ROL Cruise recommends…
1. The old city: If walls could talk, Kotor’s fortified barriers would tell mesmerising stories of Roman beginnings, Venetian occupation and Ottoman sieges. Weaving up St John Mountain for almost three miles, they conceal a beautiful old town that dates back to the Middle Ages. Make your way through the ancient archway of this UNESCO World Heritage Site to be met with car-free stone streets, medieval architecture and café-lined courtyards. Discover its maritime history at the museum within Grgurina Palace, then follow the narrow streets towards the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. Built in 1166 on the remains of a 9th century temple, this scenic Roman edifice houses ancient frescoes and glittering relief work.
2. Hiking up the hill: The rigorous trip up to St. John Fortress (also called the Castle of San Giovanni) might be tiring work, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Try not to be distracted by spectacular views as you ascend around 1,300 rocky steps up the hill-side. Enjoy a quaint reprieve en route at the bijoux Church of Our Lady of Health before reaching the pièce de résistance. Marvel at the bay’s breath-taking beauty as you contemplate how many of Kotor’s leaders have stood in the exact same spot over the centuries.
3. Our Lady of the Rock: Just outside the sleepy town of Perast you’ll spot the arresting sight of a church floating on calm waters. The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks (also called the Gospa Od Škrpjela) actually stands atop an artificial island that is said to have emerged as a result of seamen laying rocks after each successful voyage. Set foot on the sacred spot to admire the Baroque artwork and local treasures within the church, then learn about its legend at the adjacent museum.
4. Even more exploring: If you have time to travel further afield, Kotor’s nearby attractions are equally impressive. Less than an hour south is the 2,500 year old town of Budva, while another hour brings you to the serene, nature-rich marshlands of Lake Skadar National Park. To the east is the authentic mountain village of Njegusi, and Montenegro’s former capital, Cetinje, can be found a little further on, at the base of the Lovćen Mountains. For marble statues and magnificent mosaics that date back to the 3rd century, head north to Risan.