Sailing on an MSC cruise to the Mediterranean Sea you can see perched on the edge of a majestic bay, the medieval Old Town of Kotor; it’s the undisputed jewel in Montenegro’s crown.
Though no longer Europe’s best-kept secret, Kotor’s sudden elevation to the tour-cruise league has failed to dim the timeless delights of its cobbled alleyways and secluded piazzas. Enclosing cafés and churches galore, the town walls are themselves glowered down upon by a series of hulking peaks.
Down below, a harbour now bustling with sleek yachts marks the end of the Bay of Kotor, made fjord-like by the 1000m cliffs that rise almost vertically from the serene waters. Kotor’s charms are best appreciated by heading to the Old Town, without map, and getting lost in the labyrinthine streets. You’ll likely start your excursion entering through the Sea Gate, next to the harbour, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, and emerge onto the main square, Trg od Oružja.
Cafés spill out from glorious buildings, the most notable of which are the old Rector’s Palace and a leaning clock tower. Burrow through the streets and before long you’ll end up at St Tryphon’s Cathedral, backed by a wall of mountains and perfect for photos; it’s well worth the entry fee for a peek inside.
Elsewhere there are several churches that merit a look, as well as a fascinating Maritime Museum, a repository of nautical maps and model ships. The old fortress walls sit proudly above the town, and make for a rewarding climb. Allow at least ninety minutes for the round-trip to St Ivan’s Castle, from which you’ll have tremendous views of the fjord.