Finally, I had stepped on Kotor. Don't be confused if you see Cattaro signs around the city because this is the city's Italian name.
In this article, I will share my 2-day experience in Kotor. Before the details, I have got to say that I think walking in the narrow streets in Kotor is much more pleasant than doing the same in Venice. Since both cities are similar to each other I wanted to compare these two cities.
To get to Kotor Old Town from Kotor Bus Terminal, first you have to walk to the main road. After going a little bit further you should see a roundabout and continue in the same direction without turning anywhere. After a while, you should see a yellow building and an area like a round shaped swimming pool. There is an old gate in this area which is called Vrata od Gurdiča (South Gate) . Once you step in that gate, you will be crossed to the Old Town. The area is something like this :
I stayed 2 nights in Kotor and the hostel I chose was Old Town Hostel which is located just about 100 meters from the South Gate. I can clearly say that this hostel was probably the best hostel I have ever stayed in. If you have plans on Kotor, you should definitely stay at this property. You could make a reservation for this hostel from THIS LINK :
This hostel is just about 10-minute walking distance from Kotor Bus Terminal. I paid 10 Euros per night in a 6-bed dorm without breakfast plus 1 Euro for city tax. The room was very large and comfortable.
The staff thought everything to keep the guests at their property to earn money. For example, they offer dinner for just 5 Euros and if you join the dinner, your breakfast in the next day will be free. You could try it out so as to socialise and not to spend more money out there. I had also joined twice during my stay.
In the dinner, they usually serve 1 big piece of chicken or pork, some french fries and salad. After the dinner, the staff organise some attractions. And Marko from the staff constantly serve whisky for free. On the other hand, they give two slices of toast bread, a piece of white chees and some scrumble egg. They also cook Turkish coffee if you wish, but I don't recommend as they don't know how to cook it. You had better try it in Turkey.
The other important point with this hostel is that they provide direct transport to Mostar for just 30 Euros. As far as I checked it out on the internet, there is no direct mode of transport from Kotor to Mostar. If you plan to go on your own, you have to go Herceg Novi or Podgorica. In this way, it would mean to be in a hurry early in the morning and wasting time. Also, going on your own costs more than the private transfer as you will have to change buses twice. If you wish to make use of the hostel's transfer car, you don't have to be worry even if you have no Schengen Visa because they don't go through Dubrovnik, but go through Trebinje. You will find out more information in my next article about Mostar.
- INTERNET ACCESS
First of all, many restaurants in Kotor provide free internet access. However, if you don't want to sit in a restaurant, you could find free Wi-Fi when you pass the Sea Gate although the signal is not perfect.
Also, if you pass near the Old Town Hostel, their password is “kotortotirana8:30″ if they haven't changed it. The other place which has wi-fi is Pronto Pizza. Their password is "pronto123".
- PLACES TO VISIT IN KOTOR
The peak season in Kotor starts from 1st of June as other places in the Balkans. No matter which season you go to Kotor, I would recommend you to explore the city either early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Because, there will be no space to move in the small Old Town due to the big cruise ships. I think the best time to visit Kotor is May.
Kotor City Gates : Kotor has three gates. The most famous one is Sea Gate which was built in 1555, the other one is the North Gate which is adjacent a bridge that Skurda River passes underneath and the last one is 13th-century structure South Gate.
When you look at the Sea Gate, you will see a sentence on it. Tito's sentence "Tude Nećemo Svoje Ne Damo" is written there. It means "We don't want the one we don't own, and we don't give the one we own."
The columned building at the top of the Sea Gate is Duke's Palace and the adjacent one is Napoleon Theatre built in 1810.
Skurda River : It's the river that makes Kotor much pretty. When going to the North Gate from here, there is a bridge on this river.
Kotor Castle : The best way to see a city with a bird-eye view is to climb the highest point. It is the same for Kotor as well but if you go up to the castle you will realise this view is really different than the others.
At this point, I will give you the most significant trick about the castle that you probably haven't ever heard of yet. Normally, you can enter the castle from 8 am onwards and the entrance fee is 3 Euros. If you go up to the castle before 8 am you wouldn't pay for any money. You could do it from a few points. Just look at the signs. Since there is no entrance gate or a closed door for the castle you can easily do it. I had been there at 7:15 am. There are some benefits to do it so :
- The earlisest time in the morning in Kotor is the clearest and the cleanest. You will have a chance to take great photographs.
- Since there will not be tourists at that time up on the castle, you can comfortably explore the castle. Think about the big cruise ships !!
- By saving a few Euros would mean a lunch money.
Now I will try to tell something about the castle. The castle contains a few bastions in different places. One is on the corner where the South Gate is, another one is very close to the Sea Gate and one near a place where buses for Perast depart. All of these bastions were built to safeguard the Duke's Palace and the castle. Apart from them, there are two other bastions on the both sides of the North Gate and their names are Riva and Bembo. Bembo bastion is now used for open air theatre. There is also a famous Kampana Tower on the corner where the castle and Skurda River meet.
Now it's time to climb up to the castle. The way I followed was the one on the right in Salate Square which is just off the hostel. People can also go up there from other few points, too. I recommend to bring lots of water with you as it is quite tiring. I took a break when I was going up gradually.
After walking a little bit, you will see Church of Our Lady of Remedy somewhere on the halfway. It was built in 1518 and there are also a few small tombs before the church.
At this point, the castle view is just fabulous. This amazing view is getting much prettier in every step.
When you pass the small fortress, you will see a Lion Gate. This places is called "San Marco Point". I believe this gate was built in Venetian times. A little bit up there, near the Montenegro flag, we arrive at St. John or San Giovanni Fortress. The view from this point was something like this :
You could also see some ruins of an old basilica up here.
Cathedrals, Churches and Monasteries : Although Kotor Old Town is not so big, there are many religious buildings in the city. Among these buildings, the most famous one is St. Tryphon Cathedral which was built in 1166. The entrance fee is 2 Euros.
The city also has a Sveti Nikola Church near Skurda River which was built in 1909. This church can also be reached through the city walls on the river side.
Near the Sveti Nikola Church, another old church, St. Luke, stands there. This church was built in 1195.
You can also see another church, called St. Mary church as soon as you pass from the North Gate. This one was built in 1221 and after excavations here, an early Christian basilica was found underneath this structure.
Apart from the ones I mentioned, there are also St. Paul Church, St. Anne Church, St. Mihailo Church and St. Francies Monastery in Kotor.
Maritime Museum : This museum was founded inside Grgurina Palace and its entrance fee is 4 Euros. It's a 2-storey building apart from the ground floor. They also provide free audio guide. I think that it is not worth for this money.
Clock Tower : It is located just on the opposite side of the Sea Gate. This tower was built in 1602.
Palaces : Although the city is very small, I could count at least 10 palaces. The first one is Duke Palace. Others are Drago Palace which is used for Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments, Grugurina Palace which is used as Maritime Museum, 17th century buildings Grubonja, Pima (below) and Bizanti Palaces, 14th century building Buča Palace and 18th century buildings Beskuča, Lombardič and Vrakjen Palaces.
Karampana Fountain : It was the only drinkable water well in Kotor. This fountain here is a remain from 17th century.
Kotor Old Town also houses an Archivium Building where the old archives are located and an old prison just behind the St. Joseph Church.
By the way, my last day in Kotor was the10th anniversary of their independence. So some organisations and celebrations had been held. You could watch a part of the local dance with their music.
- WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
Since I had my breakfast and dinner at the hostel, I didn't need to eat at the restaurants. However, I only had pizza at Pronto Pizza. I can recommend this place. Prices are not very cheap but the pizza was really delicious. I paid 7,70 Euros for a Margarita and 2,50 Euros for a coke.
- KOTOR NIGHTLIFE
As I said before, there was no crazy nightlife atmosphere in Kotor as it was still off season. However, it was pretty enjoyable to go out and walk on the super clean Kotor streets. I had a chance to take a look at some bars with the Pub Crawl night that the hostel organised. Luckily, there was no entrance fee due to the independence day. By the way, music can be played until 1 am in Kotor.
Maximus : Both my researches on the internet and what locals told me about here, this place is by far the best night club in Kotor. However, it was closed by the time I was there as there was a fire before.
Old Town Pub : The atmosphere is not bad in this 2-storey building. Although the prices are not so high, everybody was smoking inside. So it was quite bad.
Havana : They have many seats outside. Drinks were fine but it was so overcrowded.
Letrika : This place is not so big and there is a small dance floor inside.
In my next article, I'll post here my experiences on Mostar. Stay tuned !!