The Bay of Kotor, known also as simply Boka, is a bay in the heart of the Adriatic Sea in southwestern Montenegro. The Bay of Kotor is an incredible travel destination for a number of reasons, but its biggest draw is its magnificent scenery. Although it is not technically a fjord, it resembles one, with green mountains providing an epic backdrop to the blue waters of the bay.
The Orjen Mountains to the west and the Lovćen mountains to the east surround this beautiful bay. Kotor Bay can be divided into four main gulfs connected by narrower channels, each of which is worth visiting.
The narrowest section at the Verige Strait is only 340 meters (1115 feet) wide. The outermost part of the bay is the Bay of Tivat. At the main entrance to the Adriatic lies the Bay of Herceg Novi. The inner bays are the Bay of Risan to the northwest and the Bay of Kotor to the southeast.
Kotor Bay is a destination rich with historical significance. Many of the cities, towns and villages surrounding the bay itself are medieval in nature and perfectly preserved. This attracts history and architecture enthusiasts from around the world who can tour countless structures from antiquity.
The Bay of Kotor also boasts a number of Orthodox Christian and Catholic churches and cathedrals, many of which serve as a kind of mecca for religious scholars and pilgrims. To top it all off, the Mediterranean climate of this wonderful destination means that hiking, boating and other outdoor activities are possible throughout the year.
At the entrance of Kotor Bay is Herceg Novi, which translates as New Castle. Herceg Novi is located right at the foot of Mount Orjen, and it is a scenic, historic but pristine alternative to some of the larger coastal cities in the region. Herceg Novi dates back to the 14th century, and in that time several empires and cultures have inundated and left reminders of their presence. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the area was known as Castelnuovo, and it was passed through the hands of the Ottoman Empire, the Albania Veneta and even the Republic of Venice. This turbulent history, however, has created an amazing diversity of cultures and architecture.
Just over an hour’s drive from the city of Kotor is the Lovćen National Park, which is centered around Mt Lovćen. The black mountain that gave Crna Gora (Montenegro) its name is more than just a tall peak. It truly is a part of the nation’s culture and identity, and it can be compared to Mount Olympus in Greece in terms of historical significance. On the top of the mountain lies the stunning mausoleum where of Montenegrin ruler and poet Petar II Petrović Njegoš is buried. The dramatic building is reached by a hike up 461 steps on foot from the parking lot. Inside the mausoleum is a large granite statue of Njegoš and a darkened room that contains his tomb. You can see more than half of Montenegro from the summit, from the Bay of Kotor to Lake Skadar to Podgorica. On a clear day, even Albania and Croatia are visible.
There are two amazing islands off the coast of Perast. The Island of Saint George (Ostrvo Sveti Ðorde) is one of the isles, the other being Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela). Unlike Our Lady of the Rocks, it is a natural island. Our Lady of the Rocks is the other islets off the coast of Perast. The island was artificially created and contains a Roman Catholic Church. According to a legend, after finding the icon of Madonna and Child here on July 22, 1452, seaman would lay a rock in the sea after returning from a successful voyage. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea. The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays. Every year on the sunset of July 22 local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea.
Just 5 km (3 miles) away from Kotor, you’ll come across the charming town of Prčanj. Accessible only via a one-way road, Prčanj is far off the beaten track, making it a treasure worth exploring. Keep in mind that while Prčanj doesn’t have a lot in the way of major tourism attractions, that is all part of its appeal. Visiting Prčanj means having the chance to stroll through one-way streets with locals, pick up inexpensive souvenirs at the local post office and dine or drink with residents at the handful of tiny restaurants in the area.
Another of the four gulfs that makes up the Bay of Kotor is Tivat. The name Tivat may be recognizable because it is home to the region’s only major international airport. Even if you won’t be flying in and out of Tivat, you might want to check out this destination. What was once an old naval base has recently transformed into a sophisticated, elegant and upscale marina. You can walk along the edge of the marina, soak in the sun and admire dozens of yachts owned by the rich and famous who come to Tivat for its climate and atmosphere.