The more I travel throughout Western Europe, the more I am utterly surprised I don’t hear about it more. Whilst Instagram has you believing Paris and London are the be-all and end-all of Europe, the likes of Kotor, Montenegro, secretly slips under the radar. And between you and me, I’m don’t mind this one little bit, because it means this one corner of the world gets to remain our little secret for a little bit longer longer (before the secret envitably gets out and the tourists start to swarm).
Don’t get me wrong, I love Paris and London! And there’s certainly a million reasons the crowds flock there. There’s nothing wrong with a bustling city… but travelling to undiscovered towns certainly provides me with that feeling in my chest that seems to fill me up a little more than a crazy city ever could. And that’s exactly how I feel about Kotor, Montenegro.
A LIL’ HISTORY
A tiny coastal town hidden in the hills of Montenegro, Kotor is, more or less, a little paradise. With a mountainous backdrop that cascades towards a crystal blue water below, the scenic features of this town are the key reasons it’s a popular stop for cruise ships. By day playing host to a swarm of cruise passengers, and at night transforming to a tranquil, glowing town, Kotor presents within itself a dichotomy of adventure and leisure travel. Alas, the best of both worlds!
It’s one of those towns that you feel richer just knowing about, let alone actually visiting. If I had one word to describe it?
One thing I love about Kotor is, unlike the big beasts (Paris, London etc), you’re not going to be overwhelmed with things to do, per se, but you will be overwhelmed by things to see.
I know, I know, I’m completely waffling now… But it’s because I love Kotor SO much! And I hope after skimming this, you’ll understand why.
THINGS TO DO
Whilst there aren’t many things to do in Kotor, the few attractions they do boast are more than worth your time! (Hint; hiking the walls and the blue cave are your absolute MUST sees!).
Hike the city walls:
If you only do one thing in Kotor, may that be hiking the city walls. A short but steep hike up one of the mountains behind Kotor is, whilst pretty strenuous, highly rewarding for the incredible views you’ll find up there. But I won’t go into it any more here… Look out for the upcoming blog post on this in the next few days!
One of my favourite parts of Eastern Europe is the abundance of fruit markets found on every corner… And Kotor is no exception! With an incredible market located just out the front of the Old Town entrance, home to everything from figs, to berries, to charred corn and donut peaches, in the summertime, this market will be your second home (it was certainly mine!)
Explore Old Town:
As with Dubrovnik, the Old Town of Kotor is where you want to focus your time. Sure, take a wander around the New Town if you desire, but tbh, you travel to Kotor to spend time in it’s Old Town, and not the modern quarters of the town.
Highlights of the Old Town include the Clock Tower, Church of St Luke and St Tryphon Cathedral as the big name drawcards… But if you want to delve further into the heart of Kotor (and I think you should), lose yourself in its’ cobblestone corridors; window shop at the trinket store on the corner, selling only touristy gimmicks, but serviced by an old lady with such a huge heart she almost fills yours… Enjoy a scoop of locally made gelato from one of the Italian restaurants just inside the Old Town entrance, and, once you’ve tired yourself out from your day of exploring, pull up a chair and have a wine at said restaurants whilst you bask in the bright moonlight now illuminating the town.
Blue cave tour:
The Blue Cave is home to the most mesmerising blue waters in Europe. Actually, probably some of the most mesmerising blue waters in the entire world. Tucked away inside the lustica peninsula, the sun hits the water in these caves with a strength that illuminates the water for meters below the surface. Whilst a picture speaks a thousand words, trust me, no pictures serve this water justice. Located a couple of hours out of Kotor, heading to the cave with take a full day out of your stay, but as a Montenegro must-see, it’s really not negotiable! Kotor Bay Tours offers full chartered tours that are the best of it’s kind.
THINGS TO SEE
The mountains, the water, the lights of the town and the pebble beaches. The quiet alleyways, the cobblestones, the marina and the cruiseships.
As I said, during the day Kotor plays host to swarms of cruise ship passengers, and I mean, literal swarms (be prepared to be shoulder to shoulder with tourists as you wander the narrow streets of old town!). Consequently, the streets are best explored under the light of the sunrise, or the glow of the mesmerising sunsets. To make the most of this town, spend your days enjoying a fruit picnic on the shores of the bay, enjoy a frolic in the crystal water if you please. Or, if you’re a bit of an adventurer (like me), perhaps take that picnic halfway up the mountain to enjoy it with a view.
Ombra: Whilst the service can be hit and miss sometimes, the food never misses. With a menu typical of a mediterranean restaurant, with everything from salads to pizza, the best thing you’ll find on this menu is vegan cheese. Literally. I know! Who would have thought vegan cheese would find its way to a tiny town on the South Coast of Europe? Yeah, not me. But I ain’t complaining! (It’s great, btw. Y’all should try it).
Local Market: I know I already mentioned the fruit market out the front of the Old Town entrance… But did I mention the fruit market out the front of the Old Town entrance? No but seriously. Fruit. Galore. Stock up in the morning and pack yourself a picnic for the day, because yes, fruit can be a meal too guys!
If you’re after a chill afternoon, take a wander down to the market at around 8pm, once the sun has set, and pick yourself up some charred corn. They normally douse them with salt, which I ain’t a huge fan of, but I just asked for mine without salt and it was the best! Grab a couple of cobs and take a wander down to the marina. Sit on the edge, dangle your legs over the water and enjoy the view. Because, girl, it’s a damn good one.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Hippocampus: Tucked snuggly away in the back of Old Town, Hotel Hippocampus is the ultimate hybrid of luxe and urban decor. It’s cool colour palette sees the hotel draped in deep purples and rustic browns, yet somehow still creates an inviting space that makes it tempting to collapse on your bed at the end of an exhausting day. Plus, the name is sick, so like, there’s that to factor in too. Kidding… Kinda.
Hotel Astoria: Paying homage to the town in which it is located, Hotel Astoria features strong earthy tones and stone walls, ultimately creating an overwhelmingly inviting atmosphere. With soft lighting and incredible decorative detail, Hotel Astoria is sure to provide you a definitively memorable stay!