Four days in and around Kotor bay, Montenegro

This summer, we spent a bit more than a week exploring northern Montenegro, the Dubrovnik area in Croatia and also some of Bosnia-Hercegovina. Here is where we stayed, what we did and where we ate our delicious meals in Montenegro.

Morning coffee on the balcony overlooking the bay of Kotor

How to get to Kotor, Montenegro

We started and ended our trip in Dubrovnik airport where we picked up our rental car. I highly recommend getting a car for the Kotor bay area, but get a small one. The roads around the bay are narrow, in fact so narrow that there was barely room for two cars to meet. Be prepared to go slow and take care on the curvy road around the bay and in the small towns.

The road goes along the coastline of Kotor bay

We usually rely on offline Google maps when we go on road trips. The map itself worked well in Montenegro and it was very easy to find the way to Kotor. However, the drives took longer than the estimated driving times because of the narrow road and the traffic situation. You will also need to add time for waiting in line at the borders – first for leaving Croatia and then entering Montenegro. For us it took about a hour in total but that was on a weekday in the mid-morning. I hear that the wait can be much longer at weekends and also at other times during the day.

You will also need a green card which you get from your rental car company when you tell them (and most likely pay a fee) you’re taking the car outside of Croatia. Beware that there is also a ferry fee for taking the car on any ferries, including the short rides on road ferries in Montenegro.

Waiting at the border to Montenegro…

So, remember to get a small car, bring the green card, factor in the border checkpoints and most of all, don’t forget your patience on the road and you’ll be fine. And you will want to take it slow because the drive is a beautiful one! The view from the road overlooking the Kotor bay is amazing and there are viewpoints along the way. So take your time and savor the experience.

Kotor bay

Kotor bay is very pretty and kind of peculiar since it looks very much like the Norse fjords. The bay is surrounded by steep mountains and there are small towns scattered along the coastline. You will also see lots of mussel and oyster farms on the drive south towards Kotor. You will also quickly discover that Kotor bay is not a beach place. There are a few small ones, like in Perast and outside Muo, but otherwise you enter the nice, clean water from the concrete decks next to the road. If you want the beach experience, Budva is an easy drive away.

Kotor old town

Kotor is located in the very south of the Kotor bay. The old town is kind of like a smaller Dubrovnik with stone buildings, surrounded by city walls towards the ocean and the mountains with the fort San Giovanni very visible. In front of the main gate is the marina, where there are lots of sightseeing boats, giant luxurious yachts and also cruise ships in various sizes. The cruise ships are fun to watch enter and leave the narrow bay, but time your visits to the old town to when there are not several thousand day visitors from a large ship.

You do not want (or even can) take your car inside the old town. There are parking spaces outside the wall if you choose to stay in a hotel inside.

More on Kotor town below, with restaurants and sights.

Where to stay around Kotor

Since we had a car and wanted to explore the bay as well as Kotor town, we decided to stay in Muo for easy access. Muo is a residential area right across the bay from Kotor old town. It takes about 10-15 minutes to walk to the main city gate from Muo and there are restaurants, a bakery and a grocery store along the way.

We rented a great studio apartment via AirBnB with an amazing view of the bay and Kotor old town from the balcony. This is where we stayed (no ad, just because we liked it)! The apartment had private parking, otherwise you will park your car on the street (once again, get a small car!). Muo was very quiet by night which suited us perfectly. We walked into town for dinner most nights.

Eating out in Kotor

We were in Kotor for four nights and ate at different restaurants every night. Some of the restaurants were very popular so I recommend looking around during the day and then making a reservation for dinner.

  • Konoba Scala Santa – our favorite restaurant in Kotor! The restaurant is located in a small square with a cute cat family keeping you company while you dine in great food. This seems to be one of the more popular restaurants in Kotor and we had to make a reservation to get a table. I had a very filling shrimp and truffle gnocchi dish and my husband said his steak was among the best he’s had. Decently priced Montenegrin wine (€18 seemed to be the standard price).
  • Konoba Trpeza – a fish restaurant with cozy ambiance and seats outside close to one of the squares. A bit more pricy than the restaurants nearby but good food and excellent service. I had the bussara mussels.
  • Przun – a restaurant on yet another square. Nice meal with good atmosphere. The food was good, the drinks could have been better.
  • BBQ Tanjga – a bbq restaurant located outside the city walls, to the south, across the road from the supermarket. It’s a popular, small place with seating in the garden. You order at the counter and expect a line, especially at dinner time. We had takeaway: a mixed plate of meat (chicken, sausages, skewers) with sauces, salad and fries. The food was definitely cheaper than other restaurants (even when eating in, same prices) and ok. It wasn’t the best meal we’ve ever had but it wasn’t bad either.

What to do in Kotor old town

  • Get lost in the narrow alleys of the old town while you’re looking at all the pretty buildings, flowers and squares. Enjoy the street music, the cats and the people!
  • Enjoy the cats. They are everywhere and they love to be fed. Most of them will probably be sleeping in the shade or just hanging around on the city walls. There is also a small cat museum where you can look at printed cat stuff and pet the resident cats. Kotor loves cats!
  • Walk up to the fort on the mountainside. The stairs are steep but it’s worth the effort! I would not recommend going up there in the middle of the day since the heat will probably exhaust you by then, so choose between early morning and closer to sunset. However, you don’t want it to be pitch black when you go up or down as the stairs are in bad shape in some places. We went at the end of the day and enjoyed the sunset over the bay. On the way up, you will pass a church where there is water and other drinks for sale.
  • Stroll through the market outside the city walls, next to the marina.
  • Have a drink at one of the restaurants in one of the many squares. Just looking at the people passing through is fun.

Want to explore the area? Stay tuned!