Kotor is kind of Dubrovnik’s younger sibling. Like Dubrovnik, it’s a beautiful walled town full of history, character and cute narrow walkways. It’s also full of tourists, but not quite as many as Dubrovnik!
Kotor’s walled Old Town sits on the oceanside ready to protect it from invaders in days gone by. It’s smaller, less touristy, and the location at the end of the Kotor Bay sets it apart and makes it more charming. Personally, I liked Kotor more than Dubrovnik (sorry Dubrovnik!), and I think any trip to Dubrovnik should include at least a Montenegro day trip to see Kotor. Plus, getting from Dubrovnik to Kotor is pretty simple!
There are lots of reasons to go from Dubrovnik to Kotor. You might want to visit as a day trip from Dubrovnik, use it as the first leg of a Balkan road trip, or maybe, just get from the Dubrovnik airport to Kotorsince there are no flights straight into Kotor. Either way, whatever you need to know about the Dubrovnik Kotor route you can find right here, so keep reading!
Useful Information About Montenegro
- Currency is the Euro
- ATM’s are widely available. Many won’t charge a fee for withdrawal, but they’ll offer to charge in your local currency, thus exchanging at an inflated rate. Don’t get caught (I did, but only the first time!). When it asks what currency you’d like the charges to be, choose Euros.
- SIM cards are also widely available for a very reasonable price. T-Mobile had the best short-term tourist card options when we visited. Just be sure to have your passport with you when you purchase your SIM.
- WiFi is fast and available everywhere. Most cafe’s and restaurants have their wifi locked so you’ll need to ask for the password (sometimes it was printed on the menu).
Common Myths About The Journey From Dubrovnik To Kotor
Myth #1 – There’s a Dubrovnik to Kotor ferry (that will let you skip the road journey).
Sadly, there’s no Dubrovnik Kotor ferry so you’ll be stuck going by land. If you want to go from Dubrovnik to Kotor by boat, you’ll need to either own your own boat (Randy’s dream), charter a boat, or book a boat trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor. (insert aff-links here)
Myth #2 – There’s a Dubrovnik to Montenegro train (that will let you skip the road journey).
Unfortunately, this is also a myth! Although Montenegro has a few train routes, there’s currently no Dubrovnik to Kotor train.
So, if there’s no boat and no train, you’re probably wondering how to get from Dubrovnik to Kotor!
Three Main Ways To Travel From Dubrovnik To Kotor
1. Hop On A Dubrovnik To Kotor Day Trip
An organized tour from Dubrovnik to Montenegro is one of the easiest (and least stressful) ways to visit Kotor. There are tons of options, many of which visit more than just Kotor, so you’ll pack a lot into the day. A typical Montenegro tour from Dubrovnik visits Kotor, Budva and Herceg Novi. If you just want to get a taste of Montenegro, and you don’t want the hassle of figuring it all out yourself (which sometimes can be exhausting!), then a Montenegro day tour from Dubrovnik is the way to go.
Find some great trips from Dubrovnik to Montenegro (including Kotor):
2. Take the Bus From Dubrovnik To Kotor
The Dubrovnik Kotor Bus is the best option if you don’t want to drive yourself (obviously!!). The distance from Dubrovnik to Kotor is 94km and takes about 2-3hrs (including border wait time). Globtour is the bus company that most commonly drives this route. The buses are comfortable, but they don’t all have a toilet on board, so make sure you “go” before you go!
Dubrovnik Bus Station
The Dubrovnik Bus Station is next to the ferry terminal in Gruz, about 3km from Pile Gate in Old Town. City Bus #1a, 1b, 1c and 8 go from Pile Gate to the main bus station for approximately 15HRK ($3 CAD). (Check the transit map here). You can buy your ticket on board, or at the transit booth just outside Pile Gate.
You can also take a taxi from Pile Gate for 10Euro ($14.50 CAD).
Kotor Bus Station
The Kotor Bus Station is located about 1/2km past Old Town. You can grab a taxi for a few euro, but the road is so congested it’ll probably be easier to just walk (as long as you don’t have a ton of luggage!).
Tickets For The Bus: Dubrovnik – Kotor
3. Travel from Dubrovnik to Kotor by Car
Driving from Dubrovnik to Montenegro is easy, albeit a bit frustrating and slower than it should be at times! You can rent a car and do a Montenegro day trip from Dubrovnik, or follow this journey as part of a Balkan road trip. We rented with Active Car Rental from the Dubrovnik Airport. This is a local (Croatian) company that offers great value rentals from the Dubrovnik Airport as well as Downtown Dubrovnik.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, you can book a private transfer Dubrovnik to Kotor. This can be either a car company or taxi. There’s an “official price list” posted at the airport, with small print stating that they’re “approximate prices from 2011. Since they’re still posted I think it’s a good basis for negotiation! It’s 35 Euro ($50 CAD) for a border crossing, and 120 Euro ($174 CAD) for a taxi from Dubrovnik to Kotor.
Where To Park In Kotor
If you’re driving yourself, parking in Kotor is important! You can’t drive into Kotor’s Old Town (it’s pedestrian only), but there’s reasonable parking close by. Just across the river from Old Town is Kamelija shopping center. There’s a large parking lot across the street from the shopping center, right along the ocean.
Parking is 10 Euro ($15 CAD) per day. In order to get the day rate (the best deal) you’ll need to get your ticket when you enter, then stop by the booth as you walk out and let the attendant know you want the day rate. He’ll write something on your ticket and you’ll be good to go!
Renting a Car in Dubrovnik
Since Dubrovnik’s Old Town is pedestrian only, parking around the Old Town is astronomically expensive and a huge pain in the butt! My suggestion is to rent a car from the airport. It’s easy to catch a bus, taxi or Uber from Old Town to the airport, and the car rental companies are all on site. Many of the big names are there, but we rented from a small Croatian company called Active Car Rental (as I said above already!). It was easy and I’d rather support a smaller, local company compared to a large international corporation!
Green Card Insurance
Your rental car needs to have green card insurance to drive into Montenegro. Most rental companies automatically have this for most of the vehicles, but they still charge extra for it. If you’re only booking the car for a day, negotiate hard to get the price as low as possible. Alternatively, temporary insurance is available just across the Montenegrin border for 15 Euros ($22 CAD). (So you don’t want to pay more than this to the rental company!).
What To Expect When Driving From Dubrovnik To Kotor (or taking a bus/tour)
The road East of Dubrovnik is relatively narrow and winding, but traffic tends to move reasonably quickly. You’ll know when you reach the border because you’ll come around a corner and suddenly run into a backlog of cars! If you’re driving yourself, make sure you stay alert and slow down once you’re within a few kilometers of the border.
You’ll queue to leave Croatia (took us 30 min) and if you’re like us, you’ll think it was super easy and that people complained about the border for nothing! Then, as you’re driving along, you’ll round a corner (again!) and slam on your brakes (again!) as you queue up to enter Montenegro.
When we initially stopped the border wasn’t anywhere in sight. I would’ve thought it was just a traffic jam if it wasn’t for the poor guy walking down the side of the road, wheeling his suitcase behind him. It took another 45min of waiting before we were finally stamped into Montenegro! It felt like a long time. I then understood why people complain about this border!
We figured that once we were through the border the driving would be better, but it really wasn’t. The “highway” is a narrow 2-lane road with barely any shoulder. We crept along all the way to Herceg Novi when we decided it was time for a break. It was hot, and the girls wanted to go for a swim! Since we were headed to Montenegro for more than just a day-trip, we were able to meander our way along the roads.
After a quick break at Herceg Novi, we had a decision to make. We could either follow the road all the way around the Bay of Kotor, or we could take the Lepetane-Kamenari Ferry. If we wanted to take a boat from Dubronvnik to Kotor, this was our chance!
As we approached Kamenari the traffic started to slow. I figured it couldn’t be the ferry traffic yet, so we hopped into the left lane to skirt around it. Of course it WAS the ferry line-up, so we had to do an awkward 5-point turn on a busy road (twice) to get ourselves in line.
*expert tip – If you’re taking the ferry, make sure you’re in the RIGHT HAND lane once you get close to Kamenari. The left hand land is the through land and the right hand lane will turn into the ferry line-up.
The wait for the ferry was about 30min, and as we got closer I saw people walking from their cars to a small ticket booth. I decided it was a good idea to join them, so Kacela and I walked up and bought our ferry tickets. The ferry cost us 4.50 Euro ($6.35 CAD). I’m not sure what you’d do if you were traveling on your own. I guess you’d just have to park the car and run quickly to the booth and back again?!
Driving onto the ferry was mass chaos, just like driving in Montenegro in general. Cars were jockeying for position to get on, and we really had to be aggressive to ensure we didn’t continuously get cut off. Once on the ferry however, we could relax a bit and enjoy the pretty ride across the bay. We got out of the vehicle to enjoy the pleasant sea breeze (mixed with some diesel fumes!).
I really enjoyed the ferry, even if took longer than driving around the Bay. If you’re going to travel from Dubrovnik to Montenegro and back again, I’d highly suggest driving around the bay on the way to Kotor and taking the ferry on the way back.
*expert tip – If you’re NOT taking the ferry, make sure you’re in the left hand land as you approach Kamenari. Traffic is stopped every time the ferry docks to allow the cars to unload and get on their way. These waits are short, but can be a bit frustrating if you don’t know what’s going on.
Driving Around The Bay Of Kotor
Whether you take the ferry or not, you’ll end up driving at least partly around the Bay of Kotor. It’s stunning and the drive itself is worth the trip. Mountains tower around the bay on all sides, plunging into the sea amidst tiny red-roofed villages. The road around the Bay hugs the coastline, ensuring you don’t miss any of the gorgeous views.
Risan traces it’s roots back to the original settlement in the Bay of Kotor. Today it’s a modern town lacking in the charm of Perast of Kotor. Most people don’t give Risan a second thought, but if you’re looking for a quiet beach for a break from the drive, consider stopping at Fashion Beach. This isn’t the nicest beach, but the water is shallow, the crowds are thin (it’s mostly locals) and parking is free! It’s easy to stop for a 30min cool off before carrying on around the Bay in whichever direction you’re headed.
Perast is an adorable little town on the North side of the Bay of Kotor. If you’re driving from Dubrovnik to Bay of Kotor and you DON’T take the ferry, you’ll stumble upon Perast before you get to Kotor. The highway skirts around the city to the North, so if you want to stop you’ll need to be paying attention!
Parking is available for 5 euro/day in small parking lots on both the West side and the East side of the city, or you can just park (for free) along the side of the highway like everyone else. I personally liked Perast significantly more than Kotor. While it’s still busy and quite touristy, it’s smaller, quaint and has a more relaxed vibe. The centre of town is almost all pedestrian-only, and there are tiny little narrow alleyways leading up the side of the hill to explore.
Our Lady Of The Rocks – Perast
Perast is also the easiest place to catch a boat to the famous “Our Lady of the Rocks” church. Legend has it that on July 22, 1452 local sailors found an image of the Virgin Mary on a rock in the sea. After each sea voyage they would throw a rock into the sea until one day an island emerged out of the ocean (made of all the rocks of course!). The church that was originally built in this place was Serbian Orthodox, but has now been taken over by Roman Catholics.
Getting To Our Lady Of The Rocks: There’s a small dock beside the restaurant “Conte” where you can catch a boat taxi to the island. In the summer they go every 20-30min, but if you’re there during slow season you may need to negotiate a pick-up time.
Cost: Boat Taxi is 5 euro round trip (kids half price). Entrance to the church is free, entrance to the museum is 2 euro
What Not To Miss On A Day Trip To Kotor
Kotor is a gorgeous city set in a spectacular location at the South-East end of the Bay of Kotor. It’s tucked between the edge of the sea and San Giovanni mountain, making it an important strategic location in centuries gone by.
Since the Old Town of Kotor is small, it’s possible to see many of the main sites during a Day Trip to Kotor.
The hike up to the Kotor Fortress is a long and sweaty one if you’re going during high season, however the incredible views over the Bay are worth it. There are a number of forts, bastions and towers on the way up where you can stop for a break with a view.
The easiest way is to enter from the North East corner of Old Town, beside the Church of St. Mary Collegiate. From here you’ll go through the gate (to pay) and walk along the walls most of the way. The other way to go is by leaving Old Town (via the bridge north of the Church of St. Mary Collegiate), then turning right once you’re across the river and continuing up the path above the city walls. The second way is free, although it’s a longer hike! (Both are well marked on Google Maps).
Hours: 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week (however you can get through the gates at any time. If you spend the night in Kotor I’d highly recommend starting well before 8am to beat the heat!).
Cost: 8 Euro per person (kids free)
Walk The Walls
You can walk the city walls from Kampana Tower (in the North) to Gurdic Bastion (in the South). You have to enter and exit at Kampana Tower, so once you walk all the way down, you have to walk all the way back again! Because of this, most people only walk a small portion before they turn around, making the last section relatively empty.
There’s very little shade on the walls, and nowhere to stop and buy a drink. Make sure you wear a hat and bring lots of water with you. Once you’re finished you can grab a drink or an ice cream at Citadela Restaurant in Kampana Tower.
The beaches in Montenegro (and Croatia) are pebble beaches and not sand. I was completely unaware of this before we went, so of course we didn’t pack water shoes! I’d actually prefer a pebble beach with the kids, cuz then they don’t get sand everywhere, but it does get a bit hard on the feet.
Kotor beach is a 5min walk from the Old Town Main Gate and is a great place to spend a few hours relaxing in the sun and playing in the water. You can also rent a beach chair and umbrella. We paid 15 Euro for 2 chairs and 1 umbrella in August.
Kotor Cats Museum
Unless you’re a crazy cat lover I think the cat museum is something you can probably skip on your trip to Kotor! There are tons of cats living in the streets of Kotor’s Old Town, and the Kotor Cats Museum helps keep them fed and cared for. It’s a noble cause, which is why we visited (plus the girls like cats!).
It’s a small museum with only a couple rooms, and there’s no A/C so it can get quite stuffy and hot inside. The rooms are filled with various pictures and artifacts all with cats! If you’re a cat lover, I’m sure you’ll find it interesting.
Hours: 10am-8pm, 7 days a week
Cost: 1 Euro ($1.45 CAD) per person, half price for kids
How To Get From Kotor to Dubrovnik
The journey from Kotor to Dubrovnik is essentially the exact opposite as the trip from Dubrovnik to Kotor!
Renting A Car In Kotor
The easiest place to rent a car in Kotor is actually not in Kotor at all, it’s in Tivat at the airport. Avis, Enterprise and Sixt all rent cars here for a reasonable price, but only if you’re returning to the same location. You also need to factor in the 20-30 Euro ($30 – 44 CAD) for a taxi from Kotor to Tivat.
If you’re planning on doing a one-way rental from Kotor to Dubrovnik, the drop-off fee starts to get quite expensive. At this point it’s worth looking for a private transfer instead. If you DO rent a car in Kotor (or Tivat) you’ll need Green Card Insurance to cross the border, so ensure this is included with your car rental.
Rather than renting a car yourself, you could check out Montenegro Hostel Travel Agency who organizes transfers by van or minibus for a reasonable price (25-35 Euro per person).
Taking the Bus: Kotor to Dubrovnik
The bus from Kotor to Dubrovnik is an easy way to travel between the two cities, and is done in reverse of the bus from Dubrovnik to Kotor. During high season there’s as many as 7-8 buses that make the trip daily, decreasing in number during low season. The best place to find the schedule and book your ticket is from Bus Croatia or Get By Bus.
You’ll need to get to the Kotor bus station (about 500m walk from Old Town), and you’ll be dropped off at the Dubrovnik bus station in Gruz. From here take bus 1a, 1b, 1c or 8 from the bus station to Pile Gate for 15 HRK ($3 CAD).
Cost: Expect to pay 15 Euro ($22 CAD) for a one-way ticket, or as low as 24 Euro ($35 CAD) for a round trip ticket.