Welcome to Kotor cruise port, Montenegro! (Post updated: January 2024)
The city of Kotor and the entire state of Montenegro may just be the best-kept secret and the hidden gem of the Mediterranean. The exploration and sightseeing of this stunning old city start even before you reach the port as the 1-hour long sail-in is a treat itself! Make sure to get up before the arrival and soak up this beautiful bay which was voted one of the 25 most beautiful bays in the world. The Boka Bay is known as the southernmost fjord in Europe and is part of UNESCO’s world heritage together with the old town of Kotor. In this article, read about:
- Kotor cruise port (Kotor cruise terminal, getting around, helpful info)
- Top 11 things to do in the port of Kotor, including the best Kotor shore excursions
Kotor Cruise Port
Kotor Bay sail-in as well as the view of the medieval port of Kotor are absolutely mind-blowing! Surrounded by massive mountains, this is where you’ll witness the beauty of the Adriatic coast at its finest.
Kotor cruise terminal has only one pier and cruise ships dock about 300 ft away from the city gate from where you’ll be able to see the city wall as soon as you get off the ship. Sometimes, large cruise ships anchor in the bay and use tender boats to transfer their cruise passengers ashore. There are usually no more than 3 cruise ships at the same time. The tender rides take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how far you are anchored. Take the tender ride as a free sightseeing tour of the coast because the scenery is truly spectacular!
Helpful info & links:
- The port itself has a small souvenir shop and a toilet free of charge for you to use. Right next to the port building, there is a cafe where you have free wi-fi available for the guests.
- There isn’t any ATM in the port itself, however, on the other side of the same building there is a bank with an ATM. There are plenty of ATMs and banks at the main city square just 300 meters away from the port if that one is busy.
- The port area is flat and wheelchair-accessible, however, the old city is partially hilly so make sure you wear comfortable clothes.
- Kotor’s old town area starts as soon as you leave the pier, and the best way to explore it is on foot. The alternative and most convenient options to get around the city are by taxi or hop on hop off bus.
- Taxis are available at the exit but check the prices in advance. The ones you find at the front are not the ones with the taximeter but at a fixed price. If you wish to use the ones locals use, they are usually parked by the shopping center “Kamelija”, approximately 600 meters away from the port (check for directions in the part of the article below).
- The currency in Montenegro is EURO (€). Cards are accepted almost everywhere apart from the taxis, so make sure you bring cash on you. It is best to use any other card but American Express because it’s not as widely accepted as Visa for example.
- Hop on Hop off bus tours are also available, sometimes in the port itself or at the city gate. The tours include the visit of the entire bay with the audio guide, plus a walking tour scheduled a few times per day after your bus tour. The buses run every 30 minutes and if you need a wheelchair-accessible one, then you should ask for the double-decker option since they have a single open-top bus too. Some of the stops are Bajova Kula (a beautiful beach bar), Perast (a charming coastal town from where you can catch a 5-minute boat ride to the island of Our Lady of the Rocks), Risan (a historic village where you have an included entrance to the Roman Mosaics), and back to the Kotor old town for your walking tour where you will cover all the important sites in approximately 40 minutes.
- Kotor Bus Station is located 800 m (a 10-minute walk) from the Kotor cruise terminal. As the old town is walkable, there’s no need to take the local bus, however, if you’re staying for a few days in Kotor, you may consider this option. The local and intercity buses are operated by Blue Line, and you can check the schedules at http://blueline-mne.com/ (although the website is in Montenegrin). Check for online tickets and departures at https://busticket4.me/ and https://getbybus.com/
- Tivat Airport is the nearest airport and is located 8 km/5 miles (a 10-minute drive) southwest of Kotor cruise port. The main airport in Montenegro is Podgorica Airport (Podgorica is the capital city) and is located 89 km/55 miles (a 1h 30-minute drive) northeast of Kotor.
- Kotor has a mild Mediterranean climate with warm and pleasant summers and rainy winters. To get useful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 55 Cruise Essentials
- Explore Kotor tours and activities
- Book a private transfer to/from the port of Kotor
- Search the best hotels in Kotor
Top 11 Things to Do in Kotor Cruise Port
The great thing about Kotor cruise port is that there are plenty of things to explore in the old town just 300 ft away from the port. Alternatively, you can explore the beautiful coastal town of Perast and its iconic Our Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro’s natural treasures, or visit Dubrovnik if you’re staying in Kotor for a few days. The country of Montenegro is quite small and everything is close by, so you won’t waste much time driving around if you want to stay in the Bay of Kotor area.
Before I share the best things to do in Kotor, I invite you to grab your copy of the “Mediterranean Cruise Port Guide”, the most comprehensive guide to 45 Mediterranean cruise ports (including Kotor), packed with practical information, expert tips & unforgettable experiences! (PDF format/200 pages)
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1. Fort of St. John
St. John’s Fortress is probably one of the first things you will see once you approach the great city walls. If you look up you will see a church high up on the hill, but if you look beyond at the very top you will notice a fort with a waving flag of Montenegro. The construction of St. John’s Fortress started in the 9th century and lasted for six centuries. Its main purpose was to protect Kotor town from the invaders.
If you decide you are brave enough to climb and enjoy the astonishing views of the old town and the bay, prepare yourself, as it will take approximately 1400 stairs until you reach the fortress. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated, as the hike can be quite strenuous. However, don’t be afraid if you are not that athletic to climb to the top – the view from the 16th-century Church of Our Lady of Remedy which you reach after maybe 400-500 stairs is equally beautiful and has an amazing position offering great photo opportunities!
2. Kotor Cable Car
One of the latest Kotor attractions is a cable car which offers visitors a unique and breathtaking way to experience the stunning landscapes of Kotor Bay and its surrounding mountains. As the cable car ascends, passengers are treated to incredible vistas of Kotor Bay, the historic town of Kotor, and Lovćen Mountain (also known as Montenegrin Olympus).
In only 11 minutes, the cable car will take you to 1.348 m above sea level to Lovćen National Park, where you’ll get to chance to go hiking, cycling in the national park, or simply enjoy culinary delicacies in a restaurant overlooking the bay. The Lower Dub Station is located on Budva-Tivat road, around 8 minutes’ drive from the port of Kotor.
3. Beach & Shopping
For those of you who are just looking to relax and maybe get some souvenirs, Kotor Beach is located 8 minutes walk (550 m) from the exit of the port and so is the shopping mall “Kamelija“. They are super easy to find – Upon exiting the port turn to your left, and the first thing you will see is a little bridge and a park right after it. Stay on that path along the coast and about 500 meters from there on your right-hand side will be the shopping center.
If you continue another 200 meters, on your left-hand side will be the public beach open for everyone. It is a pebbled beach and there is no entrance fee unless you want to use the section with chairs and umbrellas. There is a board where you can see the prices displayed.
4. The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Built in the 12th century, the Romanesque Cathedral of Saint Tryphon is one of the two catholic cathedrals in Montenegro and one of the best-preserved monuments in Kotor. It was built in honor of the patron of the city Saint Tryphon, on the site of an old cathedral dating from 809.
The Cathedral is located inside the city walls and very easy to find – Once you pass through the city gate, you will see a clock tower and turn right. You will notice there are a lot of cobblestone streets in the old town, so be very mindful of that. Although Kotor is small, comfortable shoes are recommended.
Once you have turned to your right, keep walking down the cobblestone street until you reach a piazza (a small square) and after that, a turning to your left will bring you to this gorgeous square with many cafes and restaurants offering a stunning view of the Cathedral. Bear in mind that it is a religious sight and covered knees and shoulders are required. To enter the cathedral there are three steps, however, accessibility to the bell towers for wheelchairs is not possible.
5. Maritime Museum of Montenegro
At the stone’s throw from the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, you’ll come across another Kotor old town landmark – the Maritime Museum dating from the 19th century, housed in a beautiful Baroque palace. It is located in the very heart of the old town, and you will easily recognize its entrance with visible cannons in front of the palace doors. Unfortunately, the original building was destroyed in the 1979 earthquake and rebuilt between 1982 and 1984. The museum features a rich collection of naval artifacts, including model ships, paintings, and antique furniture, spread over two levels that you can visit in 45 minutes up to 1 hour.
6. Church of Saint Luke
This lovely medieval Orthodox church dominates the Piazza Greca Square, known for its beautiful architecture dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods. It is the only church in the town of Kotor that hasn’t suffered severe damages during the earthquake in 1979 that almost destroyed the entire old town.
Until the middle of the 12th century, the church used to serve as a Catholic school and was later transformed into an Orthodox church. It symbolizes the harmonious co-existence of Catholic and Orthodox people and has two altars, a Catholic and an Orthodox one.
The entrance is free of charge, however, keep in mind that is a religious sight and covered knees and shoulders are required. The church itself is one of the smallest in town and there are no steps, but in case you are using a wheelchair, make sure to catch the less crowded time to maximize your visit and overall experience.
7. Perast & Our Lady of the Rocks Island
The island Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Skrpjela) is located approximately 10 km/6 miles away from the port of Kotor, across the little fisherman village of Perast. You will first spot this tiny island on your sail in Kotor and you will notice there is another one right next to it – Saint George Island that is closed to the public. The ride to Perast from Kotor port takes about 15 minutes.
Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island, which according to the stories was made by the seamen from Perast and Kotor, who brought stones on their sailboats. The island was named after the church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rocks that proudly guards the entrance to the port.
According to the legend, a fisherman from Perast found an icon of the Holy Mother of God with Christ on a nearby sea rock, and the seamen vowed to build a church on the island. The church was built in the 17th century. Man-made, the island had to be maintained because the sea and the tides would take away a certain amount of rocks each year, so the seaman continued to bring the stones. That tradition is alive even today and the custom from the old times has been recently renewed. Today it is called Fasinada from Perast and it is held at the end of the day on the 22nd of July when citizens from Kotor and Perast sail on their fishermen’s boats in a circle and throw rocks so that the island can retain its shape.
8. Njegusi Village
Located in the municipality of Cetinje, a 40-minute drive from the port of Kotor, Njegusi is a traditional village best known as the birthplace of the Petrovic dynasty which ruled Montenegro for almost two and a half centuries (from the end of the 17th until the 20th).
Apart from its historical importance, the village is famous for the high-quality cheese and prosciutto that you can taste in several traditional restaurants that you will find in the village. Njegusi is situated on the slopes of Mount Lovcen and is part of Lovcen National Park, so bring your camera as the landscape is breathtaking! Keep in mind that the road to Njegusi is quite windy and if you have issues with motion sickness you should take precautions.
9. Blue Cave
Known as one of the major attractions on the coast of Montenegro, Blue Cave is a massive rock cave boasting crystal-clear deep blue water, popular for boat tours, kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling. The sea is approximately 5 meters deep and the cave is about 9 meters high which is enough for the boats to sail in. It is allowed to swim inside the cave and snorkeling is quite enjoyable here, so make sure you bring your snorkel gear.
Blue Cave is located around 24 km/15 miles (a 35-minute drive) away from the port of Kotor on the stunning Lustica Peninsula, close to Montenegro’s border with Croatia. To get there, you can either embark on a boat in the port of Kotor that will take you to the Blue Cave (a ride lasts around 1 hour), or you can take a bus from Kotor port to Zanjic beach where you’ll embark on one of the boats. The bus ride takes around 40 minutes. The time spent in the cave is usually 20-30 minutes, and it can be crowded due to the large number of visitors.
10. Lipa Cave
Lipa Cave is one of the largest cave systems in Montenegro featuring approximately 2.5 km/1.5 miles of winding passages and chambers filled with impressive geological formations, ornaments, and an underground river. It starts close to the village of Lipa and stretches into the mountains lining the Adriatic Sea. The temperature in the cave is around 10°C, so make sure to bring some warm clothes even in the summer months.
It takes an approximately 1-hour drive from the port of Kotor to Lipa Cave. If you suffer from motion sickness, I suggest you take seasickness pills before the ride as the roads are quite windy. The cave is open from April to November, and the standard tour of the cave lasts 1 hour.
11. Porto Montenegro
Situated only a 20-minute drive from the port of Kotor, in the city of Tivat, Porto Montenegro is a new, luxurious marina filled with luxurious yachts, hotels, high-end stores, restaurants, and bars – a true paradise for luxury lovers!
The pavements in the entire marina are flat and perfect for anyone, including the ones with some walking difficulties. It’s a perfect place for a nice coffee with a view where you will get that beautiful picture of Montenegro but with a modern twist.
Visit also our cruise port guides to Taormina (Messina), Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, La Spezia (Cinque Terre), Istanbul, Kusadasi, Santorini, Athens (Piraeus), Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Marseille
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