Discover the best things to do in Kotor, Montenegro from a cruise ship, from Kotor Old Town to stunning natural attractions and authentic experiences.
Are you wondering what to do in Kotor from from a cruise ship?
You’re in for a treat. This charming coastal town, nestled at the foot of towering mountains, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and breathtaking scenery.
And cruising through the Bay of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers some of the most scenic cruising in the world.
Kotor's beauty is undeniable, but with limited time ashore, choosing how to spend your day can be overwhelming.
As someone who's lived in Montenegro for 15 years and frequently visits Kotor, I've gathered a wealth of insider knowledge to share with you.
In this post, I'll guide you through the best things to do in Kotor, Montenegro from your cruise ship. You’ll discover the best sights, from historic Kotor Old Town to swimming in the Blue Cave, and the best ways to make the most of the time you have.
Kotor’s walled Old Town, the main attraction of Kotor, is conveniently located just 200 meters from the Port of Kotor.
This makes it an ideal spot for you to explore right after disembarking from your cruise ship. The walled old town is pedestrian-only, so you can comfortably wander its charming streets on foot.
Kotor Old Town is both beautiful and historic. The cobbled streets and narrow alleyways are lined with churches and palaces that date back to the 12th century, while the lively cafes filled with locals offer a glimpse into the town's vibrant modern culture.
Saint Tryphon Cathedral, Saint Nicholas’ Church, and Saint Luke’s Church are some of the most beautiful and historic buildings in the old town.
Other top sights include Baroque palaces like Pima Palace and Grgurina Palace, which now houses Kotor’s Maritime Museum.
Kotor city walls are one of its most distinguishing features. These walls create a 4.5-kilometer ring around the town and they’re up to 16 meters thick and 20 meters tall in places.
In addition to these sights, Kotor Old Town is filled with beautiful squares, where you can relax and soak in the atmosphere. This is where you’ll find various restaurants and boutiques, allowing you to taste local cuisine and shop for unique souvenirs.
Kotor is also known for its population of cats. You’ll find them lounging in streets and squares throughout the town, but most of them are around Wood Square, where there is shelter and a feeding station.
To make the most of your limited time in Kotor, I recommend taking a walking tour. A 1-hour walking tour will take you around Kotor’s top attractions and give you a good overview of the town. A 2-hour walking tour includes guided tours of Saint Tryphon Cathedral and the Maritime Museum.
The San Giovanni Fortress hike is a rite of passage in Kotor.
But beware, it’s a challenge!
This hike takes you up to San Giovanni Fortress above the old town. The fortress started as an Illyrian hill fort over 2,000 years ago and is part of Kotor’s defensive wall system.
Prepare yourself for a bit of a challenge, as there are 1355 steps to reach the top. The hike typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your pace. To start this journey, you'll need to pay an entrance fee of €8.
At the summit of San Giovanni Fortress, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views. It’s well worth the effort.
Perast, a historic town 15 minutes from Kotor, is renowned for its stunning Baroque palaces that line the shore.
One of the top things to do here is to visit the local museum. This museum, houses in a Baroque seafront palace, gives you an insight into this area’s history and cultural heritage.
Another popular popular thing to do in Perast is taking a boat trip to Our Lady of the Rocks. This unique island church dates back to 1452 and is one of the Bay of Kotor’s top attractions. You’ll see it from your cruise ship as you sail into Kotor.
Perast's shore is lined with seafront restaurants where you can try some of the bay’s signature seafood while enjoying the beautiful seaside ambiance.
Despite its idyllic seaside location, Perast isn’t a good beach destination because there is only one beach in the town. If you're looking for a beach day, you’ll find more information on beaches further down this page.
Our Lady of the Rocks, founded in 1452, is a beautiful island church near Perast. This church, along with its attached museum, is a significant cultural and historical site in Kotor Bay.
One of the highlights of Our Lady of the Rocks is the collection of 17th-century frescoes by the Baroque artist Tripo Kokolja. These frescoes are renowned for their beauty and historical value.
The church also has over 2,500 silver votives. These votives, offerings given in gratitude or as a plea for help, are not only religious artifacts but also pieces of art, each representing a story of one of Perast’s residents.
Our Lady of the Rocks museum houses a range of artifacts from the area, some dating back to prehistoric times. The collection includes weapons, artworks, carved stones, and household items.
You can take a guided tour through Our Lady of the Rocks church and museum for €2.
The Blue Cave is a natural sea cave known for the iridescent blue light that reflects inside the cave. This stunning effect has made the Blue Cave one of the most popular attractions in Montenegro.
Taking a boat tour to the Blue Cave is one of the most popular things to do in Kotor, especially for those visiting from a cruise ship. There are daily boat tours from Kotor to the Blue Cave, and they include visits to Our Lady of the Rocks, submarine caves, and beaches. The scenery on these tours is stunning.
Once you arrive at the Blue Cave, you can swim both inside and outside the cave. The water here is crystal clear, making it perfect for snorkeling, and there are other smaller caves in the area.
The only downside of the Blue Cave is that it can be incredibly busy, often with several boats inside at once. This can make swimming in the cave tricky and smelly with boat fumes.
It’s still a great experience that I recommend, but swimming outside the cave in the sun is more enjoyable than inside the cave. As you can see at the end of my video below, you also get the chance to swim outside the cave when you take a boat tour.
Budva Old Town is over 2,500 years old, and has beautiful sea views, although I think it’s not as interesting as Kotor Old Town. The old town has pretty stone streets and buildings, but it doesn’t have the historic churches and palaces that you’ll find in Kotor.
Just a short distance from Budva is Sveti Stefan, a 15th-century fortress town situated on a small islet. This picturesque location is famous for its pink pebble beaches that surround the islet, creating a stunning contrast with the turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Sveti Stefan is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in Montenegro, and it's easy to see why. The combination of stone architecture, the unique setting on an islet, and the natural beauty of the surrounding area make it truly breathtaking.
Kotor has beaches on either side of its famous Old Town. Kotor's beaches are not the best in Montenegro because the water at these beaches is not as clear as you might find outside the bay, and they are predominantly pebbly.
But swimming in the Bay of Kotor is still amazing, especially during the warm summer months when the water temperature is around 26-28°C (79-82°F).
The best beaches to visit in Kotor are Kotor Beach, Kotor Natural Beach, and Bajova Kula Beach. Each of these beaches has its own unique charm and is easily accessible from Kotor.
You can reach more attractive beaches around the bay and outside the bay with a car, by bus, and on boat tours.
Beaches in Montenegro are divided into public and private areas. The public areas are free, while you can use the private areas by paying for sun loungers.
Expect to pay around €25 for a pair of sun loungers and an umbrella during the summer season in Kotor. The public areas usually fill up quite quickly, so arrive early if you want to enjoy the beach for free.
If you'd like to swim and explore clearer waters, consider taking a boat tour from Kotor. I recommend this 4-hour boat tour to Our Lady of the Rocks, the Blue Cave, and Žanjice Beach or this private speed boat adventure.
Lovćen National Park is the closest national park to Kotor and is one of the best places to experience Montenegro’s history and culture.
To get there, you drive up the Serpentine Road, with its 25 hairpin turns. As you drive you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Bay of Kotor which only get better the higher you go.
Along the way, stop at Njeguši village, where, you can try traditional Montenegrin specialties like smoked ham, locally produced wine, cheese, and fruit brandy. These delicacies give you a taste of Montenegro's culinary heritage.
You can stop at any of the roadside stalls, or visit Montenegro’s oldest restaurant, Kod Pera Na Bukoviću. They sell packaged prosciutto and other products that you can take with you.
Another key destination is the town of Cetinje, Montenegro's old royal capital. In Cetinje, you can explore historical sites such as King Nikola's Palace, the National Museum, and Cetinje Monastery.
A highlight of Lovćen National Park is the Petar Petrović II Njegoš Mausoleum. This mausoleum is one of Montenegro's most important cultural monuments and also offers stunning elevated views over Montenegro.
The Kotor Cable Car is a quick and scenic way to reach Njeguši, taking just 11 minutes compared to the hour-long drive. This cable car journey covers almost 4 kilometers and takes you up over 1,300 meters.
As you ride the Kotor Cable Car, you'll be treated to stunning views over the Bay of Kotor. This view is a highlight of the cable car ride, giving you a chance to see the beauty of Kotor from above.
At the top, there is a restaurant overlooking Kotor Bay, where you can relax and take in the breathtaking views while enjoying a meal or a drink.
If you like a bit more adventure, you can ride the alpine coaster ride at the top. This bobsled ride on rails takes you speeding down the mountain with the bay as your backdrop.
When you're in Montenegro, trying the local cuisine is a must. Kotor's coastal location means that seafood is a highlight here.
Traditional dishes you should try include calamari and black risotto, which gets its unique color and flavor from cuttlefish ink. Also, don't miss out on the fresh fish, like sea bream, and the seafood stew known as buzara, made with wine and a medley of seafood.
For meat lovers, Montenegro offers delicious Balkan grill options. Ćevapi sausages are a popular choice, packed with flavor and perfect for a hearty meal.
Although it’s very unhealthy, I love them with kajmak, a Balkan clotted cream delicacy that makes ćevapi even more delicious. For something more healthy, you can go with ajvar, a thick sauce made from roasted bell peppers.
Another must-try is njeguški steak, a type of schnitzel that's stuffed with smoked ham and cheese from Njeguši. This dish, invented by President Tito's personal chef, won a world cooking competition!
For sweets, I recommend trying palačinke, local-style pancakes or kotorska pašta, Kotor cream cake.
Wine is very important in Montenegro and Vranac, made in the fertile Lake Skadar region, is the traditional wine of Montenegro. This wine is a great accompaniment to both seafood and meat dishes.
For something stronger, try Rakija, a very strong fruit brandy that's a staple in Montenegrin households. It's a must-try, but beware, it’s very strong!
If you like beer, try Nikšičko Pivo, Montenegro's locally brewed beer. It’s perfect on a hot day, especially if you’ve climbed San Giovanni Fortress.