Traveler: Danielle Gervalis
When: May 2015
A little less than a two-hour drive from Dubrovnik is the beautiful harbor side city of Kotor in Montenegro. The stark contrast between the limestone mountains against the deep blue Adriatic is something to behold. It’s an affable place to walk around, explore, and spend the day. I left wishing I had more time to stay in the striking country.
We rented a car in Dubrovnik the morning we planned to drive to Kotor from Dubrovnik Sun. It cost $76.00 to rent the flashy Cleo for the day plus the cost of gas. We didn’t have reservations to rent a car, but it was very easy. We just asked the front desk at our hotel, Hotel La Pad, if they could point us in the right direction and less than 30 minutes later a man drove up with Cleo. Helpful reminder, most European car rentals are stick shifts, so keep that in mind if you plan to drive yourself.
It’s an easy drive to Kotor as it’s pretty much a straight shot. Driving across the border can be a boring and and unpredictable process. We left bright and early in the morning to avoid long lines of tour buses and passed through quickly. On the way back, we got stuck behind someone who was getting their entire car searched and it took about 30 minutes to get on our way.
How I spent my day in Koto-graphs:
(See what I did there?)
Arriving in Kotor
Check out those mountains! Parking was a breeze in the Kamelija shopping center and was under $5 for the entire day.
Entrance to the walled city of Kotor
The walls extend 3 miles through the mountains and for the adventurous travelers, you can hike to the top to visit St. John’s Fortress and enjoy sweeping views of the bay. Walking past the walls and into the city, you’ll find it’s a compact triangle , intentionally built this way to confuse attackers, without obvious street signs. You don’t really navigate as much as meander about and find places by landmarks.
The clock tower
Constructed in 1602, this tall structure overlooks a stone monument which used to serve as pillory. The town’s miscreant and rebellious citizens would be left for public ridicule. Glad we decided to trade those in for social media.
Lunch at the Old Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar
Great menu with an array of fresh appetizers, pastas, entrees and wood oven pizza. They also have a considerable wine list filled with wines from Montenegro and are eager to make complementary recommendations to your meal selections. The restaurant has covered sitting outside so you can enjoy the mild weather and watch the passersby as you feast on your hearty lunch.
The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Sveti Tripun)
Probably the most famous building in Kotor, it’s named after the patron saint of the city who was remembered as a healer of animals and a great martyr. Originally built-in 1166, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1667, rebuilt and suffered earthquake damage again in 1979. Now it’s finally restored but as you can see the two bell towers no longer match. On the interior, there are frescos dating back to the 14th century and the remains of Saint Tryphon.
Side Street of Kotor – Lush greenery
Check out some of the hidden alcoves within Kotor and you’ll easily find a cool stone seat and natural shade to plot your next route.
Due to its tight bottleneck shape, the Bay of Kotor is the best natural harbor in the region and thus was a desired stronghold throughout history. The city’s maritime roots are on full display in the museum, which costs under $5 to tour. You’ll see frescos detailing Kotor’s history and heroes, weapons, navigational tools, and model ships.
St. Nicholas’ Church
In the same St. Luke’s square, you’ll see the newer St. Nicholas church which is also free to tour.
Cats of Kotor
Walking around the city, you’ll notice not only a lot of cats wandering around but that the city also seems to be a bit cat obsessed. There are souvenir shops with countless cat items and even a cat museum!
Street Art and Sidewalks
Kotor is impeccably clean. There wasn’t any litter on the streets. You can tell the citizens take pride in their city. This was the only street art I saw on a bench and thought it was a perfect tribute to the maritime town. Additionally, the streets aren’t just regular cobblestone but the main square is paved with red and white striped tiles.
Arches and alleys of Kotor
This double archway leads you to Kotor Fortress, watch for falling laundry.
St. Luke’s Square and Church
Constructed in 1195 and set in the middle of the square, Saint Luke’s is open daily and free to the public. You can still see some of the original frescos on the interior.
Plazas and Courtyards
After walking through the maze of city squares, take a break in one of the many plazas under an umbrella and enjoy a crisp glass of Montenegrin wine. Try the Krstač, which is a dry white wine made from an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to Montenegro.
If you are seeking something quieter, there are countless alleyways and pretty balconies to take a midday rest.
There are a plethora of picturesque places in Kotor. The Venetian architecture will make you have your camera at the ready. The fountains scattered throughout the city add even more interesting facets to Kotor’s buildings.
The Bay of Kotor
When you are finally ready to leave the city, walk out of the gates and enjoy the gorgeous view of the bay!