Kotor is a tender port – Ships have to anchor off Kotor and tender passengers ashore by boat. When tendering is required, guests using mobility devices will not be transferred into or out of the tender. Many tender ports do not provide wheelchair access so even if the guest can board the tender they may not be able to disembark ashore. Again the shore-side facilities, movement of the tender, weather and tidal conditions can also preclude tendering.
Tucked away between the mountains and the Bay of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea, is where you’ll find the picturesque town of Kotor. Its fortified entrance to the sea made the Old City of Kotor an ancient trade center. The Old City is a well-preserved collection of buildings, churches, squares and stone streets that date to the Middle Ages. The car-free, walled town is just across the street from the city’s cruise ship dock.
You’ll want to get an early start when arriving in Kotor to enjoy entering the Bay of Kotor and gliding for an hour through the mountains on a 17-mile waterway known as Europe’s southernmost fjord. It’s not actually a fjord, but the views are fjord-like, with mountains rising on both sides of a long, thin bay that leads to this secluded city, where you will come upon the dramatic 65-foot high protective walls, which date back to the Venetian period during the 9th century.
The port itself is a medieval gem: its narrow, asymmetrical streets are lined with ancient stone houses, old palaces, and churches dating from the 12th century. Kotor is full of shops and little restaurants. Pick a square, order a coffee and gaze at churches from the 12th to 15th centuries. Don’t miss the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, an ornate church first consecrated in 1166. Then, scale St. John’s Fortress; the hilltop fortifications, dating back to the 6th century, offer the best views of the city, the harbor and the surrounding mountains.
The disabled cruiser visiting Kotor will find the terrain mostly friendly. The entire town is close to the tender port which is right across the street. The town is flat with cobblestone. Some of the buildings have ramps for easy access and some don’t. For example, the Catholic Church has a ramp whereas the Tryphon Cathedral does not.
The town of Kotor is small, and visiting the town does not take up a lot of your time. With this in mind, you will want to venture out of the city. Once out of Kotor, the drive through the mountains is beautiful. One are you can explore is the town of Cetinje. The town is flat, but does have cobblestone, however wheelchair access is not difficult. Another town of interest is Budva. This is an old town that has some hills with lots of cobblestone and easy access into the buildings is limited. Overall accessibility in Kotor is good, even though it is a mountainous area, the towns are flat.
Since the cruise ship does not dock and the disabled cruiser is tendered to the island from out in the harbor; if the water is too rough, the captain may not let the disabled cruiser off the ship. Anyone with limited mobility would have some difficulty. Anyone in a wheelchair would have to be carried on and off the tender.
Where You’re Docked
Kotor is an anchorage port. Passengers transfer to shore via ship’s tender.
Tenders discharge passengers right onto the quayside, just across the street from the Old City’s imposing 16th-century Sea Gate (about a 50-yard walk). The Old City is directionally confusing, but you can wander off without fear, as any local will be able to direct you back to this gate.
From the port head straight to the Old City, where you’ll find souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, ATMs and inexpensive Internet cafes.
Good to Know
Port traffic is busy along the waterfront; take care crossing the road. Be aware of loose rocks and uneven steps when walking around the city walls and up to St. Ivan’s Fortress. If you decide to do this, wear sturdy shoes. Also keep an eye out for the two tiny islands at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor, one is Our Lady of the Rocks, a lush, green outcropping that’s popular as a diving site. The other, St. George, is home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery.
On Foot: Walking/rolling is the best way to get around Kotor’s Old City, which is fairly small, compact and car-free. And as the streets get narrower, the shops get more interesting. If you have only a few hours in port, you’ll probably want to spend them making the most of the Old City. But if you have more time, trips into the mountains or along the Adriatic coast are worth considering.
By Taxi: Local taxi drivers meet the cruise ships and will ply you with offers of countryside tours, priced from around 60 euros an hour for a car and up to four passengers. Check out the Points of Interest section for ideas, and don’t be afraid to negotiate; it’s a good way to check how good the driver’s English is.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Montenegro’s currency is the euro. There are plenty of ATMs dotted around the Old City.
The official language in Kotor is Montenegrin, which, like the languages of the neighboring Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, has its roots in ancient Slavic, but don’t worry too much. English is widely spoken; and even more widely understood in Kotor.
Quality work by local artists is widely available in the Old City’s craft shops, including watercolor landscapes hand-painted on silk for less than 20 euros. Other good buys include locally made woolen goods, woodcarvings, lace, embroidery and hand-painted pottery. Wine from Montenegro’s Plantaze vineyards goes down well; ask for Perla Nera if red is your tipple, Krstac if you prefer white.
Montenegrin food has its roots in Balkan cuisine but is also influenced by other European countries such as Italy, Turkey and even Austria.
In addition to pizza and pasta, you’ll find moussaka on menus, alongside plenty of grilled fish and meat dishes, and hearty soups and stews beloved by the locals. If you want to eat as the locals do, order a plate of sarma (cabbage stuffed with spiced beef and rice), podvarak (roast meat served with sauerkraut), or rastan with kastradina (wild cabbage with smoked lamb).
Points of Interest
- The Old City – Architectural highlights include the 12th-century Romano-Gothic St. Tryphon (Sveti Tripun) Cathedral; the little Church of St. Luke (Sveti Luka), which dates from the same century and contains original medieval frescoes; the 13th-century watchtower; the ninth-century city fortifications; the 19th-century Napoleon’s Theatre; and a number of imposing 17th- and 18th-century palaces.
- St. Tryphon Cathedral – The ornate St. Tryphon Cathedral was completed in 1166, and boasts fascinating Romanesque and Byzantine architecture.
- Maritime Museum – A short walk from the Sea Gate, this museum spans three floors of the early-18th-century Grgurina Palace and contains a fine collection of paintings, photographs, uniforms, model ships and elaborately decorated weapons used by Montenegro’s navy, which has defended the Bay of Kotor for more than 12 centuries.
- Budva – A historic Montenegrin town, Budva is 2,500 years old, making it one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast. It boasts narrow streets, medieval ramparts, and 15th century towers.
- Njegusi – Situated high in the mountains and offering panoramic vistas of the coastline, Njegusi was the birthplace of Peter Petrovic-Njegos, considered the most important leader in Montenegrin history.
- National Museum – The National Museum is housed in a former royal palace that was once home to King Nikola Petrovic I, who ruled from 1860. It is home to the ‘Oktoih Prvoglasnik’, a revered 15th century manuscript.
- Cetinje – Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro was founded in 1482, and is located at the base of the spectacular Lovcen mountains. This charming town found itself under siege during the Ottoman Empire.
- Perast & Our Lady of the Rocks – Perast flourished in the 1700’s, due to its busy shipyards, and is arguably the best-kept Baroque city in Montenegro. Our Lady of the Rocks Island is home to the charming ‘Gospa od Skrpjela’ church.
- Lastva – This pretty village nestles in the hills high above Kotor, and offers stunning views of the coastline below, including Tivat Bay. It is famous for its delicious olive oil, and village smoke houses.
- Wine tasting – Explore Montenegro’s Wine Road and pay a visit to the Plantaze vineyards, where some of Montenegro’s best-known wines are produced. Head to the underground wine cellar for a tasting paired with local cheese. You’ll need around seven to eight hours; the drive from Kotor to Podgorica and the Plantaze vineyards of “Cemovsko field” takes about two hours. If you’d prefer a guided tour, try Globtour Montenegro.
Kotor Accessible Excursions
Kotor, Montenegro is one of the most well preserved medieval cities on the Mediterranean coast. You can choose to take an accessible driving tours that includes round-trip transportation in a van with a wheelchair ramp, or an accessible walking tour of Kotor with an English-speaking guide that will show you the main attractions of the Old Town.