I know this will start a debate: I think Montenegro might be the most beautiful country in the Kampana Tower, Saint Nicholas Church, Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. We haven’t been to to all Balkan countries but Montenegro really stands out with its breathtaking nature, incredible architecture, dreamy countryside and friendly people. We had a chance to explore Kotor and Perast after visiting Sarajevo of Bosnia and Herzegovina and before heading the Dubrovnik of Croatia. We put these two magnificent towns together simply because they are so close to each other and both are undoubtedly capable of taking your breath away. Visiting these seaside destinations during the winter means no swimming in the sea for us, but we were so happily occupied that it didn’t feel like we missed anything. In case you wonder, it didn’t take us long to settle on Kotor instead of Budva as we heard that the latter was spoiled with mass tourism.
In this post, let’s tell you about our amazing time in Kotor.
Explore Kotor – The ultimate paradise on Earth!
I have fallen in love with many beautiful cities in Europe, but with Kotor, it was instantly love at first sight, so hard and so fast! The moment I laid my eyes on the Old Town of Kotor from the bus, I immediately believed I have never seen any town which is so perfectly situated. Kotor effortlessly has everything I love about an ideal travel destination.
Drop-dead stunning nature? Check.
Spectacular architecture? Check.
Long intriguing history? Check.
Mouth-watering cuisine? Check.
Reasonable cost? Check.
The high frequency of running into adorable animals? Check.
Situated in a secluded part of Adriatic sea and under the shadow of the awe-inspiring St. John’s Hill, Kotor is believed to rise on the foundations of the ancient city of Acruvium, though the accuracy of this information can’t yet be confirmed. During its long course of history, Kotor has seen the transition of many different rulerships. The old port of Kotor is surrounded by a fortification masterpiece built during the Venetian period. Moreover, four centuries of Venetian domination have given the city the typical Venetian Baroque architecture which has been well-preserved, placing Kotor on UNESCO’s list of “The world natural and cultural inheritance”.
Nevertheless, impressive architecture could be found anywhere, Kotor can’t be this unique without its natural surroundings. In fact, Kotor is founded on a ria (a submerged river canyon), though many have favorably called it the Southernmost Fjord of Europe. The amazing terrain definitely adds a dramatic note to the beauty of Kotor.
Top things to do in Kotor
Get lost in Old Town
As we started our exploration to the Old Town of Kotor, it didn’t take long before we wondered “Was this town specifically designed for people to get lost?” Yes, indeed! The town was built like a maze with numerous snaky cobblestoned streets for protective purposes. And if even the locals get lost, us tourists has no hope to navigate around easily. But who gets upset about being lost, if you are lost in paradise? We got to visit many important landmarks in the Old Town, such as Kampana Tower, Saint Nicholas Church, Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, etc. though just wandering the lovely streets and seeing little green shutter windows on the stone facades are enjoyable enough. What else to love here? Cats! I can’t tell exactly how many cats roam the streets of Kotor but we bumped into these funny creatures everywhere.
Climb 1350 steps to the top of the fortifications
We are proudly declare: We did it twice! If you haven’t convinced of the breathtaking beauty of Kotor from the street levels, admiring Kotor from above is easily take your breath away, physically and emotionally! On our first climb, we had a little four-legged companion. He reminded me of the little black Japanese Chin my family used to keep, so we decided to call him Bee (the name of our late dog).
The climb to the top was really good exercise for us both consider the amount of delicious BBQ we had consumed. I can’t tell how many times we stopped during the climb just to admire the stunning scenes below (and catch a breath too!) It felt like every pictures we took looked effortlessly beautiful, no need any Photoshop or Lightroom retouch. The powerful yet poetic combination of irresistible nature and captivation medieval architecture in Kotor literally makes my heart skip a beat every time I recollect my memories.
Savor local cuisine
Having been to many Balkan countries, we have concluded that food is quite similar to one another, with a balance of Western and Eastern influences. You will likely find many variations of the same dishes (such as cevapi, burek or stuffed cabbage) in any Balkan country you visit.
So, where and what to eat in Kotor?
Since we were in Kotor during the winter, we spoiled ourselves with amazing grilled dishes from BBQ Tanja which is a vegetarian-friendly and family-run business. This is undeniably a mecca for BBQ lovers and budget travellers! It is better to eat here if you come in pair or group, then you can share a platter of different meat. But in the end it doesn’t matter much because, as we were told, it is one big guilty pleasure.
Take a trip to Perast
Perast is so close by and just as amazing that it doesn’t make sense that you visit Kotor without seeing Perast. Why don’t you check out our post on Perast right here?
So, did our stories and pictures convince you of a visit to Kotor? As for me, I’m dreaming of being back there right now…