Adriatic medieval gem for cat ladies – port of Kotor!

The one port I was really excited to see on our May cruise was our first port of call, Kotor in Montenegro. It is a delightful UNESCO World Heritage site due to its stunning architecture, most dating back to time under the Venetian empire and brief period under the Ottoman rule. It is a port with both history and architecture similar to Croatia’s Split & Dubrovnik, two other larger Dalmatian ports I adore having visited them on other cruises in the past.

Kotor however, is located in this amazing bay quite unlike any other cruise port found in the region. Sailing into Kotor can be likened to sliding into a Norwegian fjord.  A stunning historical old town, surrounded by tall hills, but revealing a gorgeous fortified town built in Venetian style – instead of Scandinavian pines and wooden houses. Kotor is strewn with beautiful architecture, narrow cobbled streets, and loads of gorgeous cats scattered about the place. Felines are always a bonus if you ask me.

Second reason for my excitement was bringing a newbie onboard with me. I was travelling with a friend who had never cruised before but had gotten curious after my enthusiastic Facebook posts. Thankfully she too had a great time, even in Kotor where it was rather hot on the day of our visit. I have since then discovered that the Gulf of Kotor has a humid subtropical climate. That would explain why us Scots girls were melting in May heat – even with my wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun away.

Kotor itself is nestled in between of the tall mountains at the end of the winding bay. It is possible to hike from the old town all the way up to the St. John’s Fortress on the hills above. Here you will find beautiful views of the town beneath and the amazing ‘fjord’ where the cruise ships dock or anchor in the bay. I had seen photos from the fortress and would have loved the steep climb. Unfortunately, my friend wasn’t well enough for such a hike. I hope to get back to Kotor soon and do the climb myself. If you check out a blog post by John Roberts aka ‘In the Loop Travel’ you will understand why!

Kotor Bay from above
Ancient walls of Kotor – a hiker’s view of the ‘fjord’

John, whose post I linked to above has great photos from the hike, but none quite as high as the picture you see here. Many thanks to Silke at for letting me share her photo.

But before you can go explore the old town or hike up the hill, you will need to get off the ship first.


cruise port Kotor Montenegro
Setting up a lifeboat for tender use

Our ship was one of two cruise ships on the bay that day, but Vision arrived too late to dock at the harbour. Instead, we were tendered (taken off ship) in a mix of smaller vessels consisting of some of Vision’s lifeboats and a few local water buses – as seen below and in the featured image used at the top

Kotor cruise port tendering

Tender tickets were due to be handed out just before lunchtime as Vision was entering the Kotor fjord. I went up 5 minutes early only to find a long queue of people who had turned up much earlier. Lesson learnt – If you want to get off the ship early on a tender day, queue up. Thankfully the line moved in a speedy fashion and ten minutes or so I had two tickets in my hand to get my friend and I off the ship. Tickets were to tender number 13 though -unlucky!

We kept listening to the tender announcements and finally about 1,5h after our 2 pm anchor drop our tender number was finally called. The wait didn’t feel too long though, as we were enjoying the weather and stunning views from the deck. Plus we spent some time chatting with two lovely older ladies we had met at dinner the night before. They were friends too, but retired & widowed and now travelled the world together. Us ladies had booked separate tables for two, but much like on a Valentine’s Day evening in any restaurant, there wasn’t much between our ‘individual’ tables. The little space and no real privacy at dinner resulted in us four having a little bit of a nice dinner conversation that continued on the following afternoon as we waited for our tenders to be called.

Kotor town

As we got our feet on the pier, local taxi drivers and tour guides were swarming around, offering various trips to nearby towns. Handy if you want to venture further but as we were here to see Kotor itself, all we had to do was to cross the road. In less than 5 minutes we were at the fortifications of the Old Town.

Inside the Old Town walls, we found wonderful wee streets, alleyways with homes, shops, restaurants…

..and cats. And a cat museum. Cat themed shops and cat souvenirs. Cats on top of souvenirs/shop displays. No-one locally was really able to explain why cats are such a thing in Kotor. An internet search post-holiday suggested it could be to do with the trading history of the city – visiting ships leaving kitties behind. Whatever the reason for cats in Kotor is, LonelyPlanet travel guides list this cute Adriatic town as one of the top 10 tourist destinations for feline fanatics to visit. I sure was happy. There were fluffs all around and I so wanted to pick them up for cuddles…

Cats Museum sign     

street kat of Kotor Montenegro     

cat shop kotor window     

   sleeping cat Kotor       Grey stray cat sleeping

The Cathedral

As we wandered through the small side streets of Kotor, we came across the Catholic cathedral also known as the Basilica of St Tryphone. This beautiful building dates all the way back to 1166, though has been greatly damaged by two earthquakes – and has had various repairs. Inside you’ll find a wonderful museum which gave us respite from the heat of the busy streets outside. It displays stunning pieces of religious art, vestments and vessels and gives you a lovely aerial view of the square from the balcony pictured.

For a more detailed info on Kotor Cathedral/St Tryphone’s basilica, please see this other cruiser Raine’s blog entry on it.

And how was Kotor as a vegan? Cannot really say. HappyCow app came up with just one hit – a health food store. No restaurant info has been logged for the town. We didn’t need food though, as we had already eaten lunch onboard (brunch in the MDR).  Plus we were going to be back onboard the Vision in time for dinner.  I did at least get my hubby some Montenegrian (sp?) vegan foodie souvenirs: dark chocolate and spicy savoury potato snacks. The vegan heaven was to come the following day, little did I know.

As Vision sailed out of Kotor at 8 pm, us girls were sat in the main dining room, enjoying our food and wine with the last views of the beautiful Adriatic fjord. A great first port of call indeed.


Linking up #MondayEscapes with

 TinBoxTraveller, Extraordinary Chaos, Travellovingfamily & Minitravellers

28 thoughts on “Adriatic medieval gem for cat ladies – port of Kotor!

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  • Gorgeous! I visited kotor this August and took some gorgeous photos. Very very pretty place.

    The only thing which I didn’t like was that there were a number of child beggars in the touristy parts. I’m never sure what to make of that…

    • My friend and I were there in Mid May and we never saw children begging. Maybe they were still in school at that point – all I saw was lots of adorable but often poorly feral cats.

  • Ooh your post just got me excited for our honeymoon!! Kotor is one of our first stops along our Balkan road trip! 🙂 #feetdotravel

    • Ooh, so excited for you? Where else are you going? I have been to Split and Dubrovnik too in Croatia and those are stunning too. And just few weeks ago a new colleague from Albania joined us and that looks like worth a visit too – now that it is possible to go (previously they were a bit North Korea and you just couldn’t get in )

  • Gotta promise myself to visit Kotor as soon as possible ’cause when fantastic architecture and cats come together it’s nothing but a paradise on Earth.

    • Indeed! Beautiful town and those cats! I cannot wait to get back there 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting too, spasiba 🙂

  • What a gorgeous place to visit and I will admit, I had never heard of Kotor until reading this so thank you for introducing a new place to me! I am a huge cat fan, have you visited a cat cafe at all? I am making it my mission to visit one in as many countries as I can, we were in one the other day in Penang (there are plenty in the UK as well, I am happy to share the details with you, I visited 3 of them before I left the UK!). #feetdotravel

    • Hey Angie, thanks for reading! I didn’t know of Kotor either until I booked the cruise. Knew of Croatia but hadn’t realised the split of former Yugoslavia had led to Montenegro forming too. I’ve only been to one cat cafe in my life, and wasn’t too happy with it – cat cafes IMO should be about giving shelter cats a new life and hopefully a new home. Thankfully my own home is a cat cafe with three fluffs keeping me busy. But Kotor? If I go back (when, rather) I will take lots of cat food and treats. I love Croatia too, definitely recommend both!

  • I was very lucky to visit this port back in 2013 and the views off the ship blew us away. I would love to go back to spend more time exploring Montenegro! Wonderful, inspiring post 🙂

    • Hi Scarlett, yes, the views were stunning…just sailing in took a few hours and what a lovely few hours it was. Cannot wait to get back!

  • Looks like a great cruise, and certainly a fantastic first port! I wasn’t aware of the Cat connection, but I like it! Thanks for sharing on #feetdotravel!

    • Hi Rob & Ann, yes a lovely cruise and definitely the best port of all, maybe even better than Piraeus where we went to Corinth instead of Athens. Really hope to return to MOntenegro soon 🙂

  • Great post. This is a port of call we would love to do, it does remind us of the Norwegian fjords, and I can see why you would want to do the climb, it looks spectacular. We are fans of RCCL not been on the Vision though. We are cruising to Greece in July and I see that you went to Argostolii in Kefalonia too, we have a day there. Was there much to see around the port area? ~ Carole

    • Hi Carole, thanks for commenting! IMO there is not really much to do, very small town you can easily walk it.. did you see my blog post on it? I think the turtles on the shore are the highlight but we missed them (other passengers saw them). There are some excursions out but we just went for a quick stroll after breakfast and were back in time for lunch.

  • I have never considered Kotor as a travel destination before reading your post and seeing the gorgeous pictures. I am not a cat person but I like to play with them for a while.

    • I think Montenergo looks stunning (seeing everyone elses travel pics) and Croatia too…the whole Adriatic is mesmerising IMO and also as outside Euro zone, is a little cheaper to explore too 😉

  • Ooh! The alleyways look so charming. Kotor seems like a great town. Had never heard of it. Thanks for sharing. The spicy savoury potato snacks sound yummy.

  • Great post! So glad you got to bring a new adventurer along 🙂

    • Thanks Cat! So pleased she enjoyed her cruise too…always a worry when you talk a friend into doing something you love 😉

  • Kotor looks like an amazing town to visit especially the Old Town plus its a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How interesting about the cats all around the town. Great tip to queue up early. Thanks for sharing!

    • It is a stunning site, smaller and more cosy than Split or Dubrovnik in Croatia but still very much worth visiting. Hope to climb up that hill SOON! Thanks for commenting, much appreciated!

  • I love Kotor and glad you guys got to enjoy it! You really must hike to the fortress as the views are amazing – there is also a little secret path into the valley where you can see an old church and even a visit a little farm shop/cafe with lovely owners! Thanks for sharing

    • Ooh, great tip, thank you! Hope to make it back this year. MSC has a sailing from Venice that calls in Kotor so that’s what I have my heart set on 🙂

  • Isn’t Kotor just beautiful? We were there in August after driving from Dubrovnik. We loved the city – cats and all! Love that picture of Kotor Bay its sensational! I am too lazy to hike (and it was far too hot) but those views are wow!! #feetdotravel

  • Great blog, thank you! I’m looking forward to it even more now! Cat x

  • This is a great blog post about this beautiful port, I have heard a lot of good things about Kotor and would really love the do a cruise here, the bay looks stunning in your photo and you had me sold with the Cat Museum! Your lucky to be cruising there again soon.

  • What a lovely place to wander around. I’ve not taken a tender from a cruise ship before so I expect this is half the fun of the port of call. Such a shame you didn’t get up to those view points this Tim but enjoy that on your return trip! Can’t wait to see the pictures 🙂

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