Kotor Bay, known locally as Boka, is an area of astounding natural beauty that is more than deserving of its World Heritage Site status. The stunning naturally formed bay has been inhabited since antiquity, and its well-preserved medieval towns have a rich seafaring culture. The mountains that tower above the depths of the winding Adriatic, create a striking environment that is unlike anywhere I have visited before. I spent one day exploring as many towns in Kotor Bay as I could, beginning with Kotor…
Kotor, is a rustic and beautiful medieval town with a mountainous backdrop. The quaint houses that line the narrow streets overlook the azure waters. The juxtaposition of the picturesque town and the surrounding awe-inspiring natural scenery is truly magical. The fortified castle-like walls that circle the old town add to this fantastical aura. When walking under the arched entrance through the old-stone walls, you are transported to a different era. The tightly packed buildings that are nestled between cobbled streets have been transformed into boutiques, tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. Though the old-town is often bustling with tourists, there remains a laid-back atmosphere, embodied by the dozens of cats that laze about in the shade. From the old town, you can walk up the old city walls that snake up the mountain-side. We walked up to a tiny church which had a lookout over the orange-roofed Venetian-style houses of Kotor and across the Bay. The cruise ships moored in the bay seemed somewhat scaled down by the cloud-scraping mountains. The views were breathtaking, and still short of breath from the 100 metre climb, we decided to head back down instead of continuing the trek up to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan. And we soon found ourselves back on the waterfront, ice cream in hand.
The easiest, and perhaps the most exciting way to explore Kotor Bay is by boat. We went on an hour and a half trip around one wing of the butterfly shaped bay. The skipper was lovely, and as a local was a great guide, telling us facts and stories as we sped across the Bay.
We first stopped at Perast, having half an hour to explore the tiny, elegant town before hopping back on the boat. We wandered along the main street admiring the seamless coupling of old and new architecture, then stopped at a charming cafe right on the water’s edge. Perast is a beautiful town with stunning baroque palaces and catholic churches, that hint at its rich and powerful past.
Back on the water, we then visited Our Lady of the Rocks. This island is the only man-made island in the Adriatic; ships were sunk with rocks to build the island’s foundations. Our Lady of the Rocks is swathed in local history and meaning: it is believed that two brothers found a painting of the Madonna and child, painted by Lovro Dobricevic, stuck on a protruding rock. They then took the painting home and one brother who had been ill was miraculously cured overnight. The brothers then vowed to build a church on the spot where the painting was found. It is now tradition for sailors to throw a rock into the sea at the spot whenever they return home safely from a voyage. The church is an impressive building built in the centre of the island. You can explore the island on foot and admire the brilliant views of the neighbouring islet of Sveti Djordje.
Sveti Djordje is a tiny naturally formed island. It houses a benedictine monastery and a large cemetery encircled by cypress trees. Closed off to the public, and known locally as the ‘Island of the Dead’, Sveti Djordje is both mysterious and fascinating.
After our boat trip we returned to land-based transport and drove to the opposite side of the bay. The rambling mountainside roads wound through ramshackle villages and wild olive groves. We also happened across a viewpoint with astounding views of the bay below. Following the questionable roadsigns, we began the descent into the remote town of Rose. Thin, steep roads and winding hair-pin turns lead down to the picturesque town. Beautiful flowers drape the walls and tiny colourful boats are dotted about the harbour. Rose is one of the oldest settlements in the area and is of high archaeological importance; a wrecked fishing boat lies just off the shore, jutting out of the seabed. Rose has a peaceful and secluded feel, and is truly reflective of its name in its beauty and elegance.
We then headed to Tivat, our final stop in Kotor Bay. Porto Montenegro is Tivat’s stylish marina and luxury ocean village. Described as the ‘new Monaco’, huge super yachts line the marina. Porto Montenegro is modern and sophisticated with a chic nautical style. The bustling marina hosts a range of restaurants, bars and boutiques. The beautifully bold and contemporary marina is so far removed from the tiny towns a stone’s throw away, but is equally as remarkable.
The Kotor Bay area is hands down the most beautiful part of Montenegro that I visited. It is steeped in history and culture and is highly worth a trip! There are endless things to do and places to go. One day was not enough time to explore the entirety of Kotor Bay, but what I was able to see was incredible! I would gladly go back!
Thank you for reading!