Perched on the edge of a majestic bay, the medieval Old Town of Kotor is the undisputed jewel in Montenegro’s crown. Though no longer Europe’s best-kept secret, Kotor’s sudden elevation to the tour-bus league has failed to dim the timeless delights of its maze of cobbled alleyways and secluded piazzas. Enclosing cafés and churches galore, the town walls are peered down upon by a series of hulking peaks. Down below, a harbour now bustling with sleek yachts marks the end of the Bay of Kotor, made fjord-like by the thousand-metre cliffs that rise almost vertically from the serene waters.

First colonized by the Greeks, Kotor came to prominence in the twelfth century, then passed through Serb, Austro-Hungarian and Bosnian hands before fifteenth-century Ottoman conquests forced it under the protective wing of Venice. Its period under Venetian rule ended in 1797, the shape of today’s Kotor having been laid out in the intervening years.

Kotor’s charms are best appreciated by heading to the Old Town, sans map, and getting lost in the maze of streets. You’ll likely enter through the Sea Gate, next to the harbour, and emerge onto the main square, Trg od Oružja. Cafés spill out from glorious buildings, the most notable of which are the old Rector’s Palace, and a leaning clock tower. Burrow through the streets and before long you’ll end up at St Tryphon’s Cathedral, backed by a wall of mountains and perfect for photos; it’s well worth the entry fee for a peek inside. Elsewhere there are several churches worth looking at, as well as a fascinating Maritime Museum, a repository of nautical maps, and model ships.

The old fortress walls sit proudly above the town, and make for a rewarding climb. Allow at least ninety minutes for the round-trip to St Ivan’s Castle, from which you’ll have tremendous views of the fjord. On hot summer days it’s best to set off early or wait until evening, and note that the first building you come to, the Church of Our Lady of Health, is not even halfway up.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Montenegro features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Ten hours of beauty from Podgorica to Belgrade

Ten hours of beauty from Podgorica to Belgrade

Travel writer Mary Novakovich is awestruck by the beauty of mountains and rivers on a ten-hour-long stuffy train ride from Montenegro's capital to Belgrade. …

09 Jul 2014 • Mary Novakovich insert_drive_file Article
Formidable fortresses - 20 imposing castles

Formidable fortresses - 20 imposing castles

From India to England, epic castles and forts have been built to withstand wars across the world. Here's a look at some of the most impressive. 1. Rumeli, …

28 Mar 2013 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs