One of the top things to do in Montenegro is… to see the UNESCO Heritage listed Kotor and the Old Town. And, when you’re in Kotor… one of the top activities we recommend is to hike to Kotor Fortress. Even when you’re walking up, you can witness some amazing views… and of course, take some memorable photos.
Yet, when we researching about hiking Kotor Fortress / castle, also known as San Giovanni Fortress / castle… we found out that there are 2 main routes you can take. The main route is through Kotor Old Town. Yet, there is another route which has a “Secret Entrance,” where you can get into the fortress for FREE.
Now, in many of the travel blogs we had read about hiking Kotor Fortress… they didn’t go into detail about a CRITICAL part of this route, which is the secret entrance. And, as we found out more, it made us more interested in taking this route.
In the end, we decided to take this lesser known path to hike San Giovanni Fortress. Plus, we’ll go through it in detail, as we believe it’s very important for you to know.
So, before you do your hike to Kotor Fortress, read this blog first…
Hiking Kotor Fortress – The Alternative Route Via an Old Locals Trail
We found out about a hiking trail that the locals would use way back in the days. And, to this day there are still locals who use it, and now tourists as well.
This route that can take you to Kotor Fortress is known as, The Ladder of Kotor. Plus, it’s this path that would take the locals from Kotor, to the top of the mountain… and to a town called, Cetinje. When you do this hike… it makes you wonder how tough and fit the locals were back then!
Now, to start your hike to Kotor Fortress… make your way to the street by the name of, Tabačina, which is near Skurda River.
So, at the time of writing this travel blog post, places to look for on Tabačina street include Voli Supermarket… which is also near the corner of Jadranska Magistrala (Adriatic Highway E65/E80). Other places to look out for is the Shopping Centre Kamelija… and Delicious Burger Restaurant.
So, you keep walking up this road until you see something like this. Yet, DON’T go through the gated section. Instead, veer towards the right of the gate to the footpath as shown below…
Then, near the corner of this path you’ll see a marker like this…
So, you simply keep following this track…
The path is rocky all the way, and in some sections the rocks are quite big. We were wearing standard sneakers, which were fine for us. So, from our points of view you don’t need hiking boots.
While you’re hiking Kotor Fortress, make sure you stop and admire the views along the way…
So, when you’re hiking this path, you’ll discover that there are many switchbacks. And, it looks really cool when you’re higher, looking down below at the trail…
Eventually, you’ll see some rocks that have been painted over with things like this…
Keep walking, as you’ll soon be at the secret entrance to Kotor Fortress!
Now, you’ll eventually see a little house like this, with chairs, tables and signs for drinks…
And, it’s at this point where there’s a “fork in the road.” It’s like a choose your own adventure!
So, you either go right to head towards Kotor Fortress OR you go left… which will take you to different switchbacks leading to the Rakia Man, and the top of the mountain.
If you have time, we recommend you go and visit the Rakia Man! He has some home-made produce, which is delicious. Plus, the views are great from there too. More on that in a different We Drink Eat Travel blog post.
The “Secret Entrance” to Kotor Fortress
So, after you veer right at the fork in the trail, continue your hike to Kotor Fortress. And, when you take this the path, it looks like this…
Then, soon enough you’ll reach this old Catholic church, Sveti Juraj…
Now, after you’ve had a look at the old church… look out for the red and white marker, as per the photo below. Then, make your way towards the Fortress via that sandy-colored gravel type path.
Then, the closer you get to San Giovanni Fortress, the entrance will become more prominent. The photo below shows the Secret entrance to Kotor Fortress… with a red arrow pointing at it.
Now, there is a red sign next to the entrance stating that entry is forbidden . Yet, when inside Kotor Fortress, there are several other signs stating a similar thing. However, you can clearly see people walking around these so-called “prohibited” areas. So, we’re just letting you know… and at the end of the day, it’s up to you how you proceed. And, to get to this point it took us about 45 minutes.
So, at the entry is a ladder, which someone has somehow fastened to the fortress. Plus, with the entrance you will need to crouch down to climb through it… as it’s not very high. The below photo is of the Secret entrance AFTER we climbed through it.
I have to admit, that if Paul wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have gone through this entrance. That’s mainly because I’m scared of heights… and looking down from the entry point isn’t for the faint-hearted. Plus, I would’ve freaked myself out about the thin-looking wooden ladder.
So, your safety is paramount. And, it is your decision at the end of the day as to if you should use this to enter Kotor Fortress.
Witness the Beauty From Kotor Fortress and the NOT SO BEAUTIFUL!
After we got in successfully to Kotor Fortress for free, we could see some incredible views…
Now, while the views are amazing… you need to be careful when inside San Giovanni Fortress. And, that’s because from our point of view, it’s not well maintained. Check out the pics below with the dodgy bridge, steps, and piles of rubbish…
It is a shame that it’s not looked after better. Not only would it showcase the Fortress in a more pleasing way… it would help to restore it for as long as possible. And, with people paying 8 Euros to get to San Giovanni Castle… it makes you wonder what that money is being spent on.
The Kotor Fortress Hike – Down We Go!
As we said earlier, the normal route to hike to Kotor Fortress is via the Old Town. And, rather than leaving the same way we came in… we made the decision to go down via the castle steps towards the Old Town.
And, when going this way there are some breathtaking views of Kotor as well…
Plus, here’s a photo of the steps leading down from the Fortress…
So, the steps are NOT wide or big. And, they seem to be more suitable for one-way pedestrian traffic only. When we were making our way down, a tourist ship had pulled into Kotor. So, lots of people were making their way up to the fortress. And, while we could squeeze past each other… it was easier for one of us to get off the path, and wait on the side to let others go through.
Plus, make sure you be careful as the steps can be very slippery. And, when you’re making the descent to the Old Town… you’ll discover that it is steep. Steep and slippery combined aren’t great! So, we’re glad we chose the alternate locals route for hiking Kotor Fortress.
From the Old Town… this is what one of the archways looks like leading up to the payment booth. And, the Kotor Fortress price to go this way is 8 Euros.
Overall, we found the hike to Kotor Fortress using the locals trail was easier… compared to if we were to take the route via the Old Town. It was a steady incline and not slippery, like the steps up the Fortress. Yet, as we were explaining earlier, the part that you seriously need to consider if it’s right for you is… the “Secret Entrance.”
Whichever way you decide to choose… you will be rewarded with amazing views and scenery of Kotor, Montenegro.
Stay Safe and Happy Hiking!
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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.
Kotor is one of the oldest towns in Montenegro… which is said to be more than 2,000 years old! We’d never been to Kotor before. Yet, having seen many photos and watched some vlogs… we were looking forward to exploring a new town.
Located on the Bay of Kotor, when driving in from Tivat… the views of the surrounding mountains are spectacular. And, as we were going to our accommodation… the scenery took our breath away.
Now, we were staying in Kotor for about 1 week. Yet, for half the time we were there, the weather wasn’t great… cold, rainy and windy. So, when we did get some good weather, we made the most of it.
In this We Drink Eat Travel blog post, we will be sharing with you… 25 top things to do in Kotor Montenegro. So, let’s start with one of the most famous of landmarks…
Kotor Old Town
In 1979, Kotor made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. And, one of the most popular Kotor attractions is the Old Town. So, when you head on over to the Old Town… you can see the charm, culture and beauty it oozes.
And, whilst it did suffer destruction through numerous earthquakes and conflicts… it’s great to see that many of the Kotor attractions have been re-constructed and restored.
Now, there are many sites to see and things to in Kotor Old Town. So, here we list some of them to give you travel inspiration.
Walk The Old Town Walls
We did do the amazing walk along the Old Town Walls in Dubrovnik. And, while we were in Kotor, we decided to do the same. It’s nowhere near the scale and grandeur of Dubrvonik. Yet, it’s great to get some different vantage points of Kotor.
When we went to walk along the Kotor Old Town Walls, we didn’t see anywhere where we had to pay a fee. More on that below. So, up some stairs we went and took some great pics along the way…
Gurdic Gate (South Gate)
Now, we were talking just before about walking along the Kotor Old Town Walls. And, to do that we went to the South Gate entrance. Once we went through the gate… we soon found a stairwell which eventually led up to the walls. We weren’t sure if we had to pay a fee, or it was for free. Yet, when we went up there was no ticket office, or anyone telling us we had to pay. So, the South Gate is the one that looks like this…
River Gate (Northern Gate)
Built in 1540, the River Gate crosses over the Skurda River… linking the Old Town to the northern side of Kotor.
Yes, it is a smaller gate and not as striking as the other 2 gates. Yet, it sure served an important purpose back in the days… to help protect the town and people from numerous attacks.
Now, once you walk through this gate, one of the first things you’ll notice is…
Church of St Mary Collegiate
Built in the 1200’s, St Mary’s Church is within the area of Trg od Drva. Unfortunately the church wasn’t open when we were there. Never mind! So, here is the first glimpse of St Mary’s Church after passing through the River Gate…
Sea Gate (Western Gate)
The Sea Gate is the main gate of Kotor Old Town… and what we would consider the grandest looking of the 3 gates.
Yet, it’s the busiest gate, with many groups gathering here before their tours start! Built in the mid-1500’s, it leads directly into one of the main areas in the Old Town. And, this is another of the top places to visit in Kotor…
Square of the Arms (Trg od Oružja)
Now, when you come through the main gate of Kotor Old Town… you’ll enter the biggest and main square in Kotor called, Square of the Arms.
And here, there are many shops, banks, cafes, restaurants, and important historical Kotor attractions including this one…
Old Town Clock Tower
This is the most prominent landmark in Arms Square, dating back to the 17th Century. And, while it was in construction… an earthquake destroyed and damaged many historical sites, including the Clock Tower.
Now, it’s said that the Clock Tower leans slightly to the West as a result of the earthquake! You’ll want to get there early if you want photos of the Clock Tower… WITHOUT multiple tour groups crowding round it.
The next on our top things to do in Kotor, is a popular one…
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Kotor Cathedral)
Now, when it Kotor you’ll notice that there are many churches for such a small town! Yet, when in the Old Town, one of the most important is Saint Tryphon Cathedral. This cathedral was originally built in the mid 1100’s… yet due to multiple earthquakes, it had to be re-built numerous times. And, if you want to go in and see the intricacies of Saint Tryphon Cathedral… you’ll need to pay 3 Euros (about USD $3.25).
Get Lost in The Old Town
One of the things we love about exploring ancient towns… is roaming down alleyways and seeing where we end up. It’s all about getting lost, and finding new places to eat, drink, or see… which may be “off the beaten path.” There are many cute alleys, and we felt like we were going through a maze. Yet, that’s all part of the fun!
Kampana Tower and Valier Bastion
If you’re going to Kotor Old Town from the northern side… you will see a huge, long wall connecting the Kampana Tower and Valier Bastion.
The big circular structure was a prominent defence structure, giving 360 degree views. It looks amazing with the river, and picturesque mountains as the backdrop.
So, another one of the places to see in Kotor is this…
Church of Saint Nicholas
The Church of Saint Nicholas is a Serbian Orthodox church, that was built in the early 1900’s. And, what stands out with this church is not only the main dome, but the 2 big bell towers in front… also topped by the same black dome structure and golden cross.
Now, for a smaller scale church with a different charm… head on over to St Luke’s Church, a stone’s throw away from Church of St Nicholas.
Church of St Luke
Can you believe that this small church was one of the few structures that suffered little damage… as a result of the earthquakes?
This resilient little church dates back to the late 1100’s… and was originally built for the Catholic religion.
Yet, what makes St Luke’s Church different… is that it eventually housed a Catholic and an Orthodox altar. So, history has it that this church is an important symbol of harmony… between the Catholic and Orthodox people.
Now, while we’ve highlighted a few of the churches in Kotor Old Town… there are plenty more that are quaint and deserve a look too. Outside of Kotor Old Town and beyond are many other churches you can visit, if that takes your fancy.
When you’re strolling around the streets of Kotor Old Town, you will likely come across this building…
This is Pima Palace, which was said to have been built in the 17th century. It has these eye-catching distinctive green shutters and patterned railings. And, above the main entrance of the Palace… you’ll see 2 angels holding the coat of arms of the Pima family.
So, if you want to gaze at this historic building… there are restaurants in Flour Square surrounding the Palace.
Gregorina Palace – Maritime Museum
You can find Gregorina Palace in Museum Square. Like many of the squares in Kotor, this is also an enchanting little area. The Baroque style Gregorina Palace, was built in the 18th Century, yet is now home to the Maritime Museum. And, as you can see in the photo there are 2 cannons at the entrance. And, this was to symbolize the battles between the pirates and seamen.
If you love looking at souvenirs and buying for yourself, and family or friends… then there are plenty to choose from in the Kotor Old Town. It felt like that almost every second shop sold souvenirs!
Now, there are other things to do in Kotor outside of the Old Town, including…
Kotor Farmer’s Market
Between the Sea Gate and Gurdic Gate is a section for the Kotor farmer’s market. Here, various owners would put their produce on display in the hopes of selling them. From homemade rakia, fresh fruit and veggies, meats and slabs of cheeses… it’s worth taking a stroll and having a look.
When we were in Kotor, we saw that this farmer’s market was open every day. Yet, Saturday was when it was bustling. On other days only a handful or so of stalls would be open, but that may be different in Summer. And, if you’re wanting some other treats, there are other food carts opposite the stalls… selling things like pancakes, corn and fairy floss.
Now, this next one is of course, one of the top things to do in Kotor…
Eat and Drink in Kotor
There are many places to eat and drink in Kotor, including the Old Town area. From 2 Euro pizza slices, ice cream through to fine dining… there is sure to be something to suit everyone. Yet, as our avid readers / followers would know, we love our bureks. And, of course we were hunting down some bakeries in Kotor. So, one that was nearest to our accommodation was, Pekara Armac. And, OMG, we’re so glad we found it.
Not only are the bureks yummy and big, the owner was lovely. She was always busy, and often times there was a line of people… mainly locals. Yet, once we bought our bureks, which were only 1.60 Euros each… we would walk across the road, sit down and enjoy the incredible view.
The bakery that most tourists would likely go to is nearby the River Gate, called Pekara AS. The bureks here were slightly more expensive at 2 Euros each, and we believe not as good. Having been to Pekara Armac… we highly recommend you stroll on over there for not only bureks, but breads and sweets!
There are several places to drink in Kotor if you want to quench your thirst. Yet, there’s one place that we did prefer as seemed less touristy… and away from the main squares. And, this place was called, Pub Bandiera, which is nearby the Gurdic Gate.
The draught beers were cold and cheap at only 3 Euros for a large one… and 2.40 Euros for a small draught beer. The service was friendly too. It definitely is a locals bar, and can have a chilled atmosphere or lively… depending on how much alcohol the locals have had!
Now, when it comes to ice-cream we have to say we were disappointed. Because of all the hype and positive reviews of Cattarissimo… our expectations were high. Yet, after getting ice-cream there, we wouldn’t go back. We have to admit, while the chocolate and hazelnut flavor of the ice cream was good… for 2 Euros it was a rip off, from our point of view. The tiny scoop of ice-cream would make even the smallest of children cry. And, it wasn’t even in a waffle cone. Yet, you’ll never know unless you go try for yourself.
This is another of the popular and top things to do in Kotor…
San Giovanni Fortress
So, when we were researching about going to San Giovanni Fortress… there were 2 main ways to go up there. First, there was the route that you could access from within the Old Town. And, if you do it this way the entrance fee is 8 Euros per person! Plus, what we found out later is that the path up can be slippery on some of those stairs. And, the path really only caters for one way traffic comfortably. So, when you see people coming up or down, one of you will have to make way to allow the others to pass through.
Now, the second way is going via an old track that the locals would use to go up the mountains. And, this is the route that we preferred. There were less people, not slippery, and the walk up was a steady incline… unlike going through the Old Town path, which is quite steep. Plus, there is a “secret” window to get into the Fortress. Yet, this is NOT for the faint-hearted! What’s more, it’s for free. We’ll explain it in more detail in another travel blog post.
Yet, whichever path you take, there are beautiful views over Kotor and beyond…
Stroll Through Park Slobode
If you’re looking for somewhere to sit back and relax amongst the trees… then head on over to Park Slobode. With a playground as well, it’s a hit for families with young children. Plus, if you walk further out towards the waterfront, you’ll see a tall obelisk structure… which is the Freedom Monument, in memory of the end of World War II and those who lost their lives.
If you’re looking for somewhere to soak up the sun and relax… head on over to Kotor Beach. Now, when we were there it wasn’t the weather to be wearing swimsuits… and none of the lounge chairs had been set up.
Although, if you walk along the Riva there are many places to eat and drink… enjoy the scenery, and people watch.
Kotor is a relatively small town, so rather than just spend our time exploring the Old Town… one day we made our way north past the Old Town, about a couple of kilometres out.
And, by walking this way we reached the township of Dobrota. The more scenic route is to walk along the Riva. And, after walking past several restaurants and cafes… you can see the tiny St Elijah Chruch, nearby the grounds of the Institute of Marine Biology. Plus, the cross in Kotor Bay. And, if you keep walking further, you’ll reach St Matthias Church.
Now, in our opinion, this would have to be one of the best things to do in Kotor…
The Rakia Man
If you’ve been researching hikes to do in Kotor… you may have come across blogs mentioning “The Rakia Man.” Now, we were wondering if he was a myth or legend… as we never saw any photos of him!
Yet, one day we went hiking up the mountains to find this elusive “Rakia Man.” And, if your plan is to hike to the Fortress, it’s a small detour left. I’ll explain it in more detail in another travel blog post. Yet, we did find him and he was so lovely. And, he was very proud of his homemade produce and alcohol, like wine and rakia. It is so relaxing up there, and the views are amazing.
Kotor at Night
If you’re spending more than just a day in Kotor, check out the town at night. It is lit up in certain areas, although not as much as other places we’ve been to. Yet, it still is a beautiful sight to witness…
And last but not least on our list of things to do in Kotor Montenegro is…
The Cats of Kotor
On our travels through Montenegro, we have seen many cats roaming the streets. Yet, in Kotor there are even more cats everywhere! Plus, though there are many stray cats, they look like they’re fed well.
When we were exploring the Old Town, we saw that there was a Kotor Cats Museum! At the time it wasn’t open, but maybe in peak travel season it may open for you cat lovers. Plus, there’s a Cats Shop! No, not to buy cats, but cat souvenirs, and cat related trinkets.
So, that’s a big list of 25 things to do in Kotor Montenegro. And of course, there are many other things to do depending on what time of the year you go… as well as other things like your budget, and how much time you have to spend there.
If you only have a limited amount of time to explore… we highly recommend you put Kotor as a priority on places to visit in Montenegro.
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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.
We’ve been traveling around Europe, and many Balkan countries for a couple of years straight now. And, we’re loving it. The different cultures, sites and experiences we’ve had have been amazing… and some “interesting” ones too!
Yet, eating and drinking is a big part of our travels. From fine dining to street food, through to tasting the freshest produce at farmers markets… we’ve had some of the most scrumptious food and drinks.
And, not only is filling our bellies and tantalizing our tastebuds important… so are the people we meet along the way. So, when we were in Tivat Montenegro… we were fortunate enough to have yummy food from some memorable owners.
So, in this short but sweet travel blog post… we have to share with you where to eat in Tivat for the best fast food. And, when we were in Tivat… going to this place was an almost daily event! Now, the place to visit for your fast food needs is…
You can find this Tivat fast food place in the centre of town. It’s on a side street off the main road of Palih Boraca street. Keep an eye out for La Tua Casa Caffe Pizzeria… as it’s around the corner from there. This is what the outside of Buregdzinica AS looks like…
Now, this place is an institution. There are always people having a feed there, mainly locals. They are famous for their delicious bureks. And, so much that even the locals would tell us to go there for bureks.
It was funny, because one day we found a bakery that was open on Sunday… SURPRISING for Montenegro! And, most people were buying loaves of bread. Yet, we were wanting some bureks. Then, a young gentleman said to us, “You should go to the place in town for bureks.”
And, we did tell him that we went there every day. Except as it was a Sunday, Buregdzinica AS wasn’t open. So REMEMBER, they are open every day except Sunday.
Cheap and Cheerful Tivat Fast Food
At Buregdzinica AS, not only do they make bureks, they also make pizzas… as well as sell the obligatory yogurt and other drinks. The great thing is, they make different types of bureks… meat, greens and cheese, potato, or just cheese. So, if you get bored of eating one type, you can choose another!
Not only are they yummy, they are cheap. And, at only 1.50 Euros for one burek, they’re affordable for any budget. Plus, Paul is such a gutso… and would sometimes get more than one for breakfast!
And, as you can see from the previous photo, there are some tables and chair outside the front. Plus, there are a few tables and chairs inside too.
Yet, what we did was get our bureks for take-away and devour them… while looking at the beautiful views along the Tivat waterfront.
In our 2 weeks or so in Tivat, we were there every day except for Sundays. And, the couple who own it and make the goods from scratch… are absolutely wonderful.
The “Mama” would always greet us with a smile. She couldn’t speak a word of English, yet we could speak a little Montenegrin. Although, her husband did speak a bit of English… so could translate when we had no idea what she was saying to us!
Her husband was constantly making bureks. And, he has a lot of skills, especially to get the burek pastry so thin!
So, there you have it… our recommendation of where to eat in Tivat Montenegro for the best fast food.
Not only will you get cheap and yummy bureks… you’ll also get service with a smile from a couple of lovely owners.