The moment our eyes first met the Bay of Kotor, we knew we have found a true hidden gem. With so many romantic things to do in Kotor, we found ourselves falling in love with this destination. The Bay of Kotor resembles a fjord and you might even be forgiven for thinking you arrived in New Zealand. Rugged mountains, limestone peaks, coastal churches and beautiful fortified towns. We spent close to a week exploring all that wonderful things to do in Kotor, all suitable for couples looking for an off the beaten path destination full of soft adventure opportunities.
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Visit Stari Grad Kotor
The old town of Kotor is a beautiful port town with access to the Adriatic Sea. The town itself is surrounded by fortified walls built during the Venetian period. Kotor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it attracts countless visitors on a daily basis. Most visitors arrive by large cruise ships and sometimes several hundred people visit the town at once. As such, Kotor can feel really busy at times. We recommend visiting the town of Kotor either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. We were lucky to spend several days in the Bay of Kotor, which enabled us to visit this charming coastal town during quiet periods as well. When there were no cruises, the town itself was a quaint sleepy village like, with romantic narrow lanes, similar to what you'd expect to see in Italy.
Perast is a beautiful old town located in the Bay of Kotor. It's only 10-15 minutes drive away from the town of Kotor. It's famed for its proximity to the two little islands: St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Take a short boat ride to our Our Lady of the Rocks and admire the natural beauty of St. George. St. George cannot be visited as it is a place of workship, inhabited by monks only. Whilst in Perast, visit Smekja Palace and the Zmajevic Palace. You can take a sit in front of St. Nikola Church and enjoy a refreshing drink before heading back to Kotor.
Learn about Our Lady on the Rocks
Our Lady on the Rocks is an artificial island in the Bay of Kotor. You can enter the church located on the island and see the religious picture which drove to the creation of the island. According to the legend, one local seaman found an icon of Madonna and Child on a rock in the sea. Upon return from each successful voyage from the sea, he would lay a rock in the Bay. Over time, this island emerged from the sea. The beauty of the legend is that is still very much alive today. Every year on July 22, locals take their boats our and throw rocks into the sea so they widen the surface of this island.
Swim in Kotor
The Bay of Kotor has some of the most incredible water I've ever seen. It was a clear as the water in the Seychelles islands. There are a few beaches you can visit during your time in Kotor to enjoy a lazy afternoon sunbathing and swimming in the bay. The water is relatively cold but it's incredibly clear and beautiful. It makes it great for those who love to snorkel as well. Most of the time, the water looks perfectly still and inviting.
Kayak in Kotor
Because the water is so still and perfectly clear, I can't imagine anything better than taking the kayaks out. Most accommodation providers will be able to rent out their kayaks. The prices are beyond reasonable and needless to say the experience itself is fantastic. You can easily spend hours relaxing on the water, listening to the sound of nature.
Buy a cat souvenir from Kotor
One unexpected thing about Kotor was the sheer amount of cats we saw scattered around the old town. Beautiful little kittens, clearly well looked after by the locals. Legend has it that it's because of the cats that inhabitants of Kotor survived during the darker times of plague. It is believed that cats kept the pest away so rats carrying the plague never made it to the town itself. Whether is true or not, we like seeing lots of happy cats so we were pretty excited about it. You will see many shops selling souvenirs with the cats of Kotor so don't forget to grab one as a cute memory from your travels.
Enjoy the beautiful sunsets in Kotor
Naturally stunning, the Bay of Kotor will reward the romantic at heart with some of the most incredible sunset colours. Grab a blanket, sit by the water and enjoy wonderful pastels reflected in the rugged mountains. There is something so calming about allowing yourself to relax, listen to the sound of nature and admire the sun going down.
Take a tour to explore more of Montenegro
What is best of Montenegro you might ask? To answer the question, best to take a tour organised by 360Monte. The tour itself is called "Great Montenegro tour" and it takes you to various wonderful place to explore more of the country. The tours start and end in the town of Kotor and it requires a full day. It can sometimes take up to 12 hours, so be prepared with some snacks and water. The tour starts with the Old Austra-Hungarian Road and continues to Njegusi village where you will indulge local breakfast with a shot of brandy. You will then enjoy breathtaking views of Lovćen National Park and explore the old city of Cetinje. Photograph River of Crnojević which makes one of the most dramatic sights we've ever seen. Descent to the river itself and take a boat ride between the lush green lilypads. End the journey at Riviera of Budva for a perfect photo opportunity at sunset. This was one of the most professional and fun tours we've ever taken. You can read more about it here.
Hike the rugged mountains
There are several hiking opportunities from Kotor. One is to climb the city walls and admire the Bay of Kotor from above. Another is to take the Old Austro-Hungarian road towards Fort Vrmac. The hike is about 3-4 hours if you take it slow. Remember to bring some water and snacks with you. We hiked on a very sunny day, so we recommend some sunscreen and hats to protect yourselves from direct sunlight. This is not an easy hike for everyone. Have good shoes with good grip. The hike itself is pretty much uphill and quite strenuous. We don't recommend it to the elderly who might have issues with vertigo or intense cardio. Along the way, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the bay from above. They are totally worth the hike. To be safe, we also encourage you to reach out to a local guide who knows the area really well.
Stay in a villa with a view
Most people will want to stay in the old town of Kotor but we think otherwise. We stayed just 10 minutes drive away from Kotor, in a luxury villa positioned just in front of the water. The villa itself featured a pool and a fantastic garden with incredible views. Our villa was called Palazzo Banicevic and we can't recommend it enough. The owners are also incredible people, serving the best food we've ever had for breakfast.
Rent bikes and explore
If you don't love driving during your holiday, rent bikes and explore the Bay of Kotor on two wheels. Our villa had bikes for rental as well, or you can rent some in the centre of the town. Just mind the traffic when cycling on narrow lanes, as space can be limited.
Are you ready to explore Kotor? We had an amazing time and we are now convinced Kotor has to be one of the most romantic gems in Europe. You will absolutely love it and have a great time there. Tell us, what part of Kotor intrigues you the most?
Special thanks to Kotor tourism board, To Kotor for organising our trip. We had an amazing time exploring it and loved the stunning nature as well as the quaint fortified town of Kotor. We look forward to visiting it again, soon. As always, thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.