Hidden Places in Montenegro | Just two hours south of Dubrovnik lies Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor is by far the best preserved City in the region. It’s nicely hidden within brooding mountains but still has access to the Adria. That makes it a coastal town located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. From April until October this hidden gem attracts tourists from all over the world. Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape.
Kotor was first mentioned in 168 BC. Settlements popped up during Ancient Roman times. By then Kotor was known as Acruvium. The spot has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Roman Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in 535.
In 1979, a major earthquake hit the Montenegrin coastal area. Kotor reported approx. 100 casualties. Half of the Old Town was destroyed, and its famous St. Tryphon’s Cathedral partly damaged.
No doubt Kotor has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the world. Therefore it was granted a UNESCO world heritage status in 1979. It is home to numerous sights, a.o. ancient walls which stretch for 4.5 km directly above the city. The Sveti Đorđe and Gospa od Škrpijela islets off the coast of Perast are also among the more popular destinations in the vicinity. Kotor’s Old Town counts 1,000 inhabitants. The surrounding urban area got close to 13,000.
How to get to Kotor
You are not arriving with one of the many cruise ships? Consider Podgorica Airport an option. The airport is 65 km away, and it has regular flights to many major European destinations. Option Two – Tivat Airport – just 5 km away, but this one only connects to Belgrade, Moscow and Paris. Option Three: explore Dubrovnik first, rent a car and take a 2 hour ride down south at the Adria coast.
Other hidden places in Montenegro
Of course besides Kotor Old City there is more to explore in Montenegro. We have five recommendations for you:
Ostrog Monastry is a renaissance style church carved into the face of a cliff. For those of you familiar with the Santuario Madonna della Corona near Lake Garda in Italy: yes, it’s about that kind of thing :) From the Ostrog Monastery, you will have a superb view of the Bjelopavlići plain. From Kotor it’s a 2 hours car ride to Ostrog. The monastery is located in Danilovgrad Municipality.
The Sveti Stefan Resort is completely covering a tiny island with its 5-star property. Sveti Stefan is gorgeous but not cheap. Instead of staying inside the resort, we recommend a short hike up to the Radenovici Church for the best view of the hotel island. Distance from Kotor by car: 40 minutes.
Truly hidden is this tourist attraction: the Lipa Cave in Cetinje. This site is just 1 car hour away from Kotor. The karst cave contains a system of 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) of passages and halls. Dress up warm, and expect temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius year-in-year-out (approx. 50 Fahrenheit).
Tara River Canyon near Dobrilovina. This trip you can’t just do in one day when being based in Kotor. The gorge is located on the North East of Montenegro, almost 4 hours away from Kotor. The canyon streches from Montenegro to Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is 82 kilometers (51 miles) long. At some point the canyon is around 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) deep.
Last not least Our Lady of the Rocks near Kotor. We are talking about a church on an artificial islet: The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks (Italian: Chiesa della Madonna dello Scarpello). Legend has it that upon each return from a voyage, local seamen laid rocks in the Bay. Over time, a little island gradually emerged from the sea: Gospa od Škrpijela. And still, every year on the sunset of July 22 (at an event called fašinada), local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea, further widening the surface of the island.
The church Our Lady of the Rocks was renovated in 1722. Among others, the church houses a collection of silver votive tablets and a famous votive tapestry embroidered by Jacinta Kunić-Mijović from Perast. It took her 25 years to finish it while waiting for her lover to come home from a long journey. What makes this tapestry so famous is the fact that Jacinta Kunić-Mijović also embroidered her own hair in it.