- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
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- COFFEE & DRINK
- SIGHTS & LANDMARKS
- THINGS TO DO
Kotor (Montenegrin Cyrillic: Котор,) is a coastal town in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. The city has a population of 13,510 and is the administrative center of Kotor Municipality.
The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by fortifications built during the Venetian period. It is located on the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea. Some have called it the southern-most fjord in Europe, but it is a ria, a submerged river canyon. Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape.
In recent years, Kotor has seen a steady increase in tourists, many of them coming by cruise ship. Visitors are attracted both by the natural beauty of the Gulf of Kotor and by the old town of Kotor. Kotor is part of the World Heritage Site dubbed the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor.
Kotor is a coastal town in Montenegro with a population of 23,500. It is known for its beautiful architecture and natural setting.
Kotor is situated in the secluded Boka Kotorska bay, on Montenegro's northern coast. It has developed around Stari Grad (local language for "old town"), the city's old town and best known landmark, which is listed with UNESCO World heritage sites. The bay is the deepest natural fjord in the Mediterranean Sea, and the scenery around it (including the steep mountains which come almost to the waterfront) is spectacular.
The Stari Grad is fully walled (the mountain functions as a rear wall). Four gates offer access to the town: The Main Gate, along the Bay, the North Gate, the South Gate, and a smaller New Gate. There are no cars allowed in the Stari Grad, nor are there standard road names in the Stari Grad. Although all buildings are numbered, it is best to use landmarks for directions. Generally, the squares are named for the church in their center, and directions either relate to the closest square or the closest gate. The most obvious landmark is the clock tower, just inside the main gate, in the main square.
There are abundant banks and ATMs throughout the Stari Grad. ATMs often dispense as few bills as possible. For example, a withdrawal of €150 will probably produce 3 €50 bills. Many people refuse to make change from large bills, so it is advised to withdraw an even amount, to avoid €50 bills, or small amounts at a time. Banks are closed on Sunday or Holidays. Travellers cheques are generally not accepted, not even by banks. Note that not all restaurants or shops accept credit cards, either.
Kotor and the entire Kotor Bay have long been a vacation and second-home destination for many Europeans and British. After Serbian, English is the common language, and most waitstaff and hotel staff speak English.
Kotor, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Ancient Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium, Ascrivium, or Ascruvium (Ancient Greek: Ἀσκρήβιον) and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.
Kotor has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in 535, after expelling the Ostrogoths; a second town probably grew up on the heights round it, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the 10th century, alludes to Lower Kotor. The city was plundered by the Saracens in 840. Kotor was one of the more influential Dalmatian city-states of romanized Illyrians throughout the Middle Ages, and until the 11th century the Dalmatian language was spoken in Kotor. The city was part of Byzantine Dalmatia in that period.
In 1002, the city suffered damage under the occupation of the First Bulgarian Empire, and in the following year it was ceded to Serbia by the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil. However, the local population resisted the pact and, taking advantage of its alliance with the Republic of Ragusa, only submitted in 1184, while maintaining its republican institutions and its right to conclude treaties and engage in war. It was already an episcopal see, and, in the 13th century, Dominican and Franciscan monasteries were established to check the spread of Bogomilism.
During the Nemanjić dynasty-era, the city was autonomous. 1371 it came under suzerenity of Hungarian king who ruled Croatia and Hungary, and 1384. it became part of Bosnian banate under ban/king Tvrtko. Until 1420 it was independent. The city acknowledged the suzerainty of the Republic of Venice in 1420. In the 14th century, commerce in Kotor competed with that of the nearby Republic of Ragusa and of the Republic of Venice.
Venetian and Ottoman rule
The city was part of the Venetian Albania province of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797. It was besieged by the Ottomans in 1538 and 1657. Four centuries of Venetian domination have given the city the typical Venetian architecture, that contributed to make Kotor a UNESCO world heritage site.
In the 14th- and 15th centuries, there was an influx of settlers from the oblasts of Trebinje (the region around forts Klobuk Ledenica and Rudina) and the Hum lands (Gacko and Dabar) to Kotor. The Italian name of the city is Càttaro. Under Venetian rule, Kotor was besieged by the Ottoman Empire in 1538 and 1657, endured the plague in 1572, and was nearly destroyed by earthquakes in 1563 and 1667. It was also ruled by Ottomans at brief periods.
Habsburg and Napoleonic rule
It was restored to the Habsburg Monarchy by the Congress of Vienna. Until 1918, the town, then known as Cattaro, was head of the district of the same name, one of the 13 Bezirkshauptmannschaften in the Kingdom of Dalmatia.
In World War I, Kotor was one of three main bases of the Austro-Hungarian Navy and homeport to the Austrian Fifth Fleet, consisting of pre-dreadnought battleships and light cruisers. The area was the site of some of the fiercest battles between local Montenegrin Slavs and Austria-Hungary. After 1918, the city became a part of Yugoslavia and officially became known as Kotor.
World War II
Between 1941 and 1943 the Kingdom of Italy annexed the area of Kotor which became one of three provinces of the Italian Governorate of Dalmatia - the Province of Cattaro had an area of 1,075 km2 (415 sq mi) and population of 128,000.
Kotor has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa).
Climate data for Kotor
|Average high °C (°F)||9|
|Average low °C (°F)||2|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||151|
|Average precipitation days||13||13||13||13||11||10||7||7||8||11||14||13||133|
Wifi is available in the town center, and at many cafes. Cafe wifi often requires pass codes given only to paying customers.
Transportation - Get In
Tivat Airport is 8km away. The following airlines operate to/from Tivat Airport: Air Moldova (Chiṣinǎu, seasonal), Montenegro Airlines (Belgrade, Copenhagen, London-Gatwick, Moscow-Domodedovo, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Pristina, Rome-Fiumicino, Skopje, St Petersburg), Moskovia Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo), Rossiya (St Petersburg) and S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo). There are charter flights to Moscow, Helsinki and elsewhere, but many of these are not available for booking on online consolidation sites, so it is best the check the individual airline's websites.
Podgorica airport [www] is 90km away, and has flights throughout the year to Belgrade, Budapest, Zurich, Frankfurt, Ljubljana, Paris, Rome, Vienna and, London-Gatwick. Buses run from Podgorica to Kotor year round.
Dubrovnik airport in Croatia is 73km away from Kotor, and maintains flights to many European destinations throughout the year, providing an alternative to the Montenegrin airports. A taxi to Kotor costs €80.[www].
Kotor is fairly well connected with neighboring countries by bus.
- Bus station (Autobuska stanica) (5 minute walk from the old town, on the road towards Budva (look for the old tall chimney!)), . every day 06:00 - 22:00. Bus times and frequency varies greatly seasonally. Check the schedule online.
From Budva buses run to Herceg Novi, stopping in Kotor, almost every 30 minutes from 7:00 to 23:00. Buses also run between Kotor and the following cities: Podgorica (hourly, €7 (August 2014), Bar and Ulcinj (6-8 daily, approximately €5), Dubrovnik and Mostar (3 daily, 3 hours), Split (3 times a week, 7 hours), Sarajevo (1x daily), Belgrade (10 hours), Skopje (night bus, 12 hours, twice a week on Friday and Saturday at 7PM). During the week you can go to Skopje via Nis, Serbia (bus from Kotor to Tivat at 3:50PM, from Tivat to Nis 5:30PM). The 11AM bus to Mostar costs €26 plus a euro per bag and takes 9 hours, as it visits almost every major town in Montenegro and southern Respublika Srpska before finally arriving in Mostar.
There are also small public buses (colored in white with blue sign "Blue line") that run through the city connecting nearby villages and towns. You can stop them at any bus stop inside Kotor. They also go to Tivat along the coast line passing Muo, Prcanj.
All roads in Montenegro are two-lanes only, and mostly are curvy mountainous roads, so speeds over 70 km/h (43 mph) are rarely legal or safe.
The Vrmac tunnel has recently been completed, which significantly shortens the journey from Budva to Kotor. Road traffic was formerly diverted to alternative road over Trojica hill above Kotor. It is still possible to travel via this winding mountain road. From this hill you can enjoy beautiful views not only of the tiny countryside villages, but also of Podgorica (when approaching from Cetinje), and Kotor Bay.
When driving in Montenegro, be aware that the locals drive aggressively and think nothing of overtaking across white lines on steep bends. Be careful. There is also a great deal of road building underway and the safety considerations are a less onerous than those in more-developed countries. Don't panic.
As in many places, taxis may or may not have a meter. Be warned that un-metered taxi fares can range widely, especially for English speakers. Taxi drivers often try to cheat tourists. The real taxi price within Kotor and Muo should be below €3. You should discuss the price before entering the taxi.
There aren't any scheduled ferries travelling to Kotor but there are services between Bar and Bari, Italy except during winter.
Transportation - Get Around
Kotor is small, so everything is within walking distance. Enter the old town via any of the three gates, then explore the maze of narrow lanes between the stone houses.
Parking space in the city center is hard to find, so use your car only when you have to. Be careful where you park, sketchy tow operators target tourists around the old city. Find a free parking space away from the old city and then walk.
There are no sandy beaches in Kotor, and water is not of premium quality for swimming. Consider driving to the beautiful Jaz or Trsteno beaches on the Budva Riviera, some 20km from Kotor.
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Old town has many boutiques. There is an open market just outside the old town; there you can buy fresh vegetables, sunglasses and many other things.
Kotor offers a variety ranging from classy restaurants offering fresh seafood and national cuisine to fast food offering pizzas, barbecue, etc. There is a large produce market outside the city walls. Hamburgers there cost €1. Cafes and restaurants line the bay-side promenade, which stretches north through Dobrota.
- Forza (near the clock tower). The most popular pastry shop in Kotor
- La Pasteria (directly opposite St Tryphon Cathedral). Great sandwiches and fine pizzas with original prosciutto from the nearby village of Njeguši. Probably the best Italian food in Kotor!
- Bastion Restaurant (Near St. Mary's church), . Busy lunchtime venue. Great fish. €6-30.
- Cesarica (close to Hotel Marja in the Old Town). Serves excellent and cheap Dalmatian food. Try the cuttlefish risotto. main dishes from €5-15.
- Forza Mare, Dobrota. Seaside restaurant and hotel, outside of Kotor
- Babilon restaurant and hotel, Dobrota. Affordable prices, good location and a first-class seafood menu
Coffe & Drink
Again, old town is the hotspot for relaxed drinking espresso in the shade of the medieval walls. There are many cafes in the old town, but still it's hard to find a place to sit in the sunny day. Tipping is not necessary although you may leave your change by simply rounding up. Befriending the waitstaff can get you quite far.
Espresso costs €1+. Soft drinks and juice cost €1-2.
Sample the Montenegrin wines, "Vranac", "Pro Corde", "Krstac", "Cabernet", "Chardonnay" and "Nikšićko" beer. Montenegrin brandy, called "rakija" is good choice to "warm up" before going out in the evening, especially grape brandy "Montenegrin loza", "Prvijenac" or "Kruna". Litre bottles of wine are available in the supermarkets outside of the Stari Grad for under €5.
Sights & Landmarks
- St Tryphon's Cathedral (Old Town). First built in the 11th century, reconstructed after earthquakes. Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Chapel holds the remains of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor. €2
- St Nicolas Church. The biggest Orthodox church in the Old Town.
- Maritime Museum (Old Town), . M-Sa: 8AM-8PM; Sundays: 9AM-1PM. 3 floors of photographs, uniforms, weapons, paintings, and model ships.€4.
Things to do
- Climb up to the Fortifications. Stretching some 4.5 km directly above the city, on almost vertical cliffs. Climbing up the 1350 steps will be rewarded by a view of Kotor and the bay from St John's fortress. Only advisable for physically fit people. Some of the steps are broken. The 1200ft ascent may take an hour. €3.
- Boat Trips. In the middle of the bay there are two islands, Sveti Djordje and Gospa od Skrpijela, which are worth seeing and accessible by tourist boats.
A night out in Kotor usually begins in the open bars in the old town. Pubs in the old town are only open until 1AM.
The best club is Maximus, located in the old town.