Visiting Kotor on a cruise is a must – the spectacular Bay and character of Kotor’s old town makes it one of the most unique and special destinations to experience by ship. Kotor’s medieval charm has been almost perfectly preserved inside the walls of a Venetian fortress, secretly tucked away inside a winding bay.
In the centre of Kotor’s Old Town is Saint Tryphon Cathedral with its twin bell towers standing proud in the shadow of the soaring mountains. Originally built in 1166, Kotor’s Cathedral has been restored several times after major earthquake damage in 1667 and 1979. The surrounding square is a hub of places to eat – including a pizzeria, traditional pub and seafood restaurant.
Kotor: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
The region of Kotor was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 to preserve the unique character and charm of the medieval buildings. As you walk along the cobbled stones you’ll see much of it is built using the same sandy coloured stone, commonly fitted with dark brown doors and green window shutters. The setting is reminiscent of the popular film series Game of Thrones which was filmed just over the border in Croatia for many key scenes. Despite Montenegro being referenced in James Bond’s Casino Royale, the scenes weren’t actually filmed here – unlike Brad Pitt’s very first film in a leading role, ‘The Dark Side of the Sun‘ back in 1988.
Kotor’s Cat Museum | Visiting Kotor On A Cruise
Visiting Kotor outside of the peak summer season in November meant that many of these narrow streets were almost empty, with the exception of stray cats that roam the city freely. Kotor is home to hundreds of felines (there’s even a museum) and locals look after them as if they’re their own.
Many of the restored houses were palaces of noble families back as early as the 14th century, protected by Venetian fortifications that extend up the hillside. You can walk up Kotor’s Fortress for a few euros and get the best views across the whole bay area.
Epic Sail Away Views | Visiting Kotor On A Cruise
Sailing to and from Kotor is a breathtaking experience, leaving the port the bay fans out for a few miles before narrowing again where two small islands, Saint George and Our Lady On the Rocks (with a church) can be seen. As cruise ships approach the islands they have to turn about 90 degrees into a very narrow channel for an up-close encounter with the village of Kamenari and its car ferry. The bay widens again, even larger this time, before a final few bends to you out into the open Adriatic Sea. The experience and landscape bears some resemblance to a Norwegian Fjords cruise, and because of this Kotor Bay is sometimes nicknamed Europe’s most southern fjord.
Further reading: What’s a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords like?
Kotor may perhaps be one of Europe’s best ports of call because of its imposing landscape, medieval architecture, friendly felines and the fact it’s small enough to get around in the couple of hours you usually have in port – plus no transfers.
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If you don’t fly to Montenegro to visit Kotor, you can visit it on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise and enjoy that magnificent sail-in. Most cruise ships arrive here from Venice, Brindisi (Southern Italy) and Greece, like the nearby island of Corfu.