Just speaking the name “Montenegro” sounds majestic and magnificent. Visiting the country was even more magnificent than speaking its name. Montenegro quickly became an Adriatic Sea favorite for me after visiting the old towns of Kotor, Perast, and Budva.
In a cloistered district within a beautiful bay is the old fortified city of Kotor, that was built during the Venetian rule from 1420 to 1797. The city of was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, as part of Venetian Works of Defense. If you are familiar with Venice, Italy then you will notice the resemblance in Kotor’s architecture, and city planning minus the canals. The streets are narrow and winding, and you can get turned around quite easily.
Video watch – Check-in to Montenegro, after a long bus ride from Albania
Although in Kotor, I was able to find my way around the city easier than in Venice. While I was staying in Venice, I could never get back to my flat the same way each day. Kotor is like a little Venice with all its intrigue and charm, but much easier to navigate.
This city has been a popular destination for cruise ships day trips, and I had seen many of these day trippers swarming into Kotor each day. I watched as crowds of people came and left to take in the town within a few hours. I thought to myself that Kotor was much too special to see in a blink of an eye, but I suppose that a few hours was better than nothing. If you do plan on visiting Kotor, I recommend staying awhile within the city walls just to get a true feel for this historic, and incredible place.
Things to see and do in Kotor
Castle San Giovani
There is much to do within Kotor in addition to strolling the narrow streets. It is a town within a bay that is surrounded by gorgeous hills, which gives the opportunity to hike up to the Kotor fortress, and take in the inspiring views.
To get to the best view of Kotor and the bay there is a fortress (Castle San Giovani), which is a hike up 1,355 steps. About a third of the way up, someone at a turnstile will charge you 8 euros to continue up to the castle. God speed, it is quite the hike!
Lady of Rocks Church
If hiking up and down 1,355 steps does not appeal to you, then taking a water taxi across the bay to the town of the Lady of Rocks church is a great alternative. The church sits on a small island in the middle of Kotor bay, and is rooted with a fascinating historic local legend.
Our Lady of the Rocks is a small Roman Catholic church, and museum that rests on a small artificial island. The current church was renovated in 1722, but the legend and islet dates back to 1452. According to the local legend, the small island was created by regional seaman who laid a rock in the bay every time they returned safely from a voyage. This was customary for those who took an oath after discovering a Madonna and Child icon on the rock in the sea. Over centuries the islet had slowly emerged, and the church was built upon it.
Visiting Our Lady of the Rocks was truly enjoyable. I thought the local legend and the church itself quite fascinating. There is also a small museum at the church that is worth the visit, and there is also a gift shop on the islet.
Old Town Perast
The old town of Perast has been an important part of the Bay of Kotor’s history for centuries. It dates back to the 1300s as a small fishing village. The town became more prosperous during the Venetian rule, and over the centuries it had grown with Baroque palaces, churches, and one of the best Maritime schools of its time.
CONTE Restaurant – Perast
When I landed in Perast and stepped off the water taxi, I did not know what to expect, although I decided that this medieval town was where I was having lunch. I walked around the tiny village for a bit, and then serendipitously stepped into CONTE Restaurant. Its small outdoor seating looked relaxing and picturesque, as it sat on the edge of the sea with a view of the harbor. I did not hesitate on my decision, this was where I planned to chill for a couple of hours!
I enjoyed my lunch at CONTE very much, and highly recommend it. Both the food and service were excellent, as well as the unparalleled atmosphere. If you can secure a seaside table next to Kotor Bay’s tranquil turquoise blue water, your already magnificent meal will automatically level up.
For more information and my review ➡ CONTE Restaurant | Perfection in Perast, Montenegro
Traditional Perast Cake
The medieval village of Perast has their own signature cake, and it is divine. It is made with almond flour, and if there is one thing that I love; it is a dessert made with this type of flour. The traditional Perast Cake was delicious- nutty, sweet, and dense in texture. It is an absolute must for you dessert lovers.
Hotel Palazzo Drusko
While visiting Kotor, I stayed within the city walls at a lovely hotel, the Palazzo Drusko. The hotel is small with only seven rooms, and located within a 600 year old stone house, which was formerly owned by Montenegrin nobility. The location was perfect, as it was walking distance from the city wall’s “Entree Nord”. This comes in handy especially if you are walking with rolling luggage.
The cuisine in Montenegro was beyond delicious, especially the seafood. Kotor, Perast, and Budva are along the Adriatic Sea, which obviously means incredibly fresh seafood. I had eaten many excellent dishes while in this country, and if you are interested in dining, check out my food journal of Montenegro: What I ate in MONTENEGRO – A Food Journal
Cats of Kotor
Felines run the streets of Kotor, either by themselves or in furry little gangs. The cats of Kotor have been part of the town’s landscape for centuries, and have survived earthquakes, sieges, and wars. They were used initially to hunt snakes and rodents, and I am sure they still protect Kotor from these pests. Today, the cats have become a type of symbolism for prosperity and good luck; adding life to the streets of the charming city of Kotor.
Shopping in Montenegro
Montenegro is filled with impressive shopping, along the cobblestone streets of Budva and Kotor. I had found many beautiful artisan shops selling hand painted pottery, unique home décor, and interesting crafted jewelry. It is travel retail therapy at its finest.
Old Town Kotor was charming, historic, and a lovely place to stay for awhile as I traveled through this part of the world, for a couple of months. Kotor has a piece of my heart, and one day I plan on returning to stay and play a bit longer. Until then Kotor…
Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow…
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre