Kotor, Montenegro

Nestled deep in an atmospheric and secluded bay, the fortified city of Kotor in Montenegro is steeped in history. Characterized by winding streets and squares its magic and attraction are undeniable.

Kotor’s ninth-century walls blend into the mountainside by day, but then bathe in light when night falls. Within these dramatic walls lies a town of mazes of walkways and irresistible charm.

A Kotor cruise is just the antidote for those looking to escape and find romance, history and unique beauty. Sail into the bay and admire the mountains that rise up dramatically around you – you will soon see why many compare the bay to a fjord.

To learn more about the history of this old city, head to the Maritime Museum of Montenegro. The museum celebrates the historic status of Kotor as a powerful naval force. Inside the beautiful 18th century palace, you will find photographs, paintings, weapons and uniforms, helping to bring the past to life.

You may also want to visit the Sea Gate, the main entrance to the town, constructed in 1555 under Venetian rule. There are a few main things to look out for on the gate, such as the date the city was liberated from the Nazis, accompanied by a communist star and quote from Tito. Then there is Venice’s symbol, the winged lion of St. Mark, proudly marked on the surface. Lastly, keep an eye out for the 15th century Madonna and child, next to St. Tryphon and St. Bernard.

Start off your visit to Kotor by having a look at St. Tryphon’s Cathedral, arguably Kotor’s most impressive building. A catholic cathedral consecrated in the 12th century, it had to be reconstructed after a number of earthquakes left it in ruins. Baroque bell towers were added in 1667, and classic Corinthian columns add a dash of traditional Romanesque architecture. St. Tryphon’s remains now rest in the chapel.

There are also a number of churches which reveal facets of Kotor’s history to explore and admire, such as St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, St. Luke’s Church and St. Nicholas’ Church.

Moving from the religious to the military, another fascinating sight to see during your visit are the town walls. Kotor’s fortifications date back to the ninth century, and while a protective loop was completed by the 14th century, the walls continued being developed until the 19th century. If you are feeling energetic, you can climb up 4,000 feet via 1,350 steps until you are 850 feet above sea level. The beautiful views are worth the hard slog – just make sure to avoid the hottest parts of the day and take plenty of water.

Kotor is a wonderful place to explore by foot, and to just soak up the atmosphere. Stop in any one of the bars for a drink, or to pick up some traditional Montenegrin food. A traditional Montenegrin dish is Japraci – a rich beef stew with peppers, spices and rice. When it is time to work off your meal, experience Kotor Bay from the best vantage point possible, the water. Kayaking, swimming and heading out on a catamaran are all great ways to experience the unique atmosphere and stunning views unique to Kotor Bay.