Kotor is a hidden gem that not too many people are aware of. Montenegro was never on my top places to see, but when I was in Dubrovnik, it seemed like a nice activity to do for the day. From the beautiful mountains and fjords, Montenegro is a popular day trip destination from Dubrovnik. Now I understand why Montenegro is a hidden gem and such a beautiful place to visit.
Things to bring:
- Don’t forget your passport!!! My friend forgot hers and realized that out when we were already on the public bus going towards the main bus station. She had to jump off the bus, catch a taxi, and hopefully make it to the bus station on time (thankfully she did!)
- Comfortable shoes – if you plan on doing the hike (which is the main thing to do in Kotor) you should wear tennis shoes or comfortable shoes! However, of course I did it in sandals which is totally doable, but it can get slippery on the rocks/cobblestone.
- Water and snacks – it’s a lengthy bus ride, so you’ll want to bring drinks and snacks for you to eat on the bus.
- Montenegro uses euros. There’s ATM’s in old town if you need to withdraw cash.
Getting to Kotor:
If you’re doing a day trip from Dubrovnik, there’s a few ways to get to Kotor. There are several tour companies that take you there that you can book. You can also rent a car which is nice because you have more freedom with your time. Another option is taking the bus there. Since my hostel-mate woke me up at 8 am to tell me the bus is leaving in an hour, I didn’t have the option to book a tour in advance or rent a car. The bus is super easy to take and very convenient. If you go to Rome2Rio, you can search the different transportation options to get to Kotor. Since it was too late for us to buy the tickets online, we bought our tickets at the Dubrovnik bus station.
The bus ride is about 2 hours long, but it can be longer depending on traffic and border control. Ours took a lot longer than anticipated which was a bit of a bummer since it reduced our time in Kotor. Our bus ride took about 3 hours long.
Get a map outside the walls:
Right outside the entrance to old town, there’s a tourist desk. I went there and got a free map. It was helpful navigating around to get to St John’s Fortress. There’s also other points of interest on the map that are helpful.
Hike up to St John’s Fortress:
Kotor’s Castle of San Giovanni, also known as St John’s Fortress, is the main attraction when visiting Kotor. It’s over 1300 steps and all uphill with pretty much no shade. But don’t get intimidated by that! It’s not a race, and it’s definitely worth the trek up there. It’s BEAUTIFUL. I’ve never seen something so breathtaking. You do not want to miss out on it! Push through and take several breaks.
There’s a fee to hike up to the fortress. Cash only. Make sure you have euros on you. (Side note: if you go before 8 am, there is no one there to collect money. However, since you’ll be coming from Dubrovnik, you’ll most likely not get there before 8 am.) It took us 55 minutes to go up. We stopped a few times to rest and take pictures, but we really powered through it since we were limited on time. There’s so many beautiful spots to stop and take pictures. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Once you’re at the top, you can roam around before heading down.
As stated above, wear comfortable shoes or tennis shoes. I wore sandals, and it was a bit slippery on the cobblestone. I almost fell a couple of times. Bring a lot of water since it’ll most likely be very hot and you’ll be thirsty. When we went up, there were a few people selling waters throughout the trek.
Eat some yummy food:
We didn’t get a chance to eat at a restaurant. Like I’ve said, we were REALLY limited on time. We found a small bakery that sold pizzas by the slice and ate that really quickly before we hiked up the fortress. There’s lots of restaurants around old town that you can sit and eat at.
Walk around old town:
Kotor’s old town is a lot smaller compared to Dubrovnik. There’s little shops, a church, restaurants, and lots of cats everywhere! Walk around and explore old town.
Getting back to Dubrovnik:
Make sure to buy your ticket ahead of time so you can secure your spot on the bus. You do not want to be stuck in Kotor (or maybe you do… it’s definitely not a bad place to be stuck in!) I recommend getting snacks again for the bus ride. It took us 3 hours to get home since the border control took a long time.
If you’re limited on vacation like we were, a day trip is a great way to see Kotor! I recommend leaving on the first bus ride and as early as possible. Border control can take away your time in Kotor and you’ll want to spend as much time as you can there!
If you’re not limited on time, I recommend going there and staying a night or two. There’s so much to see and it’s SO beautiful there. I wish I had more time there.
If I were to do it again, I would probably do a tour IF it gave me more time in Montenegro. Since I was so limited on time when I was in Kotor and had to abide by the bus schedule, I didn’t get to see all that Kotor has to offer and I felt rushed the entire time. If you look into a tour, make sure it gives you a lot of time in Montenegro and see if it’s worth doing over taking the public bus. Sometimes if you take a tour, you’re also limited on time and restricted on what you can do (following the tour group). If the tour isn’t a good option for you, I highly recommend taking the bus there. Try to maximize your time and not sit down at at restaurant and hike up the fortress right away.
Hope you enjoy Kotor as much as I did! I absolutely loved Montenegro and want to return very soon! Did you like Montenegro as much as I did? Any comments or questions? Comment below! I’d love to hear from you.
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