Bay of Kotor: Insider’s guide to the Gem of Montenegro
Bay of Kotor, (Boka Kotorska or Kotor Bay) is one of of the most picturesque bays in the Mediterranean region. It is surrounded by imposing mountains and rugged cliffs, creating an epic view.
This stunning natural inlet is located in southwestern Montenegro, along the Adriatic Sea, near the border with Croatia. Bay of Kotor stretches from Herceg Novi to Kotor, with many small cute towns and villages along the way.
Hello, I am Tatiana—historical architecture addict fascinated with beautiful old buildings and discovering best places in Europe to go. Check out my travel tips on Alonga Travel and reviews of the best European destinations and city breaks. They are the result of my slow travelling explorations. Let's connect on social media!
Updated January 2024
Bay of Kotor map
Look at this map of Bay of Kotor. It's very helpful to visualize all the parts of Bay of Kotor better. Kotor bay forms a shape that looks like a butterfly with two parts connected by a channel. It is divided into four primary bays linked by narrow channels.
The bay starts at the Adriatic coast, with Bay of Risan to the northwest and Bay of Kotor to the southeast forming its internal bays. Tivat Bay is located at the outermost part of the bay. There is something worth exploring at each primary bay.
How narrow are the channels of Bay of Kotor?
The Verige Strait, which is merely 340 meters (1115 feet) wide, has the narrowest section.
Insider’s tip. Don't let the websites referring to 'Boka Kotorska Bay' or ‘Boka Bay’ confuse you. They are wrong. "Boka" means "bay" in Montenegrin. So, saying 'Bay Katorska Bay' or ‘Bay Bay” doesn't make much sense. Just call it either Bay of Kotor or Boka Kotorska , and you will get better search results when planning your trip!
Video summary of this Guide to visiting Bay of Kotor
Watch the video summary of this Insider's Guide to Kotor Bay
Is Kotor Bay worth a visit?
Kotor Bay with its stunning beauty, cool hotels, and fun water activities, is absolutely worth visiting, and it should be part of your trip to Montenegro. And, as I have already explained in details in my other post, Kotor is very much worth visiting too, and has so many fun things to do and see.
Don't miss my post with lots of visuals on what to do in Kotor, and you will be convinced Kotor Bay is worth visiting even more!
Dramatic Mountains over Clear Waters of Kotor Bay
It is no wonder that Kotor Bay is quickly gaining popularity, it's just so pretty!
The turquoise waters of the bay are extension of blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The bay is surrounded by stunning mountains, such as Mount Orjen and Mount Lovćen, and shorter cliffs around them. They create a breathtaking backdrop contrasted with the clear waters.
You may constantly pinch to make sure the beauty is real—I know I did!
history of Bay of Kotor
Bay of Kotor in Montenegro has been inhabited since ancient times and was under the influences of various civilizations. There were the Illyrians, Romans, Venetians, and Ottoman Turks and others. They've all left their own imprints on the area. Read my post on history of Montenegro and Kotor to learn more.
We can see these marks in Montenegrin architecture, its stunning Orthodox and Catholic churches and fortifications.
The most notable historical significance lays in the 14th century medieval town of Kotor, Montenegro, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kotor's narrow winding streets and secret places of Old town of Kotor, let you believe you're in a different time, which is very exciting!
Explore cute Towns Along the Bay
There are a few charming coastal cities and historic towns along the shores of Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Each of these locations has its own unique character. The most notable is the mentioned above Kotor. Other notable towns include costal towns Herceg Novi, Perast, Tivat, and Risan.
Beyond the well-known towns, the bay hides a few lesser-known charming villages like Lepetane and Morinj . Visit the attractive village of Njegusi and try its traditional delicacies. These hidden gems offer a sample the authentic Montenegrin way of life.
Each town and village along Kotor Bay of has its own charm and attractions, and it's fun to visit them!
Medieval town of Perast as seen from a boat. You can get there on a bus as well.
The islands in Bay of Kotor
There are a few islands in Kotor bay; some are natural and some are artificial islands.
All the five enticingly stunning islands are something out of a fairytale. The book "The Count of Monte Cristo" comes to mind . They are must see wonders, don't miss them!
Two islands off Perast town, as seen from my boat tour.
Can you swim in the Bay of Kotor?
You can swim in crystal clear waters of the Bay of Kotor, but be cautious of boats and water depth as the water can reach around 60 meters deep quickly. That's why cruise ships are able to enter and dock in Kotor.
Most beaches in the Bay of Kotor have pebbles or a mix of pebbles and sand. You can see seaweed patches in some places, sometimes forming interesting patterns, like on my picture above.
There are also shallow sandy beaches, like in Morinj and Igalo.
Some of the best swimming locations in Bay of Kotor are:
- Bajova kula: a small, pebbly beach with sunbeds, umbrellas and music
- Orahovac: a pebbly, sunny beach with dense Mediterranean vegetation
- Trsteno: a 200m long beach with fine sand, clear water and untouched nature
- The three islands on the southern side of the Bay of Tivat
- The submarine tunnels in the Kumbor straight. These former Yugoslavian military tunnels that are open for swimming. You need to be careful there, though. It’s better to arrive with a boat tour, then you will have 15 minutes of supervised swimming there.
If you prefer to swim in the open Adriatic sea, you can swim in Blue caves. But that is outside Bay of Kotor. When you wake the 4-hours boat trip to Blue from Kotor, you will have 15 minutes to swim in Blue caves.
There are also other coves along the shore, including the Cave on Sveti Nikola island and others.
Since the water in Bay of Kotor is so clear, you can see patches of seaweeds clearly as well. And sometimes they form interesting patterns.
Sport and water activities on Bay of Kotor.
Here are some top adventure and sport activities you can enjoy on Bay of Kotor, along with their descriptions and where to find them:
1. Sailing and Yachting:
Experience the thrill of sailing or yachting on the stunning waters of Bay of Kotor. Enjoy the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains and explore hidden coves and charming coastal towns.
Various sailing and yacht charter companies operate on Kotor Bay such as:
Sailing Club Delfin. Yacht club Delfin is a Montenegrin marina located in Tivat.
You can read more about them in my other post.
2. Kayaking and Canoeing:
Kayaking and canoeing provide a great way to explore the hidden gems of the bay at your own pace, or just enjoy the water and serenity.
You can rent kayaks and canoes from various rental providers along the coastal towns in Bay of Kotor, such as:
Kayak and Bike Rental Kotor Bay. You can rente double kayaks for €10-30 there. Or boat rentals for €140-600.
3. Boating and boat trip tours
Boating in popular on Bay of Kotor. You can either rent a boat to go by yourself, or you can go on a boat tour.
You can choose between a few different options for boat tours. Read here for more details on available boat trips from Kotor.
4. Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP):
You can explore explore the bay with a knowledgeable guide. Paddle along the coast, discovering coves, and enjoy the picturesque views.
Prices for guided SUP tours:
1-4hour tour - €40-100
Or, book a tour SUP from Viator
5. Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
The underwater world of the Bay of Kotor has plenty of fish, and even coral reefs and shipwrecks!
Several diving centers operate in Bay of Kotor, such as:
Blue Planet Diving Center.
The club is located at Bay of Herzog Novi. You can get your certification with them if you still don't have it.
6. Hiking and Mountain Biking:
Discover the scenic trails and ancient fortresses in the Bay of Kotor, perfect for hiking or mountain biking. Enjoy the panoramic viewpoints with stunning vistas and the breathtaking landscapes.
There are many hiking and biking trails in the area, such as Vrmac Ridge Trail, Lovćen National Park, and Mount Orjen trails.
7. Paragliding and Hang Gliding:
Fly through the skies and feel the excitement of paragliding or hang gliding.
Paragliding and hang gliding experiences can be arranged with companies like:
8. Jet Skiing and Water Sports
Experience the thrill of jetting across the bay on a jet ski, water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing.
Jet ski rentals and water sports centers can be found along the coastline of the Bay of Kotor, particularly in towns like Tivat and Herceg Novi.
Please note that availability, operating seasons, and specific providers may vary, so it's recommended to check with local tour operators and activity providers for the most up-to-date information and to ensure safety during your chosen activities.
Bay of Kotor hotels
There are many cozy, or luxurious, or just cute hotels in Bay of Kotor area for any budget. There are villas to rent and historical houses.
There are also a few hostels in the area. Read my guide on where to stay on Kotor Bay in my other post.
Places to eat near Kotor Bay
Montenegrin cuisine is famous for fresh seafood, hearty mountain dishes, and local wines. You will find some international cuisine as well.
There is no shortage of restaurants around Kotor Bay. From cozy square restaurants in Kotor to elegant waterfront restaurant in Perast, there are too many to list, here. Visit my other post about restaurants in Kotor Bay area.
Day trips around Kotor Bay
Read a detailed description of all the day trips around Kotor bay in my other post about day-trips to Kotor and the surrounding areas
Tips for Exploring the Bay of Kotor
Here are some tips for visiting the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro:
- It's best to go during the spring or fall months when there are fewer tourists and the weather is pleasant.
- Use local transportation or rent a car to get around.
- Don't forget comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a camera.
- Check out local markets and try traditional food.
How do you get around the Bay of Kotor?
Some areas between towns of Bay of Kotor are walkable and have long waterfront roads. Others—not so much, and you won’t be able to walk there at all!
Use local transportation or rent a car to get around.
Use local transportation or rent a car to get around.
There is a bus going between towns of Bay of Kotor, served by Mediteran Express, that operates along the coast. It's not very frequent, but it runs hourly.
Alternatively, rent a bike.
How to get to Bay of Kotor?
Most people arrive on a bus. There are frequent (every 20 minutes) buses from Budva, Montenegro. There are also buses from the neighboring countries, like Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia.
You can also take a bus from Sarajevo to Podgorica, spend a night in Podgorica, and then take a 2-hours bus to Kotor. Or, you can just fly in to Podgorica.
Alternatively, you can fly in to Tivat Airport.
Tivat Airport is a small international airport that serves the coastal town of Tivat and the surrounding region in Montenegro. It is located 3 km south of the centre of the town. Read my detailed post about Tivat airport and all the options of getting there (and from there) in my other post.
It is close Porto Montenegro, a luxury yacht marina, making it a convenient and fast transportation means.
How much time do you need in Kotor?
Ideally, you need at least 5 days to enjoy the most of what Kotor and Bay of Kotor offers. You will enjoy it greatly even if you came on a day-trip to Kotor. However, you will regret leaving, guaranteed! ;)
I hope you will be able to visit Bay of Kotor! Here is a link to other posts about Montenegro on my website.
Let's connect with me on social media (the links are below in the footer), so you can tell me all about your trip! We can trade stories!:)