared will make a huge difference!
The walk is 1.2km (0.7mi) and the entrance is next to #42 on the map. Don't forget to look up and see the Venetian arch above the street on your way through!
If you have time, follow the sign for Špiljari Village on your way up. This is where Kotor was founded over 2,000 years ago. You can explore the ruins and 1,000 year old Church of St John. You can also visit the makeshift cafe for some rakija (brandy), juice and cheese.
The Ladder of Kotor, also known as the Ladder of Cattaro, Kotor’s Venetian name, is an old road that connected Kotor and Montenegro’s royal capital, Cetinje, and was used by families bringing their produce to sell at the market in Kotor.
You can hike the Ladder of Kotor and if you have the time it's the perfect way to escape the crowds and experience the beauty and nature that's made Kotor so popular.
The hike is longer, but easier, than the fortress hike. You follow gentle switchback, gravel paths until you get to the top.
As you rise above the fortifications the path is flanked with wild flowers and thyme. The views are incredible and you're likely to encounter the local residents, a herd of goats.
One of the best ways to see the sights in Kotor old town is to do a walking tour. These small group tours take you around the main sights and your guide tells you about the history and significance of various buildings in the town.
Here's what you can expect on a Kotor walking tour:
If you’d like a list of these to take with you, you can get a copy of my free guide to Kotor at the bottom of this page.
Perast is one of the Bay of Kotor’s most beautiful destinations and it was once the seat of the richest and most powerful families in the Bay of Kotor.
While Kotor is a walled fortress town, Perast’s main street is a kilometre-long promenade of former grand palaces facing the sea. If that weren’t enough, Perast has two island churches floating just offshore, one a Benedictine monastery and the other, Our Lady of the Rocks, a Catholic church and museum that’s open to visitors.
You can drive, take a local bus or take a tour to Perast from Kotor.
Top Tours to Perast from Kotor:
From Perast you can take a short boat ride over to Our Lady of the Rocks, which lies just offshore.
Our Lady of the Rocks is a 500 year old church on a manmade island that was founded after two fishermen found an icon of the Virgin Mary stuck on a rocky crag. Our Lady of the Rocks is now one of Kotor Bay’s most popular tourist attractions and you can visit the church and attached museum.
Top Tours to Perast from Kotor:
Although it’s actually quite far from Kotor, the Blue Cave is very accessible from Kotor thanks to boat tours. You can take one of these tours from Kotor, visit Our Lady of the Rocks on the way, and then whiz through Kotor Bay and out to the Blue Cave and back in as little as three hours.
Top Tours to the Blue Cave from Kotor:
Before Kotor’s protective walls made Kotor the preferred residence for the Bay of Kotor’s powerful residents, Risan was the seat of power in the Bay of Kotor. The Illyrians lived here until they were overthrown by the Romans in 167 B.C.
The Risan Mosaics are the remains of a Roman villa that date to the 2nd century A.D. The mosaic floors were only discovered in 1930 and have been painstakingly preserved. In what’s assumed to be a bedroom, there’s a mosaic of Hypnos, the god of sleep and it’s the only one in the world.
The Risan Mosaics is a fascinating attraction for anyone who’s interested in the history of the Bay of Kotor, Romans or Illyrians.
Entrance: €5, €2.50 for groups larger than 10, children under 12 free
Opening hours: 8am – 5pm
Address: Risan, Montenegro
Time needed: 30 – 45 minutes
Top Tour to Risan Mosaics from Kotor:
Lovćen National Park lies at the top of the mountain behind Kotor. To get there you travel up the ‘Serpentine Road’ with its 25 switchbacks and hairpin turns.
You'll get fantastic views of the Bay of Kotor from here, especially on clear days when you can see the entire Bay of Kotor from above. Lovćen is also where you’ll be able to visit the Petar Petrović-Njegoš mausoleum and try the local speciality, prosciutto, in Njeguši village.
Top Tours to Lovćen from Kotor:
You can stay near Kotor’s attractions by staying in or close to Kotor old town.
The advantage of staying inside the old town is you’ll have everything, including historic sites, restaurants and tours on your doorstep. The downside is that it can be noisy, particularly in the summer, and you don’t have easy access to that inviting sea.
Here are a few of the top places to stay in the old town:
If you’d rather stay somewhere quiet, want a sea view or prefer beachside accommodation, there are plenty of places to stay in Dobrota and Muo, either side of Kotor old town.
Here are some top places to stay close to the old town:
I have a free, downloadable guide to the top Kotor attractions. In it, you’ll find the information above so that you have it on hand when you arrive in Kotor.
Just put your name and email address in the form below and I’ll send you your copy.
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