A few years ago, Montenegro’s Kotor region started showing up on a lot of travel lists as an up and coming must visit destination. In 2016 Lonely Planet named Kotor as the number 1 city to visit in the world. The praise is justified, the culture, tradition, beautiful architecture, great food and stunning views make this secret fairy-tale city, hidden in a steep Fjord-like bay of the Mediterranean, a worthy winner.
Today the secret is well and truly out of the bag. As the sun comes up and over the hills around the bay, so do the tourists. From the North, convoys of buses pour across the border on day trips from Dubrovnik and through the bay sails a regular fleet of cruise ship giants, all stopping for a few hours to run around the town. Taking a tour around the city in the day can feel a little bit like getting into a hot concrete mixer and being rolled around the circuit with all the other tourists.
However, as evening rolls in the cruise ships raise the anchors and the buses head back. The city becomes quiet again. Thankfully the temperature drops to warm but comfortable heat. As the sun descends, so do peacefulness, calm and tranquillity.
Tranquillity is important when visiting Kotor. Kotor is a city protected by a mixture of natural beauty and impressive fortifications. It’s history of affluence, religious importance and conflict avoidance has meant that the area is a little bubble where the way of life has been relatively uninterrupted through the last millennium. If you ask the locals what is different about the Kotor way of life compared to other cities or countries in the region, they would cite things like ‘relaxed’, ‘tranquil’ or ‘peaceful’.
And if you stay in Kotor until the sun goes down, you can get a chance to meet those locals. The busy tourists of the day are replaced with locals at night as bars and pubs come alive in the back alleys of the city and locals hang out drinking locally made beers and wines. If you plan you trip right, you might even get lucky and experience a street party or, like we did, a rock concert in one of the old squares.
The city is so quiet you can actually explore it. The intimate and narrow back alleys that connect the city’s squares become places where you can lose yourself and explore. At every turn you might stumble upon an old church, a wine tasting or, more likely than not, a friendly cat looking for some attention.
I would argue the city is a lot prettier at night. The giant restaurant parasols that dominate the squares come down allowing you to see the incredible architecture. Every square, street and church is well lit, meaning you can see the city in it’s full ancient glory but also feel safe exploring the city at night.
If you really want to explore and get genuine Kotor experience, we would strongly recommend staying in the region for at least 1 night minimum. Whilst I’m sure that those cruise passengers or day trippers would have enjoyed seeing the beautiful old city, I’m pretty certain they would have missed out on having the authentic and unique experience of getting to know Kotor: the secret city hidden in the Fjord-like bay of the Mediterranean.
However, this does create a problem: if you want to visit Kotor but avoid the city in the day… what do you do?
Well, our next article is all about must see day trips from Kotor to help you make the most of your weekend in Kotor.
Last modified: 16th July 2018