Last Updated on February 17th, 2020
Montenegro, a tiny country with only half a million of inhabitants, has so many amazing places that not many other bigger countries have. And surprisingly, with so many sights, even during 2 weeks long vacation, it is difficult enough to see them all. Usually, when tourists come to the Kotor area, their main goal is to see the Bay of Kotor. That’s true, the Bay is the main attraction but still, it is not the only reason to travel there. My post about day trips from Kotor is aimed to help you guys pack your days with lots of activities and actually see more.
If you are visiting Kotor from a cruise ship or plan to spend there a few nights, this list will definitely come in handy. For some Kotor day trips I mention below, it is better to rent a car while others are easily accessible by bus or on a tour.
How to rent a car in Montenegro and what to remember on this matter, I wrote a separate article. You can read it in this post about the Montenegro car hire.
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Here are 10 Must-Take Day Trips From Kotor
Budva Old Town And Surroundings
Budva is one of the oldest cities in the Adriatic. It is more than two and a half thousand years old. Located only 23 kilometers away from Kotor, it makes it easy and fast to go there on a day trip, either you are traveling by car or by a public bus.
Being the main tourist center of the country and the capital of nightlife, Budva has very good beaches and a cute vibrant old town. It is worth devoting one long day to this city and the surrounding area.
Some of my favorite sightseeing spots and activities in Budva are:
– Old Town with its church square, Citadel, door to the sea, museum, and beach cafe
– A wall around the old town. If you don’t want to walk along the streets of the old city, you can walk along its perimeter along the walls, looking down at the courtyards, yachts and the sea
– Mogren Beach
– Coffee-break in the panoramic cafe Vista Vidikovac
– The ruins of the Mogren fortress
– Park zone of the Slovenska Plaza hotel
– A boat trip to the island of St. Nikola to the beach.
– Podmaine Male Orthodox Monastery
– Walking trail from Budva to Becici, as well as to Kamenovo beach through tunnels
– Fish farm ‘Pojata’ with restaurant and mountain waterfall. The only reason I recommend this place is a mountain waterfall, where you can swim in a natural pool on a hot summer day. Additionally, this place will be interesting for kids since, in the summer, there are geese, a donkey, rabbits, pigs, a pond with fish and pool. The food at the restaurant is expensive and not very tasty. The best way to get here is by car.
– Round panoramic platform at the Church of St. Sava
– Austrian fortress Kosmach with a view over the Budva Riviera
Kotor Day Trip to Lovcen National Park and Cetinje
Lovcen National Park is one of the 5 nature reserves in Montenegro. Since it is very close to the sea coast, a lot of tourists try to visit it during the first days of their trip. And rightfully so.
It is worth going to Lovcen in any season. In summer – for the sake of mountain coolness because the height of the mountain range reaches 1749 m. Then in spring – Lovcen’s meadows are dotted with crocuses. In autumn – trees dress in golden robes. And in winter – the slopes get covered with snow.
No matter which season you choose to travel to Lovcen, it is better to visit on a sunny day without rain. Otherwise, because of the clouds, you will not see a beautiful panorama of Montenegro.
I have a very detailed guide to Lovcen National Park hiking and Mausoleum visit. Make sure to read it to have a better understanding of the area.
Once you are there, don’t skip the political and spiritual center of Montenegro Cetinje. Steeped in history and hidden in clouds, it has many historical sights.
From Kotor to Lustica Bay
Lustica Bay is not really a tourist attraction but a beautiful place for walking, lunch and/or spending some time near the sea. This luxury looking marina is a relatively new project built by Middle East investors, so you can expect it to be expensive. However, you can easily come here for a few hours or a day and not spend much.
This ambitious project includes not only a port and a hotel, but also a restaurant, cafes, walking paths, shop and a hundred or so private houses and infrastructure for residents.
The Chedi Luštica Bay, a 5-star hotel with spa and beach, has opened on the seafront last year. Its luxurious design has lots of vegetation, clean sea, stunning views, and Mediterranean style buildings. Their restaurant ‘The Spot’ is really gorgeous. You don’t need to stay there to be able to visit.
Also, there are several other cafes nearby that have very reasonable prices. If you get to come for breakfast, I recommend 21 Bistro Sea View and next door bakery ‘Pekanbaru Davidovic’ with delicious borek.
Almara beach-club is another spot for relaxation and a beach day.
Things to do here: Walk, visit the hotel, get a spa treatment, dine and spend time on the beach. If you are not planning to go to the spa or stay on the beach (umbrellas and beach chairs rent prices are somewhat high) then it is better to make it as a half-day trip from Kotor and combine it with other attractions.
Tivat and Porto Montenegro
Most people associate Tivat mainly with the airport, not knowing that there is actually much more to it. Yes, Tivat is a small city but there are enough interesting sites to see.
Modern Tivat is the main infrastructure center of the Bay of Kotor.
When Montenegro gained independence from Serbia, there was no such a city as Tivat, just a small village near the former base of the Yugoslav submarines. Soon after, a group of investors, including a Canadian businessman Peter Munk and French businessman president of Louis Vuitton Bernard Arnault, in the late 2000s began to create the giant Porto Montenegro as an alternative to overloaded and terribly expensive city-ports in Italy and France.
Porto Montenegro today is the reason why many people travel there calling it ‘Adriatic Monte Carlo’. If you are looking for ideas on what day trips from Kotor to take, I recommend you check out this beautiful Perl by the sea.
Here you’ll find the most expensive shops and hotels and amazing PMYC yacht club with a bar, restaurant and an impressive 64-meter infinity swimming pool overlooking the sea.
Walk around, go for a cup of coffee with a view of the snow-white yachts, or rent a pedal catamaran or kayak and sail to the largest island in the bay Sveti Marco.
Prevlaka Island & Stradioti Island
Not far from Tivat, there are a few islands that tourists don’t usually visit. But I advise you to go to one of them on a day trip from Kotor if you have more time in the country.
The first one, Prevlaka Island is easily accessible by car. You can park right after you cross the bridge to the island and then walk on foot.
In the past, during Yugoslavia times, Prevlaka Island was home to sanatorium complex for the military. Today, it is abandoned and has a small monastery, museum, and ruins of another monastery. The main reason to come here is for great views, to swim and fish. By the way, if you are visiting Montenegro in summer and looking to escape crowds of people along the Montenegro coast, come to swim here. This island will be empty.
Stradioti or Island of St. Mark is the largest island in the Tivat Gulf, and actually in the entire Kotor Bay. From a distance on the shore, it seems that there is nothing on the island except greenery. However, from an airplane or helicopter, you can see old buildings and reed bungalows that used to belong to the French company ‘Club Med’ before the Yugoslav Wars.
No, I do not suggest any helicopter tours. Instead, if you want to have an adventure, you can get to the island by rented kayak, boat, canoe or floatie (just kidding). The best place to rent a boat or canoe is Tivat. Just make sure to wear closed shoes since there can be snakes in the summer.
Sightseeing Tour of the Bay of Kotor
Every traveler who comes to Montenegro must-see fjords. And one of the best ways to do that is to go on a tour around the Bay of Kotor. So one of the must-take day trips from Kotor should definitely include sightseeing around the bay.
There are a lot of really cool tours to choose from based on your budget. We have personally gone on these two:
– Sightseeing tour of the Bay of Kotor on a double-decker bus Hop-On Hop-Off. For those who are not familiar with this type of excursion, here is a brief review. Excursions on Hop-On Hop-Off buses are good because you will have a personal audio guide in English and the opportunity to leave the bus at any stop to get acquainted with attractions and then wait for the next bus and continue the ride.
The ticket is valid for the entire day.
The Hop-On Hop-Off bus departs from the old town of Kotor and stops at several interesting places such as Risan, Perast, Bazhova Kula, Kotor. Entrance to the Roman mosaics and the museum in Perast are included in the price of tickets.
– One day excursion around the Bay of Kotor on a boat. For this price, you will see the bay, the church of St. Mary on the man-made island, Kotor, the blue cave, the island of Mamula and other interesting places.
If you have more time in the country, I highly recommend seeing the bay from the water and from the land. You’ll get two different perspectives on this magical place.
If you don’t have a lot of time and decide between two, it is probably better to go on a self-guided tour by car or on a group tour in a bus. In this way, you’ll get to see and experience more.
Trip Around the Bay of Kotor By Car
I highly recommend, besides a sea or bus excursion, to drive on your own along the coast of the Bay of Kotor. It is very beautiful and hides real pearls of architecture along the narrow winding road. Dilapidated palaces and gorgeous churches, lovely clean beaches, historic towns and lots of views of fjords – this is what awaits on you along this road.
The best places to visit in Boko-Kotor Bay by car during one day are: Dobrota, Perast, Ostrvo, and Saint George islands, Roman Mosaics in Risan, Tvrdjava Unter, Morinj with one of the most beautiful beaches in Montenegro, Kamenari, and Herceg Novi.
On the way back, you can better take a ferry from Kamenari to Lepetani to save time and drive a new road.
Ostrog Monastery With a Few Sights on the Way
The main holy place in Montenegro – the Ostrog monastery is carved in the rock above the Belopavlichka plain at an altitude of 900 m above the sea level.
This is the place of incredible beauty, faith, and spirituality. Also, this is the most visited place by pilgrims in Montenegro. If you come here on Saturday, you will see an interesting picture. On the platform in front of the monastery people from all over the Balkans will be lying on the mattresses. They came to the relics of St. Basil of Ostrog to spend a night in prayers. Every “true” Orthodox believer wants to do that.
A lot of people try to visit Ostrog. Montenegrins even bring small kids and babies to get closer to relics. For some travelers, it may be better to go on an organized day tour from Kotor and be part of the group than to go on their own.
If you prefer to hire a car and visit Ostrog without a tour, you can go from Kotor through Podgorica (that road is only 6 kilometers longer) and see a few other attractions on the way. I recommend leaving very early and visiting another monastery in a cave – Serbian Dajbabe Monastery. Not far from it, there is a waterfall ‘Nijagara’, Montenegrin version of Niagara Falls.
On the way back, if you still have daylight, make a stop at the Slano Lake.
Skadar Lake With Virpazar & Godinje
Skadar Lake or Shkodra is the largest lake in the Balkans. It is worth going there if you would love to explore one of the islands, see flora and fauna of the lake, fortresses and cute villages on its banks, and possibly go on a boat tour. Pelicans and other species of birds are found here, and on the islands in the lake, there is either a chapel or a fortress.
The best way to visit Lake would be by car. Excursions to Skadar Lake, sold in travel agencies in coastal cities of Montenegro do not show the real beauty of the lake. A lot of tours are short, guides do not go into details or tell stories about local life. And there are many settlements around the reservoir and a lot of interesting facts to learn.
The gate to Skadar Lake is the village of Virpazar. It is the most touristy place on the lake. Expect to pay 4 euro per person for the ticket to National Park. Technically, it is just a village but some smarties make money on tourists charging a fee for the “entrance”. In Virpazar village, you can rent a kayak (for additional payment), go to the restaurant, and climb the Besac castle. On the way back to Kotor (or another city) you can leave through the Sozina paid tunnel (2.5 euros) or along the mountain serpentine, going down to the city of Petrovac. And then from Petrovac through Becici and Budva to Kotor.
Godinje village is a lesser-visited and known village on Skadar lake, even though it’s only 10 minutes away from Virpazar. It is famous for its wineries and beautiful scenery. I recommend stopping at Winery Garnet to taste great wine and national cuisine, for example, fish from Skadar Lake or home-made goat cheese. The owner Mishko can show you his winery and rent rowing or motor boat.
Note: in August, the water blooms, so you may get wrong impressions about this place. The ideal time for visiting is May through June.
The entrance to the reserve is 4 euros per person.
How to get there: by car and then take a boat tour in Virpazar (about 25 euros). Another option is to take a one-day excursion. But there are none from Kotor, they depart only from Budva or Podgorica. And the tour usually includes a boat trip.
Lipa Cave and Rijeka Crnojevica
Among the thousands of caves in Montenegro, Lipa Cave is the only one equipped for visits. And it is one of the largest caves in the former Yugoslavia.
Inside the cave, there are paths, lighting and visitors can go on a guided tour. Outside there is a cafe with a bathroom. Nature created huge stalactites and stalagmites in the Lipa cave which will leave a lasting impression. Lipa Cave is conveniently located next to Cetinje, so you can combine these two visits with another visit to Lovcen National Park.
This cave is a great attraction for families who are traveling to Montenegro with kids or anyone else who would like to cool off on a hot summer day.
The temperature is always around 7-10C degrees. Make sure to bring warm clothes with you.
How to get there on your own: if you are not a tour person, you can always visit by car or by bus to Cetinje and from there go by taxi to the cave.
How much does it cost? 10,90 euro per adult for a one-hour-long tour.
Timetable: April tours start at 12:00 and 14:00. May through October tours begin at 10:00; 11:30; 13:00; 14:30 and 16:00. For more details, visit the Lipa Cave website.
Kotor Day Trips That I Don’t Recommend Taking And Here is Why
Durmitor National Park
Durmitor National Park mountains are definitely one of the best places to see in Montenegro. However, it is not a place for a day trip. Especially a day trip from Kotor.
It takes almost 3 hours to get there one way but honestly, there are quite a few things to see along the way. With a few stops, you could be driving 5-6 hours one way.
Even if you don’t make any stops and go for the park alone, it will still take 6 hours of your time just to drive to the park and back.
Usually, tourists who go to Durmitor for a day, get to see only the most touristy part of the Black Lake. Sometimes they drive past it and see another extremely touristy place Tara bridge. Some of them even get to drive part of the P14 scenic road that goes through the Durmitor National Park. That’s it.
How much else can you squeeze in one day? In fact, not a day but 7-8 hours. In the spring or fall months when days are shorter, it’s even less time. However, there is so much more to this place.
For the best experience, I recommend going to Durmitor Park at least for 2 days. During this time, you’ll be able to experience true beauty, try local food and possibly go on one of the hikes that I talk about in my post about Durmitor.
Whitewater Rafting in Tara
Whitewater rafting in Tara is absolutely astonishing adventure! And you should definitely add it to the Montenegro bucket list. However, as with Durmitor National Park, spending 5-6 hours in a van just for a few hours on a river rafting boat just doesn’t seem to make sense.
If you want to go from Kotor to the mountain canyon for the rafting, it is better to do it together with a trip to Durmitor. And for that, my advice to you is to devote at least 2 days and spend one night in the city of Zabljak or in the mountains nearby. By the way, I have a guide to Montenegro resort cities and towns where I talk about the best places where to stay in Montenegro, including Zabljak.
In one day you won’t have time to enjoy whitewater rafting adventure and the mountains. You’ll be tired of never-ending serpentines (about 450 – 500 km). And the mountain area is not a place for the rush. The northern part of Montenegro is a place for relaxation and enjoying the beauty of nature.
If you are still convinced you’d like to go on a whitewater rafting tour from Kotor, choose at least that tour which lasts 12 hours. The drive itself takes 3 hours one way, so you want to make sure there is enough time left for the adventure.
In August you can also pick berries and mushrooms in the forest. And by the way, you shouldn’t worry about the ticks and mosquitoes because there are none!
The only time when I recommend going on a Kotor day trip to Dubrovnik is when a traveler got to see a bigger part of Montenegro. And, if he/she got enough time in the country.
I am an advocate for slow travel which is more qualitative and rewarding at the same time. Are you coming to Montenegro for a week and plan to spend two days in Kotor? What’s the point to gallop through the country not being able to see even half of all the amazing attractions?
I would say if you have at least two weeks in Montenegro then sure, go on a day or even a few days trip to Dubrovnik. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending more time on the road and border crossing than actual sightseeing and enjoying the moment.
Where to Stay in Kotor – Our Favorite Airbnbs and Hotels
SEAFRONT STUDIO APARTMENT: A beautiful apartment with a balcony and its own beach and pier. Located a bit outside of Kotor in quiet Muo village but is easy to get to from Kotor. Especially if you have a car.
BUDGET APARTMENT WITH SEA VIEW: A clean and spacious flat in Dobrota which is only a few minutes walk from Kotor. Being only 50 meters from the sea, this apartment has a beautiful sea view from the balcony. The price is very reasonable, check them out.
THREE SQUARE FLAT IN OLD TOWN: This apartment has some of the best reviews, is located in the historic building in Old Town of Kotor and faces the street which leads to the main city square. Check reviews and prices and if interested, book in advance. It usually gets booked fast.
PALAZZO RADOMIRI: A stunning 18th-century palace full of history and luxury with amazing views and location. The hotel features spacious rooms, gym, outdoor pool, sauna, private beach and offers yoga classes. Check prices and availability here.
More Content on the Balkans Travel
Are you looking for more content on Montenegro? Check all my posts here. I have also written about some other destinations in the Balkans. If you are visiting Romania, check my post on Bucharest to Brasov day trip. For Bosnia & Herzegovina, I have posts on Sarajevo restaurants and cafes and must-do activities in Sarajevo. Also, I am writing much more, so make sure to return or subscribe to our newsletter to know when our next post is up!
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