Dubrovnik to Kotor Day Trip: The Complete Guide for the Best Day Out

by Sam
Montenegro Day Trip from Dubrovnik

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Planning to go on a Dubrovnik to Kotor day trip?

Undoubtedly, one of the best things to do in Dubrovnik is to go on a day out to Kotor. With only a tiny car journey separating them, it would almost feel wrong not to go. 

During your day in Kotor, you will explore the enchanting Old Town, which will transport you straight back to medieval times through its narrow cobbled streets, captivating architecture, and ancient churches. 

Plus, be rewarded with one of the most breathtaking views of Kotor’s Bay from an ever-rewarding hike. 

This guide will provide everything you need about a day trip from Dubrovnik, including how to get to Kotor, things to do, restaurant recommendations, and travel tips to ensure the best day out. 

How to get from Dubrovnik to Kotor

The distance from Dubrovnik to Kotor is only 48 miles, and with the Montenegrin gem being so close, there are many options to travel there. Here are the ways to get to Kotor;

By car

Renting a car from Dubrovnik is the most viable option to explore Kotor. 

It allows you to explore the town without a time frame. You can simply come back to Dubrovnik whenever you want, ensuring you’ve ticked off everything on your itinerary—something a tour guide or coach travel can’t offer. 

The best deals for car hires in Dubrovnik can be found through extensive online research. Tools like Kayak are brilliant to use to find the best deals. It takes 2 hours and 10 minutes to drive to Kotor from Dubrovnik! 

Check out a complete guide on parking in Kotor.

Car parked up on Kotor Bay in Kotor, Montenegro

By bus/coach

Head to the Dubrovnik bus station if you plan to visit Kotor from Dubrovnik by public transport. Buses head there every day, and in the summer, the schedules are most frequent, with a bus departing to Kotor almost every 1-2 hours. 

This is the method of transport I took! I went with FlixBus, which I often use because it is cheap and convenient for budget travellers. 

Note: Coaches booked through Flixbus to Kotor are typically run through third-party operators. You won’t see your typical green and white vehicle. 

By a tour operator

Perhaps the least stressful option is to book a day trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor through a tour operator. This allows you to visit attractions hassle-free, with transportation to and from your hotel, all without the need for planning.

Unfortunately, the only downside to this method is that you are restricted to the tour operator’s schedule. This option works best for those who don’t mind time frame restrictions.

I highly recommend opting for tours that include visiting Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks. Both are incredible and 100% worth the visit! 

Lady of the Rocks Kotor Tour

Information on crossing the border

To start your Montenegro day out from Croatia, you will, of course, have to go through the transition of going through its borders. Two borders interlink both countries:  Vitaljina/Kobila and Karasovići/Debeli Brijeg.

I’ve heard many horror stories of people being stuck on the Croatia/Montenegro borders for hours and on end, waiting to be finally let through their gates. I only experienced this on the way back, but on the way there, we just waltzed in.

How long it takes to cross the border

From what I’ve been told, it is said to have an average waiting time of 1.5 -2 hours to cross the Croatia/Montenegro borders during peak times and 30-40 minutes during other days. Sometimes, it can even take 5 hours. I’m not even exaggerating. 

When I visited in the peak of summer, we waited around 5 hours on my return to go through the Montenegro borders towards Dubrovnik.

Not to scare you off, this experience isn’t the norm and varies for everyone. IT IS JUST A PRE-WARNING! It entirely depends on the current traffic and the time of year you travel. Summer is always the busiest. Allocate a minimum of 1.5 – 2 hours extra time for the borders, just in case. 

Note: For those travelling by bus/coach, you’ll have longer waiting times. Each coach is assembled into the coach line and requires passport checks for all passengers. The same goes for buses. 

Top tip: The Vitaljina / Kobila border is the less busier of the two. 

Below is what you’ll need to bring to cross the borders, depending on your circumstances.

What you’ll need to bring to the borders

Passport:  Needed for everyone
Driving licence: For those driving
Green Card: Required if renting a car + don’t live in a country part of the Green Card Free Circulation Area

Day trip to Kotor: Best things to do

1. Climb to Kotor Fortress (San Giovanni Castle)

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Climing to Kotor Fortress is one of the best things to do during your day trip to Kotor.

Though this requires a somewhat challenging hike and venturing out of one’s comfort zone, the views while going up of the Old Town with the backdrop of the Bay of Kotor are so picturesque you’ll almost forget that you are climbing the 1350 steps up to the Kotor Fortress.

Climbing Kotor Fortress Montenegro 1
Climbing Kotor Fortress Montenegro 2

Early on the hike, a little kiosk will be available to purchase your ticket to Kotor Fortress. The start of the hike is here. Tickets cost €8, or to avoid fees, come before 7am. 

Recommendation: For those visiting in the summer, aim to hike in the morning before the sun steps out.

Montenegro can hit average highs of  30°C (86°F), not the ideal temperature for strenuous activity unless you’re training to become a Navy Seal! 

2. Explore the Old Town

Duration: 2-3 hours (including monuments and things to see, continue below)

Exploring the Old Town is a must-do activity in Kotor. 

The Old Town’s rows of cobbled streets, filled with medieval architecture and historical monuments, will be sure to wow you.

It is the most atmospheric part of Kotor! Have a wander around and get lost through the Old Town’s narrow streets. 

Recommendation: For the best Medieval aesthetic, enter through the River Gate near the Old Town Walls. Sea Gate is also a must-see entrance. 

Panoramic view of Kotor Old Town in Montenegro

Kotor Clocktower

As soon as you walk through the Sea Gate, you’ll be greeted by the long clock tower. It is a focal point in the central hub of Kotor’s Old Town, enhanced by the picturesque backdrop of the Dinaric Alps.

Kotor Clock Tower situated next to sea gate.

St. Tryphon’s Cathedral

This Roman Catholic Church is a little masterpiece of Romanesque architecture with a beautiful interior.

It is very small, mind you! So it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to have a wander around. It costs €2 to enter, which goes towards maintaining its infrastructure.

Outside St. Tryphons Cathedral in Kotor, Montenegro

Church of St. Luke

The Church of St. Luke is also of Romanesque architecture with a beautiful interior. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to walk in and browse through its features. It is free to enter.

Exterior of the Church of St. Luke in Kotor , Montenegro

Old Town Walls

Not to be confused with the Kotor Fortress, the Old Town Walls surround the Old Town and are brilliant to walk along as you’ll get stunning views left, right and centre of your surrounding landscapes. It’s free to walk along. 

You’ll find stairs that take you up there right near the entrance of Sea Gate. The hotel’s ‘Historic Boutique Hotel Cattaro’ restaurant is also on the walls if you fancy a drink. It comes with a picturesque view of course! 

Kotor Old Town Walls in Montenegro
On the Kotor Old Town Walls overlooking Kotor Bay

Cats of Kotor

As you walk around the Old Town, you’ll come across an array of cats. They are all friendly and welcoming if you fancy giving them a stroke.

The cats have been there for centuries and were instrumental in conquering the once-prominent rodent problem that persisted in Kotor for many years. It’s all on the down low now, thanks to those little felines!

Fun facts: Kotor’s cats have become a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The Old Town even has its own cat museum.

Cats lying on the ground in the Kotor Old Town in Montenegro

3. Wander around the exterior of the Old Town

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Although the inside of the Old Town is brilliant to walk around, its outside areas are just as aesthetically pleasing. 

Get your camera out! As you walk along the outside near the Old Town’s walls, you’ll find many gems, including vivid blue water fountains and picturesque little spots of the Old Town’s medieval exterior. 

Plus, there is a local open-air farmers market outside Sea Gate that is full of atmosphere. 

Water Fountains in Kotor Montenegro
Exterior of the Old Town Kotor in Montenegro

If you’ve ever seen a postcard of Kotor, you’ll recognise one of its prettiest captures from outside the Old Town Walls, showcasing the famous Kampana Tower. 

Kotor Old Town Walls in Montenegro

4. Take a boat to Perast and Our Lady of the Rocks

Duration: 2 hours

The lovely Old Town of Perast is home to some of the most beautiful medieval architecture, only enhanced by its proximity to a small artificial island set in the Kotor Bay, ‘Our Lady of the Rocks’.

These two are a must-visit when travelling from Dubrovnik to Kotor!

If you’ve booked a day trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor that includes Perast – then brilliant! However, if you are visiting Kotor without a travel guide, you can still book a boat trip.

Note: The last boat leaves at 3 pm

Walking along Perast Old Town in Montenegro
On the Lady of the Rocks in Montenegro

Restaurants in Kotor

These are recommendations of outlets I was lucky enough to try when in Kotor. All of them are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Resto Bar Taraca (££) Just a minute’s walk from the Old Town, near River Gate, this delicious outlet offers various options, including suitable choices for those with dietary requirements.

I had their speciality, Taraca breakfast, which was divine! It’s also cheap compared to your usual restaurants in Dubrovnik.

Konoba Scala Santa (££) – Located on the outskirts of the Old Town, this quaint restaurant offers good-sized options and has indoor and outdoor seating. 

I had been recommended this outlet countless times. I had to see what the fuss was about, and it didn’t disappoint. 

La Catedral Pasta Bar (£)   It is a very cheap Italian restaurant located through the streets of Kotor’s Old Town. 

It only offers outdoor seating but has a large row of tables suited towards the sunny Mediterranean climate! Delicious pasta with an incredible atmosphere. Gluten-free options are available. 

Restaurant in Kotor through the Old Towns walls

Tips for your day trip to Kotor from Dubrovnik

Here are some essential tips to ensure your day trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor is hassle-free and the best it can be.

1. Bring your passport

Identification like your passport is needed when crossing the border. Make sure you bring it with you, or you’ll be stuck at the borders. 

2. Allocate extra time for the borders

When I first asked someone how long it would take to cross the Croatian/Montenegro borders, their first response was, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ 

Allocate a good amount of extra time for the borders, just in case, so you don’t miss your itinerary. I would say roughly an additional 1.5 – 2 hours. 

Top tip: Small group tours will get through border control faster than larger ones.

3. Take some walking shoes

Climbing to the Kotor Fortress can be strenuous for some! Bring suitable footwear if you plan to hike. 

Hiking up to San Giovanni Castle in Kotor, Montenegro

4. Bring enough euros

During your time in Montenegro, most establishments will accept cards. However, a few don’t, especially in lesser-known areas. You will also need cash for public toilets. ATMs are located throughout Kotor’s Old Town if required.

Your day trip expenditure should be, on average  €50-70 (not including activities) 

5. Plan around the cruise schedule 

Like Dubrovnik, Kotor is a major stop-off point for most cruises travelling along the Mediterranean Sea. 

I recommend visiting Kotor on days that the cruises are not in port for reduced crowds and shorter waiting times for activities. 

Check out the current Kotor cruise schedule.

Kotor bay with a cruise on its port

Final thoughts

Well, that’s it! Kotor is an absolute delight and a well-recommended day trip from Dubrovnik. If you plan to visit Kotor, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

If you have any questions or need more tips for your day trip, then feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Safe travels! 

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Montenegro Kotor Pinterest Pin

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